University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Why Microlearning Has Become The New Norm

Stop. Look. Read. Scan. Repeat. With so many messages vying for our attention, it’s not surprising that our attention spans have been declining.

One of the methods to address this is through microlearning. This method of learning is much different than e-learning, which, for example, might require a person to block off an hour to complete a course in one sitting. With microlearning, you might engage with a program multiple times a day, but in just a few minutes at a time.

An example: When you subscribe to services that send you a new word several times a day. You take a couple of minutes to read the definition of the word, and then you move on to other daily tasks. You’re learning, but in a short amount of time and through small bits of information. And it’s all done on your schedule, when you want to spend a few minutes learning something new.

People adapt to this new pattern by structuring their learning experiences differently. Don’t think of microlearning as taking a course—instead, think of it as receiving tiny pieces of information or training that you can do throughout the day when you’re waiting in line or for a friend, when you need a fun break or just want to fill in some downtime.

Google refers to these times as “micro-moments,” and they are changing the way we perceive our world. Here’s what Google has to say about them:

“As mobile has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, we’re witnessing a fundamental change in the way people consume media. What used to be our predictable, daily sessions online have been replaced by many fragmented interactions that now occur instantaneously. There are hundreds of these moments every day—checking the time, texting a spouse, chatting with friends on social media.

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made, and preferences shaped. In these moments, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever.”*

Changing the method in which we learn helps us adapt to our ever-changing environment. It allows us to train when we want to and use a device (e.g., smartphone, laptop, notebook) that is most convenient for us. Stay tuned to learn how microlearning will be incorporated into the annual Cybersecurity Awareness Training.

* Sridhar Ramaswamy, “How Micro-moments Are Changing the Rules,” Think With Google (April 2015), https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/how-micromoments-are-changing-rules/