Microlearning: what is it, actually?


It is a trend in corporate training that is catalyzing everyone’s attention. But what really is Microlearning?

It is being talked about in articles, magazines, conferences, and in the advertising of a great many e-learning software vendors. We find the hashtag #microlearning virtually every day in posts on various social media, from Twitter to LinkedIn. It has been portrayed as the panacea for all ills, so much so that a deeper analysis is needed to clarify its real applications in the age of Digital Transformation.

So let’s try to shed some light on Microlearning with Prof Clark Quinn and Litmos LMS.

Can we provide a definition of Microlearning?

The answer is complex, but the application opportunities meet concrete needs. Let’s give examples of Microlearning in reality.

1. Performance Support

Microlearning is sometimes mistakenly juxtaposed with the concept of “just-in-time” learning. Great application cue, however far removed from actual learning.

Many of you will have happened to watch a YouTube tutorial to figure out how to do something. The result will undoubtedly have been satisfactory, but we can hardly claim to have fully “learned.”

⚠️ Too often we confuse Performance Support with actual Learning. ⚠️

Performance Support is anything that comes to our aid at a given specific time in our lives, and in relation to a given action. It enables us to overcome our cognitive limitations by providing essential information in a specific real-life case, but it is not Microlearning. ?

2. Spaced Learning

The second term that has to do with Microlearning is Spaced Learning.

Let’s think about a hobby we have, or a sport we play. How do we improve our performance? By training a little bit every day. Our brain’s learning works in a similar way: periodically recalling useful information helps to strengthen neuronal connections and not lose what we have learned in a vacuum.

repetition vs forgetting curve

Of course, the human mind is not capable of exercising this process ad aeternum. Therefore, the winning formula for there to be real learning is a model that strengthens neuronal connections bit by bit.

Of course, there are multiple aspects to pay attention to:

3. Contexualized Learning

At this point, what do we think Microlearning is, then? Nothing more than the successful combination of the elements described so far.

The ultimate goal is still training, but dropped into a concrete context: role-plays on interpersonal relationships, simulations on the use of applications, devices or scenario simulations.

create a real context for your microlearning content

Why not instead provide Microlearning within a real context, rather than one artificially recreated “to train”? This is precisely where the prefix “Micro” can successfully subsist. And it is the context that will make the content proposed in Microlearning meaningful.

4. “Just in time” Mobile Learning

One final consideration before concluding. Microlearning is often associated with mobile devices. And it could not be otherwise, since many of us train from our smartphones or tablets.

Well, that is not precisely the case, in our opinion. “Micro” refers more to a mode of content delivery, rather than the type of device used, so a Micro-learning program can subsist entirely on Desktops as well.

e-learning content accessible from any device

As with the definitions analyzed together, it all depends on the strategy behind it. You will always have to analyze how to do what, when, and for whom. Obviously, Mobile Learning and Microlearning are a winning mix for the success of your e-learning project in the midst of Digital Transformation.

Microlearning: a complex definition

So what is meant by Microlearning? In our view, Microlearning is the set of its definitions, combined according to a specific strategic model. Ergo, it is Spaced, Contextualized, Just-in-time and usable from mobile devices.

Does microlearning improve corporate teaching? Absolutely: you will no longer have to worry about the success of your e-learning project. Success will come to you!

#neverstoplearning ?

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