The website is also available in

What is microlearning?

Dive into the world of microlearning: a bite-sized learning approach that is transforming corporate training. Explore its benefits, applications, and limitations in this blog article.


Sera Özkıvanç

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is an increasingly popular approach to learning that delivers small, bite-sized units of learning content. It focuses on breaking down knowledge into easily digestible modules that can be completed in just a few minutes. 

This method ensures maximum engagement and retention, catering to the preferences of today’s learners who seek quick and actionable knowledge. The Journal of Applied Psychology reports that modular, small-scale learning improves the application of classroom knowledge to practical work situations by 17%.

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve and microlearning

The concept of microlearning finds its roots in the research of Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneering psychologist from the late 19th century. Ebbinghaus conducted experiments to understand how memory fades over time, introducing concepts like the learning curve and forgetting curve.

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve

During his studies, Ebbinghaus tested subjects’ memory of random sounds and syllables. His observations revealed that memory is not a static entity but fluctuates over time. The forgetting curve, as illustrated by Ebbinghaus, demonstrates that people tend to forget a significant portion of what they learn, with around 80% of knowledge being lost within a month.

Ebbinghaus also discovered the concept of memory savings, which refers to the retention of knowledge even after a significant time without using it. He found that information that was strictly memorized could be recalled much more easily after relearning, even following a substantial period of not utilizing it.

The insights gained from the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve have profound implications for learning and retention. When individuals learn large volumes of information, they initially retain it. However, if the knowledge is not considered crucial to immediate tasks, it tends to degrade over time.

So, how does this relate to microlearning? 

By breaking content into small, manageable pieces and revisiting different parts of it over time, microlearning can combat the forgetting curve phenomenon. Instead of overwhelming learners with extensive information in one go, microlearning promotes regular review and repetition. This approach enhances knowledge retention and ensures that learners can apply what they’ve learned effectively.

Microlearning delivers focused, concise modules that are easy to absorb and remember. It improves learning outcomes through regular reinforcement and application of the learned material. And this aligns really well with how our memory naturally works. 

Microlearning benefits

Microlearning, with its concise and focused approach, offers several advantages. Let’s explore the various benefits this learning strategy provides:

Offers a quick and efficient learning experience

Microlearning allows for rapid content delivery. So, L&D professionals can swiftly act on changing business goals and new training demands. Course development becomes faster and more efficient with bite-sized units.

Requires fewer resources and less cost

Microlearning is cost-effective. It requires fewer resources and instructors, resulting in significant cost savings compared to traditional training. Whether using a regular LMS or a dedicated e-learning authoring platform, you can achieve cost efficiency without compromising quality.

Boosts learner engagement

Microlearning is highly engaging; it creates a fun and interactive learning experience. Learners find it more enjoyable and accessible. This engagement leads to better knowledge absorption and retention.

Enhances knowledge retention

Microlearning’s repeated exposure and reinforcement help improve knowledge retention—and significantly, too. Research has shown that revisiting information just before forgetting it significantly enhances long-term memory. Microlearning units, with their self-contained nature, make it easy for learners to revisit and reinforce what they’ve learned. Also, bite-sized courses are easier to remember because they only include what’s important, so learners don’t have to deal with unnecessary information.

Offers flexibility and convenience for learners

Microlearning provides learners with the freedom to learn at their convenience. Its short and focused nature allows for convenient, on-the-go learning. Learners can access microlearning modules on various devices, even offline, making learning possible anytime and anywhere.

Microlearning examples

Let’s dive into specific instances that illustrate how exactly employees make use of microlearning: 

Microlearning videos

Short and focused videos are a popular microlearning format. For example, a quick video tutorial demonstrating a software feature or a video case study highlighting best practices can provide learners with concise and visually engaging learning content.

Microlearning apps

Mobile learning apps designed for microlearning are ideal for on-the-go learning. These apps deliver bite-sized modules, quizzes, and interactive exercises, allowing learners to access relevant content anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace.

Scrolling pages

Microlearning can be delivered through scrolling web pages that provide bite-sized chunks of information in an easily consumable format. Learners can scroll through the content, which may include text, images, and interactive elements, to acquire knowledge on specific topics efficiently.

Infographics and pictograms

Infographics and pictograms are excellent visual microlearning tools. They condense complex information into visually appealing graphics, making it easier for learners to grasp key concepts quickly. Infographics and pictograms can be used to convey processes, facts, or step-by-step instructions effectively.


Microcopy refers to short and concise blocks of text used to convey important information or instructions. Microlearning can utilize microcopy to provide brief explanations, tips, or reminders within learning materials, user interfaces, or job aids. Well-crafted microcopy ensures that learners receive relevant information without overwhelming them.

4 ways to use microlearning

There are several ways you can fit microlearning within your employee training initiatives. Whether you want to provide your learners with self-guided support or shorten formal training time, here is how:

Standalone training

The first and most obvious one is providing standalone microlearning for quick, accessible learning. Employees need quick, easy-to-understand information that fits their roles. They want content that’s tailored to their tasks in the form of bite-sized, to-the-point lessons.

Pre-event learning preparation

Microlearning resources can also be used to prepare learners for upcoming in-depth training. This introduces learners to the topic beforehand, making them ready to absorb more complex information during the actual learning event. For example, learners might be tasked with watching a short video to familiarize themselves with basic concepts before corporate training.

Post-event learning support

Microlearning can reinforce and extend the knowledge gained during a learning event. Whether it’s through concise recap emails or slightly more extensive content, these resources can help solidify what was learned and introduce new angles on the topic. Alternatively, trainers can create post-training quizzes via an app to test overall knowledge retention.

On-the-job support

Microlearning can serve as quick reference guides during work, enabling learners to apply knowledge instantly. Whether it’s for a quick glance or a brief pause in work, these resources can help learners navigate complex tasks without substantial interruption to their workflow.

Limitations of microlearning

While microlearning offers many benefits, it also has limitations. There are situations where it’s a great fit and other times when alternative learning experiences should be preferred. Let’s explore some common limitations of microlearning in the corporate training context:

Limited content depth

Microlearning provides focused and concise information, but on its own, it won’t fully cover complex topics. So it may not be the greatest choice for subjects that require in-depth analysis or extensive coverage. You’d need additional learning experiences to ensure adequate understanding from your learners.

Limited interactivity

Some microlearning formats may have limited interactivity compared to longer e-learning courses. Balancing interactivity within the constraints of microlearning is crucial for maintaining learner engagement.

Technology dependency

Microlearning relies on digital tools and technology, which can create barriers if learners lack access to devices or reliable internet connectivity. If your learners live or work in a place where connectivity is limited or unreliable, considering traditional forms of training can be a good idea.

Content fragmentation

Poorly designed microlearning can result in fragmented content that lacks a clear progression. To help learners integrate knowledge effectively, pay attention to thoughtfully structuring your microlearning modules. If your topic requires deep contextual understanding, longer courses would be a better fit.


Microlearning is a valuable approach to corporate learning and development. It offers concise, targeted, and engaging learning experiences that fit busy schedules. Through formats like videos, apps, scrolling pages, infographics, microcopy, and social media, microlearning provides quick and actionable knowledge.

But while it’s fast, affordable, and flexible, it has limitations. Complex topics, hands-on skills, and in-depth understanding may require alternative approaches. It’s best to combine microlearning’s strengths with other methods to create well-rounded training programs.

About the author

Sera Özkıvanç is a writer, marketer, and the resident content specialist at Easygenerator. Over the last four years, she’s written marketing content for various SaaS brands around the world. These days, she’s doing her best to embrace the rainy weather in Rotterdam.