Often, when we think about learning new skills, we think about signing up for a class. Sometimes, though, all we need are small chunks of structured learning, which is where microlearning comes in.

Highlighter and glasses in open book: Learning in progress!

For example, this past weekend I spent far too many hours trying to install a new floor in my laundry room. As any good digital citizen would do, whenever I ran into trouble–which was often–and the directions weren’t clear enough, I turned to YouTube and Google. Although we can hope that your organization’s strategy for short-term trainings is more structured than my cries for help from the web, the idea is the same: short bursts of training centered on a very specific set of skills, often delivered through digital means.

Microlearning is still a relatively new term, which means that definitions can be a little mushy. Basically, the goal is to break concepts into smaller pieces–in terms of time, content, or process–so that learners can quickly acquire new skills and put them into practice. Traditional courses certainly incorporate elements of this strategy, such as daily practice of new vocabulary, but in general microlearning is much more focused on the learner’s immediate needs and on information delivered in small chunks.

If traditional courses help learners understand how all the components of a car work as a system, in relation to each other, microlearning teaches people how to put gas in the car.

And sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Smart companies think about long- and short-term training and development¬†goals, and short-term, intensive modules can be a great way to help your employees stay up to date with rapidly changing fields or to close gaps in particular positions.

This kind of short-term, skills-focused learning works best for things like learning new technologies or understanding a change to processes. For example, maybe your group is changing to a new version of CRM software. The vendor will–and should!–offer trainings in how to use the system effectively. This is microlearning in a nutshell. Companies like Skillshare or Lynda have formalized, a la carte offerings that their subscribers can pick from. Other organizations offer short-term trainings¬†for employees in everything from how to use HR software to how to mentor subordinates. If your organization already has an LMS or corporate training software, you can build short modules on popular topics within the system.

These kinds of short-term trainings can be a great way to fill in gaps in employee skills and to develop your employees for the long haul. Offering trainings, especially if you give employees flexibility to choose among things that interest them, can boost employee engagement and retention.

Microlearning is a great way to help employees fill gaps quickly and acquire the skills they need to excel in their jobs.


Kirsten Drickey

Kirsten Drickey

Chief Marketing Officer at Avizr

I'm endlessly fascinated by how people learn, and I'm happiest when I'm in the process of learning something new myself.

When I'm not working on marketing for Avizr, I can be found teaching Spanish, working with my student teachers, hanging out with my dogs, and exploring the many trails around Bellingham.
Kirsten Drickey

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