Micro-learning Creates Relevant & Effective Learning Experiences


It is exciting to see the learning industry’s interest in developing and delivering learning content in smaller units. As units of learning are designed at a more granular level, we can deliver content that is more relevant to the learner, which leverages the learner’s context. As an Instructional Systems Designer (ISD), my goal is to create learning experiences that are relevant and effective for the learner and, at the same time, provide sustainable performance improvement for the organization. Targeted, adaptive, micro-learning has been a goal of instructional systems design for decades.

How Can Less be More?

As learning content size is minimized, there is danger of minimalizing the learning effectiveness. However, the fact that micro-learning is less obtrusive in the workplace is also an enabling feature for richer learning experiences. So how can less be more? I have found you cannot cheat the learning system. There is a kind of conservation learning energy principle at work here. Consider, you cannot make more learning out of less if learning is a closed system. Learning is an open system.

Where Does Learning “Energy” Come From For Learning That “Matters?”

It comes from the learner and the learner’s context. As delivered learning content becomes smaller, more dependence on the learner’s role and context has to be accounted for in learning design and implementation. The mix of provided content and learner’s context in an effective micro-learning design is illustrated below.

All learning situations are more than content, the learner is an active participant in the outcome. In designing learning content it is important to consider the contribution content supplies and what could be expected from the learner and the learner’s environment. For example In a classroom away from the job, the content must account for the information, the application, the explanation, the situation and a prescribed demonstration by the learner of accomplishment. When designing on-the-job delivered content, only the information and application may be needed for learning. The situation and demonstration opportunity are provided by the learner’s context. Recognizing and leveraging a design mix enables content to be small while enhancing learning effectiveness.

The order of the components is guided by the learner context in the work place.

The Result

Micro-learning, as a small unit of learning, can be designed to fit anywhere in the mix.  Micro-learning design that leverages the learner supplied context will promote highly effective implementation that is relevant, effective, and efficient for the learner and, at the same time, provides sustainable performance improvement for the organization.