Making the Most of Microlearning

As organizations seek more digital learning solutions, they often consider Microlearning as a crucial one. In fact, in Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Learning Strategy Study, 71% of companies say that increasing their use of Microlearning is either important or critical to help them achieve their business goals. However, one of the challenges companies face is understanding what Microlearning is and how they can use it

The most important thing to understand is that Microlearning does not simply mean “short.” While it is critical to think in smaller, bite-sized chunks, smaller isn’t always better. Microlearning consists of targeted, concise, and focused content. 

Here are some of the ways Microlearning can be used:

  • Immediate learning to support “in the moment” needs. 
  • Intermediate learning to build existing competencies.
  • Transitional learning to help learners evolve into future roles.

Using Microlearning makes it easier to move learning into people’s workflow, where it becomes part of the job rather than an interruption. This approach also helps people build stronger learning habits and promotes an overall culture of continuous learning in the workplace.

Many organizations have success with Microlearning by using it to reinforce larger, more formal learning events. By creating infographics, short videos, scenarios and quick messages from leadership, learning can fend off the Forgetting Curve and ensure that learning retention stays high.

A Microlearning approach can also be taken to break up larger Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) sessions. Many companies struggled as the new remote-work environment forced them to switch from face-to-face training to virtual platforms. For most, the direct shift produced sub-par results. Instead, organizations can take that same content and create smaller interventions such as quick facts, short exercises, and micro-assessments.

When taking this approach to VILT, there are some key practices to keep in mind:

  • Change focus: VILT content typically has a broad focus. Find a series of narrower focus areas that can fall under the broader focus.
  • Chunk-up content logically: As a rule, keep things in the neighborhood of three-five minutes but don’t arbitrarily cut up your VILT sessions. Find specific nuggets you can repurpose.
  • Condense themes: Microlearning is not just about physical length. Condense the themes, topics, or subjects of the VILT sessions when breaking out Microlearning elements. Don’t try to cover too much at once. 
  • Change … but don’t pivot: Don’t lose sight of the original intent of the VILT program. Stay true to the themes and outcomes originally identified. 

BHG Smartchoice Platinum Preferred Provider EI Design has been helping organizations develop Microlearning content and strategies for more than a decade. They provide organizations with the insights and tools to make Microlearning work in their unique environments. It all starts with EI Design’s Learning and Performance Ecosystem.

  • Within this ecosystem, Microlearning, Formal Training, nudges, practice, feedback, and experiential learning are natural and expected.
  • Microlearning and Mobile Apps create a Social Learning space. This serves as positive reinforcement for correct behaviors.
  • Microlearning can be leveraged for Formal Training as well as just-in-time learning.
  • Microlearning supports VILT programs with pre-workshop assets, during workshop assets, and post-workshop connects.

Using this ecosystem approach, EI Design zeroed in on several key strategies for making the most of Microlearning:

  • Make it accessible: In the context of learning in the workflow, they design nuggets to be “accessible,” which also covers content that’s intuitively hosted that learners can find quickly.
  • Make it on-demand: They recommend short videos and podcasts, summary PDFs, quick references, templates, and sample checklists.
  • Offer intermediate learning: They help organizations use Microlearning to supplement Formal Training targeted to help employees do better in their current roles. Such short-form content may serve well as review and refresher training modules too.
  • Provide transitional learning: They can also add Microlearning nuggets as part of VILT at pre-, during, and post-training sessions. They can be used as training-readiness tools, exercises and assessments, and to deliver learning summaries.

If your organization is like the 70% of companies that plan to increase their use of Microlearning over the next year or so, EI Design can help you understand what it is, what it isn’t, and how best to leverage it to drive outcomes.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

Become a Brandon Hall Group member!

We are a human capital management research and advisory firm with more than 10,000 clients globally. For over 25 years, we have been delivering research-based solutions that empower excellence in organizations around the world. Our vision is to inspire a better workplace experience. Becoming a Brandon Hall Group member means our team joins your team. Membership provides a host of resources and services and – most importantly — a seasoned team of thought leaders and client support professionals dedicated to your success.

Click here for more information and to sign up for a free trial membership.

Click here for information on Brandon Hall Group’s Professional Certification Program

Like what you see? Share with a friend.

Mike Cooke



Stay connected

Get notified for upcoming news subscribing

Related Content

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.