Why microlearning is better for your learners (and for you!)

Ellie Doyle, 3 min read

People are busy.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it. 

Our email pings every 10 minutes with a new meeting alert, and we better check Slack real quick to see if our colleague has responded to our question about that presentation tomorrow. And wait – is that the phone ringing?

While the digital age has revolutionised the workplace, it has also introduced a ton of new variables that distract us and change our priorities. 

I’m someone who loves to learn on the go. If I’m not learning, I’m bored. Being able to develop skills and apply them is intrinsic to how I work and enjoy working. But it is easy to forget that in the day-to-day.

When people are busy, learning is something that tends to get put on the back burner. It’s a lower priority than the 5 pm deadline this afternoon, and it will continue to fight against higher priority tasks until it’s forgotten about completely. Optional training lurks in the background of what’s important now

Who has a whole hour to invest in learning something that may not be immediately useful?

In Josh Bersin’s “The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things we have learned” he reveals that the modern worker only has 24 minutes each week to dedicate to learning and development. That’s about 1% of their working week. 

That research was in 2017. Given 33% of workers' attention spans are now shorter, and managers are now losing over half of their working time to administrative tasks (rather than strategic tasks), you can imagine that 1% is getting smaller and smaller.

But, despite not having the time, workplace learning is as important as ever. 

Globally, we need to reskill around 1 billion people, and 87% of millennials view learning opportunities as a reason to stay at a company. Through both the lenses of bolstering your workforce with the most necessary business skills and retaining them, learning needs to be a priority.

Only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with the current development and learning opportunities presented to them in their workplace – which could indicate that it’s time for a shake up. A way of delivering learning strategically and effectively, that allows people to still get all of their work done, and maximise the effectiveness of the learning content.

The way we work today begs for a learning solution that allows learners to learn flexibly, around distractions and away from the desk. Luckily, that solution already exists: microlearning.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning - as you might’ve guessed from the name - is learning delivered in small, bite-sized doses. It’s a way of extracting the key information from a larger chunk of learning content, and breaking it down so it’s easier for learners to absorb the content. 

Microlearning can be learnt on the go, in the flow of work, and at a time convenient to the learner. 

It’s a great way for the modern worker to incorporate learning into their day as it only takes a few minutes. You can watch a quick video in between emailing meeting invites, or answer a couple of quiz questions while waiting for your morning coffee to brew.

Take that, workplace priorities!

Why is microlearning better?

There are many benefits to microlearning (and you can find our top 5 benefits here!) – but the key one is that it works around people only having 24 minutes a week to learn. 

As the key bits of information are already extracted, learners can easily fit microlearning into their busy schedules and constant distractions. Trust me, it’s much easier to ignore the notifications for 3 minutes than it is for an hour!

For the modern, deskless, on-the-go worker, microlearning is the solution. Microlearning often takes the form of a short video, a graphic, or a quiz, and it can be delivered directly to their device of choice, wherever they are.  

Microlearning also combats the forgetting curve, which outlines that knowledge is forgotten unless it’s consistently revisited and embedded into long-term memory. This is because the bite-sized doses of content can be re-delivered easily throughout the learning process, increasing your chance of your brain being able to recall the information quickly.

You may still need to run that in-person training day, but you can supplement it with microlearning. It’s a way of keeping the content top of mind, and easier to recall and understand. The more you quiz your learners on something, the more likely they are to lock that knowledge away into their long-term memory bank.

Microlearning is better for you, too

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you – microlearning is better for everyone involved! Whether you’re not seeing results after running an expensive learning seminar, or struggling to get people to show up to training sessions, microlearning could be the answer.

Microlearning is an effective way to see a return on your learning investment. 

What’s the point of a day-long training seminar if you have no way of ensuring the learning will stick in your learner’s long-term memory? What if half the team is out sick (and doesn’t everyone know someone who has some kind of lurgy right now!)?

With microlearning, you can offer a way to engage learners who can’t make the in-person day, which also means your organisation isn't losing money on the no-shows.

Think also about the style of the training you’re rolling out.

At Yarno, we believe in the power of the learning campaign. Learning campaigns are a more structured style of microlearning that delivers information strategically, through a series of engaging learning experiences that occur over time. 

The ultimate goal is to embed information into a learner’s long-term memory and create lasting behaviour change. We generally find the sweet spot is 8-10 campaigns of mixed lengths through the year is the best way to cement information into the ol’ noggin. 


So there you have it. Microlearning benefits learners and businesses with short sharp bursts of knowledge, delivered in an engaging (read: fun) way.

If you’d like to know more about microlearning then check out our whitepaper.

Ellie Doyle

Ellie Doyle

Ellie is the resident Yarno wordsmith. If she's not writing a million words a minute, you'll probably find her trying to smash her New York Times daily crossword time while listening to 3 podcasts at once.

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