Modern Training

Curated Insights: More on Microlearning

Posted on: December 1, 2017Updated on: June 29, 2022By: JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

Microlearning—heard anything about it lately?

There are plenty of trending topics in the L&D (learning and development) world right now, but microlearning is by far the dominant conversation in the space. Do you want to fill your next conference session? Just put “microlearning” in the title. In fact, the three most popular articles on my LearnGeek Blog are about microlearning. Even Google Search trends demonstrate the continued growth of interest around the topic.

Google Search Trends – Microlearning (01/01/2016 – 11/29/2017)


This kind of popularity isn’t new in L&D. Ten years ago it was social. Seven years ago it was mobile. Five years ago it was gamification. While each of these trends has had an impact, I believe we have left a lot of “money on the table” because we didn’t recognize the fundamental principles that could truly help people and impact businesses. If microlearning is allowed to remain a trend, I fear it could be added to this list in a year or two and fail to have the maximum impact on how we support our organizations.

I hope my November Curated Insights can help people better understand the fundamentals of microlearning and contribute to the larger conversation on today’s biggest L&D trending topic.

Microlearning: The Misunderstood Buzzword by Shannon Tipton

The biggest challenge with microlearning right now is getting past the noise to find the real value. This post can help. Tipton lives and breaths the reality of microlearning in her consulting and industry work, and I consider her one of a handful of true subject matter experts on the topic. Here, she breaks down common misconceptions about microlearning and refocuses the conversation on the nuts and bolts fundamentals—specifically the ability to rapidly provide right-fit support for specific needs. Sound like a generally good idea for every L&D team? That’s the point!

The Microlearning Myth from Biz Group

Building onto Tipton’s points, Biz Group provides more tactical suggestions for implementing a microlearning mindset. Full disclosure: Biz Group is an Axonify partner, and their philosophy is somewhat informed by my own. Nonetheless, they continue to successfully implement microlearning principles for an international audience and further support the real-world value of the concept.

The Future of Microlearning by Supriya Kaur

zipBoard has been reaching out to L&D pros to capture their thoughts on microlearning and the impact it may have on workplace learning moving forward. As I read each comment, it’s interesting to see how their definitions vary—some more than others. At the same time, there is a consistent message of evolution needed to find the potential value. My favorite comment is by Clark Quinn, who reminds us of the massive complexity that is the human brain. Rather than oversimplify, we must align our ability to support with the realities of how people learn.

How to Build Microlearning by JD Dillon

As a follow-up to my microlearning definition post, I shared my practical steps for applying related principles when addressing a workplace performance challenge. In this post, I briefly break down two decision-making frameworks: The Outcome Model and The Modern Learning Ecosystem Framework. Blending these two frameworks together has helped me more clearly identify the problem and build the right-fit solution for several years—since well before the microlearning trend exploded. While these concepts power the Axonify approach, they can be applied by any L&D pro trying to modernize their approach to workplace learning and support.

There’s A LOT being said about microlearning right now, and people are interested. Still, many L&D pros don’t yet understand why this topic is such a big deal. To get past the hype, we must dig into the fundamental principles that make microlearning a powerful foundation for all workplace learning practices.

For a deeper dive, you can also check out our Microlearning Guide that discusses in detail the components every organization needs to have to be successful with microlearning.

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect's Headshot

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

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