3 Reasons to Build Microlearning into Your L&D Strategy

Microlearning Strategy

With much to learn and little to no time to learn it, employees need flexible workplace learning options. As organizations advance their L&D strategies with efficient learning platforms, they must also build out effective learning content, including microlearning.


Learning trends come and go, but the ones that tend to stick around are those that deliver real value and results for L&D teams and learners.

Microlearning is one such trend. No longer a buzzword, microlearning has become an essential component of L&D strategy within many organizations—and particularly those that have embraced a modern learning culture.

What Is Microlearning?

While there’s no universal definition, microlearning shares 4 important characteristics:

  1. Focus. Microlearning content is broken into discrete chunks of distilled information.
  2. Brevity. Microlearning can deliver value in as little as 1 to 5 minutes.
  3. Flexibility. Microlearning can be delivered via video, animation, game, eLearning module, or even a simple PDF—whatever format best meets the learner’s needs.
  4. Informality. Microlearning is less structured than traditional training and is often created by the learners themselves.

In contrast, what most of us think of as traditional learning is macrolearning (to use Josh Bersin’s term). For example, a one-hour safety certification course or a daylong workshop on management skills.

What Are the Benefits of Microlearning?

The benefits of microlearning spring from its suitability for time-constrained learners and productivity-minded organizations. Here are 3 reasons why microlearning should be part of your learning strategy.

1. Deliver Learning in the Flow of Work

With the constant acceleration of digital change in the workplace, the nature of work itself must evolve to keep pace. Employees and employers know gaining skills and knowledge are essential to remaining relevant and achieving business success.

So how does microlearning help?

Microlearning enables L&D programs to deliver learning right when a learner needs it, such as  

Microlearning enables learners to learn what they need and so they can get back to work. It’s also well-suited for reinforcing skills or processes that employees use less frequently.

2. Make “On the Go” Learning Easy

Microlearning and mobile learning go hand-in-hand to power an effective learning strategy.

The vast majority of learners are now free from the confines of desktop PCs. That means they can use their personal or company-issued devices, so learning can take place anytime, anywhere.


Related Reading: 3 Benefits of a BYOD Policy for Learning Programs


Because of its brevity, microlearning is well-suited to learning on the go, empowering learners to make use of otherwise idle and unproductive time—during their commutes, between meetings, or any other convenient opportunity.

And given that the typical employee has only 1% of the working week to devote to training and development, L&D programs need to seize any additional time during which workers can connect and learn.

3. Support Self-Directed Learning

As workforce demographics shift and younger generations enter and rise within the ranks, their learning preferences are becoming an important consideration. And in its 2019 Workplace Learning Report, LinkedIn found that Gen Z and millennial learners favor independent and self-directed modes of learning.

The bite-sized nature of microlearning supports this preference, allowing workers to learn at their own pace.

Also, and this is important for learners of all ages, the flexibility of microlearning can serve the needs of different learning styles. Depending on how the learning is presented, learners may be able to select their preferred learning mode—whether that’s watching video content, reading, or engaging in interactive learning.

This facilitates what’s known as “pull” versus “push” approach to learning delivery, and it helps to have L&D technologies for creating and curating learning content so your learners have a range of choices.


Analyst Insights: Aragon Research on Modern Learning and the Employee Experience


Is Microlearning Good for Compliance Training?

For learners working in highly-regulated industries, mandatory compliance training comes up at least annually. For compliance-driven learning, a different approach to microlearning may be required.

Breaking compliance courses up into smaller components may disengage learners by giving the impression that the total volume of required learning has increased. Compliance training also typically culminates with a rigorous assessment, which is best placed at the end of a single course, rather than breaking certification testing across multiple modules.

To incorporate microlearning into compliance training, consider the following approaches:

A Hallmark of a Modern Learning Organization

Microlearning will never replace macrolearning. For some types of learning, employees and teams do best when pulled out of their environment for a half day, full day, or more. But a company cannot call itself a modern learning organization without incorporating microlearning to some extent. Time constraints and the speed of change, coupled with the ever-present drive for productivity and evolving learner expectations, make it too valuable a tool to ignore.

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