Formal Training Status Quo

Many instructional design professionals that I have consulted with here at InfoPro Learning are still shackled to the idea that formal training should last hours at a time, and should be instructor-led. Oftentimes it is not the instructional designers themselves who have a preference towards formal training technique – it is their executive sponsors, the C-suite at their companies, who think of training as an afterthought and expect corporate training to resemble their experiences in higher education. However, as corporate learning and talent management continues to mature as a business discipline, our assumptions about how best to deliver training to employees are being challenged.

Enter: Microlearning

Microlearning is an exciting methodology that learning professionals should consider adding to their training portfolios. Microlearning content comprises short instructional videos that focus on specific topics, and ideally, these videos can be accessed by learners just-in-time so they can be leveraged as performance support tools rather than formal training tools. Microlearning is not meant to replace formal training content, but it can supplement formal training, and it can serve to bolster employee performance on-the-job, at the moment of need. Instructional designers should treat microlearning with a “less is more” mentality, and resist making the content too long or putting in too much information.

Keep it Short

The “-micro” in microlearning refers to shortened duration of microlearning content as opposed to traditionally-conceived self-paced e-learning. As a general rule of thumb, microlearning content is less than five minutes long in total duration.

The primary benefit of keeping the content so short is that learners can access the content on-the-job quickly, learn what they need to learn, and move on – which is very powerful for performance support delivery. Another, more overlooked benefit is learning engagement – learners are much more likely to use training content that is short compared to hour-long, 30-minute, or even 15-minute long courses.

Microlearning Libraries and Modularization

Since individual microlearning libraries are short, it is a best practice to scope out a complete microlearning library of content with individual modules that are mapped out to key curricular subjects. For example, let’s say that you are creating a microlearning curriculum for your company’s line of products targeted toward your salespeople and product resellers. Rather than having one microlearning module for each of your company’s five products, you should plan to create several specific modules that explain the features and benefits of each individual product.

If microlearning content is modularized in an appropriate fashion, learners can access the exact knowledge they need to perform on the job in their moments of need. For example, rather than having a learner open up a 30-minute long course on how to use Microsoft Excel 2013, it would be better to have a learner open up a short course that teaches him how to create macros in Excel, if that is what he is trying to learn. With proper modularization, learners can expect to access training content in the context of what they are trying to achieve on the job.

Microlearning Roadmap

InfoPro Learning has been employing the microlearning instructional design strategy for many years now with our clients, and in 2014 this trend has become even more prevalent, with a whopping 35% of all of our client projects involving the creation of microlearning content. If you are interested in applying microlearning technique to your company’s training portfolio, our learning strategists are ready and waiting to help!


Although my attention span is short, my list of clients certainly isn’t! Through InfoPro Learning, I consult with companies to foster “learning for performance,” to empower the workforce through our corporate training professional services. Feel free to contact us if you want your employees to outperform too!

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