Microlearning: The Benefits and Limitations

Some people learn through videos, others learn through text. Some students can study better in classrooms, while others prefer to be homeschooled. These different teaching and studying techniques enable different types of people to learn in a manner best suited to their needs and lifestyle.

But one emerging teaching technique may be the key to better subject retention and learning success—microlearning.

What is Microlearning?

As the name implies, microlearning is a student-centric learning strategy that occurs in small units within short periods. Learning materials for this technique can be in different forms of media, from text and quizzes to videos and audio.

Specifically, microlearning is characterized by:

  • Small chunks of information. The informational material is presented in small chunks to improve comprehension and retention.
  • Short periods of learning. Microlearning sessions happen between 5 and 15 minutes.
  • Single learning objective. Microlearning focuses on one topic or objective at a time.
  • Different delivery medium. As mentioned above, microlearning topics can be presented through text, images, video, audio, or a mixed media.
  • Mobile learning. Students can access modules using their devices so they can learn anytime and anywhere.

Microlearning is in direct contrast to the teaching techniques of traditional educational institutions, where the norm is using hefty textbooks in hour-long classes.

While this is a universally accepted method of learning, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve shows that humans forget a large part of what they just learned mere minutes after they initially retain the information.

With microlearning, you learn small chunks of information in short periods. This makes it easier for your brain to retain most of what you learned instead of constantly adding new information that prompts it to “forget” older ones.

With the emergence of eLearning and online schooling, as well as the use of smartphones and tablets, microlearning has become popular among people who want to study more effectively. This is also why plenty of schools and colleges offer short online courses.

The Benefits of Microlearning

One of the reasons microlearning is gaining traction, apart from the rise

young girl raising her hand reciting during online class

1. Compatible for different purposes

One of the best things about microlearning is that it’s not only for school-aged students. It can also be used for skills training in different workplaces, as well as out-of-school individuals who want to get educational certifications.

2. Flexible

Because of microlearning’s mobile approach, students can complete them in different ways for as long or as short as they want. In addition, courses are also customizable, so you can learn any subject or topic you want.

3. Engaging

Compared to more formal and serious ways of studying, microlearning feels more like checking your favorite applications, watching your favorite YouTube videos, or reading your favorite online magazines. In this way, students become more interested in different topics because there’s less pressure, rules, and monotony.

4. Accessible

The use of different forms of media makes microlearning one of the most accessible learning methods. As mentioned earlier, some people are more attuned to one type of information delivery than another. So, if you retain information better in text format, you can choose courses that offer that. The same goes if you prefer video or audio clips, and a public or private learning environment.

Limitations of Microlearning

Of course, no method of teaching and learning is completely perfect. Microlearning also has its limitations, including:

  • Not fit for complex concepts
  • Not suited for in-depth training
  • Not ideal for holistic understanding

Microlearning is just one of the many unique and emerging ways to study, train, and learn. It’s efficient and not complicated, making it an ideal choice for many. Considering its limitations and applying the teaching best practices, microlearning can be a widely used method to improve education on a larger scale.

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