A Major Shift to Micro-Learning

We hear about it daily: MICRO-LEARNING. If you are in the learning industry, you’ve seen micro-learning content show up in monthly industry publications, your daily news feeds, and maybe even your annual performance goals. But what is it really and why are so many people talking about it?

The Need for Something Different

It wasn’t necessarily that long ago when many enterprise learning programs were entirely instructor-led and conducted inside of classrooms. But today, that option is no longer realistic. Today’s company supports multiple locations, diverse populations, remote workers, and employees spanning multiple generations. A learning program supported primarily by instructor-led training is just too costly and time-consuming. Time spent in training and time to train would put strain on the productivity of many critical business functions.

Virtual instructor-led (synchronous) training and e-learning (asynchronous) that mimics what is presented in the classroom reduces travel and time in the classroom but still requires significant design and development.

How Demands on Business Have Changed How We Learn

Studies show that workers are interrupted as frequently as every 5 minutes and that most learners won’t watch videos longer than 4 minutes. These findings can truly define how you design your training programs. Additionally, today’s learning programs must often support multiple brands, be easily reusable, appeal to multiple generations, fulfill just-in-time training needs, and track seamlessly with enterprise platforms like the LMS.

The Pros and Cons of Micro-Learning

Micro-learning addresses many of these new demands on how learners learn and how businesses operate; however, it still has its pros and cons.


  • Micro-learning fundamentally offers small chunks of content which are good for just-in-time training.
  • Micro-learning tends to focus on granular topics which helps reduce information overload.
  • Micro-learning is intended to be short (<15 mins), and therefore design and development is often faster and more budget friendly.
  • Micro-learning is ideal for mobile devices.
  • Micro-learning is easily repeatable and adapts to a multi-tasking workforce.

Conceptually, micro-learning feels easier; however, design and delivery are still major considerations. Here are some cons:


  • Micro-learning often additionally requires the need to group and organize courses in order to provide the complete and contextual picture.
  • Micro-learning courses can easily become fragmented.
  • Micro-learning’s technical demands could be high if the goal is to be truly device agnostic.
  • Micro-learning’s short format may not be feasible for complex topics.

An Easy Transition to Micro-Learning

Shifting to a new approach is never easy but there are ways to make the transition sustainable and smooth. One such way is by making use of custom templates. Creating templates suitable for your micro-learning offers the ability to “divide and conquer” complex topics into digestible pieces, each of which can be presented with a templated style. Starting with a custom template helps provide consistency with color themes, image styles, and user controls, and templates can be designed to easily support multiple brands. Finally, when you start with a custom template that provides a wide variety of presentation and interaction possibilities, micro-courses can be developed independently and with different content, while still providing uniformity across a curriculum or library of micro-courses.

With nearly 50% of corporate workers turning to YouTube for on-the-job support, L&D teams can’t ignore the allure of micro-learning.

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