The origins of microlearning

While most people believe that microlearning is a relatively new concept or trend, it is actually a very old, even ancient, phenomenon.


A new beginning

Every day we strive to improve our skills and the fact that we need to learn to become better at something is everything but shocking, correct? That’s why we are constantly looking for new ways to study in a more effective and efficient way. Regardless of what new learning methods we come up with, we will always use microlearning as the foundation of our learning methods.

The birth of microlearning

While most people believe that microlearning is a relatively new concept or trend, it is actually a very old, even ancient, phenomenon.

Microlearning is bite-sized training content, offering just the right amount of knowledge to help the learner achieve a specific, actionable objective. In other words, you divide large pieces of content into smaller bits (preferable with as many visual aids as possible) and study these ‘learning moments’ step by step. Afterwards, you revise what you have just learned, to ensure that you remember everything. Easy, right?

It’s pretty much the oldest and one of the most efficient ways to study as it improves knowledge retention. Just think about how you acquire new information: you take your handbook/article/newspaper, whatever you prefer, divide it in different pieces and memorise it by creating your own summaries, scheme’s and keywords. You basically create your own micro-moments!

Before you, millions and millions of others did the same thing – as no one (in their right mind) studies everything at once in the hope that they will remember it all (unless you can actually do that, which is a great skill to have and we are jealous of you).

Microlearning was invented the very moment people started to share information with each other and passed it on to others. This dates all the way back to the prehistoric era. Our ancestors needed to communicate in order to survive, so they used simple, short ways to pass on crucial knowledge. Elementary things like ‘this is how you make fire’, ‘these berries are edible’ and ‘this is how you hunt’ are the very beginning of bite-sized knowledge. It developed even further once people started to read and write to share their knowledge with a much bigger audience. In other words, microlearning has been there since the beginning of human life, only we never called it ‘microlearning’. “If that’s the case, then why is it that we only started speaking about it in the last few years?”

Microlearning in its teenage years

Well, the era of the World Wide Web changed everything – this platform created endless possibilities to share information in a much more engaging and accessible way.

Microlearning started its journey to eLearning stardom with the domestic use of the internet in the mid-1990s. The internet revolutionised the way the world was able to learn. Suddenly we could stream our lessons online, or upload learning modules in the space of an afternoon.

-Growth Engineering

It was the perfect start to explore the possibilities of training and most importantly, it perfectly matched the needs of the market as ‘knowledge’ proved to be the key to success in any sector. More and more companies understood that training their employees was essential to boost their business and customer experience. More and more people wanted to take different courses in their free time, like learning a new language of skill, but they could not afford to travel far or spend a lot of time on it. In short: online trainings opened the door to a whole series of new possibilities of creating trainings according to the needs of the users.

The moment that microlearning became ‘microlearning’ as we know it today, was the day the first smartphone was released, back in 1994. Owners of these futuristic devices had access to the internet at any given moment, thanks to 3G. It didn’t take long before the first app developers realised that this is the perfect opportunity to create fun, short and impactful education apps which users could access when and whenever they wanted.

If you had to pick a single date in time where microlearning began to take off, it would be 29th June 2007, when the first iPhone was released. This is where microlearning really skyrocketed.  Learning apps became a staple of online learning all over the world.

– Growth Engineering

Growing up

Learning methods will keep evolving as the need for effective and efficient knowledge transfer is never ending.

In recent years, the popularity of microlearning as a training technique has escalated to the level where entire training companies devote themselves to offering microlearning content, it’s an always-popular topic for webinars and workshops for training professionals, and it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

-Taryn Oesch

Today, more and more people need to receive a proper education to successfully reach their goals and be more confident in their skills. They all require excellent training content to be able to further develop their potential. The problem is time – finding the time to actually learn can be tricky. It’s especially complicated if you also need to reach a large group of learners and ensure that they all acquire the crucial information in the same engaging way.

There is an immense need for specific data to analyse the results of our learners and to take immediate action and tackle the knowledge gaps. The learners need their training to be fun and engaging to stay motivated and keep on learning.

We understand your needs like no one else, that’s why we took the most ancient, the most profound and most efficient way of learning – microlearning – and gave it our own twist to give the learners exactly what they are looking for.

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