What is Microlearning? And Why It’s Important for Online Learning

Do your employees struggle with long-form training and retention? If so, perhaps it's time to invest in a mobile-friendly microlearning platform.

Companies worldwide spend substantial sums every year on training and upskilling their employees. According to the most recent global data, companies have already spent more than $350 billion on learning resources in 2022!

Over 70% of learning and development (L&D) departments channel their efforts into in-house online training. This number is expected to grow as companies continue to invest in their future. Of those in-house initiatives, microlearning has played a significant role.

Compared with burdensome instructor-led training (ILT), microlearning presents a more efficient approach that reinforces information over time. Instead of spending hours coordinating long-form ILT sessions, using an online microlearning platform empowers employees to learn independently. Often referred to as just-in-time learning, microlearning leans on short bursts of information and reinforcement to convey messages and counter the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what microlearning is and why it’s essential for your online learning initiatives.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning delivers short bursts of training material directly to employees in the flow of work. It leverages multimedia content to engage learners—such as articles, eBooks, infographics, video, audio, games, and more. To ensure long-term results, microlearning reinforces learning objectives over time and assesses knowledge retention.

At its core, microlearning is a training tool that meets learners on their level to develop and maintain important skill sets. The concept breaks skills down to their most essential parts and then reinforces behavior change with more specific exercises.

Characteristics of Microlearning

  • Short durations—usually three to ten minutes, and never longer than 20 minutes
  • Hones in on specific concepts, topics, or skills
  • Utilizes a variety of multimedia content to engage the learner
  • Available 24/7 via mobile app, allowing employees to learn on the go and in the flow of work

Advantages of Investing in a Microlearning Platform

Time Efficiency

Everyone's searching for ways to be more efficient throughout the workday, without diminishing effectiveness. Microlearning makes this possible for training initiates by delivering effective lessons in an efficient way.

Microlearning strategies allow L&D professionals to implement new concepts in smaller time blocks. Employees then have the power to review and reinforce those lessons through modules on any device. Ultimately, companies spend less time training and reinforcing concepts, as microlearning boosts retention upwards of 90%.

With microlearning, employees learn faster and retain more knowledge. One German study found striking results when comparing the practice against traditional long-form sessions. One group participated in a long training session during the study, while the other received the same information in small chunks. When put to the test, the microlearning group answered questions 28% faster and performed 20% better than their long-form counterparts.


Skeptics may say that short-form training doesn't deliver enough information to make an impact—questioning the investment value.

However, studies on cognitive load theory debunk those claims time and again, cementing microlearning as an efficient means of training with a high ROI.

Skeptics must pull back the curtain to understand the proven value of microlearning. In his book Three-Minute eLearning, learning expert Ray Jimenez, Ph.D., states that L&D teams who leverage microlearning can decrease development costs by 50% while increasing development speed by 300%. How can that be?

Microlearning comes with less overhead than traditional learning methods. Employers don't need to pay outside instructors, rent classrooms, or sacrifice valuable working hours. Due to its nature, it's also significantly easier to update and alter the content. Business trends and regulations change all the time. Instead of overhauling the entire course, companies can just tweak the modules that need attention.

Works Hand-in-Hand With Just-in-Time Learning

Sometimes employees need a quick on-the-spot refresher to complete a specific task at hand. Just-in-time learning allows them to access lessons whenever and wherever—without disrupting their workday.

Employees can find the answers they're looking for without combing through hours of long-form media or flipping through notebooks, hoping they wrote it down.

With JIT learning, L&D departments create a digital infrastructure of modules that employees can access on-demand. In effect, JIT and microlearning work together to create an accessible database for training content.

JIT and microlearning thrive in online spaces. As more businesses lean into offering hybrid workforce options, all employees must have access to training and learning materials no matter where they are. Perhaps a sales rep is in the elevator on their way to meet a new client. If they need a quick refresher on the client profile, they can quickly access the materials they need on the way up.


Perhaps the most significant perk of microlearning is its mobile design. We have our phones on us just about everywhere we go these days. These mobile-friendly platforms allow employees to access information on their own time. They don't have to be tied to their work computer or even in the office to access the materials, making it a crucial tool for hybrid and remote employees.

Employees can complete an educational activity in the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn! They can easily knock out some modules during their commute. For example, watch a video while waiting for the subway, listen to a podcast in the car, or play a microlearning game while waiting for coffee. In essence, this short-burst learning is like Googling a question and watching the first YouTube video on the topic—quick, simple, and digestible.

Employee sitting outside, smiling, completing training on her mobile app

Leverage Microlearning Benefits With Mindmarker

ILT courses may be full of helpful information—but what good is that information if employees can't retain it?

Instead, organizations that leverage a microlearning platform—like Mindmarker—can develop their employees 300% faster than traditional methods. The mobile-friendly software gives employees 24/7 access to microlearning modules. This boosts productivity and engagement with the material, drives your bottom line, and leads to a higher ROI.

Get in touch with Mindmarker today to learn how a microlearning platform can help your company get the most out of your L&D initiatives.


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