How is Microlearning Different from Traditional Learning?


By Shruti Rao

The term ‘microlearning’ is fast gaining popularity in the e-learning or digital learning space. But how many of us know what microlearning means? Some of the most frequent questions that come to mind when thinking about microlearning are about the effectiveness of these lessons? How is microlearning different from traditional learning? 

Let us first begin with understanding the concept of microlearning. While most of us may not be in school or college anymore, we live in times where learning cannot stop. Unfortunately, most of us are also pressed for time because of our work schedule. This is where microlearning comes in to help. Microlearning is an educational approach that takes a regular course and converts it to small chunks of information. This approach ensures that just the right amount of information is provided for the learners to achieve their goals. These lessons last only for 5-15 minutes as opposed to a 60-90-minute traditional lecture. 

How is Microlearning Different from Traditional Learning? 

Multiple Usage 

Microlearning has multiple usages. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, this chunk learning makes knowledge retention 17% more effective. In traditional learning, a long lecture can be consumed only one time. However, microlearning lessons can be revisited multiple times on the loop. The ability to repeat a lesson as many times a learner would like helps in retaining knowledge.

Watch: The Attention Economy 


Microlearning is more flexible than traditional learning. In traditional learning, the lessons are suited often for classroom instruction. We would be required to attend classes which are led by lecturers or trainers. These lessons take a linear approach. In microlearning, the lessons are in a fun and interactive audio-visual format that is led by a learner.  

  Micro Learning  Traditional Learning 
Duration  5-15 minutes  60 – 90 minutes 
Format  Interactive audio-visual based, Informal  Text-based, Formal 
Approach  Flexible  Linear 
Control  Learner-driven  Teacher driven 
Cost  Budget-friendly  Expensive 
Usage  Multiple-use and sharable  Single-use and non-sharable 
Pace  Self-paced and level-based  Uniform pace for the entire class 
Design  Customized  Generic 


Microlearning is more cost-effective than traditional learning. A traditional learning lesson is infrastructure-heavy. We would need to hire an instructor, a classroom space, pay for utilities, and classroom supplies. A microlearning lesson, on the other hand, is budget-friendly. No software installation costs or the need to hire a physical space or pay for classroom utilities. A microlearning format makes it easy and less time consuming to roll out the whole course in modules. 


Microlearning is more engaging than traditional learning. Traditional lecture-based learning is often monotonous. Sometimes the delivery of traditional lectures also depends on the personality and mood of the lecturer. Surely, we all remember that that one teacher from our school or college days who made unpalatable what could have been an interesting lecture! Digital learning has enabled formats like microlearning to emerge. This chunk learning lets the content creator to use audio-visual media. Using interactive audio-visual content in microlearning makes the lessons more fun and engaging.

Watch: Gamification in Education 

Self-Paced and Level Based 

Microlearning is self-paced and level-based. Traditional learning requires us to keep pace with the entire class. It is not always possible to get one-on-one attention from the lecturer. Microlearning is self-paced. Lessons in a chunk learning format can be adjusted to a pace comfortable for us. The microlearning format also meets the learner at their level. Gone are the days of getting separate tuitions if we did not understand a lesson or a concept. We do not have time for that anyway! Microlearning lessons wait for the learner to fully understand the concepts unlike traditional lectures.  


Microlearning lessons can be customized. A traditional learning-based lecture is usually delivered to a large audience. This requires the lecturer to keep the material generic and suited to a larger audience. Microlearning lessons give the learner the freedom to customize as per their needs.  Chunk learning format allows us to design our lessons as per our skilling or learning requirements. 

These benefits of microlearning over traditional learning cannot be overlooked. Whether you are a company looking to hire an e-learning hub to upskill your employees, or even a traditional lecturer looking to add more flair in your classes, know that microlearning is a powerful tool. We must look for digital learning spaces that offer microlearning courses. This would make e-learning not only fun and engaging but also effective. 

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