Microlearning – What, why and how?

Oda Gyland Lindesteg


Training employees is important to increase productivity, efficiency, motivation, and growth in your business. The ability to concentrate has become harder because of the increase in distractions and habits developed by our ability to scan the Internet and receive more responses and stimuli. Untrained employees are left with trying to find a solution on their own or simply doing their work how they have always been doing it. This creates a problem when implementing new technology and systems in a business. A solution to this is to implement microlearning which are quick and to-the-point educational resources which keeps concentration levels high.
What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is an approach which focuses on utilizing multisensory (using several senses at once) and multimodality (multiple literacies within one medium) in a short amount of time. The benefits of microlearning is the shortness in length, the content is straight to the point, it keeps concentration of the users, the users can choose what to learn, demonstration of the material and more. It can easily be integrated in your workflow. Before training employees in a business, it is important to plan the activities. This is a four phase plan on how to implement microlearning in your business.

The first phase involves identifying the specific learning needs of a department or organization. In order to identify the learning needs and learning objectives you should ask these questions:
  • Who are the users and how are they defined

  • Why should the users learn and what makes them put in the effort to learn

  • What will the users learn, what is the content and result of the learning

  • How do the users learn, what is the learning process

In phase two you should use the goals identified in the first phase to develop the concept and content. This includes limiting the content to one simple idea. If the subject matter has several concepts, each idea should be developed into separate learning modules. The modules can be as short as 5 minutes but should not be longer than 20 minutes. The microlearning snippet within the modules should be about 2 minutes each.

Microlearning focuses on participating and learning the information by activating the short-term memory and measuring the behavioral change based on educational experience and practice. There are several types of memory processes that occur during learning, including sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Your short-term memory is overloaded by constant stimuli from your environment and learning content. To get attention and ensure that the learning content is transferred to the long-term memory, the users must realize the importance of the stimuli and find a pattern in the content that is presented.

A learning analysis can be used to measure how effective the design of the learning modules is. The collection of data and the depth of the data minimizing process can be extensive. For a microlearning module, should data from all the users be combined and analyzed. This includes the length from the content delivery to demonstration, effective use of the new provided information in job performance, feedback from participants, and observations of areas where the users were unengaged or found it challenging to understand the content.

What you should consider

Planning, evaluating, and communicating are key factors for successful adoption. It can often be frustrating for the user to find relevant learning content when needed. The ability to have access to the learning content when the user needs it, can be crucial for long-term performance support. It is also important to note that everyone learns differently. Some might prefer to read the whole manual through and through, while some prefer to learn by trial and error. Take this into account when providing educational resources for your employees by having more options available.

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