Microlearning 101: Everything You Need to Know


With online training growing in popularity, you might have heard the term microlearning recently. But what is it and is it really worth all the buzz? In this article, we’ll take a look at what microlearning is, how it applies to a healthcare environment, and whether it’s truly effective in practice.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a method of training that breaks down complex information into small, digestible pieces of content, often only two to three minutes in length.

According to a theory called the forgetting curve first developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus in the mid-1800s and proven again in 2015, people typically lose 80 percent of the knowledge they learn within a month if they don’t use it regularly or recognize it as essential to daily tasks.1,2 Microlearning addresses this problem by focusing on shorter exposure to key concepts that build on each other over time, rather than requiring learners to consume a large amount of information at once.

Microlearning can be a powerful alternative to traditional training formats as it emphasizes self-directed learning and real-world application. Because it’s designed for shorter attention spans, microlearning is more aligned with adult learning styles and fits easily within the daily flow of work.

With on-the-job microlearning education, employees can access brief, targeted training on core skills in between practicing them, which helps to reinforce them. This learning strategy has many beneficial applications for healthcare workers, including:

Boosting communication and soft skills
Highly technical clinical skills are best taught using a traditional model, but patient-centered interpersonal skills are a different story. By leveraging microlearning for soft skills, employees can explore scenarios and recommendations for patient communication in short, just-in-time bursts, then apply what they’ve learned as those situations naturally come up on a daily basis. This holistic approach helps speed up the development of these essential skills and strengthens them over time.

Creating effective home exercise programs
Home exercise programs (HEPs) are a key component of high-quality outpatient therapy. When HEPs are crafted with care—and patients adhere to them—they can help patients regain function and prevent injury, as they complement and supplement the care provided in the clinic. Microlearning is an excellent format for helping practitioners learn the practical, hands-on skills they need to develop home exercise programs that will engage patients and improve outcomes.

Improving quality and performance
Because microlearning focuses on just one key task, skill, or concept at a time, it’s a good way to target specific areas of improvement rather than requiring employees to sift through a high volume of information that might not all be directly relevant. And because microlearning offers an engaging, learner-driven approach, it helps cultivate a positive, action-oriented work culture conducive to high performance.

What are proven microlearning tools?

Microlearning is one of the most flexible learning formats available. It can be delivered in a variety of formats, from physical media to interactive online content, and more easily accessed during the course of a work day or on the go. Some of the most common microlearning formats include:

  • Static and interactive infographics
  • PDFs
  • Explainer videos
  • Interactive, e-learning videos
  • Expert-led webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Mobile apps

Is microlearning effective?

Research indicates that knowledge retention is significantly increased when information is presented regularly and in short bursts.3 Because microlearning demands a low time commitment from learners but involves repetition, it is especially effective in expediting on-the-job training for busy healthcare professionals who must learn and refresh a variety of practical skills over the course of their careers.

Some key microlearning benefits include better engagement, improved knowledge retention, increased ability to apply concepts on the job, and ease of implementation for organizations.

Quickly address skill gaps with bite-sized, point-of-care training.

How can MedBridge help with microlearning?

Designed to fit between appointments and around busy schedules, MedBridge Microlearning helps your organization address skill gaps, drive behavior change, and achieve better outcomes with short, hyper-focused three- to five-minute courses.

Our just-in-time training includes:


Elevate Patient Satisfaction
Clear provider communication leads to better patient satisfaction—and 19 percent better adherence rates.4 Boost patient satisfaction—and your organization’s NPS® score—with short, targeted courses to improve your team’s interpersonal skills.


Improve Patient Exercise Adherence
HEP adherence rates are as low as 30 percent.5 Drive behavior change by equipping your team with the skills to provide care plans that encourage and motivate patients, incorporate their values, and eliminate barriers to completion.


Nurture and Develop Leaders
Did you know that almost 70 percent of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees?6 Empower leaders to create positive work environments that drive effective teamwork across your organization.


Ensure Consistency of Care
Improving quality of care and effectiveness of treatments requires optimal utilization of the most appropriate standardized outcome measures. Make sure care is uniform across your organization with these curated refreshers.


Communicate Effectively and Change Patient Behavior
Change can be difficult for anyone, especially for patients needing to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. The House Call Podcast Series helps clinicians communicate more effectively with their patients so they can help them navigate change.

  1. Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). Memory; A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. Windham Press.
  2. Murre, J. M. J., & Dros, J. (2015). Replication and analysis of Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve.” PLoS ONE, 10(7), e0120644.
  3. Taylor, T. (2016). New study shows the power of learning in short bursts.” HR Dive. Retrieved from www.hrdive.com/news/new-study-shows-the-power-of-learning-in-short-bursts/420595/
  4. Ward, B. W., Schiller, J. S., & Goodman, R. A. (2014). Multiple chronic conditions among U.S. adults: a 2012 update. Preventing Chronic Disease, 11,130389.
  5. Solomon, L. (2016). Two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/03/two-thirds-of-managers-are-uncomfortable-communicating-with-employees
  6. Raghupathi, W., & Raghupathi, V. (2018). An empirical study of chronic diseases in the United States: A visual analytics approach.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15, 431.