What is microlearning? Advantages and disadvantages of learning methods that utilize gap time

Micro-learning is a method of learning short materials that can be completed in about 5 minutes through mobile devices. Micro-learning, which allows you to use your free time to learn anytime, anywhere, is attracting attention as a learning style that fits busy business people.

In addition, customer needs are diversifying as new technologies and trends are created one after another. In line with this, companies must systematically work to improve the knowledge and skills of their employees. Providing an easy-to-learn method for employees who do not have a lot of time will lead to a better customer experience.

In this article, we will introduce the basic knowledge of microlearning and give specific advice for implementation.

Table of Contents

What are the characteristics of micro-learning compared to e-learning?

Along with e-learning, micro-learning is attracting attention as a new learning method to replace traditional group training. Let’s deepen our understanding of microlearning through comparison between the two.

The difference between microlearning and e-learning

Micro-learning and e-learning are both ways of learning from anywhere, but there are three main differences:

  • Offer platform
  • Device used
  • study time

Offer platform

e-learning uses a learning management system called a learning management system (LMS) as a platform for distributing teaching materials and managing the learning history of students.

On the other hand, microlearning does not necessarily require an LMS. Some microlearning is only available through the app and video distribution channels. Therefore, companies can easily create opportunities for learning.

Device used

E-learning was originally started as a system for learning on a desktop or laptop computer.

On the other hand, microlearning is based on the use of mobile devices, mainly smartphones.

study time

In e-learning, the themes to be learned are systematically divided into 30- to 90-minute contents, which are then progressed in sequence.

Microlearning, on the other hand, consists of discrete pieces of content that are no longer than 10 minutes long. Learners can use their free time to study, such as when traveling by train, during breaks, or before going to bed.

Three reasons why microlearning is attracting attention

Three reasons why microlearning is attracting attention

There are three reasons why microlearning is attracting attention.

  • Spread of mobile devices
  • Social advance of the digital native generation
  • Diversification of work styles

Spread of mobile devices

Due to the improved functions of mobile devices such as smartphones, the number of business people who use mobile devices in business is increasing.  With the company-wide introduction, mobile devices are now being used not only to solve business problems and improve efficiency, but also to develop human resources and provide know-how. With the development of the information environment, interest in micro-learning, which can be learned anytime and anywhere, is increasing.

Social advance of the digital native generation

The generation of digital natives is also increasing in the workplace. For digital natives, acquiring knowledge and know-how through mobile devices is a very natural act. Micro-learning, which can easily incorporate game elements such as point systems and badges, increases the motivation of digital natives to learn.

Diversification of work styles

Along with the diversification of work styles, such as remote work and shorter working hours, there is a demand for diversity in learning styles.

Micro-learning, which allows you to learn in your daily spare time, can be used for a variety of work styles. Since it is a short content that can be completed only once, it can be used according to the needs of both on-site employees who find it difficult to secure a large amount of time for learning, and employees who want to reconfirm only the necessary information before starting work.

Advantages and disadvantages of microlearning

The advantages and disadvantages of microlearning are summarized below.

[Advantages and disadvantages of microlearning]




・Because you can easily learn in a short time, it is easy to incorporate into your life

・Since the amount of input at one time is small and repetitive learning is easy, it is easy to remember.

・Not suitable for systematic learning that requires long hours of study

・Not suitable for learning involving discussion, practical skills, and movement


– Easy to update content

・ Easy to create teaching materials because the theme of each content is clear

・When providing learning that corresponds to the above, it is necessary to combine it with other learning methods

However, it is possible to optimize what can be considered a disadvantage.

The point that “it is not suitable for systematic learning” can be solved by preparing a lot of content and making it possible to search for the target content by tagging.

The point that “it is not suitable for learning with discussion, practical skills, and movement” can be handled by combining training for customer service and product management.

In this way, microlearning can be incorporated into an educational curriculum that is optimized for your company depending on your ingenuity.

Situations where the introduction of microlearning is effective

Situations where the introduction of microlearning is effective

Microlearning can be expected to be effective in various situations. We will introduce four representative scenarios along with how to use them.

  • Education of new employees
  • manager training
  • Support for improving work skills
  • learning habits

1, education of new employees

“Evaluation of learning results” and “visualization of the next step” are important for the growth of human resources, including new employees. And to achieve this, a combination of microlearning and group training is effective.

For example, flipped learning can be combined with microlearning and group training. Flipped learning is a learning method in which the content learned by one person in microlearning is output in group training.

By learning the basic business content through micro-learning prior to training, training can be applied to practice and discussion, making it possible to learn more efficiently. Even if self-study makes it difficult to maintain motivation, flipped learning can be expected to increase learning motivation.

2,Training for managers

Finding time for group training can be difficult for busy managers. By acquiring basic knowledge through micro-learning, group training and discussions can be minimized.

3, Support for improving business skills

We turn skills and know-how that are easy to personalize into video content and use them as teaching materials for micro-learning. Short videos of less than 5 minutes are easy to grasp important points and easy to repeat learning.

4, habituation of study

Microlearning is short-term learning, so you can make it a habit without burden.

According to Stephen Guise, author of Tiny Habits, the best way to turn things into habits is to set small goals. Even on days when motivation is low, you can continue every day by setting a small goal of “I can do this much”. Micro-learning that can be completed in about 5 minutes will be the goal of this “small habit”.

Points to note when introducing microlearning

Points to note when introducing microlearning

For the effective operation of micro-learning, please keep in mind the following three points.

  • Prepare one-time content
  • Combining microlearning with other learning methods
  • Choose a delivery system that is easy for learners to access

Prepare one-time content

For micro-learning, we will prepare content that can be completed in about 5 minutes for one study. Even if it takes more than 10 minutes, such as operation methods and handling instructions, we will divide it into content such as the beginning, middle, and end.

Once created, links to the next content and tagging by topic make it easier for learners to find relevant content.

Combining microlearning with other teaching methods

Micro-learning is more effective when combined with group training and OJT. It is also effective to combine it with e-learning for more systematic learning.

Blended learning is a combination of micro-learning or e-learning and traditional group learning .

Choose a delivery system that is easy for learners to access

Microlearning distribution systems can be roughly divided into two types. A tool created for the purpose of delivering micro-learning, and an e-learning system, LMS.

LMS can deliver micro-learning in combination with e-learning tools. Therefore, it is suitable for structuring training such as distributing long, systematic content as e-learning, and distributing short videos and test-type content as micro-learning.

On the other hand, tools created for the purpose of micro-learning distribution can be used easily, such as by distributing videos taken with a smartphone as they are. On the other hand, long content like e-learning cannot be used, so it is suitable for training consisting of only micro-learning.

Microlearning use cases

We will introduce two companies in the United States that are making progress in introducing microlearning, and one company in Japan that is achieving results with advanced initiatives.

Case 1 Walmart Inc.

American supermarket giant Walmart Inc. implemented microlearning to build a safety culture. Microlearning has been implemented in over 150 distribution centers and has reached 75,000 employees. By incorporating gamification into micro-learning, the voluntary participation rate was 91% on average, and active learning was effective. For example, the number of accidents at our distribution centers has decreased by 54%.

Case 2 Shell plc

Shell plc is an international company with an average of 83,000 employees in over 70 countries around the world. In order to share the standards required by companies on a global level, Shell plc provides micro-learning for the following purposes for three layers.

  • New Hire: Microlearning as Onboarding Program to Deepen Understanding of Shell plc’s Methods
  • Marketers: acquire marketing skills through micro-learning and face-to-face workshops
  • Employees other than marketers: Understand the strategic role of marketing through micro-learning and develop a sense of contribution to other departments

Case 3 Bike King & Company Co., Ltd.

Bike King & Company Co., Ltd., which has stores nationwide, was faced with a disparity in educational standards between stores. Even with manuals, there were variations in the skills and interpretations of trainers at each store, making it difficult to control quality control. Therefore, the company established “Bike King College”. Micro-learning was used to distribute knowledge about laws and regulations related to business, motorcycle vehicles, etc. By providing not only knowledge related to motorcycles but also a wide range of content related to business such as safety and laws, many employees are proactively working and achieving results.

Recommended tools to use when introducing microlearning

Microlearning tools are microlearning platforms. Here are some recommended tools for companies that are considering introducing it.

Tool 1 ” Spotty “

A micro-learning delivery service that can be used in the cloud and does not use an LMS. One of the attractions is the convenience of being able to create content on a smartphone and distribute it to students as it is. It also has functions such as creation of confirmation tests, display of results, and learning management.

[Price] *As of June 2022

Pay-as-you-go system: From 4,800 yen per month (excluding tax)

Monthly flat rate system: From 9,800 yen per month (excluding tax)

Tool 2 ” UMU “

In addition to smooth content creation, interactive learning and AI feedback are also possible. It also supports e-learning, so it can be used in combination.

[Price] *As of June 2022

Product for organizations Business version (10 accounts or more, monthly payment)

6,750 yen per person per month (tax included)

Tool 3 ” Micro-learning series with NTTLS videos “

If you don’t know what kind of content to prepare, existing content with high versatility is also useful. There are many contents such as courses for basic work skills, courses for leaders and managers, etc., and the contents are also published on the website.

Course for basic work skills 5,000 yen per person per month x 3 months ~

Leader/manager course 6,500 yen per person per month x 3 months ~

Use microlearning to provide self-directed learning opportunities

Micro-learning that makes use of the free time is a learning method that employees can easily and proactively work on. It is easy to output the knowledge and skills acquired in short content, and it is also easy to get a sense of accomplishment from the output.

Micro-learning also has the advantage of making it easy to create and update content for corporate personnel who plan employee education and training. Higher effects can be expected by combining not only micro-learning but also group training and e-learning.

The knowledge and skills acquired by business people bear fruit as value provided to customers. Consider implementing microlearning to provide a better customer experience.

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