Using Microlearning for Stand-Alone Training

By Carla Torgerson and Sue Iannone

In previous blogs, we’ve discussed how microlearning can be used to prepare learners for learning events, and as follow-up after learning events.  In this article, we’ll consider how microlearning can be used as stand-alone training.

Key Benefits

Of course, using microlearning as stand-alone training can provide all the core benefits of elearning.  For example, microlearning is:

  1. Asynchronous, meaning that learners can access it any any time. There’s no need to get everyone together at the same time.
  2. Self-paced, enabling each learner to progress at a rate that personally works best.
  3. Accessible any place, through a mobile device or computer.

But, microlearning provides added benefits.  It also:

  1. Maximizes flexibility and minimizes disruption to each learner’s work day.
  2. Increases retention. Think about this question - Which is more effective at driving up retention: A one-and-done hour-long training session or a series of five- to eight-minute mini-modules delivered once per week for 5 weeks?  In many cases, it’s the latter.


Here’s a brief example to illustrate how you can use microlearning as stand-alone training, and get a better result than using traditional approaches.  Imagine that a training leader needs to get a large number of call center workers “up to speed” on a new product or service offering.

Traditionally, this might require scheduling a training session that all call center employees would have to attend.  Call center workers need to be covering the phones, so it would be impossible to get all workers at the same training session simultaneously.  So, the training leader would need to schedule several alternative time slots, for which call center workers could register.  This would enable everyone to cycle through the one- or two-hour session while still maintaining at least partial call coverage during session times.

Needless to say, that approach would be disruptive to the workers and to customer service.  In addition, the “one-and-done” nature of the training is less conducive to learning and retention.

Now, let’s consider a different approach…one that uses microlearning.  The training leader could divide the content into 4 or 5 “bite-sized chunks,” each of which could stand on its own.  Then, the training leader could create a series of brief “mini-modules” that call center employees could go through at their own pace.

Each module would cover a discreet topic related to the new product or service.  For example:

  • Overview, defining the new offering, the target customers, and why it’s important
  • Features and benefits
  • How to engage potential customers
  • Questions customers frequently ask

Learners are much more likely to retain information that is given to them in pieces over a period of time, rather than all at once.  Sure, those call center employees still need to be scheduled off the phones to take this training, but it’s far easier to schedule a 10 minute “learning break” than it is to find 1-2 hours when half the agents can be taken off the phones to attend a session together. That makes this approach far less disruptive to the business’s normal operations.

What’s Coming Next?

In our next installment, we’ll identify the top barriers to using microlearning effectively.

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