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Microlearning: read this before jumping on board the bite-sized bandwagon

Paul Joyce
4 min read

In a world of ever-shrinking attention spans, microlearning is fast becoming a top e-learning trend. It offers a fast-track alternative for time-poor SMEs wanting to upskill their workforce. But is it the right choice for your company?

New to microlearning?

Microlearning’s been around for a while but has surged in popularity recently due to its natural fit in our fast-paced, digital world. It delivers bite-sized bursts of content, taking an average of 5-10 minutes to consume, and is usually delivered online. Each micro-course provides just enough knowledge to help the learner achieve a specific, actionable objective.

In short: it’s a fast-paced way to upskill on the fly.

What the science says

Our brains like this style of learning: they’re wired to capture and retain information more easily when it’s presented in small chunks. This is all down to cognitive load theory which, in simple scientific terms (disclaimer: I’m no Einstein) suggests we’re better learners when our brains aren’t overloaded with too much information at any one time.

This science applies to regular e-learning too: as long as it’s structured in a similar way (e.g. module-based courses which can be taken at a speed that suits the learner) then it’ll have the same benefits.

Why microlearning could be a win for SMEs

For employees, microlearning facilitates faster upskilling and can help support career development. The speed of course completion may also motivate learners to continue learning – a win-win for both employee and employer.

In turn, SME owners are rewarded with a workforce that’s constantly improving and adapting. And we all know that happier, motivated, productive teams are ultimately beneficial for a business’s bottom line.

However, is this all too good to be true?

Staying wise to the flip side of microlearning

While there’s obviously a whole host of reasons to embrace microlearning, it’s sensible to be a little sceptical. Here are three questions to ask:

1. Are your employees getting distracted? There’s a risk they’ll spend work hours learning things that, while interesting, aren’t relevant to their jobs. Having an LMS that lets you restrict access to specific courses can help; structured learning pathways are a good option too.

2. Is it good quality content? Not all microlearning is created equal. Unreliable sources could lead to misinformation. Choose a recognised, reputable provider with a proven track record of delivering accredited courses to happy customers.

3. Is it in-depth enough for your needs? Microlearning isn’t suitable for all topics – for example, health and safety, medical or compliance training may need a deeper dive into specific subjects. After all, there’s only so much detail you can fit into ten minutes.

Microlearning and traditional e-learning: the perfect match?

For SMEs, bite-sized learning is the perfect complement to traditional e-learning courses. Microlearning’s an ideal way to introduce a topic or refresh existing knowledge; traditional e-learning courses cover essential subjects in much more detail.

Having both could give your business the edge.

Taking this approach also caters to different learning styles and may boost ongoing employee engagement – meaning more of your workforce has an up-to-date skillset.

Looking for a one-size-fits-all solution?

Microlearning can be a powerful addition to most SME training programmes. But before leaping onto the bite-sized bandwagon, it’s important to make sure you’re with the right provider.

At Staff Skills Training, we help businesses upskill and retain staff with our award-winning e-learning, in-house and blended training solutions. Our range of 700+ CPD and RoSPA-certified courses – including nearly 200 microlearning courses – cover everything from mandatory training programmes to industry-specific knowledge and soft skills courses. Could we be the right fit for your business? Have a look and see what we do, or book a call with us today!


Complete the short form below and one of our advisors will be in touch to tell you how your staff can have access to all of our courses for a low monthly fee.

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