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5 Things Content Creators Need to Know about Microlearning [2 Minute Explainer]

explainers Dec 23, 2020

Microlearning is trending right now. Both within education as well as in organizational learning. But why is this topic so high in demand?

It's nothing new, really. The method of breaking learning content up into bite-sized chunks of information has been around for decades. But what IS new is how it's consumed. 

We all have a smartphone these days. And internet connection is almost a human right. So we are getting used to a "just in time" world, where everything can be searched for and found in seconds. From anywhere, at any time. 

We also want to learn this way. 

That's why microlearning is trending like it is these days. We all work from home, study from home, consume media from home. The conditions are perfect for a second round of microlearning taking over the world. 

And e-learning content needs to adapt to this era of microlearning. We as content creators must adapt to the demand of content that is

  • on-demand
  • mobile/digital
  • anywhere/anytime
  • useful in itself

On top of that, it needs to be entertaining. Many say that our attention span is dropping and that we can't concentrate for 10 seconds. 

But the ones who disagree say that it's not because we simply cannot concentrate. We can concentrate for much longer, if the content is interesting to us. 

So, we need to make our training content more interesting. And shorter. And easy to find. That's the job that needs to be done. 


2-Minute Explainer on Microlearning

I've designed a new explainer video, where I try to distill what microlearning is. The essentials, so to say. The need to knows of this concept of learning. 

You can watch the video at the top of this blog post, and I'll post the script for the video here for you to get inspiration for your own script writing


"What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a method of learning via short, stand-alone units that are consumed via digital media.

Small chunks of information - served where and when we need them.

Microlearning consists of micro lessons that quickly teach us something concrete without interrupting our workflow or overwhelming us with information - as opposed to hour-long courses and training seminars.

Why do micro lessons make sense?

Psychologist George Miller states that the brain can only retain five to nine facts before either committing them to long-term memory storage or losing them.

That’s why shorter lessons make sense.

What does microlearning look like?

The format is often video, but can also be a fact sheet, an infographic, a slideshow or a chat bot - as long its digital and mobile.

But, Microlearning is defined less by its format than by its functionality: To answer a specific question.

In both education and in business, Microlearning is trending because it fits well with the way we like to consume information today.

When we have a question, we pull out our phones and Google our way to immediate answers.

We also want to learn this way.

Is microlearning something new?

The idea of bite-sized learning-nuggets is not new. It’s traditionally called incremental learning.

What is new is that this tried-and-true approach to learning is applied to the digital world, where most of us have a phone or tablet, and many study or work from home.

Microlearning’s popularity is also on the rise because we experience a time crunch.

We don’t feel like we have the time for training. Although we do know it’s important to our careers and lives to stay sharp and learn new skills.

So, microlearning becomes a solution, where we can squeeze in a 5-minute learning session - in between other tasks.

So, how to apply microlearning?

To work well in practice, microlearning must be

  1. available on demand (no need to schedule a time or plan ahead),
  2. searchable (it’s not enough with category pages or tables of contents),
  3. flexible (available whenever and wherever)
  4. and useful in itself (no need for a longer course and additional supporting material to understand the lesson.)

Like this video - it’s an example of microlearning.

You demanded it now, so you searched for it, probably watched it on your phone and it’s a stand-alone piece of content - not a part of some course.

Now, you know what microlearning is."



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