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In this article, we’ll break down 5 key benefits of microlearning. In later articles in the series, we’ll explore why video is a particularly effective microlearning strategy, and get into the nitty-gritty of how to create a microlearning video, including pre-production, scripting, and storyboarding. Finally, we’ll share how animated video in particular can make microlearning experiences more efficient and effective.


What Is Microlearning?

You’re arguing with your parents over politics, and you pick up your phone to Google the specifics of a recent bill.

You’re on a flight to Rome. Before you land, you use an iPhone app to learn how to say “more pasta” and “double espresso, please,” in Italian.

You don’t know how to tie your bowtie before a formal wedding, so you fire up a quick YouTube tutorial on your laptop.  

What do these three things have in common? They’re all examples of microlearning.

Microlearning breaks material down into short, easily digestible components (typically around 30 seconds to a few minutes in length) that tackle a single learning objective. “Microlearning allows for learners to receive the information they need, when they need it, in the relevant context,” says Lauren Freeman, M.A.

Watch the first in Lauren’s Microlearning video series below, and read her full Master’s report on microlearning here.

Most of the time, microlearning experiences in our daily lives — say, watching a tutorial on how to cut a pineapple or Googling a stat to resolve a dinner table argument — go unnoticed. But as we incorporate microlearning into our regular routines, we inevitably expect it to be available to us during more formal pursuits of knowledge as well.

In particular, microlearning has powerful applications in today’s workforce, where employees “are expected to constantly acquire new information to stay current,” according to Freeman. Traditional learning experiences — think textbooks, long lectures, and even PowerPoint presentations or PDFs — are often prohibitively time-consuming and static given the fast pace of the modern workplace.

5 Benefits of Microlearning

Increasingly, companies are adopting microlearning as a core component of their L&D strategies. In a recent survey by the Association for Talent Development, 38% of companies reported currently using microlearning, while 41% plan to implement the strategy within the next 12 months. Of those organizations delivering microlearning, 63% have completely replaced formal learning with microlearning.

Microlearning offers numerous benefits, in that it is:

  • Flexible. Microlearning experiences are much easier to personalize for each learner’s preferences and needs. By creating short chunks of content dedicated to a single learning objective, organizations can easily swap out content for individual learners or create new modules as the curriculum evolves. This is in stark contrast to traditional training curricula, which are often expensive to create and difficult to modify without overhauling the whole program.
  • Accessible: Microlearning can occur during short windows of time and on a wide variety of devices (computers, tablets, phones, etc.) — no classroom required.
  • Just-in-time: It’s 3pm, and you need to get up to speed on pivot tables in Microsoft Excel before a 4pm meeting with your boss. Enter microlearning. A quick YouTube video can tell you exactly what you need to know, right now — without forcing you to sit through extra minutes or hours of irrelevant material.
  • Sticky: Learners’ short-term memory (also known as working memory) “can only retain a certain amount of information simultaneously,” writes Christopher Pappas of The eLearning Industry. Bite-sized videos and other short modules help boost knowledge retention and prevent cognitive overload, particularly when dealing with complex topics.
  • Cumulative: Ideally, each microlearning module has its own learning objective, but also represents “a small win on the way to a larger goal,” according to Alex Khurgin, Director of Learning Innovation at Grovo. Learners can learn what they need, exactly when they need it, while at the same time building their knowledge over time to gain mastery over the subject at hand.

In the next article in the series, we’ll discuss using video to create microlearning experiences and why it’s so effective.

Read Next: Why Your Company Should Create Microlearning Videos

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