Micro Learning is a term that has now been around for at least a few years, but it is also one expected to gain ground in 2017. The concept is generally used to describe any type of learning, but especially eLearning, that breaks down the learning experience into small and easily consumable bits. Download our free presentation on MicrolearningHow to make a long story short. A piece of information that can be conveyed in a minute-long video or a new skill that can be acquired by playing an interactive game for just a few minutes would both be examples of micro learning. In this post, we explore what micro learning is, why it is become more popular, and how it is expected to impact eLearning in 2017.

Learning games offer feedback - lms games

The Key Elements of Micro Learning

Micro learning is just like any other forms of learning but it happens on a different scale (namely, on a smaller or much smaller scale). Key elements include the following:

  • Time: Micro learning can be squeezed into minutes not hours of time.
  • Content: The content is comprised of very small bits of information, which can be easily internalized.
  • Curriculum: The curriculum is modular (avoids long and long-winded explanations). 
  • Form: While micro learning can be print-based (one might argue that old-style flash cards are an example of micro learning), today, micro learning is nearly always digital and mostly designed for mobile devices.
  • Learning style: Micro learning can accommodate any learning style from rote learning to reflective and collaborative learning modes.

Why Micro Learning and Why Now?

If micro learning continues to gain ground in eLearning circles, it is not surprising. As seen with the rise of the sharing and the gig economy, more than every before, people are eager to make the most of their time. With task-based apps, like Task Rabbit, those wasted moments commuting to work or school can now be used to make money by completing simple tasks. With micro learning, it is now possible to fit training into spare moments. A long line up at the Whole Foods no longer needs to be 10 minutes of your life that you can never reclaim. With micro learning, you can now complete one or several training modules while you wait to check out and get on with your day.

The micro learning trend also responds to what may be something more profound: our rewired brains. Like it or not, new technologies are changing how we think. While we might not fully agree with Nicolas Carr’s assessment in The Shallows (here, Carr argues, “The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it”), there is little doubt that using electronic devices all day long everyday is changing how we think, how we store and recall information, and how we toggle between different types of tasks. Micro learning, which breaks learning tasks and content down into the smallest possible units, arguably also effectively responds to the rewired 21st-century brains.

How Micro Learning will Impact eLearning in 2017

How Micro Learning will Impact eLearning in 2017

Integrated Training: With the rise of micro training, training will become increasingly integrated into other parts of the workday. A small 30-second to 1-minute training module might be developed as a pop up when employees enter a specific program to begin working on an already scheduled task. This is ideal if you need to quickly let employees know about something new (e.g., a new software application that has been launched with an update).

Just-in-Time (JIT) Training: With micro learning, just-in-time (JIT) training will gain ground too. While developing an elaborate series of training modules can take time, with micro learning, JIT training will continue to take off. For example, if an organization introduces a new policy that must be launched immediately, it is now conceivable to develop a short training module to share with employees in a matter of hours not days or weeks. 

Conversion of Old Data: While some old data may be irrelevant, some old data remains vital. Converting old data into a library of small training modules can be easily disseminated is a great way to ensure that everyone stays on top of critical information without feeling overwhelmed or forced to return to training materials in which they are already fully immersed.