How To Make the Most of Microlearning: A 2023 Guide
How To Make the Most of Microlearning: A 2023 Guide
May 3, 2023
May 3, 2023
Tango Content Marketing Lead
Hannah is a semi-recovered perfectionist and longtime subscriber to the squiggly model of success. She spent 11 years learning from the best at brands like HubSpot and Food52 and loves running, cooking, and helping people feel A++ at work. 🤗
Microlearning is an increasingly popular way to transfer knowledge and enable continuous learning.
This approach gives people the information they need, in the moment they need to apply it. Brevity is the name of the game here, with some content lasting as little as 60 seconds.
What’s better than a bite-sized approach? A bite-sized approach with outsized benefits.
Microlearning is the opposite of information overload. The antidote to learner fatigue. And a welcome alternative to “drinking through a fire hose.” If you’ve survived Week One of new hire training or the first few months as a new parent—no need to elaborate on that last one.
Think of this guide as a microlearning 101—with:
Evidence to show we crave bite-sized content
13 of the biggest benefits to microlearning—and why memorization *shouldn’t* be the goal
Common microlearning types
9 popular microlearning tools (including one that makes it easy to save brain power for what really matters)
Microlearning best practices
7 mistakes to avoid
How micro and macro learning work hand in hand
Why microlearning matters for knowledge workers
How much time can you dedicate to [formal] training and development each week?
If you’re like us, the answer is…not much.
We already spend less than 40% of our average workweek on tasks that are specific to our jobs. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an appetite for learning.
Over half of employees surveyed said they would spend more time learning at work if the content were presented in shorter, bite-sized chunks.
80% of employees are learning on an as-needed basis.
When it comes to learning preferences, a whopping 94% prefer microlearning on the job.
If you’re hungry for new knowledge—and you’re in your easily distracted and constantly on-the-go era—you may benefit from microlearning.
13 benefits of bite-sized learning
If you’re used to sitting through a 60-minute webinar or sifting through a detailed user manual, having information delivered to you in your moment of need may feel too good to be true.
The best part about microlearning isn’t even the convenience. It’s the relevance of it. You get exactly the amount of knowledge you need to get sh*t done. No more and no less. And because this kind of informal learning is so short and spot on, you can consume it between tasks—or even more ideally, without breaking flow.
Minimizes blockers within workflows. ⏩ By surfacing solutions *during* your process.
Favors (highly) applicable info. ✅ Exhaustive and theoretical content need not apply.
Increases productivity. 📈 Less time spent searching for answers in more comprehensive documentation = more time applying what you know.
Boosts learner engagement. 🐠 Microlearning doesn’t demand prolonged focus—which is good, given we check our phones approximately 96 times per day.
Meets the learning needs of a diverse workforce. 🌏 As work goes increasingly global, and learning on the job becomes more and more important.
Decreases learning and development costs. 💰 Which would you rather send your top performers—tickets to a conference or a Tango to the same effect?
Expands reskill and upskill opportunities. 👨💻 Microlearning makes performance support and development more accessible to all.
Builds a culture of knowledge sharing. 🤓 Which encourages everyone to help each other find the right answers, in the right place, at the right time.
💭 Tango Tip
Microlearning and operational excellence go hand in hand.
Adapting to ongoing, rapid change is now under everyone's "other duties as assigned." To make faster decisions and keep companies moving forward, today's knowledge workers need quick infusions of just in time learning to thrive.
This is especially true at the operational level, where new information needs to be paired with actionable solutions as soon as possible.
Common microlearning content types
If you’re onboard with microlearning, you may be wondering about the best bet for sharing content.
You’ve got options, including:
How-to guides (light on text; heavy on screenshots!)
Abbreviated e-learning modules
9 popular microlearning tools
These tools provide a range of options for creating and delivering microlearning content, making it easier for educators and trainers to meet the needs of modern learners who prefer short, focused, and engaging learning experiences.
Tango takes the pain out of teaching people to use software—and makes learning easy, fast, and fun. The end result? Actionable how-to guides (with perfectly annotated screenshots!) in seconds.
If you’re a trainer, you can:
Document while you work. Create a tutorial captured in real time, as you run through a process the way you normally would.
Share your most critical workflows. Because idle knowledge = useless knowledge.
Save so much time. Both on documentation, and on all the repetitive questions.
Empower your team. To learn on the job, share new knowledge, and never go back to dense text or long videos.
If you’re a learner, you can:
Get guidance where, when, and how you want it. View your how-to guide right next to your webpage (no tab switching needed!), when you’re stuck, with step-by-step instructions converted into a checklist.
Find answers fast. Clean and clear visuals make it easy to get unstuck and get on with your day.
Save your brainpower for the stuff you really need to remember. Get the knowledge you need, when you need to apply it—and then free up space for more important things.
Duolingo is a language learning app that makes that goal less daunting and a lot more 🕺🕺.
You’ll love Duolingo if you:
Like personalized, bite-sized learning.
Want to form a habit of language learning—for free.
Are big into gamification and fun challenges.
Appreciate a good mascot (what’s not to like about Duo the owl?).
7taps is a female-founded company and microlearning platform market leader with 12,000+ happy customers.
7Taps has taken off because it:
Is super easy to start using (we’re talking 20 seconds or less to get signed up!).
Has a built-in microlearning framework.
Creates mobile-first and desktop friendly mini courses.
Makes courses accessible in one click.
TalentCards is a mobile training platform that delivers training to your people, without pulling them away from their jobs.
You’ll appreciate TalentCards if:
Your frontline needs more than a learning management system (LMS).
You need a way to teach and reinforce important topics in as little as five minutes a day.
You have teams that prefer short training sessions over regular intervals.
You want to redefine your approach to compliance, product, and onboarding training.
Arist is an e-learning provider that meets learners where they are—via SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, and Teams.
Arist is 💯 for anyone who wants to:
Deliver learning, training, and nudges in the flow of work.
Make learning more engaging, accessible, and impactful—in places where people already spend 80% of their time.
Drive learner outcomes (we see that 90% learner satisfaction rate!).
Create, deliver, and analyze bite-size courses in minutes—with no app download required.
EdApp is a mobile-first LMS that offers microlearning content, including interactive lessons, quizzes, and assessments.
EdApp may be best if you:
Would like to jumpstart learning for your team with ready-made training and templates.
Don’t have access to your own developer or graphic designer.
Want to customize content to match your branding.
Like the idea of having everything your team needs in one product.
Axonify is a frontline LMS designed specifically for employees that are on the move.
You’ll like Axonify if you:
Need to deliver training to frontline workers.
Would like to take a mobile-first approach.
Care deeply about employee engagement (83% use Axonify 2-3 times a week!).
Want tangible ways to track program effectiveness.
Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that makes it possible to create interactive quizzes, surveys, and games.
Kahoot! is great for people who:
Often deliver presentations and wish you could make them more interactive.
Would like to host games live—and/or assign self-paced games for remote training.
Like an industry leader (Kahoot! is trusted by 97% of Fortune 500 companies and is used in 200+ countries).
Want people to learn without realizing they’re doing so.
QStream is a microlearning platform that works with existing HR and learning tech systems to provide bite-sized learning content to learners.
QStream may meet your needs if you:
Want to simultaneously reduce training time and improve knowledge retention.
Have a goal of driving behavior change.
Believe in personalized, engaging, and gamified learning experiences.
Want a science-backed solution.
Microlearning best practices
When it comes to microlearning best practices, “less is more” only scratches the surface. There’s a lot to consider when you’re teaching someone how to follow a process, perform a task, or use specific tools or technologies.
Want to create engaging microlearning moments and materials that get the job done?
Tackle only one objective.
Use clear, everyday language.
Focus on what will make learners successful in the moment.
Confirm content delivers a complete learning experience on its own (in short bursts).
Use multimedia elements such as images, videos, and audio.
Omit any information that isn’t 100% necessary.
Pick the right tool to carry out your microlearning strategy.
Plan for versioning, hosting, distribution, and management.
Double-check your final output can be consumed in 10 minutes or less.
Ask for feedback and adapt accordingly.
7 microlearning mistakes to avoid
What about what you *shouldn’t* do, when you’re designing training and development microcontent?
We have some ideas on that too.👇
Microlearning mistakes to avoid include:
Chunking content and calling it microlearning. 🚩 Slicing and dicing a larger course into smaller pieces doesn’t always translate into standalone material suited for a single purpose.
Going too deep. 😵 Microlearning is great when content can be isolated and condensed into a quick unlock for learners. It’s not ideal for in-depth training—especially if a concept is complex and/or brand new.
Introducing broad, foundational knowledge. 📚 Your goal is to answer a single question or problem—as quickly as possible.
Aiming for a magic number. ⌛ A 2-minute step-by-step how-to guide is better than 45-second video if the second doesn’t solve a learning challenge.
Skimping on elements to keep people’s interest. 😴 Videos, screenshots, illustrations, real-world scenarios, quizzes, and animations can all drive learner engagement.
Forgetting to consider distribution. 🚀 Half of your job is to connect people to the information they need, when they need it.
Thinking microlearning can replace macro learning. 🙅 Microlearning is a valuable supplement to macro learning.
The bottom line
Microlearning is more than just a buzzword. It’s an exciting addition to traditional ways to learn (and in turn, teach). To move past theory into real-world application, we’ll leave you with this.
When you’re new to a role, macro learning is key. If you’re doing in-depth discovery, you’ve understood the assignment.👌 Observations over your first few months should give you a good sense of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, goals and priorities, people and systems, etc.
As you travel up the learning curve, you’ll need regular infusions of new knowledge. Meet microlearning. 👋 Addressing knowledge gaps and picking up new skills will happen *as* you own bigger projects and make connections between ideas, initiatives, and problems to solve.
Once you move past proficiency, you may spend more time sharing what you know. Adding value may take the form of setting your teammates up for success, through both macro and microlearning methods. 🧡
With any luck, soon you’ll be seen as an SME who’s ready for a promotion. To succeed in your new role and move up your new learning curve, you’ll probably need to do some more macro learning…and then the cycle begins again. 🔄
What’s the TL;DR? Microlearning has many merits on its own. But what’s the move, if you want to create a learning strategy in true service of your team? Making a blend of both micro and macro learning opportunities available.
What is a microlearning method?
A microlearning method delivers brief, focused learning content. The method is designed to deliver information in short bursts, with the goal of addressing specific learning objectives or topics.
What is the purpose of microlearning?
Microlearning gives us a way to connect people to bite-sized pieces of information in the flow of their work, at their moment of need. It helps people get unblocked, find answers to their problems/questions, and apply their new knowledge immediately. By definition, microlearning is incredibly efficient, engaging, and effective.
What is the ideal length for microlearning content?
While there is no magical number, microlearning content can range anywhere from a few seconds up to 10 minutes.
What types of content are suitable for microlearning?
Some examples of microlearning content types include Infographics, videos, checklists, screenshot-heavy how-to guides, mobile devices, and apps.
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