Exploring the Trend of Microlearning: a Bust, or an Educational Revolution?

Terenty Marinich
Digital Content Manager
May 30, 2019

One of the biggest E-Learning trends that are listed in a whole bunch of articles dedicated to the matter is microlearning. The definition of this term is somehow vague.

For the convenience, let’s think of it as of ‘a method of learning via short, bite-sized and well-planned units that the students consume via digital media’. Therefore, teachers, or content creators, break down learning content into short, manageable pieces of information.  Microlearning is the foundation of quite some number of popular apps.

You might have seen Duolingo app at the top of the charts of language learning apps in the App Store and Play Market. It uses microlearning and people who spend 5 minutes or so per day are able to speak foreign languages on a decent level in several months.

Duo the Owl – the mascot of the app was very much present at meme section of Reddit living the thug life and threatening in a jokingly manner to those who skip “classes” or fail to complete tasks.

Source: memepedia.com

Oh, the estimated market value of all this sweetness is over a half billion dollars. Hail microlearning, we can see why you are trending.

The other examples of software that utilizes microlearning and are helpful in the classroom include such apps like Word of the day and multiple flashcards software solutions (Chegg’s Flashcards+, Primer, etc.). The monetization models vary, but all of them are very profitable for the owners.

Seems like microlearning-using products are able to bring their owners a buck or two? But what is their impact overall?

This Blog Post Content

In this article, we are going to explore the phenomena of microlearning. Why and how does this technique work? What industries utilize microlearning and how it improves their results?

We will try to explore the benefits and risks of microlearning across different domains and try to put emphasis on the obstacles companies face during the adoption of it.

We are extremely curious on whether  it might help in today’s classroom (spoilers: it might) – so we explore this aspect a little.

If you are reading this, it might be interesting which custom solutions are taking the cream off the top of the market in terms of revenue.

As a conclusion, we’d have a final look on what microlearning’ role is in today’s macro learning environment and whether all this buzz around is justified.

Benefits of Jumping Onto Microlearning Wagon

As microlearning is very different from the traditional educational methods and technologies, we’d like to highlight the major benefits and connected with this concept.

Source: thebluediamondgallery.com

List of microlearning benefits for users:

  1. Microlearning is learner-centric
  2. Easily accessible
  3. Takes much less time in comparison with the traditional methods
  4. Usually has an entertaining (rich media) format

Let’s elaborate on this a little.

The learner is always in the driver’s seat when it comes to microlearning lessons. Usually, any software solution connected with allows choosing applicable lessons at whatever time suitable.

Learning in microlearning stretches of three to seven minutes is matching to the working memory capacity human beings. It serves two goals at the same time.

First one – it just takes significantly less time in comparison with the traditional educational methods. Busy employees have very little spare time to learn or train a certain aspect, and that is very convenient here.

And the second one – it works and gives results right away. We’ll explore some of the microlearning studies results later, but it has scientifically proven effect on the learners

Also, if there are any updates on microlearning courses, they could be applied on the fly. The feedback that comes from learners allows creating new pieces of content in some newly formed community of learners.

Also, it is microlearning products are usually somehow gamified to keep the engagement of learners at a high level. Microlearning easily aligns with the pre-existing habits learners possess and doesn’t alter learners’ life too much.

List of microlearning benefits for businesses:

  1. It is cheaper than traditional training
  2. Agility
  3. Shorter development terms
  4. Application across many industries
  5. Has a surprisingly high impact

Business benefits are undeniable:

Learning architect Ray Jimenez states that microlearning cuts development costs by half and takes 300% less time for development.

That alone is worth the attempt to try it on the workplace. After discussing the risks and obstacles of turning to microlearning, we’ll dive into what businesses find it profitable to use microlearning solutions.

Risks and Obstacles of Microlearning

To not make this look like blatant ads for microlearning, we just have to highlight the risks learners face choosing this method and some obstacles on the way of implementing it.

One of the major risks for microlearning adepts is being too casual. As it takes an unsuspectedly small amount of time to digest the content, skipping the lessons or treating them not so seriously is definitely a possibility.

Another fear is the overfocus – when a learner focuses too much on single lessons, he might get a lack of understanding of a big picture. So getting successful in a series of scheduled lessons can build up to something like “tunnel vision” and screw the full picture for the learner.

Also, some part of learners might be not so tech-savvy, and grasping certain concepts via tablets or phones (which are often used for delivering microlearning lessons) might cause additional problems for them.

Source: pxhere.com

As for obstacles, we’d like to turn to the survey by Raptivity who asked business owners why they are not using microlearning and what causes their unwillingness on adapting the learning technique.

Source: Raptivity Microlearning Guide

Top 3 reasons where the lack of support, absence of the expertise to produce the content and the unwillingness of learners to choose this path. As the survey is three years old, we can see the shift in all three directions.

Due to the growing popularity, there is more qualified people involved in supporting the technology. Same goes for content production.

As for lack of interest, if the company tries using microlearning solutions, usually around 75% of their employees voluntarily take these lessons opposed to the proposed alternatives.

The diagrams below are from Axonify Microlearning Platform adoptions stats in 2018.

Source: Axonify.com

The positive dynamics allows presupposition that the growth of microlearning adoption will continue as years go by, and the number of obstacles on its way will decrease sufficiently.

What Industries Utilize Microlearning Regularly?

As the International Journal of Educational Research Review  (IJERE) states in their report on Microlearning (2018), the success of the learning experience often depends on the regularity of taking classes.

One of the reasons microlearning got its popularity is because it’s insanely fast and time-consuming in comparison with the traditional methods.

Source: axonify.com

Axonify lists retail, finances and insurance (F&I) and manufacturing and logistics(M&L) as Top-3 industries with the percentage being spread in almost equal proportion.

Certainly, those are not the only industries that use the technique of microlearning. You name it – it is present: consulting, healthcare, telecommunication, broadcast media, and, naturally, education.

Speaking of food retail, even the giants of the industry utilize microlearning to improve their positions. For instance, Domino’s Pizza created a gamified microlearning course for its employees to grasp the concepts of making pizza faster and more accurately. Domino’s Pizza Maker saves franchise owner some piece of budget and time that would have been spent on the training.

Manufacturing companies use microlearning primarily for safety training. Thanks to the reduced number of incidents and cheap training, companies manage to save big time.

That way, financial companies employees might get acquainted with some brokerage risks and that would also lead to the savings.

Application of Microlearning in Real Classrooms

As for the education industry, microlearning finds its way in real classrooms. Mohammed, G.S., Wakil, K. & Nawroly, S.S. issued their research on “The effectiveness of microlearning to improve students’ learning ability” in 2018.

The scientists have chosen two similar groups of Primary School students. One of the groups was taught using traditional methods, and the other one studied with the help of microlearning methods for six weeks. 64% of pupils from “the traditional” group passed the final test and 82% of “the microlearning” group succeeded.

The conclusion was that microlearning techniques are able to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of primary school education.

More details of the research are available in the table and on the link above

Source: ljere.com

Some Custom Solutions On the Market

We have briefly mentioned some of the mobile apps that utilize microlearning.

The Elinext group is yet to develop a custom solution for our clients that is focused specifically on microlearning method of studying but we follow the trends closely and more than capable to come up with any product you have the vision of.

For instance, it took us three months to build an E-Learning platform called Xgrades for our German client, keeping it within the time frames and budget limits. If you are interested in a free quote for a similar educational software product, feel free to contact us here.

Source: elinext.com

As for microlearning products, some apps were mentioned earlier in the blog post. We could also like to say a few words learning systems that allow to contribute and consume bite-sized pieces of information called SmartUp. Peer-to-peer knowledge in a microlearning format.

In general, the market is developing, and there is still a place under the sun.

Conclusions

You probably guessed that we would praise the learning technique at the very beginning, and were on point.

We’ve got through lots of research data to make sure there are some proven results and microlearning rightfully has its place among E-learning trends. Is there enough microlearning software on the market? Well, there is plenty of such apps and platforms, but there is also definitely a place to take out there somewhere as well.

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