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Why microlearning is a necessity amid the pandemic

You might not have realized it, but microlearning — a process in which learning material is divided into bite-sized portions to ease users into learning more naturally — has seeped its way into the educational methodologies of our society.

As companies continue to evolve their internal processes into the digital medium, microlearning has seen steady adoption in corporate learning and development (L&D) practices. The convenience of smartphones, coupled with learning applications that utilize microlearning methods have served to streamline the often-convoluted corporate training process. 

Typical onboarding and on-site training sessions held during regular work hours are often at odds with the principal workload of the average employee. The hours spent in traditional training methods can be reduced through the use of a microlearning application that empowers the employee to access their required training materials at their convenience. Shifting the materials outside of a traditional classroom has the added benefit of engaging the employee on their own terms, thereby facilitating knowledge retention to a higher degree. 

The concept of microlearning can be traced back to the 2007 book Didactics of Microlearning by Theo Hug, an educational sciences professor at the University of Innsbruck. The book introduces microlearning as requiring “relatively short efforts and low degrees of time consumption” and “deals with small units and rather narrow topics, even though aspects of literacy and multimodality may play a complex role”. Coincidentally during the same year, the first iPhone was released, which eventually ushered in a new frontier in the field of e-learning.

It wasn’t until 2010 that microlearning gained much more traction as a training technique when Grovo Learning, a tech company that focused on providing a microlearning platform, was established in New York. In 2015, Grovo was named one of the most disruptive start-ups by CNN due to the way it approach microlearning as a new strategy for employee training, and to this day it has worked with large corporations from various industries such as Gap, Chevron and BuzzFeed.

Today, with much of our workforce following social distancing guidelines to combat our worldwide pandemic, methodologies that facilitate off-site learning have become crucial to corporate survivability and continuance. The new normal that has emerged in recent weeks has been the reliance on digital communications for daily operations and for corporate L&D. As such, e-learning platforms are likely to see a surge in adoption rates across all industries, and platform efficacy will rely on microlearning.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of microlearning and break them down one-by-one: 


The inherently segmented nature of microlearning materials, means that the content can be easily accessed, set aside, and picked up again with ease. This can mitigate user fatigue and empower users with the agency to control where and when they learn. 


E-learning platforms that utilize microlearning can often offer shorter, more affordable programs than the traditional alternatives. The short-form content can be tailored, expanded and implemented to suit any corporate need and budget. 


As best practices evolve and internal processes expand, microlearning based content can be removed, updated and restructured to fit any company need. The modularity of microlearning content means that L&D programs can now benefit from content and platforms that are more scalable than ever before. 


Microlearning can increase learner comprehension through the use of media-rich learning materials and bite-sized content. Multi-medium learning attracts more attention from the learner, and knowledge retention is enhanced due to easily digestible information delivery from microlearning materials. 

Another example of the possibilities that stem from microlearning could be seen in one of Agate’s Level Up products, Levio. In an attempt for inclusive learning for employees of a major Indonesian bank in remote areas, Levio presented as the microlearning tool that would help them prepare for their job obligations. Up to this point, it has been used by more than 3,000 employees of said bank. As a result, that particular bank has saved more than 30 percent of its budget by switching to microlearning as opposed to traditional training methods. 

In a pandemic that requires us to keep our social distance, one could assume that everyone is living and working remotely. In order to keep functioning and training employees during this time, microlearning is the way to go for companies to survive. All of a sudden, this relatively new L&D method becomes a necessity. 

The result that microlearning has had has been positive, and more and more businesses have made a switch to microlearning as well. However, the fact of the matter is there are still a lot of businesses that favor conventional training methods over investing time and effort in microlearning, even though this method has an outstanding track record.

There is no time to waste in this rapidly changing world. Microlearning is the future for HR L&D and it is the way to go. (kes)


Lee Marvin is vice president of gamification at Agate Level Up. He began his work experience as a freelance server administrator for DigiGame Cyber Café while also attending management school at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Before joining Agate as product manager in 2012, he co-owned several entrepreneurial businesses. In 2019, Marvin was appointed Agate’s VP of Gamification.

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