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Three Ways to Use Microlearning to Upskill or Reskill Your Workforce

Microlearning is an emerging paradigm that addresses a learner’s need to receive the content they need, when they need it, and in the appropriate context. As a learning strategy or approach, microlearning delivers short (10 minutes or less), focused training and performance support. Think of it as bite sized. Not a full lunch. More of a snack.

In a world facing a reskilling emergency, L&D partners need to help their companies offer a grab-and-go snack bar, continuously stocked with a robust variety of options. Forward-thinking companies are redesigning their employee training approaches to include just these types of agile, microlearning opportunities.

Given this, here are three ways you can immediately introduce microlearning to your training library.

  • Videos for microlearning
  • Interactive microlearning modules
  • Performance support
But first, let us look at what’s driving the skilling emergency.

Skilling Emergency: Why Upskill and Reskill?

According to the Davos 2020 World Economic Forums Jobs Report, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change by 2022. Why? Automation of activities, especially those that are routine, mundane, and menial.

These new technologies mean new product lines, services, business models, and certainly some surprises. In a recent MIT study, two-thirds of respondents felt that updating skills—along with adding new technologies—was key to managing disruption.

Recent months have proven that more than ever we need to help our stakeholders build agility in preparation for whatever comes next.


Upskilling and Reskilling Defined

Upskilling enhances employees’ value to their organization by improving their skill set. Reskilling is the process of learning new skills so that employees can perform different jobs. This may require employees to be sent to a college or trade school to earn a degree or certification in a different field.

There is a common misconception, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, that we all need to develop highly technological or scientific skills to succeed. Yet while it will be necessary for people to work with technology, we’re also seeing a growing need for people to develop specialized skills for how they interact with each other. These include creativity, collaboration, and interpersonal dynamics, as well as skills related to specialized sales, human resources, care, and education roles.

For example, upskilling or reskilling might be in one of the following areas:


microlearning inforgraphic

Three Ways to Use Microlearning to Upskill or Reskill

1. Videos for Microlearning

Video is a particularly effective tool for learning and all the more so for microlearning. Consider using explainer, motion graphic videos or live action and talking head videos to bring content to life in powerful bite-sized chunks.



Video is a powerful mode of communication, which translates nicely to microlearning. Videos have the power to show and tell while delivering messages with more personality than eLearning or a slide deck.

Motion graphics videos give movement to graphic design to illustrate complex ideas visually. Use motion graphic videos when you want to explain ideas, and concepts–basically, anything that is abstract in nature.

Live-action videos work best for product or how-to demonstrations and for showing authentic human expression.

Regardless of the video format you choose, keep in mind that the point of microlearning is to deliver quick, bite-sized content. Microlearning videos should range from 15 to 90 seconds.

Interactive Microlearning Modules

Using common development tools like Storyline, you can create effective microlearning modules and quizzes that focus on key decision points in an already familiar process. Adding gamification elements can boost engagement and enhance learning retention by enlisting memory devices, such as association and repetition.


Microlearning modules are bite-sized pieces of content boiled down to one or two objectives to keep seat time to a minimum and engagement to a maximum. Although they are brief, they can contain the same elements as traditional eLearning - like images, video, and interactive activities—just fewer of them per module.

Many of us are accustomed to including knowledge quizzes or other forms of assessment at the end of each learning segment. In a microlearning module, however, asking a learner to take a summative assessment counteracts the short, just-in-time nature of microlearning (Source: ATD’s 2017 research report on microlearning).

A microlearning alternative to this is a short quiz designed to teach through feedback. Here’s how it works: Learners review the question or scenario, then select the correct response. Immediately upon submitting their answer to that question, they receive feedback. Learners take the time they need to process the feedback. They determine whether they are on the right path, and, if not, they can remediate.

Performance Support

Below are a few examples of how to get creative with other media to move learning into the flow of work and enable an agile learning environment

Rise Module:

Using Rise, we were able to quickly help Kohler launch a performance support tool across their company in response to the COVID19 pandemic. We had to create this quickly and, in a landscape, where information was updating and changing--by the minute. The Rise module allowed the Kohler to launch a performance support tool and easily keep up with changes.

Printed Decks of Cards:

Collaborating with the Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI), part of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA), we developed a microlearning resource to facilitate discussion among multi-disciplinary members of community Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs). SARTs comprise members from law enforcement, prosecution, medical examiners, and advocacy, each with different roles, objectives, and perspectives regarding how to address sexual assault.

Because each of these groups have differing requirements and principles guiding their participation, the potential for conflict is high, especially when there is a lack of understanding of their tasks and requirements.

To help create a culture of understanding and teamwork, we developed a series of superhero-themed cards representing each discipline, providing summaries of their roles, responsibilities, and limitations. The cards described each role’s persona in terms of their responsibilities on the team as well as “nice-to-knows” and challenges each persona might encounter in their role.

The superhero theme helped emphasize the team’s unified pursuit of positive outcomes for survivors of sexual assault. The cards sparked conversation among team members and increased understanding about what and how individuals are able to contribute to the work of the team without breaking their confidentiality rules.

Infographics/Interactive Infographics:

Compared to text alone, text paired with images increases comprehension by nearly 90%. This presents a strong case for using infographics as part of your microlearning strategy. What’s exciting about infographics is that they can be interactive, too. Learners can click on links to other resources like videos, articles, and eBooks.

A microlearning program doesn’t need to incorporate all of these modalities for it to be effective. However, it does need to incorporate modalities appropriate for the learner and suitable for the performance objective.

The key is to give microlearning a try. By incorporate a microlearning learning approach into your learning and talent development strategies, you will help create an agile learning environment, which is essential for enabling the future of work.

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Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark and Dr. Richard E. Mayer. E-Learning and the Science of Instruction. http://bit.ly/RichardMayer