Image showing microlearning definition that it is learning specific steps to complete a task.Microlearning refers to an educational concept where a student learns exactly what is needed to create a specific task just in time to complete the task. It provides small, precise instructions that may only be used in the moment instead of studied for long-term recall.

This may be based on a quick reference file, a bookmark, or actual help files within a product. In this scenario, instead of keeping all the learned information in memory, it is kept in files online or offline where it can be easily accessed and used when needed.

In the online world, one of the most prominent uses of microlearning is the tutorial and help file system for software. When you are using a piece of software, frequently the details of how to complete a task are items that you lookup and work through from the tutorial steps only to forget until needed again.

In the offline world, this is equavalent to using cookbooks or recipe cards to complete your favorite dinner. Many home cooks keep a few weekly recipes in their minds at all times, but that one really cool chicken dish that everyone loved last year, well when you revisit it you’ll probably grab the recipe and follow the steps. This is an example of microlearning. Some people refer to recipe cards for almost all cooking even when working with recipes they have completed hundreds of times.

When building online courses, you should consider areas where students might want Quick Reference materials to refer to so they don’t have to keep too many small steps and concepts in their head at one time. As you identify these areas, you can decide the best way to present this information for fast and easy access. Reference pages, help files, and searchable manuals can be very successful options for providing microlearning material.

Have questions about microlearning or stories about how you’ve used it in your classes and programs? Please leave comments below.