An introduction to micro learning and the associated benefits



Read time
10 mins

illustration of eLearning

Whether it’s compliance training, specialised skills development, or even behaviour-based learning, every organisation has training and development objectives. Today’s busy workers must battle competing demands, digital fatigue, and decreasing attention spans in order to stay productive and stay on track with their learning goals. Micro learning offers the solution the modern workforce wants – and needs

Just shy of two decades: that’s how long it’s taken for the average attention span to drop by almost a third. We could speculate that technology and the rise of popular short-form video platforms like TikTok are to blame, or we could look to these very platforms for insights into why they’ve been so widely adopted. Broadly speaking, these platforms deliver bite-sized videos that are fun and engaging, and, most importantly, relevant. Replicating these qualities when it comes to creating learning content and activities at work is proving highly effective and, perhaps, the most reliable way to engage your learners.

Speaking in a recent eLearning content webinar, David Marshall — founder of Marshall E-Learning Consultancy — told us: “When I started, I would create 90-minute courses. Now, clients are asking for 10-minute courses. We’ve developed a new library of micro learning modules: 10-minute video-based training, little to no reading for the learner, and trained presenters that convey the message concisely and really bring learning to life.”

“One of the biggest trends we’ve noticed in eLearning has been the move towards micro learning, and it’s easy to see why,” adds Tamar Elderton Welch, head of eLearning at Marshalls. “Clients don’t necessarily have the time anymore to spend 45 minutes or more going through traditional eLearning, reading resources, and taking quizzes. Instead, they want content that is more focused, targeted, and modular.”

Making improvements to workplace learning can have a multitude of positive effects. Micro learning can be applied to compliance, role-specific, regulatory and upskilling training courses to enhance the learner experience and ensure a more effective outcome. It can also drastically reduce the time spent on training activities, which is vital in both fast-paced, growing organisations, and larger, more established companies. In fact, 61% of the corporate learning and development (L&D) experts surveyed by Udemy in 2020 said that closing the skills gap was their top priority. So it makes sense to offer the most time-efficient, cost-effective and long-lasting learning opportunities.

Not only is microlearning less time-consuming than traditional learning activities, but it’s also more useful for the learner in the short and long term. Regardless of how well put-together a course is, it’s only ever as effective as the knowledge learners retain once they’ve completed it. Research shows that “microlearning improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%.” This means you can deliver learning more effectively, to more people, while meaningfully increasing the skills, knowledge and talent available in your organisation.

“Micro learning is all about making learning more engaging and memorable,” says Elderton Welch. “Instead of overwhelming learners with lengthy lessons, micro learning breaks down the content into bite-sized modules that are easy to digest. This approach not only keeps learners more engaged, but also helps them retain the information better. It also presents the core essentials of the course in a way that is at the learner’s fingertips, whenever they need to access it.”

Discover diversity microlearning

eLearning vs microlearning

eLearning vs micro learning (mLearning)

Other than duration, how is micro learning different from ‘normal’ eLearning?

Microlearning (mLearning) condenses key facts and messages into a format that is easy to understand, removing much of the additional information (and, therefore, reducing the duration of the course) typically associated with longer-form eLearning. mLearning modules are designed to educate the learner on specific areas of a topic, introduce them to a key theme, or lay out concise facts they need to be able to recall. Each module can be further tailored to ensure a topic is covered in more detail, forming part of the overarching micro learning course.

So which should you opt for? Micro learning and eLearning work best when deployed in tandem, says Elderton Welch. “Traditional elearning is still an important part of any organisation’s training library for when you want in-depth knowledge, research, case studies and resources to understand a topic. But, when eLearning activities are coupled with an option for learners to access microlearning, that’s when you are able to create the most powerful and effective learning experience.”


Benefits of micro learning

Benefits of mLearning

Today’s workforce is evolving. In the UK, the majority (58%) of workers prefer hybrid working to fully remote or full-time office work. Organisations with any level of hybrid working will need to ensure learning is accessible for all employees, and microlearning can be a great support to hybrid learning at work.

From delivering synchronous lessons to foster a sense of inclusion, to supporting collaboration and interactivity between virtual and in-person training sessions, micro learning facilitates the best of hybrid learning and removes the barriers of location, trainer availability, and employee time.

Wondering what the benefits of mLearning are to you, as an employer?

Cost is always a factor, and micro learning is, thankfully, a budget-friendly option. Digital courses are reusable, keeping the ‘cost per head’ low. Micro learning courses focus on a single objective, meaning you can offer targeted learning activities to specific employees. The benefit of this is a reduced cognitive load, allowing your learners to resume their day-to-day tasks after completing a course. A reduced loss of productivity also lends to more manageable costs.

Employers can easily track and monitor engagement and completion rates. Analytics on learner behaviour can indicate sentiment, how effective the course is, and identify and potential blockers.

If you offer voluntary courses, you can also easily highlight the most popular courses for insights into popular topics and themes and compare that with other sentiment analyses.

Micro learning courses, especially those provided by eLearning specialists like Marshalls, are easy to upload, implement and update. Marshalls’ micro learning packs are regularly updated to reflect any legislative or regulatory changes, meaning you never need to worry about outdated or irrelevant information being shared with your learners. Provided your online learning management system is secure object reference model (SCORM)-compliant, you’ll be able to enjoy all of Marshalls’ mLearning courses.

Micro learning courses

Because micro learning courses cover specific topics, they can easily be allocated to specific roles, functions or requirements. The most effective courses contain modules that, when combined, offer a well-rounded training experience; these individual modules can be used to construct your own programmes of learning or learning journeys. For example, some of our most in-demand micro learning courses focus on management training and diversity training.

Related: curious to find out the latest acronym, buzzword, or terminology in the eLearning industry? Explore our A– Z of eLearning terminology

Marshalls’ management training micro learning

The manager’s toolkit microlearning pack is designed to support and enhance the way you manage your team, your professional development, and the challenges many managers face in their day-to-day responsibilities. An invaluable resource that covers a wide range of relevant topics, this course offers fresh insights and perspectives to truly make you the best manager you can be.

This course covers themes including:

  • Communication: providing you with the tools to improve your communication skills
  • Equality and diversity: supporting managers to ensure diversity is fostered and conflict avoided
  • Recruitment and selection: equipping managers with guidance on everything from reasonable adjustments and unconscious bias to data protection
  • Defining management: teaching you how to excel in your role as a manager, covering topics including leadership, people management, and prioritising personal development
  • Time management: helping managers learn to actively plan, prioritise, and delegate tasks effectively to reduce stress in the workplace and maximise productivity
  • Discipline and grievance: teaching you how to handle tricky situations, difficult cases and conversations, and grievance processes
  • Absence management
  • Managing budgets
  • Managing teams: teaching managers how to maximise success as a team manager through effective leadership and people skills
  • Staff induction: guiding managers through effective induction processes including responsibilities as a line manager
  • Performance reviews: helping managers conduct the best possible performance reviews through clear, meaningful conversations and processes

Discover manager’s toolkit microlearning

Marshalls’ diversity and inclusion micro learning pack

Marshalls’ diversity and inclusion micro learning pack guides learners though important diversity and inclusion topics, offering concise, flexible content that suits busy schedules. This course empowers individuals to challenge biases, dismantle stereotypes and cultivate an inclusive mindset.

This course covers themes including:

  • Disability: equips learners with a thorough understanding of disability issues, including legal responsibilities, disclosure, and reasonable adjustments
  • Families: addresses family-related issues, including various types of families, understanding how family dynamics impact the workplace, and effective communication about families
  • LGBTQ+: covers LGBTQ+-related issues and topics including gender identity, sexuality, and fostering allyship within the LGBTQ+ community
  • Age: explores age-related issues, including the manifestation of ageism in the workplace, and how to manage generational differences
  • Working across cultures: discusses effective communication and strategies for working across diverse cultures to foster an inclusive workplace
  • Gender equality at work: examines unequal work practices, explores the underlying reasons for gender inequality, and offers strategies to challenge sexism, discrimination and harassment
  • Neurodiversity: provides managers with essential knowledge on topics including hiring practices, legal consideration and practical support
  • menopause: raises awareness and educates employers on how to provide assistance to employees experiencing menopause


Discover diversity training microlearning


Are your micro learning platform and micro learning content compatible?

Are your micro learning platform and micro learning content compatible?

For your micro learning content to be compatible with your learning platform, the only non-negotiable is that your software and content are both SCORM-compliant. SCORM is a universally accepted set of technical standards used in learning management systems (LMS) to display digital content, and render subsequent content based on user interactions.

How can you tell if your LMS is SCORM-compliant? SCORM was first released in 2000 – version 1.0 — and was only a draft outline of the standards. This version has become irrelevant in modern applications but formed the foundations of the model which is now in its fourth iteration: SCORM 2004.

The latest generation of SCORM is Experience API (xAPI), but SCORM 1.2 (the xAPI predecessor) is still supported by LMS’s. If your LMS predates 2000, check with your LMS provider (and consider upgrading to a modern system).

Ready to delve into micro learning?

Whether you’re new to the world of micro learning, or looking to expand your learning library with relevant and important topics affecting today’s workforce, Marshall E-Learning, part of the Ciphr Group, offers best-in-class eLearning and micro learning content. With over 20 years of experience, carefully selected (and trained) presenters, and a growing library of off-the-shelf micro learning courses, we can provide the right content for your organisation. For more information on our microlearning content packs, download our brochures below.

Diversity microlearning

Management microlearning