Microlearning Best Practices and Challenges

Microlearning is ready-made for the millennial generation: short segments of engagement—often online—that teach knowledge and advance skills. Here are some best practices and challenges for designing microlearning courses in your organization.

Microlearning Best Practices

If you are just starting microlearning in your organization, here are some best practices for course design and engagement:

  • Plan to the Larger Goal. Microlearning is a tool that supports broader employee development efforts, not an end. What skills or behaviors are you trying to change? It’s easy to get distracted by fun ideas when designing microlearning—always keep the performance goal in mind.
  • Place Learning in Context. Keeping segments short is a key microlearning principle. At the same time, retention requires context: why the engagement is important to employee performance. Find easy and fast ways to explicitly explain the why, so the learner understands the meaning behind the exercise.
  • Keep Content Relevant. Closely linked with context is relevance. For example, “word of the day” engagements can be fun—make sure the words tightly connect to the work the learner is doing.
  • Support Broader Learning Structure. Microlearning is generally part of a broader training program. Will the sessions teach new material? Reemphasize key points or assess retention of previous training? Design your microlearning to fit within the broader learning framework.

Microlearning Challenges

To supplement the best practices, as you are launching and managing your microlearning, here are some challenges to keep an eye on.

  • Assessment: How will you monitor, track and report on learner engagement and impact? As with classroom and online training, it is important to assess how microlearning content is retained and applied. Using microlearning to revalidate and assess other learning may be helpful.
  • Asset Management: One goal of microlearning is meeting learners where they are, by delivering content in different settings. Tracking these micro-assets within the training portfolio, so they can be maintained, updated and curated is an important part of your training content strategy.
  • Placing Segments within the Training Portfolio. Microlearning blurs the lines between traditional learning concepts—like games and job aids. Assessing your portfolio of offerings will help you identify the content resources and gaps to maximize the microlearning impact.

Microlearning provides a new tool in the learning toolkit—remembering it is just one tool will help prevent “shiny object syndrome” and keep you focused on your goal.