What is microlearning[1] — and how is it traditionally defined? Microlearning is a form of quick-hit training designed to get learners up to speed more rapidly on subjects. Typically delivered in the form of small learning units, microtraining programs, and short-term learning activities, it allows you to deliver bite-sized learning content just in time when audiences need it.


While there’s no official definition of microlearning, all microlearning-based training and professional development programs share one key characteristic: Briefness. Microlearning effectively delivers short bursts of educational content for learners to study at their convenience that fast-track the process of helping viewers gain familiarity with featured subjects. This content can take many forms, from articles and videos to animated explainers and full-blown interactive multimedia experiences, but is, as a rule of thumb, typically short in nature and designed to accelerate education. A more engaging and less time-consuming alternative to traditional online and eLearning programs, it’s quickly become a favorite tool of corporate training and professional education providers.


The concept of microlearning has garnered increasing attention in recent years as attention spans have shrunk; the pace of change and disruption has accelerated; and more working professionals have been looking to upskill, change careers, and stay up to date with best practices and emerging business and technology trends in rapidly-changing environments. Microtrainning continues to gain in prominence as just-in-time learning solutions and microcredentials rise to challenge traditional and lengthier training programs and academic degrees.




In short, microlearning (or micro learning, as some style it) refers to bite-sized educational content that’s linked to a specific learning objective or outcome and is delivered in short bursts that facilitate rapid learning. For maximum effect, microtraining ideally links with and/or integrates alongside more extensive educational efforts (e.g. traditional certification or degree programs) to achieve more comprehensive learning goals. 


According to Ján Skalka and Martin Drlík, microlearning “offers a new way of designing and organizing learning, like learning in small steps and small units of content, with structure and classification created by the learner.” You may even have encountered forms of casual microlearning as part of your daily routine already. For example: If you have ever turned to a You Tube video to figure out how to format an Excel spreadsheet table or repair a stuck garbage disposal on the Web, you’ve engaged in microlearning of a sort. It effectively refers to a method of teaching and training that allows you to learn what you need, when you need it, in a brief and portable format that allows you to quickly put newfound knowledge, skills, and abilities to work right away. 


Microlearning and microtraining can take many forms, such as:


– Text: Articles, Blog Posts, etc.

– Charts, Images, and Infographics

– Videos or Animated Explainers

– Podcast and Audio Recordings

– Interactive Apps and Games

– Tests, Quizzes, and Polls

– Learning Exercises and Activities


Microlearning has truly come into its own as a form of skills training and alternative to traditional corporate training and professional development methods in an age of busy schedules, shorter attention spans, mobile devices, and social media.




Microlearning is capable of functioning on its own, or being interwoven with more comprehensive training programs, professional development efforts, and university curriculum. It can prove especially helpful for several reasons:


– Shorter Attention Spans — In today’s world of endless connectivity and information streams, digital transformation and social media, attention spans have shrunk. If something doesn’t catch and hold our interest, we quickly scroll by. Rather than fight the trend, microlearning fits right into the daily stream of information, offering a quick-hit bursts of content that deliver the information that you need to know in minutes so you can get back to the task at hand.


– Accelerating Change — The professional world now evolves at breakneck pace, and continuous learning has become a mandate for working professionals. Microlearning and microtraining help audiences get up to speed on new topics faster, and stay relevant in a fast-changing marketplace.


– Crowded Schedules — Modern executives and students are increasingly strapped for time: Microlearning helps you make the most of it by shortening the educational experience and lowering the learning curve. What often takes a full-day seminar or half-day training workshop to communicate, microlearning can do in a matter of minutes.


– Promoting Ease of Use — Microlearning and microtraining are more accessible for everyday audiences, help make learning programs more approachable to lay readers/viewers, and require less of a time commitment. Delivering important pieces of information and insights on-demand, these tools are designed to better fit the needs of today’s learner.




Despite its seeming brevity, there are many recognized benefits to microlearning, and upsides to be enjoyed from microtraining programs. Chief among them:


– Education is Faster to Deliver and More Engaging

– Courses and Classes Are More Approachable

– Content Can Be Provided in Timelier Fashion

– Microtraining is More Affordable to Produce

– Flexible Formatting So eLearning Can Be More Tailored

– Material is Suitable for Shorter or Longer Learning Programs

– Microlearning Boosts Learning and Retention

– Users Can Learn at Their Own Pace

– Delivers On-Demand Knowledge Transfer

– Easy to Download and Consume When Convenient




The prospect of fast, fun, and timely continues to draw attention from training and development leaders globally. As demand for educational content in small, digestible, and portable formats continues to grow, so does the microlearning industry.  


Going forward, you can expect to see even larger and more comprehensive curriculum plans that link microlearning solutions to more macro-focused outcomes — and that offer tracking and badging systems or rely on gamification (game-like) methods to certify online learning. 


Organizations such as Badgr (https://info.badgr.com/) and Credly (http://info.credly.com) have been working to create the technical infrastructure around the tracking and sharing of microlearning success while groups like IMS Global (https://www.imsglobal.org/initiative/digitalcredentials) are working to establish standards.


[1] Dolasinski MJ, Reynolds J. Microlearning: A New Learning Model. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research. 2020;44(3):551-561. doi:10.1177/1096348020901579 
[2] Skalka J., Drlík M. (2018) Conceptual Framework of Microlearning-Based Training Mobile Application for Improving Programming Skills. In: Auer M., Tsiatsos T. (eds) Interactive Mobile Communication Technologies and Learning. IMCL 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 725. Springer, Cham.