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Microlearning: A Complete Guide for Learners

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Published on: 21 Oct 2022

Have you ever gone through hours of content but with barely any impact? Have you ever felt that you are learning, but it's not adding to your knowledge? Consuming large content but making it more difficult to memorise it? The solution to all your learning-based problems could be microlearning.

But what is microlearning? Why is it important? How does it help you learn better? Above all, how does microlearning change the future of the learning industry? This blog explains it all. 

Let's begin with knowing what microlearning means to help you understand.

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What is microlearning? 

Looking to know what is microlearning? We have the answer for you.

The basic principle of micro-learning: Less is More

That's what microlearning is all about. It's about continuously progressing one step at a time until you reach the summit. Microlearning is learning reinvented. It helps people gain knowledge and skills in a few minutes.

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The learning materials are called microlearning modules or courses. They are for learners who don't want to compromise their daily routines. Each microlearning module is designed to help you learn within a few minutes. 

But what is microlearning trying to achieve with such short courses???

Simple: A learning method that doesn't make you aggressively scratch the hair off your head.

Don't get it?

Let's understand the objectives of microlearning to understand what it's aiming at.

What is the objective of microlearning?

The micro-perspective of microlearning aims at four main aspects of gaining knowledge:

#1. Engagement

An easy way to keep you hooked on what you are learning. No yawns and no "this is so boring. I can't even!"

#2. Knowledge absorption and retention

You learn for ten minutes a day. That gives your brain the time to transition knowledge from short-term to long-term. No more "I did read about it, but I don't remember".

#3. Time-saving

Lectures taking all day? Missing out on living life because there's too much to learn? Too bad! Microlearning engages you to learn for 10 to 15 minutes daily, and the remaining 23 ½ hours are ALL YOURS!

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#4. Accessibility

You know that feeling when everything seems to be either for only the rich folks or, worse, genZ? Microlearning has no such bias. Cheap and accessible, it's for everyone. Yes, even for those who don't want to spend more than a dollar! Learn on the smartphone, iOS, tablet, iPad, laptop, or desktop. Plus, there is no age, gender, sexuality, race, or other exclusivity. You want to microlearn? Go ahead!

What isn't microlearning?

Sure, it's a learning method. But you need to know what microlearning doesn't include. Why? Because the education industry is a vast spectrum. Microlearning seems to be at the top of the learning game. But you need to understand what not to expect from it. Here's a list of what microlearning isn't:

#1. It isn't a textbook course.

Microlearning has many formats. For instance, audio, videos, infographics, slide show presentations, quizzes, games, and texts.

#2. It doesn't focus only on academic growth.

Sure, if one wants to learn arithmetics through microlearning, one can. But the main focus of microlearning is on practical implementation in life. It focuses on skills rather than just theoretical knowledge. 

#3. It isn't a certificate course.

Looking to earn a diploma certificate in problem-solving or 3D design skills? You will have to enrol in an official institutional course. Microlearning aims to prepare a smarter and more skilful generation without any certificates. Successful companies no longer look for how many certifications one can collect. They look for the skills and expertise a candidate has. That's precisely what microlearning helps to acquire.

Why is microlearning trending in 2022/2023?

Microlearning has absolutely taken the learning community by storm. 

A report by Emerald Insight discusses a study on microlearning. It took into consideration 476 publications from 2006 to 2019. As per the analysis, microlearning is a globally emerging topic. Moreover, the topic found supporters like various authors, affiliations, and funding sponsors. 

The question is, why? Why is microlearning trending? Above all, who are these people making microlearning a trend?

To understand the hype, let's understand the new decade audience. The learning generation of the 2020s is very straightforward. They want to have the best of everything. They want to live, love, AND learn at the same time. And why not? The world is progressing rapidly. You can't dedicate all your time to learning. You need to find a balance between learning and living. This is why microlearning is a justified trend. Below are the strongest factors contributing to microlearning turning into a top-notch trend.

#1. The demand for change

People are burned out. People are exhausted with the old. They are tired of listening to the same old advice:

"Keep learning and practising."

They want to learn and practise but also see quick results.

Microlearning is the quintessential term to fit this "out with the old, in with the new" narrative. With its ready-to-fit-anyone's-lifestyle perspective, microlearning has taken the learning game higher than ever. Because of its short structure, it gets easier to remember. Any learner can see the results instantly. This is also thanks to the engaging experience of microlearning.

According to a report by Hubspot, users finish the microlearning course faster. This is because microlearning is more 'immersing' than traditional methods. Additionally, it avoids causing mental fatigue.

What learners learned a week ago remains in their brains for a long time. With increased knowledge retention, learners can see faster results. The faster they learn, the more progress they see in real life.

#2. The need for a continuous learning revolution

At this stage, people don't want to be lazy. They want to be a part of a revolution that can blow their minds. Learning constantly through traditional methods seems to be slow now. There is a need for the rebel in the air with microlearning. It stands against all forms of boring, tried-and-tested, and uninspiring methods to convey one thing:

"Learning is Fun"

Additionally, people don't want to learn for temporary goals. They want lifelong lessons that can come in handy in various situations. They don't want to learn only what's in the books. They want to learn skills that have a more practical approach to their careers.

Microlearning guides a learner beyond traditional boundaries. The knowledge acquired is for long-term purposes. It also gives a break from learning exhaustively. The learner learns without facing severe problems like cognitive fatigue and stress. Moreover, microlearning uses spaced repetition. 

#3. Easy to adjust

Did you know that the average completion rate of a microlearning course is 82 per cent? 

This is because microlearning has an engaging and adjustable structure. It provides a larger scope of free learning. 

People these days crave to be the masters of their own will. Nobody likes the pressure of their time or schedule being dictated. 

Microlearning makes your learning process less stressful. It does so by allowing you to learn anytime and anywhere. It doesn't bind learners within strict boundaries of time or place. Adjust your learning time according to the following:

-what you need to learn

-how much you need to learn, and,

-how much you want to invest at a time. Eventually, you get to learn new skills without compromising your day's productivity.

#4. Digital glow-up

A prominent reason why microlearning is trending is the global digital makeover. 

Fun fact: A study by Growth Engineering UK revealed that mobile learning can increase engagement by up to 70%.

It's all about convenience. People want resources that can be available with a click. The same goes for learning too. And why shouldn't they when they can get what they want right on their phones?

In the last 2-3 years, technology has grown faster than anything else. Microlearning has become a learning trend people don't want to miss out on. This could have gone differently if microlearning didn't show prominent results. But it does, which is why experts are certain that microlearning is a trend meant to stay. 

The concept of learning has evolved with mobile-friendly microlearning apps in the market. It started from providing just information to changing the course of learning. Even science backs how microlearning can be a beneficial path to redesigning learning. The digital content is designed to fit the "fun and illuminating" narrative. 

#5. Employee expectations

The pressure to upskill is constantly on employees. However, it has grown multifold with time. Competition, employer demands, and self-expectations have made the professional sector stressful. It doesn't matter if you are in your business for a month or a decade. If you haven't upgraded yourself, chances are someone with the appropriate skills may replace you. 

These are the employee expectations that constantly invade the professional world:

A steady pace with targeted consumers.

New skill growth to keep up with the demands of the field you are working in.

Have a basic understanding of important trends. Research within and outside your domain relevant to your company.

Microlearning can help you stay updated with the times, skills, and trends. It can even help you enhance the knowledge that you already have. 

benefits of micorlearning koolstories

So, does microlearning have a future? Yes, definitely. But where is this future leading? Let's understand this in the next section.

What is the future of microlearning? 

"Learning never exhausts the mind."

-Leonard Da Vinci

The thing is, most of us struggle with agreeing with Da Vinci on this. Learning CAN exhaust the mind, especially if the method of learning is wrong. 

The reason why microlearning has the potential to shape the future differently is:
It takes out the mundane and exhaustive bits of learning. 

It gives the learner precisely what they need: easy and accessible learning. 

Here are the top 5 ways through which microlearning is moulding a better future for learning. 

#1. Change the view on formal education

What was education before the internet invaded everything? Offline. Periodt! The only way to learn was through hardcover copies. 

Three decades ago, if you wanted to learn something, your source was mostly hard copies. Some of us had access to the internet through cybercafes. Most of us learned what we could through hours spent in the library with limited access to knowledge. 

Even formal education was derived from the limited information available through textbooks. This "lack of knowledge" was a huge disadvantage. Why? If people had the correct and easy access to learn new skills, careers would have been way more different. So many people had to give up on their career dreams because they didn't have enough sources to learn. And those people now may think it's too late to learn skills to make those dreams come true. What if this wasn't true? This is where microlearning is redesigning the future. 

Even for people who are past their college days, microlearning opened new doors for them. Microlearning is shaping a new world that genuinely believes in learning at any age. It's giving people the most important aspect of growth: information. 

Experts predict that microlearning can change the future of learning by emphasising more on a person's skill growth and less on the academic background. And if that happens, the entire education system will face a massive revolution. The microlearning movement is growing with a generation that believes that knowledge needs no certifications. 

Hence, microlearning will raise two important questions:

A. Is a formal education important if one can learn through microlearning? What's the purpose of formal education if people can easily gain multiple skills?
B. Microlearning pushes a learner to the next-level real-life experiences. So, where would an educational degree come in handy? 

#2. It is questioning specialisations

Specialists are those who have a formal education and experience in a specific niche. Basically, a specialist is an expert in a particular subject/genre/field. 

So you understand how microlearning can change the views on formal education. The question is:

If microlearning can alter the next generation's views on formal education, what would define a person to be a specialist?

The thing is, microlearning is for everyone. Anyone can gain knowledge. No specific criteria filter only specific candidates 'fit' to gain knowledge. This way, microlearning has opened up new portals for people who want to:

-Specialise but cannot afford the education fee. 

-Be specialists but have failed entrance exams.

-Be specialists but aren't aware of the opportunities.

In the case of such people, there's a chance that the conditions of being a specialist may get challenged. A person may lack a formal certificate. But if they have the skills, expertise, and knowledge required, won't they be specialists? What if they do not have a formal paper establishing their 'expertise' and 'skills'? Does it make them less talented or knowledgeable?

Microlearning is creating a future where kids can be free experts. They can learn a subject without going through formal education. It also scratches the capitalistic surface of formal education. Additionally, microlearning gives hope to those who come from humble backgrounds. 

Moreover, it gives the kids of tomorrow a choice they need when it comes to picking a career. A student can learn whatever they want. They can not only dream but also learn before they head out to build their careers. 

#3. Changing the use of idle time

Microlearning can put an end to improper use of idle time. With the emergence of social media, there's an increase in content that doesn't add value to their time. People have realised how much time they waste scrolling through social media platforms.

Microlearning engages learners with content that is easy to get hooked to. Hence, it prepares the next generation to use time on knowledge-based content. Learners focus on informative content rather than content with nothing beyond entertainment. 

Microlearning is shaping a generation that wants to add productivity to every moment. People can learn anytime, whether while commuting to work or sitting idle in a park. You can learn random "did you know-" facts, updated trends, and more to build aware minds. Microlearning is suitable even for children. They can navigate through the engaging content for long-term learning. Moreover, they develop the habit of learning during their idle time. It's only a matter of time before these children grow into more responsible adults. 

#4. Advancing the usability of mobile phones

Mobile phone: an addiction most of us are trying to get rid of. 

But what if mobile learning can enhance the future instead of drowning it in utter failure?

Three decades ago, nobody imagined that it could evolve to this extent. It began with sending simple texts. Then, the functionality extended to clicking pictures and shooting videos. Next came connecting with anyone around the world in nanoseconds. Now, reshaping the world of learning beyond traditional classrooms, desktops, or laptops. 

Microlearning modules, with their mobile-friendly approach, are easily accessible to anyone. A report by MobieTrain on microlearning mentioned that:

"Using mobile devices, users can pause and continue their micro-lessons easily. The mobile application also gives them the opportunity to continually check on their performance and adjust their learning accordingly. Microlearning on mobile devices also keeps engagement levels high because it utilises different forms of media to keep users captivated." 

Microlearning on mobile changes the future of learning in two prominent aspects:

A. Increase the demand to learn and work remotely through phones
B. Build the need for customised learning solutions on the phone

Hence, the new learner may get more dependent on the phone. But, at the same time, learn how to use mobile phones in an effective and productive manner. Cell phones have been a way to gain entertainment, connect, and relax. With microlearning being super mobile-friendly, now knowledge acquisition, too, is at your fingertips.

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How does microlearning differ from microtraining? 

Most people continue to believe that microlearning and microtraining are synonymous. 
But we beg to differ. 

The two terms share the same fundamental concept (of providing bite-sized content). However, both differ in more than one way. Below are the differences between microlearning and microtraining mentioned:

1. Microtraining is specific for employees and work environments. Microlearning is for anyone and everyone, regardless of who they are.

2. Microtraining focuses specifically on employee skills and performance for professional or company growth. Microlearning focuses on individual development.

3. Microtraining includes company-specific skills like data analysis, product training, and customer analysis training. Microlearning includes any and every skill. For instance, music, dance, writing, motion graphics, problem-solving, calligraphy, and more.

Want to create your own microlearning course? We have some tips for you.

Microlearning from a creator's eye

Creating a microlearning course is fairly easier than creating e-learning modules. You can create a 5-minute video at home using the tools you already have. This is why most teachers and creators incline towards microlearning. Let's jump straight to the top 3 tips to create your own microlearning course.

#1. Short and accessible

Think about short YouTube videos or podcasts on Spotify. You can even check out the super crisp KoolStories microlearning courses on our app.

Remember: your content should be "bite-sized". This means: 5 to 10-minute chunks that a learner can watch/listen/read quickly on the go. 

#2. Keep it topic-specific

Want to teach photography skills? Don't create a video on the entire subject. Pick a short topic related to photography and create a short microlearning module on it. You can create content in the form of audio, videos, slideshows, infographics, and more. 

Remember: Give the learner only a topic to focus on. This way, the learner can thoroughly and independently understand the topic. 

#3. Avoid fillers

Don't overwhelm the listener by adding information that they don't even need. Fillers can be interesting to listen to, but they don't add value to the learning process.

Remember: Keep the content to the point and straightforward. This helps the learner feel satisfied with learning only what they want or need. 

Microlearning vs traditional e-learning: which is better?

A study was conducted by Katy Jordan, an educational researcher. It revealed that:
Only 15% of learners in traditional e-learning methods complete the entire course. The rest don't consume the whole course, even if they are paying for it. 

This is one of the reasons why the e-learning industry is facing a loss. Low completion rates mean more people are cancelling their online subscription courses. This is because the new learner doesn't want to go through an overwhelming amount of data at once. It's boring, mentally exhaustive, and easy to forget. 

 As reported by Gadgets360, a study conducted by Microsoft on learners. It showed that a learner pays attention for the first 8 seconds and then loses it. Within these 8 seconds, the course has to give the learner a substantial reason to stay invested. The initial seconds are when the learner decides whether they want to learn more or just skip. 

Microlearning gives the learner the engagement they need. Hence, it has given a whole new shape to the e-learning industry. 

Having online microlearning modules means higher engagement and low bounce rates. It improves the overall quality of e-learning and its use in various aspects of a learner's life. 

Your microlearning journey can begin right here!

Learners and creators! Get ready to experience micro learning up, close, and personal. KoolStories is the first-of-its-kind microlearning app. Here, you can find numerous micro courses for your favourite skills. Join the Kool community today. Enjoy short videos (snippets), audio, microcourses, chats, one-on-one sessions, and more!


What are the key characteristics of a microlearning module?

Microlearning focuses on the following characteristics:

-The course length should be anywhere between 1 minute to 30 minutes long.

-The course should be available on mobile devices.

-It should be extremely topic-specific without any filler content.

-The course should be built by experts who can be consulted through one-to-one sessions.

Is there a fixed duration for microlearning courses?

No, for now, the length of a microlearning course goes anywhere between a minute to 30 minutes long. However, a standard microlearning course is 5-minutes long. According to a study done by ATD, microlearning is most effective between 2 and 5 minutes. But, some skills (especially technical ones) require longer 10 to 15 minutes courses.

What are the different microlearning formats?

Microlearning is available in these formats:

Animations, GIFs, Quizzes, Videos, Audios, Podcasts, Infographics, eBooks, Blogs, Whiteboard animations, Flipbooks, Digital FlashBooks.

Is Microlearning effective?

Various studies have proved that microlearning is effective in knowledge-acquisition and knowledge-retention. Microlearning engages learners 70% more than traditional e-learning methods. Learners are way more focussed and eager to learn. Moreover, microlearning helps in gaining specific skills while being “on the go”. 
Keywords: microlearning, learning, learners, elearning, knowledge, short, bite-sized, time, employee.


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