Microlearning - what is it and how does it work?

Microlearning - what is it and how does it work?

17 Aug 2022

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The concept of Microlearning is based on research by Hermann Ebbinghaus into what he dubbed “The forgetting curve.” His studies in the 1800´s demonstrated that when people take in large amounts of information, retention of what was learned tends to degrade over time, typically losing up to 80% of the knowledge they learn within a month.

Microlearning seeks to compensate for this by breaking information down into smaller chunks that are more manageable and allowing learners to revisit training over time, improving retention of key points and enabling them to incorporate this into their daily workflow. This CPD article will provide a brief overview of the microlearning method, including the differences between microlearning and eLearning, and where to find CPD courses.

What is the Microlearning method?

Microlearning is a learning approach which involves condensing large quantities of content into bite-sized modules. Typically, microlearning training sessions are under ten minutes and can take as little as one minute to complete. This can be in the form of a short video, app, audio podcast or lecture of an expert speaking about a particular subject matter, or even a simple and informative PowerPoint presentation.

What is the purpose of Microlearning?

The main purpose of microlearning is to condense and refine information and learning into memorable sessions with clear, achievable outcomes. Microlearning reinforces course material by giving students enough time to absorb and understand new knowledge in a simple form that can be accessed at any time. This can help to improve learning from participants and allows for a more flexible and customisable study.

Microlearning courses are faster to develop and organise, and can meet the needs of an organisation to train their staff quickly and fill in skills or knowledge gaps without investing a lot of time and expense on cumbersome, longer training modules. Microlearning is also useful in that it can be used to either give a broad overview of a subject, or even be adapted to cover more complex topics.

Benefits of Microlearning vs Traditional learning

Microlearning purports to ensure that just the right amount of information is provided for the learners to achieve their goals, with modules lasting on average only five to ten minutes as opposed to other longer methods of training. Courses can cover almost all subjects, and the portable nature of mobile and video-based learning gives learners more freedom to study at their own pace and in their own time.

Microlearning aims to deconstruct the traditional learning process, favouring incremental but continuous improvement. Focusing on a single learning objective ensures that students can learn as much as possible about a specific subject. Microlearning can be held across a variety of different media forms, which makes learning more engaging and interactive.

On the other hand, traditional learning refers to learning that occurs live and the information is presented to students in person. One of the benefits of traditional learning is that individuals get more interaction with both their instructors and other peers. With traditional methods of learning, there is often a course structure or time requirement that students have to adhere to. This can be preferable to self-paced forms of learning where a higher degree of trust is needed.

The truth is, there is room for both forms of training in most organisations or as part of an individuals professional learning and development. Some subject matter will be suitable for microlearning formats, particularly skills-based training, while businesses may wish to rely on traditional training for particularly intensive or in-depth subject matter.

Benefits of microlearning to students

What is the difference between Microlearning and eLearning?

Online learning has changed the face of education, becoming more accessible without needing physical locations or time focused deadlines. As technology and approaches to education evolve and develop, eLearning, also known as online or digital learning and microlearning are two approaches that are seen to be increasing in popularity.

However, you might still be wondering what the difference is between e-learning and microlearning. eLearning is acquiring knowledge or education remotely or via the internet. Among its common features are access to educational materials, online tests and forums for groups to discuss learning topics.

Microlearning is also typically held online and can be held across a variety of different formats. Although the words are used interchangeably, microlearning is actually a modular delivery approach to online training. It can be used in conjunction with traditional learning and eLearning or can be seen as an alternative.

Simple Microlearning examples

The main type of microlearning is online videos. These often take the form of short, focused videos that are designed to meet a specific learning outcome. Microlearning videos can be designed to be standalone, offering a specific learning takeaway. Key examples include:

  • Explainer videos
  • Brief & interactive videos
  • Micro-lectures
  • Whiteboard animations
  • Kinetic text-based animations

Where to find eLearning CPD training courses?

With over 25 years’ experience, The CPD Certification Service is the world's leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Our Course Catalogue has thousands of training courses, conferences and events, workshops and seminars available, including eLearning and video-based training from a variety of CPD Providers and industries.

How to become a CPD accredited training provider

We hope this article was helpful. If you are considering becoming a CPD training provider, please contact our team to discuss in more detail. Alternatively, if you are looking to record your Continuing Professional Development, please go to the myCPD Portal where you can manage, track and log your learning in one simple place.

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