Make Learning Stick Using Microlearning


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Make Learning Stick Using Microlearning

Written on May 17, 2017 12:05:02 PM, by Stefan Sarbu

When you’re managing a training program you’re focused on delivering a package of information that can provide a strong base for anyone attending the training. Your training agenda has a well-defined structure with a succession of ideas and resources that come together to ensure learning. For employees however, the process is more of a “I want to know X specific thing to use in Y specific aspect of my work.” More often than not, learners don’t need all of that content. Instead, they only want information that can help them address a specific issue or problem in the workplace.

Microlearning helps bridge these learning expectations by breaking the content into small, bite-sized lessons that can be consumed independently and at different moments. Because of that, it also allows for better retention of information.

Also read: 4 Ways to Ensure Learning Transfer

The brevity of microlearning urges a more defined focus, which can eliminate nonessential information. Moreover, learners gain control over their time and schedule when they can complete lessons in short bursts whenever they have time, rather than having to set a special day for learning.

How to use microlearning

Set learning goals

As you start developing your training program, you need to define clear goals. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What workforce skills do I want to develop?
  • How do these skills connect with each employee’s work duties?
  • What are the business goals I want to advance by developing these skills?

Ask learners what they want to develop, what they’re interested in and how they want learning to be delivered. After you have the answers to all these questions, start thinking about the content you need to create to achieve your goals.

Experiment with different content formats

Microlearning is not a strategy in itself, but rather a way of organizing information in an agile learning environment. Once you’ve identified the content you want to create, think of the diverse formats in which you can deliver it in short bursts.

Also read: 6 Ways Technology is Changing the Learning Experience

Instead of creating long lessons with nothing but text content, opt for short videos, quizzes, games, eBooks, podcasts, infographics, blogs, emails, tips and tricks, cheat sheets, interactive PDFs, or even chat bots. The small size of these training lessons will allow them to fit anywhere in the learning cycle – before, during, or after the training session.

Refresh existing content

If you’ve already created content for your trainings, you can still incorporate microlearning to help employees consume it faster and more efficiently. Look at your learning content from an objective perspective and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I simplify?
  • What layers can I cut?
  • How can I improve the flow of information? Or, what information can I improve on?
  • How can I reduce the number of decisions learners have to make?
  • How can I convey the same information in a different format?
  • What format works best for my teams?

“It’s good discipline from an instructional design point of view. (...) You have to strip down your message to its essential components.”Nick Howe, VP of learning and collaboration at Hitachi Data Systems via SHRM


Don’t be afraid to experiment with different content formats and different lengths. Although microlearning is said to be effective when each lesson lasts not more than 10 minutes, and conveys around 1-2 learning points, feel free to challenge this assumption and find the right fit for your teams.

Incorporate action

Employees  should be able to apply what is learned in the training to their everyday jobs. This is often referred to as learning transfer. How does the information presented in the training connect to their work? Adult learning principles suggest that if learners don’t see the relevance of how learning a particular skill directly applies to their job, they are less likely to transfer and retain that skill.

Also read: 4 Ways to Ensure Learning Transfer

Learners need to be able to see the relevance of what they are learning. If the skill isn’t applicable, they won’t see the value in the training experience or in retaining the skill.


Part of an agile learning strategy, measuring both content and learner performance is crucial. Use assessments to measure participation, engagement, and completion rates for each lesson or for lesson modules.

It’s important that you monitor learners’ behaviors to see what they respond to and how these behaviors change over time. Ask them for feedback and make sure to incorporate it as you tweak your content and delivery methods.

When measuring the performance of your content, look at:

  • Completion rates
  • Engagement rates
  • Blockages
  • Performance metrics
  • Time savings
  • Learner feedback


Go back to the drawing board at regular intervals and use the data you’ve collected from monitoring learning performance and employee feedback, to improve your content.

As popular a term as it has become, microlearning is not a new way of delivering content. The reason why it has become a buzzword recently is because it molds to the new way of working. Our office can be anywhere, our work can be on any device, and we can learn what we want, when we want. Microlearning helps provide structure, focused information and flexibility, all attributes of the new way in which employees learn.

Stefan Sarbu
Stefan is the Chief Operating Officer for Teamfluent. He is passionate about creating learning habits and staying on top of the latest tech trends.