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It Ain’t Learning if it’s Microlearning

Microlearning is the short-term, focused delivery of content or involvement in an activity.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of chatter about best practices for “microlearning.” By most standards microlearning should be less than six minutes and often the suggestion is that it is no more than two minutes. The thinking is that learners have the “capacity” to sit still and watch an informational tutorial for only so long before they’ll zone out, hit pause, or be interrupted by their work.

Companies that create micro learning promote it by touting its ability to quickly close a “skills gap” – a learner can learn a new topic or take advantage of a refresher, in a short snippet that they can apply immediately. About to close a sale? Watch this microlearning video on 5 steps to closing a sale. Need to perform cardiac surgery? Look at this flowchart which will lead you through the process (I’m kidding. I hope.). Another advantage – per proponents of microlearning – is that the learner himself can control what and when to learn.

Pardon my upcoming capitalization: THIS IS NOT LEARNING. This is performance support. How and when did we get these two terms confused?