Microlearning: One Learning Nugget at a Time


Microlearning is more than just the division of an educational program into smaller parts. It ensures that each learning unit achieves a small bite-sized goal and has value in itself, rather than just contributing to a larger overall goal. Every unit serves its own purpose, and as a result, it can be very popular with students. It not only consumes less time but can be completed whenever students find the time. It can be particularly useful for those who have other commitments, and who use their breaks and after-work time to advance their skills. In a busy world, some of us cannot afford to focus on study requirements for too long a period of time. Furthermore, it can motivate students through constant rapid achievements to continue their program instead of getting lost and losing their focus.

If you have never heard of microlearning before, it is a strategy to provide students with many small learning units instead of a few large ones. It is an approach with a short-term focus, and units can be as short as 3 to 5 minutes. Usually delivered in rich media formats, it is also often associated with more entertaining learning programmes. This benefit for students, however, comes with a trade-off for the education providers: More work goes into the development of many small entertaining and precise units compared to one larger module.

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Microlearning is associated with units that are on the point and based on a single topic and easy-to-remember information, as it is simply not too much to take in. It prevents students from reaching a state where they are brain-fried and cannot absorb a larger amount of information. Its benefits should also not be underestimated for those with a short attention span. Every learner is different, and some can simply only process a chunk at a time.

From an e-learning perspective, it is an approach worth investigating. Some students love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. As with any other approach, though, microlearning comes with its pros and cons, and most importantly, it should suit the learning outcome. It may not be suitable for a larger course that requires a lot of reflection or reading at one time. In other words, it addresses symptoms, not core problems, meaning that acquired knowledge may never reach the same depth as in microlearning. That said, microlearning can still be part of a larger program rich in information, to spice things up and to provide quick competencies in parts where no particular depth is needed.