Employees and students are increasingly away from their desks; both literally (working and learning from home) and figuratively (the fight for our attention and priorities is challenged like never before). Microlearning (and in particular, mobile microlearning) can optimize the limitations on space, time, and attention that we have to still be productive learners.

What is Mobile Microlearning?

The definition at first appears to be obvious, mobile microlearning is simply the microlearning we’re familiar with; accessed via smartphone or tablet to access it on the go. However, in the same way that you cannot replicate the traditional learning experience on a mobile device, the same is true with existing microlearning material that isn’t germane to mobile. To be effective, mobile microlearning modules must be designed to be mobile-first and not simply retrofitted to all potential platforms.

According to 2019 research in the journal Technology, Knowledge and Learning, design challenges of mobile microlearning include:

· Too much information on a small screen

· Higher potential for distraction on a mobile device (i.e. texting, internet, games)

· Lack of contact and interactivity

· Accessibility (i.e. for people with disabilities) and affordability issues

What are the Benefits of Mobile Microlearning?

The ability to access learning anywhere and anytime is the chief benefit of mobile microlearning. Mobile devices are already a part of many learners’ daily lives, and mobile learning especially appeals to a younger, digital-first generation. While research is slowly growing on the effectiveness of mobile learning, the research that does exist is encouraging. A 2019 review of mobile microlearning literature suggests that mobile microlearning can increase memory retention and reduce cognitive fatigue when applied as it is intended.

Additionally, the success of any mobile microlearning program is dependent on a number of factors, including: learner type, training afforded to the instructor, content and structure, focus objectives, and more. Mobile microlearning it seems works best when integrated into an eLearning program. not as the entirety of the program itself.

How Long should Mobile Microlearning Modules be?

At this time, you might be able to tell we have not settled on any “official” definition of microlearning; but a common understanding is that microlearning modules should last no longer than 10 minutes. Different course size and the different intentions of learning programs (free vs paid, live versus pre-recordings) can factor into perceived preferred lesson duration. The ideal length, according to a survey from the Association of Talent Development, is 2-5 minutes per lesson. In an analysis of more than 6 million video views from Massive Online Open Courses (free online courses where anyone can enroll, commonly known as ‘MOOCs’), 6-9 minutes was ideal for students. After nine minutes students began skipping parts of the video, resulting in a net viewing of only 20% of the total video.

Cases have been made for even shorter mobile microlearning sessions. Learning on a mobile device, especially the device is not specifically intended for learning purposes, increases the competition from outside sources for the learner’s attention. In an analysis of academic literature, mobile microlearning sessions lasted between 30 seconds and five minutes before a disruption occured.

How do you Measure the Success of Mobile Microlearning?

Of course, learning and retention are two different measurements. A mobile microlearning program—or really, any type of training—cannot be considered fully effective unless users are able to successfully retain what they’ve learned and apply it outside of the learning environment. You’d want to evaluate the effectiveness of mobile microlearning the same way you would evaluate any eLearning program—by measuring and analyzing pre-determined KPIs that ideally are tied to your organization’s objectives.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the impact of mobile microlearning in your learning environment, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.