What Is Microlearning: Examples, Benefits and Disadvantages

Posted on
June 22, 2022
Billy Mike
from myQuest

An Overview to Microlearning

Microlearning refers to the process of learning a broader skill by mastering smaller skills of increasing difficulty. Rather than embarking on a huge goal, microlearning allows the learner to embark on smaller, less daunting goals that successively build upon each other. Because each segment is short, learners are better able to remain focused on the task which, in turn, leads to greater success when developing a particular skill set. 

Microlearning exists in different forms

One of the most common forms of microlearning is through watching videos that build upon each other to refine and expand the learner’s skillset. However, other efficient forms of microlearning include games, blogs, and podcasts. Different forms can be utilized depending on the learner’s overarching goal. For instance, myQuest employs a variety of individualized games, quizzes, blogs, and videos to help each user achieve their unique goal. Research has found that a segment of microlearning cannot exceed 13 minutes, in order to be effective and to still classify as a segment of microlearning. More important than the length of the segment is that the segment is focused on a single piece of information or concept so that a learner can be fully focused on an individual idea. 

A common form of microlearning is digital employee onboarding. Onboarding is typically completed via a series of smaller modules, rather than bombarding the new employee with all information at once. By utilizing these modules, the employee is able to better understand and focus on each segment, thus enhancing the effectiveness of the onboarding program. 

Another example of a time when microlearning could be effective is when learning a new language. Students would first learn a few words, then begin to learn the alphabet, and slowly continue to expand their vocabulary. It would be impossible to learn an entire language at once so approaching smaller segments, either by means of short games, modules, or quizzes, makes learning the language much more feasible. 

Benefits to the microlearning approach

With the average human attention span shorter than that of a goldfish (yes, really – see here), microlearning delivers content in a way that the human brain can easily comprehend and retain. Because microlearning segments are incredibly brief, they are accessible to the learner and can be accessed at the learner’s convenience. In a society that is transitioning into an increasingly more remote learning environment, microlearning grants all learners the opportunity and flexibility to access the information. 

Another advantage to microlearning is the ease with which the information can be shared. Because microlearning is delivered in chunks, and typically on an online platform, learners can easily repeat and share the information. Not only is microlearning valuable in that the learning method allows for a more seamless transfer of information, but the actual process by which employees share the information can increase connections in the workplace. “Peer-to-peer learning,” the term coined to refer to peers educating one another, is an essential component of a successful and collaborative work environment. 

Beyond delivering information in a way that is easier to consume, this spaced out delivery of content has also been shown to enhance retention. Microlearning does not overwhelm the brain with an excess of information, and a relaxed brain is better able to retain and recall information that it has learned.

Still, some argue that microlearning alone is not always effective

Because microlearning delivers small chunks of information, there is some doubt regarding whether the learning process allows for the same depth of understanding as traditional learning. Some argue that microlearning is an oversimplified approach to teaching complex information or skills. 

Additionally, microlearning is almost always delivered digitally meaning that access to technology is necessary. If information were to only be delivered digitally, those without access to technology would miss out on the learning opportunity. 

Finally, there is some doubt as to whether a fragmented approach to learning can develop into a cohesive understanding of a concept. Perhaps, this sporadic approach to learning could result in confusion and gaps in one’s understanding of a concept. 

To ensure that microlearning is effective, the learning experience must become an active journey. The micro bits of information must be coupled with active steps that learners can take to gain a full understanding. For instance, rather than simply learning how to take a sales call, an employee may sit in on, or even help out with, another employee’s call. After the employee would observe firsthand what an actual call entails, the employee could practice leading the call under an already trained employee’s supervision. By creating an active learning journey, employees are more likely to reap the benefits of microlearning, without sacrificing any effectiveness. 

So, microlearning could still work for you

Ultimately, microlearning can be a great tool for businesses and individuals with seemingly daunting goals. By dividing skill mastery into smaller modules, employees are better able to tackle the demands of their company. It is worth considering whether there are ways that you, or your company, could implement microlearning to allow for a simpler, more seamless skill mastery. Being able to complete missions quickly and easily also gives the learner a sense of satisfaction and the feeling that they can tackle the next learning topic.

Interested in using myQuest for your microlearning modules?

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