Why is microlearning approach a good idea?

Learning is an understanding of how the human brain is wired to learning rather than to an approach or a system. It is one of the best and most frequent approaches for the 21st-century learners. Microlearning is more interesting due to its way of teaching and learning the content in a small, very specific burst. Here the learners decide what and when to learn. Content, time, curriculum, form, process, modality, and learning type are the dimensions of microlearning (Geng 2017).

The idea with microlearning is to give small pieces of learning instead of longer lessons or a day training program. However, if you stop there, you only go half the way. The small piece of learning should be followed up in a way you can recall and put the small piece of learning together with your experience and knowledge. The small pieces of learning need to be chained with rest of your knowledge.

The microlearning can be an ideal instructional approach for many situations because:

  • Information changes quickly
  • People find it difficult to keep up with things
  • Less time consuming
  • Can learn any places and any time
  • Resources are available online
  • You can use your smartphone

Characteristics of Microlearning

Regardless of whether it is used informally or as part of a structured learning experience, microlearning has a few consistent features.

Accessible: Microlearning is accessible where you are. If you have a smartphone and internet connection, you can learn

Brevity: Microlearning events are short. The NKB microlearning model has a defined duration of around 60 seconds. Other providers normally use 3-7 minutes.

Granularity: Due to their brevity and purpose, microlearning focuses on a narrow topic, concept or idea.

Variety: The content of microlearning can be a presentation, a text, a picture, an activity, a game, a discussion, a video, a quiz, part of a book chapter, a blog, or any other format from which someone learns.

Learning steps: A microlearning program has steps. The one step builds on the previous step. Many microlearning programs are made in a way that you can jump around to the different steps. The NKB microlearning program has series. One series has many small steps where each step is built on each other. One or several series become like a lesson.

Test your knowledge: The NKB microlearning program has a quiz connected to each step. Other microlearning providers use quizzes sometimes.

Do: It is important to try out what you learn. Sometimes you can try it out practically. Sometimes you can try it out in a group discussion.

Why microlearning?

It is easy to believe that microlearning can solve all kind of learning needs. However, like any type of learning system, microlearning has strengths and weaknesses. We will show you some of the benefits and some of the disadvantages.


Immediate Results. One benefit of effective microlearning is that it enables a person to quickly close a small knowledge or skill gap.

Diverse formats. For both unstructured and structured learning, microlearning has the potential for using a very blended approach to instruction.

Review: You can view a microlearning step as many times you want. If you don’t grab the idea the first time, you can start again. Since a microlearning step is short, it is easy to go back and view again.

Stop the presentation: If the presentation goes to fats, you can stop it.

Budget friendly for the user. Production costs for one step of microlearning can be lower than the costs for longer course production. The vision of microlearning is smaller and laser focused. When a microlearning step is produced, it can be reused unlimited times.

Quick achievements. Because people can typically process around four bits of information at a time, it’s easier for a learner to achieve success from a short learning intervention.

Ideal for tagging. Small chunks of instructional content can be tagged for easy search, access, and reuse.

Fast-paced culture. Microlearning is a solution that busy workers will appreciate because it is not as disruptive as a day of training or even an hour or two of eLearning.


New research area. It is easy to believe that microlearning is very effective. Since microlearning is new, there is insufficient research to know whether microlearning is an effective strategy for reaching long-term learning goals. The last years there have been published scientific articles about microlearning.

Learning fragments. For long-term learning goals, microlearning interventions could end up as content fragments that are not tied together.

Lack of cognitive synthesis. We can’t be certain that learners will synthesize content from microlearning well enough to construct appropriate mental models.

Microlearning is an emerging paradigm that addresses a learner’s need to receive the information they need when they need it and in the appropriate context. Each video in the series explores a different area of microlearning – introducing and defining the term, highlighting modern examples, describing why it is gaining popularity, outlining the affordances, tracing the roots and evolution, as well as outlining the requirements of a microlearning experience (Freeman 2016).



  • Freeman, Lauren Elizabeth: Microlearning, a video series: a sequence of videos exploring the definition, affordances, and history of microlearning (The University of Texas at Austin, December 2016).
  • Geng, Sun et.al: Profiling and Supporting Adaptive Micro Learning on Open Education Resources (IEEE Xplore: 16 January 2017)
  • Göschlberger, Bernhard: Social Microlearning Motivates Learners to Pursue Higher-Level Cognitive Objectives (Springer, Cham 2016)
  • Hug, T. Microlearning in N. Seel (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, (Springer, 2011).
  • Hug, T., & Friesen, N. Outline of a microlearning agenda. eLearning Papers, Nº 16, pp. 1–13, 2009. http://www.academia.edu/2817967/Outline_of_a_Microlearning_agenda
  • Jomah, Omer et. al: Micro-Learning: A Modernized Education System (BRAINitiative, Vol 7, No 1, 2016)
  • Kovachev, D., Cao Y., Klamma, R., and Jarke M. Learn As You Go: New Ways of Cloud-Based Micro-learning for the Mobile Web in Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 7048, 2011, pp 51-61.
  • von Rosing, M., von Scheel, H, and Scheer, A. The Complete Business Process Handbook. Morgan Kaufmann, December 6, 2014.


  • Michael Henderson

    A very focussed way of putting across the microlearning concept. Impressive and as you say easy to believe in.
    My research is about adult learning choice making. I can see that microlearning is an aspect I will need to consider in my evaluation of technology effects on choice making.
    I look forward to staying informed.


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