Microlearning: Finding Learning Opportunities in the Flow of Work

Today’s post is written by Andrea May, #chat2lrn crew member and Vice President of Instructional Design Services at Dashe & Thomson in Minneapolis, MN. Andrea is an instructional designer, project manager, wife, mother, Girl Scout troop leader and theater artist.

digitalchalk-what-is-micro-learning How many times each day do you log into your computer or an online application?  10 times a day? 20 times? More?  What if you were in the process of learning a new language and each time you logged in, you were presented with a vocabulary question or two to answer before proceeding with your work tasks?  The questions might repeat at each login until you consistently answer correctly. By the end of the day you may have engaged in 20 or more instances of microlearning. By the end of the week, you may have had over 150 opportunities to practice and learn new vocabulary, all without attending a class, viewing an eLearning module, or spending dedicated time on self-study.

Microlearning uses the principle of repetition to deliver content in very small pieces over the course of time which helps the content become ultimately cemented into long term memory.  Sophisticated systems can be used to integrate this microlearning into the flow of work and track progress in a relatively unobtrusive way.  It is almost like being presented with 2 or 3 flash cards for 30 seconds several times a day. Once you get a flash card right a few times in a row, it is replaced by a new one. You can find out more about this approach to microlearning here.

I find this whole idea fascinating. We all know attending a class and receiving a content dump is not effective in terms of retention. It’s repetition and practice that really makes things stick and produce a measurable improvement over the long-term. It’s finding time for that repetition and practice where many of us stumble and we lose the knowledge we gained by attending a “learning event” of some type.  Microlearning can solve that problem by using systems to integrate repetition of content seamlessly into 


the  flow of work.

I am certainly not advocating for microlearning as a solution to all our our content delivery problems. I think some topics are much more well suited for this approach than others. However, when used under the right circumstances and conditions, I think it could create a tremendous advantage in terms of learner retention.

Join us this week for a #chat2lrn session dedicated to this topic. We would love to hear your ideas and opinions. #chat2lrn will take place on Thursday February 27 at 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00GMT. We hope to see you there!

Performance consulting: a surefire way to survive the death of training

This week, Chat2lrn are delighted to welcome a guest post from Nigel Harrison – Author, Chartered Business Psychologist and Performance Consultant.

Performance Consultingthe practice of helping organisations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing organisational problems and development of plans for improvement.

“Death” might be a bit strong. It’s the transactional trainer role that has progressively died.  So how can we describe a transactional trainer?  It’s the trainer who took orders from clients for courses and commissioned training.  This quasi-administrative role added little value to the business and in successful businesses has all but disappeared.

Workshops that concentrate on skills (rather than delivering knowledge) are thriving. Skilled facilitators can be hired by the session rather than having them on the books.  The internal trainer who delivers business critical subject matter expertise also survives.

So who else survives?

  • The internal consultants who ensure compliance are easy to justify.
  • The e-learning team maintaining the web site with role-specific learning objects for self-service by managers and learners.
  • The techie’s who can design and support performance support


  • The Learning and Performance Consultant – an internal consultant who can      partner with clients to understand their initial requests, such as, “We need sales training”. Rather than take an order for training, they turn these requests into real needs with a justified business value and then go onto design shared learning and performance solutions.

How do I know things are changing?  Five years ago I was contracted by a major corporate to train their 82 L&D professionals; I am now coaching the 16 survivors in Performance Consulting so that they can link everything they do to justified business priorities.

I think this is why Charles Jennings sees the growth of Performance Consulting and his no. 1 theme for 2014?

What do you think? Join us for #chat2lrn on Thursday 13 February 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00GMT and share your thoughts.

Nigel Harrison has his own Performance Consultancy business – Performance Consulting UK and also delivers Certified Performance Consultancy Master Classes (PCM) for the Learning and Performance Institute.

“How to be a True Business Partner by Performance Consulting” by Nigel Harrison

Available from


or Amazon