Fast, versatile and engaging, microlearning is a significant trend in online education. This mode of learning, which fragments knowledge into “bite-sized chunks,” is now taking on innovative forms to serve more structured online courses. In line with our technological habits, our information consumption patterns and our learning dispositions, its possibilities look very promising.

Not just sliced-and-diced training. Microlearning – not to be confused with micro-credentials – is not simply a matter of breaking down an online training course into several short modules. While it’s true that it can be used to break down a long training course into short units, it’s an approach with its own foundation and purpose. Based on repetition and participation, it is used to provide information on a specific subject and target a specific result, such as a behaviour or skill.

A few minutes at most. Sessions can vary from a few seconds to 15 minutes maximum but most often last from 2 to 7 minutes.

Various forms of sessions. Sessions can take a variety of forms, such as short video demonstrations, multiple-choice quizzes submitted by text message, or reminders of concepts sent by email. Microlearning can be presented as independent units or as a series of units that are interrelated in content or form and may or may not be complementary to a longer training course.

Flexibility guaranteed. This hyper-flexible learning mode can be followed online at your own pace, anytime and anywhere, on the medium of your choice: computer, tablet or smartphone. Initially designed for informal learning, microlearning now lends itself to many aspects of formal learning (delivered in an organized, structured context). It can enrich it by developing specific notions linked to the main course, testing the learner or creating reminder or performance support tools. For blended learning needs, microlearning combines well with face-to-face training, just as it can be integrated with various other solutions such as gamification, serious gaming or personalized learning.

Not for all learning. While it can be used for many subjects, microlearning is sometimes not the optimal solution. This is particularly true for highly complex courses or those clearly best served by a single, longer learning unit.

Catherine Meilleur

Catherine Meilleur

Communication Strategist and Senior Editor @KnowledgeOne. Questioner of questions. Hyperflexible stubborn. Contemplative yogi

Catherine Meilleur has over 15 years of experience in research and writing. Having worked as a journalist and educational designer, she is interested in everything related to learning: from educational psychology to neuroscience, and the latest innovations that can serve learners, such as virtual and augmented reality. She is also passionate about issues related to the future of education at a time when a real revolution is taking place, propelled by digital technology and artificial intelligence.