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Does Microlearning Lead to Macroproblems?

Given today’s hectic pace, it is not surprising that the use of microlearning is rapidly increasing in the business world. It's really hard to get employees to set their regular work schedules aside to dedicate hours towards in-depth seminars and courses.

Besides, studies have found that more than half of employees would be more active in utilizing their company’s training tools if the courses were shorter. And not only is microlearning more likely to engage employees, but the training results are better too. Learning in smaller pieces of information promotes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the work desk 17% more efficiently.

But microlearning is not a cure-all and does not guarantee your company will become more competitive or more efficient. Some microlearning shortcomings must be addressed in order to optimize results.

Problem 1- Microlearning is not always effective

The world is filled with different types of organizations and workers. Many factors impact how individuals learn, including methodology, learning style, age and experience of the employee, and even such things as the quality of sleep from the night before. There are business environments in which microlearning is not always an effective learning strategy.


When an employee needs the solution to a current problem, it is essential to have important information accessible. Requiring information readily available can pose challenges in that the microlearning modules may be difficult to navigate in a just-in-time environment.

Combat this by pushing relevant and timely information to employees through notifications, text message, or email.


While microlearning is an incredible method to deliver a quick refresher to learners with space and time constraints, some topics are difficult to cover in this manner. If you are introducing new or abstract concepts, a more formal learning environment may be required. A formal classroom may be needed with a specific allotment of time to hit home complex topics.

If you're reading this, you probably already have the mindset of using a suite of tools and techniques, depending on the nature of the content and the learners involved.

Problem 2- Microleaning can miss the big picture

The applicability of microlearning depends on the type of information involved. Emphasizing small isolated chunks of valuable information, microlearning has its limitations when the content requires a more holistic view. Thus, subject matter that contains many interrelated concepts and sub-topics would not yield desired results through microlearning.

For example, students enrolled in a pre-med program may find that microlearning is an effective method for learning medical terms. (No doubt microlearning would be very effective here!) However, using microlearning exclusively for studying pathology would fail to prepare a pre-med student for real-world applications. A fragmented understanding of concepts would not qualify someone to make a proper diagnosis.

Again, it's a technique, but it's not the only piece of the puzzle.

Problem 3- Microlearning can be distracting and lower productivity of employees

With so many options available for microlearning such as interactive videos, learning games, as well as various formative and summative assessments, the content needs to be presented in a standardized fashion. Otherwise, learners can be bombarded with different content formats and different methodologies which detract from the consistent and effective delivery of material. If training resources appear disjointed, employees cannot assimilate knowledge and are unable to build on their existing knowledge base. Unorganized microlearning content can cause confusion and the inability to function effectively at work.

Leveraging your company's design team or outsourcing the creative elements would certainly help tie learning content together as a cohesive bundle.

Microlearning provides some amazing benefits. Employing microlearning modules should certainly be considered when developing training programs, as a part of the overall solution. The key is to use microlearning with the right content rather than as a method for delivering all information to all employees.


Words by Brandon Marsala, Creative Director, Content and Strategy at Mindspace


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