Microlearning Compatibility Assessment

Six questions to identify where microlearning fits into your learning ecosystem
and how you can modify your approach to make it fit best.

1.       Is your content compliance related? Is the seat-time mandated by law?

  • Generally, compliance training is where you should start any microlearning efforts. Often such training is seen by employees as a “waste of time” so shortening it will earn you a lot of credibility.
  • If the seat-time is mandated by law, this will be a barrier to going micro. However, see if you can break that into segments – for example, can you satisfy a requirement of 60 minutes per year with just 5 minutes every month?


2.       Is your content related to other formal learning? Will people use the microlearning before or after those learning experiences, and will it be required?

  • You can use microlearning to “level set” students before coming to a formal learning environment, or to continue extending their learning after that learning event.
  • You can also use microlearning as reinforcement after a formal learning activity. This is a great way to encourage long-term retention.


3.       Will your content provide support at the moment of need?

  • You can use microlearning to give just-in-time learning or support when an employee is stuck or needs help. This is generally your most effective use of microlearning because it will directly impact the learner’s immediate productivity.
  • To be most effective, this content needs to be found easily at the employee’s moment of need. Usually this requires that the resources be housed somewhere with good search and supported by strong meta-tagging.
  • To be most effective, the content also needs to be targeted to the learner’s specific need, which may require you to have a stronger understanding of the user and the use case.


4.       Is it important to keep your content top of mind?

  • You can use microlearning for reinforcement of new content or things people should already know. This is an excellent way to keep concepts top of mind, even if the employee will use them occasionally. Many compliance and leadership topics fit extremely well here.


5.       People are constantly reading blogs and articles as part of their overall professional development. Will you provide content that the learner is intrinsically interested in, even if it may not be related to a formal training event or specific job task?

  • You can use microlearning to address informal learning topics that have wide appeal to your employees (like email management, having difficult conversations, leading up, etc.). Employees will appreciate the efforts made to foster their personal development.


6.       Can you break your content into discrete chunks?

  • Material that is complicated or needs to be covered in depth is not a good fit for microlearning. To go micro, find ways to break your content into discrete chunks.


Last week I was at ATD 2017 in Atlanta, and it was fantastic. I learned a lot, saw lots of old friends, and made some new ones too! If you went, I hope you left energized with new ideas!

I was again reminded how excited our profession is by microlearning. Tony Bingham talked about it in the opening keynote. Shannon Tipton’s session was full to capacity. I had a packed house for my session too ... 330 people, and they had to turn people away. And my book, The Microlearning Guide to Microlearning sold out at the ATD bookstore early in the conference. I had a few spare copies with me, which I brought to the bookstore; those 9 copies sold in an hour.

It's an exciting time to be in the training and development field. Especially the interest in microlearning tells me that we are earnest about our desire to use learner's time wisely, be performance-focused, and provide just-in-time learning. Follow those ideals and we're sure to make a difference for those employees we serve.

Yours in learning,

Welcome to my blog

Hi! My name is Carla Torgerson. I have spent the last decade helping organizations train their employees in new and innovative ways. As a part of this I have been exploring microlearning over the past few years, and developed MILE, the MIcroLEarning Design Model©.

I'll use this blog to share my experiences and ideas about learning, and especially microlearning.