Microlearning vs. Macrolearning

What Does Research Tell Us?

In the child’s tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks comes to some now unoccupied house in the woods and decides to split in. (Hello! Illegal!) She decides to help herself to the occupants’ food, chairs, and beds. And proclaims some of them “just perfect.” Why is it exactly perfect? Since it meets her needs. To put it differently, “only right” is about fulfilling particular demands.

That is true for instruction too. We must understand what they have to be able to perform and people’s needs. A one-size-fits-all, regardless of needs, is a sure route to poor training results and some one-size-fits-few.

In the previous year I had heard L&D practitioners discuss microlearning like it is “the answer” What’s it the response to, just? The response: Nearly everything. But understanding that we must create learning experiences that match specific needs, I felt doubtful. Until I know what the preponderance of research states, my view is just a guess based on what I know. Consequently, I set out to find out more and also this article sums up what I learned.

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What does research say about microlearning? In this guide, I’ll offer some definitions of microlearning that offer clues about important aspects and clarify what researchers and research have to say about microlearning. I’ll compare what people say would be against that which we know from research of microlearning the advantages. And I’ll examine the way we might use each and what macro and micro approaches provide office learning.

I can sum up a lot of the article with a penetration Technik und Wirtschaft, who studies learning and operate:

Microlearning is not the remedy to all workplace learning demands.

In a response to Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner’s blog article on microlearning, Glahn explains that microlearning is not and cannot possibly be the answer to all (or even most) workplace learning needs. That is obvious, of course, because, as Dr. Glahn explains, nothing is your solution to all office learning needs.

What Is Microlearning?
What’s microlearning? Here are 3 definitions from knowledgeable L&D professionals. About how to use microlearning the definitions provide insights.

Learning from articles accessed in short bursts, content which is related to this person, and replicated over time to guarantee retention and build conceptual understanding.

Small but complete learning experiences.

– Clark Quinn, author and learning technology strategy pioneer

Relatively short admissions in learning-related actions –that may provide any combination of content presentation, review, training, reflection, behavioral prompting, performance support, goal reminding, persuasive messaging, job assignments, social interaction, analysis, training, management interaction, or alternative learning-related methodologies.

– Will Thalheimer, writer, learning-and-performance consultant and researcher

I picked these definitions since these people deeply understand learning and training technology and I understand they think profoundly about L&D topics. Too many definitions of microlearning concur that they are short. Using that definition will make me microlearning, as I’m short.

People point to brief videos and phone them “microlearning” but articles doesn’t necessarily produce learning, per Quinn’s idea of “learning experiences that are complete.” Learning entails mental effort and a shift in knowledge, per Taylor’s insight concerning the necessity for retention and comprehension. Like the other two definitions, Thalheimer helps us understand that microlearning must be primarily about learning, not satisfied.

Technology can facilitate microlearning, but microlearning is not mostly about technology. For microlearning, technology offers possible delivery methods, however, microlearning may work with no technology. Ever had a colleague show you how to ________ (by way of example, change your profile data in your company’s employee directory) then stand by to assist while you do it yourself? Ta da! Casual on changing your profile, microlearning. Would a video or internet demo work as well? It might, but also many people exit the “entire experience” which Quinn cites, the “building comprehension” aspects that Taylor describes, or the other instructional elements that Thalheimer lists.

Microlearning isn’t brand new. It’s a repackaging of past learning ideas, explain former CEO, author critic on silliness in workplace learning, and Donald Clark. You have probably heard of learning nuggets and learning things. Chunking, for instance, is a technique we use to work within the limitations of memory. It entails organizing big blocks of material into smaller logical sections. Cognitive science research proves that chunking can improve focus, reduce the possibility of regeneration, and make it much easier to recall. These are nearly exactly why some people call for microlearning as you might expect. And additionally, it tells us people newer to a topic benefit from smaller chunks compared to people with more knowledge and ability.

Among the differences between some of what people are calling for microlearning and proper chunking is that good chunking shows the business of this topic, which supports mental processes and enables people to build usable understanding. Organization also help individuals see the scope of the subject and relations between different parts. Disconnected balls make these critical outcomes harder. Microlearning elements can seem disconnected, so that they don’t help people understand how different topics connect.

Microlearning Vs. Macrolearning
That is like asking if bacon is far better than zucchini. Better for what? If you’re making ratatouille, you need zucchini. Bacon might be a good addition, but it is not a replacement for zucchini. Likewise, a bacon-lettuce-tomato (BLT) sandwich requires bacon. (Random thought alert: Why do folks outside the USA eat BLTs?) Substituting zucchini for your bacon could allow it to be another sandwich entirely.

Macrolearning targets larger and more complete skill areas (such as using Microsoft Word, construction ladder security, or building travel arrangements using your company’s travel app) and should include the knowledge, training, and feedback to attain needed skills. We often provide macrolearning over time since distributed-over-time versus focused (event) learning and practice show substantial advantages for remembering and application.

Microlearning also needs to incorporate the ideal learning elements, according to Glahn. Even though smaller in size, each small learning chunk must include critical instructional components such as practice, feedback, and reflection.

Neither microlearning nor macrolearning need to be formal courses, in case this isn’t obvious. People today learn hard things by themselves and from others all the time. Together with the global need for organizations to quickly adapt and the resulting modifications in project skills, people must be able to learn on their own using micro and macro approaches. The main reason behind using formal microlearning or macrolearning is to assist people to gain certain skills that are critical to the business.

What is True. What isn’t? And What’s Nonsense.
The main reason I had been unwanted about microlearning before reading the research is since people kept saying things about it that I know couldn’t be true. Here are a couple of of the things I have read or heard about microlearning and what research tells us is true.

Helps with “modern learning” because technologies have changed how we learn. Humans have the exact cognitive architecture as they have had for centuries. Working memory can only process a couple chunks of information at a time. Technologies haven’t changed how we know (see my ATD article on this topic for more) even though technologies have changed how we believe. Because individuals have an attention span, is needed. Not so. The study about a lowering of our attention span was completely composed, as I discussed in my ATD post about this topic. Here is what we know: Attention spans vary (films anyone?) And are very likely to wander over time. 3. Works because it is similar to how folks find answers to their questions: Online searches. No. Discovering answers to quick questions and studying for application (deep learning) are not the same.
Learning builds on what we know. The ability to perform as needed depends upon existing knowledge and abilities. We have to have a knowledge base to manage work problems and to understand what we look upward. Cognition study demonstrates that it is this very knowledge base which makes people with more experience able to solve problems quicker and with better results.

Not so.
We will need to use technologies that support needed learning and performance results not alter learning how to encourage technology use.

5. Of studying more effective, transfer. Efficacy is also required by good performance. Without effectiveness means you got to the wrong place faster. Not a bargain.
Transfer means individuals can apply learned skills is real life use. Shorter learning interventions are to use. But designing for transport calls for adequate training and relevant contexts. These essential items may be left out in the pursuit to be “short”

6. Research shows that people new to a topic benefit from explicit instruction. This minimizes wasted misconceptions effort and struggling. As individuals gain experience, they are a lot more able to self-direct their learning.
Just because I am in a position to find out where a movie I wish to see will be playing using internet search does not mean that I can find, understand, and utilize information about flying a plane (something I know virtually nothing about). After I begin flying lessons and also have more understanding and skill, I’m more successful finding and making sense of certain questions I have about airplanes.

7. Is users. Possibly true (the research I’ve read is ambiguous), but maybe not entirely relevant.
Research informs us that (supplements and) instructional effectiveness aren’t connected with what people prefer. Oftentimes, what works best and what folks prefer are in opposition. For example, I prefer Sun Chips to broccoli. I have blood glucose and these types of snacks impact blood sugar. And that is a recipe for illnesses. Doesn’t mean that’s what works because you would rather learn by _____.

8. Is simpler and faster to produce. Yes, briefer content ought to be simpler and quicker to create. Food is easier and faster to enter your mouth, but you shouldn’t live on it. Faster is not enough. It must also meet with the need. 9. Makes look more easy. Yes, shorter articles can make learning seem less intimidating. We don’t have a favor, but having them believe that building abilities and being able to use what they learn is not effortful and time consuming. Helps people understand something modest. This is among the opportunities for microlearning. Help folks add modest elements of knowledge and ability to what they know. People fit little bits of learning in life and their work. Absolutely. This is one of the very best use cases: Helping individuals fit pieces of learning in their work and life. Chunks that were smaller used and are offered than instructional chunks that were bigger.
But making learning actions smaller, can remove or reduce parts that are crucial to deeper learning, based on Glahn. For microlearning to become valuable, he says we must:

Provide adequate practice to boost understanding and capability to apply.
Supply feedback to repair misunderstandings and improve ability to employ.
Expect particular learning outcomes. It is not sufficient to count a variety of views.
Peter Bruck, CEO and Chief Researcher of the Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, state microlearning may be the antidote to the complexity and the abundance of information we face. In addition, he states microlearning solves another learning difficulty: time to find out. He insists on making time to understand is essential for skill and understanding acquisition. Microlearning can be a part of the alternative (the micro components).

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Deep learning requires that individuals have the ability to correctly arrange with what they know what they are learning. Individuals without necessary knowledge or skill to make decisions or perform a job typically struggle with a new speech, processes, and decision points (among other items). Research shows they tend to devote effort trying approaches out and seeing what works. People with more knowledge use what they already know to choose approaches they think have a better prospect of working.

Now for the nonsense. I have seen reports that produce claims about microlearning and it’s time to bring this crap into the light of the day or more than a few articles. (I have changed each of these slightly to protect the people and organizations who wrote them.)

Microlearning improves information retention by 25 percent over long training.

This articled called on research. The study shows that retention is improved by embedding questions over placing all of the questions in the conclusion. This result points to spacing and testing effects, not microlearning. Microlearning is not likely unless it provides retention enhances to improve retention, such as practice, spacing, relevancy, opportunities to recover what is learned, and more.

Microlearning improves transfer of learning by 20%.

Transfer of learning means individuals transfer learned skills to the point of use (generally, the job). I discovered nothing and looked for study on microlearning from the journal recorded. (Yo. You will need to cite references in a way that enables readers to discover and verify claims.) A different source was mentioned by them and it was a study on simulation and adventure games for children when I looked it up. Wild jump?

Ideal viewing time is 6 minutes.

The writers established this claim on how long pupils in a higher education classroom saw instructional videos. I could not locate this study based on the info provided but even though it exists, it gives very little advice. Research attention span for video, lectures, and content that is educational reveals it is not fixed. It varies. There’s no magic number. It has a tendency to wane over time but can return (that is why children’s TV uses a lot of sounds and movement). Attention does not guarantee learning, while no learning is meant by lack of attention. Learning is complicated.

Uses For Microlearning
I have discussed mental effort is reduced by knowledge and allows people to solve. Well-designed macrolearning typically builds on what individuals includes training over time to add skill, helps people remember what needs to be remembered to do, understand, and provides feedback to concentrate on next steps.

Is microlearning beneficial? Yes, and that is why it’s not new.

Here are some applications for microlearning out of Donald Clark and Will Thalheimer.

Adaptive learning (Al) – Locate and arrange needed chunks to satisfy personalized learning needs.
Remembering – Support remembering and ability to use with dimension and practice elements.
Performance Service – Supply advice when needed to perform a job, encourage tasks or behaviour, and learn from others.
To clarify the way micro and macro link to one another in workplace learning and performance, I put together Table 1, according to a related chart in Hug’s book, Didactics of Microlearning: Concepts, Discourses, and Examples.


Wordsgravity, pressure, backflow, fittings, joints, toolslearning objects, chunks, job aids, support, and helpcompetenciesphrases, sentences, grammar how supply and drainage methods operate subject work taskssituations, conversationsRepairing: leaks and clogsReplacing: faucets, drains, and toilets classes work outcomes, team outcomes, organizational outcomes
I was not surprised that the research does not support much of what people say is about microlearning true. After all, research doesn’t support the majority of the hype in our field. Our associations deserve better than folklore hype, and fads. They damage our credibility and capability to deliver results that are needed and damage.

It’s difficult to build knowledge that is foundational that is complex without a learning strategy. This does mean learning that is formal. It simply means profound learning that is a process of development over time and builds over time. In other words, nobody learns to be a good developer by going into a “programming occasion.” Same for being a dental hygienist Instructional Designer, and a supervisor. Workplace learning does not even offer the right pieces.

Microlearning is not wrong or bad. It cannot do all the (absurd) things folks say it can do. Nonetheless, it makes sense.

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