Is Microlearning Effective for eLearning?

Archy Learning

While you may have heard of the buzzword “Microlearning” before, is it all that it’s cracked up to be when it comes to educating and training?

What is Microlearning?

For those unaware of what microlearning is, it’s a skill-based approach to learning that delivers information in small, fast-paced, highly focused chunks. The video-based learning format is usually around 5 minutes in length and it is the ideal way to educate users through instructional design.

This lesson style helps deliver performance support and content that isn’t overwhelming and can hold the learner’s attention for an effective amount of time.

If a particular topic begins to exceed a 7-minute window, then a series of shorter videos would then be created for specific topics instead.

Microlearning is based on the principle that video is how most people learn these days, and short videos are the most effective form to convey information, however, microlearning can also take the form of audio podcasts, presentations, learning activities, games, scenarios, assessments, text-based job aids, short eLearning courses, and other learning technologies.

Why is Microlearning Effective?

According to recent studies, the average adult watches approximately 5.5 hours worth of videos each day, so it would make sense that most people would be drawn to video lessons in short bursts as a learning experience. 

The old method of clicking through eLearning slides is obsolete, studies show that this method is just as boring and ineffective as its time-consuming predecessor, classroom learning.

In 2021, companies are nearly twice as likely to use microlearning as part of their training mix, and nearly twice as likely to measure employee learning gains and calculate ROI based on microlearning.

When it comes to the initial training needed to transfer information, yes, microlearning can meet that need for short-term memory. However, when it comes to achieving maximum learning retention, real behavioral change, and optimal ROI, you’ll need to enter into the world of post-training reinforcement. Microlearning on its own is not enough, so be sure to follow it with some post-training reinforcement for the best results in more long-term memory achievement.

Post-Training Reinforcement: Using Boosts to Increase ROI

What are you doing to reinforce the training you’ve already provided and drive it deeper into your learners’ brains? You’ll need to use repetition in the form of “boosts” to force effortful retrieval and let your learners’ brains know that the information you provided them is important.

A boost is anything that makes a learner think critically about the information they’ve learned. It could be quiz questions that are multiple-choice or true or false, it could be asking them to summarise key takeaways, it could be having them watch a video or read an article related to a topic and then answer a question based on that. 

Anything that gets them thinking about a topic will help them remember and retain the information. Research shows that the learner doesn’t even have to get the question correct in order for them to remember, they just have to be thinking about the information.

When it comes to “boosts,” timing is also important, as scientific studies have proven that as we get farther away from the time of the original training, we should increase the amount of time between repetitions. This increases the difficulty, but also, by making our brains work harder, learning and retention are increased.

The Downside of Microlearning

For all its benefits, microlearning is not the answer to every learning need. It cannot be used to deliver broad, foundational knowledge on any topic, because, by definition, it focuses on solving one problem or answering one question at a time.

There is no universal method of learning that benefits each unique student out there, meaning microlearning will not suit every learner. So, before making the decision to include microlearning in your Learning and Development strategy, keep in mind these notable aspects:


  1. Microlearning covers only one learning objective.
  2. Microlearning usually doesn’t work with highly technical content.
  3. Microlearning simply can’t do it all alone, as other forms of training have to exist for maximum efficiency.

A common misconception is that any course can be transformed into microlearning just by chopping it up into smaller pieces. However, chunking content can be a good way to organise information into small, easily understood learning nuggets.

 The chunked content must be combined with the rest of the learning content to create a complete course. It’s a learning strategy where independent learning units work for a single purpose and are part of the total learning picture.

The Benefits of Microlearning

Six quick ways microlearning benefits employee training:

  1. Simple but focused, smaller segments but precise information.
  2. Can be produced quickly, which results in lower costs than traditional eLearning.
  3. Microlearning is 50% more interactive and engaging to learners.
  4. It makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient.
  5. Bite-sized learning content can be updated quickly to enhance impact.
  6. Learning in 3 to 7-minute periods is beneficial for working memory capacity.

Microlearning is the complete opposite of traditional employee training. Instead of making your employees attend a five-hour in-person training session to learn a new business concept or to welcome new hires, in which they only listen and are not engaged, microlearning teaches them what they need to know at each particular step.

Millennial and Gen Z learners – the “digital natives” of today’s workforce – tend to prefer learning that is customised to their needs, informal in style, and available on demand.

Learning and development professionals have embraced microlearning as a way to create and manage easily consumable content that appeals to trainees. Senior leadership favours microlearning as a suitable way to create cost-effective learning.

Final Thoughts

Microlearning offers a great solution for learning enthusiasts that are always short on time, microlearning offers a great learner-centred learning solution for just-in-time learning support that grabs the learner’s attention, and much more.

If you’re wanting to put microlearning to the test, build a course today with Archy Learning!

Archy Learning

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