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.