I've looked for a good definition of microlearning, but because I couldn't find one, I've created my own.
Microlearning involves the use of:
“Relatively short engagements in learning-related activities—typically ranging from a few seconds up to 20 minutes (or up to an hour in some cases)—that may provide any combination of content presentation, review, practice, reflection, behavioral prompting, performance support, goal reminding, persuasive messaging, task assignments, social interaction, diagnosis, coaching, management interaction, or other learning-related methodologies.”
Microlearning has five utilization cases:
- Course Replacement
Provides training content and learning support, often as a replacement for classroom training or long-form elearning.
- Course Augmentation
Provides after-course or within-course streams of short learning interactions to reinforce, strengthen, or deepen learning.
- Retrieval Support
Provides retrieval practice, spaced repetitions, and reminding to ensure knowledge and skills can be remembered when needed.
- Just-In-Time (Moment-of-Need) Learning
Provides information when learners need it to perform a task they are working on.
- Behavioral Prompts
Provides action nudges, task assignments, or performance support to directly prompt and support behavior.
If it's not obvious, there are clearly overlaps in these five use cases, and furthermore, a single microlearning thread may utilize more than one of the methodologies suggested. For example, when using microlearning as a replacement for a standard elearning course, you might also consider retrieval support and behavioral prompts in your full learning design.