Micro-Learning: The Smallest ‘Next Big Thing’ in L&D

Micro-Learning is being hailed as the next ‘big thing’ in learning and development, which is ironic considering it’s something so small; but what is micro-learning and why should you be using it?

Basically, micro-learning is taking your development one small piece of the puzzle at a time, taken when you need it, wherever you are. For example, instead of completing an entire face to face training course regarding the use of a computer system, you can watch a short video which explains how to do one task within that system that you need to understand in that moment. The idea is that staff locate and utilise the training at a time and place dictated by their own needs, rather than having training externally imposed. This increases engagement with the materials, allows immediate application of the training and therefore increases learner retention. It’s a system that is highly adaptable to the 70:20:10 model of training, suits the ever shortening learner attention span, and is being hailed as the best way to teach Millennials in the workplace.

The Age of Bite-Sized Learning

Bite sized is the right sized for busy professionals on the go


The key to creating engaging micro-learning is much the same as the key to all instructional design: be targeted, be relevant, provide information in a format which keeps the user interested through quality graphics, high quality content, and strong production values, and ensure that there is an assessment component. The difference with micro-learning is that your content should focus on one key element only, delivery should be online and mobile, and a video that runs for less than four minutes is generally accepted as the best means of delivery.

Remember, even though the delivery method is short, this doesn’t mean that you are incapable of boring your audience into submission, the ‘self-serve’ nature of micro-learning means that the minute you are no longer engaging your audience, they will jump off and find other resources that do it better.

Example One of Micro-Learning:

This video, at 90 seconds, promises to give you the lowdown on the What, Why and How of micro-learning, and its short runtime, focus on one issue and beginning, with music and graphics, promise much. However its comments on Millennials are condescending and vaguely insulting (perhaps meant as a joke?), particularly when it claims they are the training’s key audience, and it soon degenerates into a list of reasons reminiscent of every PowerPoint presentation that has ever put you to sleep.

The idea behind the video is excellent, the execution, particularly in the second half of the video is poor.

Example Two of Micro-Learning:

This video uses short bursts of video to communicate all the different ways their micro-learning site and services can be used by organisations to convey very different kinds of knowledge. While it is very effective at getting you to understand the breadth of topics that can be adapted to micro-learning, it doesn’t have a proper introduction or conclusion, its anti-LMS message is not explained and makes the viewer wonder if they understand exactly how an LMS could actually benefit an organisation embracing micro-learning, and so much of the video is spent confusedly wondering exactly what message the video is trying to communicate.

Example Three of Micro-Learning:

This is a solid video that discusses work-integration. It is short, informative, and has simple professional visuals that illustrate the content presented. The best part of this video is that it is well designed: despite only running for around 90 seconds, it gives the viewer a full understanding of the topic presented, with strong, well developed examples that engage the viewers interest until the end.

Example Four of Micro-Learning:

Infographics, like the one below, are an excellent way of communicating new ideas and giving a strong overview of topics that need to be quickly and easily grasped. By presenting information in a visually exciting medium that provides targeted information, this infographic speedily communicates the key elements to consider when choosing whether to implement blended learning. Again it’s important to target and signpost your information, and this infographic has a solid introduction and an excellent conclusion which guide the reader, enabling them to easily and effectively follow and retain the message communicated.


When done well, a clear infographic can communicate ideas effectively with high engagement


Micro-Learning is a fantastic tool to help staff develop themselves as and when they need it, but, like any learning and development tool, it needs to be well thought out, conform to best practice instructional design, and be accessible and assessable. If your organisation is having problems with learner engagement and with finding the time and space to send staff to training courses, micro-learning could be the solution for you.


Do you have any examples of micro-learning done well? Is your organisation using micro-learning? Have you found it to be a positive addition to your Learning and Development offering?

2 thoughts on “Micro-Learning: The Smallest ‘Next Big Thing’ in L&D

  1. Pingback: Why 70:20:10 is Failing | LearningYourDevelopment

  2. Pingback: Benchmarking Shows Leadership Development Programmes Aren’t Producing Great Leaders, but They Can | LearningYourDevelopment

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