Microlearning – the Science Behind It

The microlearning method makes use of short and to the point instances of learning to drive employee development and job performance, based on a topic or problem. Microlearning is appropriate when a learner aims to do something specific or requires a snippet of knowledge. The method is centred around the theory that short, repetitive learning increases long-term retention – but what is the science behind microlearning?

Well, microlearning significantly affects processing in the cognitive skills learning system. This is because microlearning techniques are targeted at working memory and attention span. The learning system then recruits the prefrontal cortex, a part of the cortex that mediates the learning of hard skills, such as learning new regulations and skills like maths and coding. Focused attention and the ability to process and rehearse information are essential to learning hard skills. Thus, microlearning is an efficient method for hard skills training.

Microlearning itself has been popularised recently due to the widespread usage of mobile devices and smart tablets, etc, in addition to apps that provide us with the ability to apply the microlearning theory into our everyday lives.

Combining Microlearning with spaced learning (developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus) provides a powerful partnership. Ebbinghaus found that progressive injections of new knowledge have a rapid memory decay in the brain, and his spaced theory suggests that ‘learning is better when the same amount of study is spread out over periods of time than it is when it occurs closer together or at the same time.’ Thus, Ebbinghaus found that repeated practice would allow people to retain more knowledge with each repetition. Microlearning mitigates cognitive overload, and facilitates long-term retention, while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that the learner will remain engaged and attentive during the microlearning session.

Furthermore, Ebbinghaus quotes, ‘overlearning – that is, continuing to practice and study even when we think that we have mastered the material’ often prevents us from realising that to retain information in the long-term, breaks and repetition are critical. Long-term memory can store a vast amount of information for long periods of time, contrary to the short-term and sensory memory which have a limited capacity. This is the reason why learners’ brains need breaks or spacing between each instance of learning, so that information can be processed and moved from the Short-term memory into the Long-term memory. This is why studying over long periods of time helps people to perform better as opposed to ‘cramming’!

Check out out Linkedin page for blog posts and more from Higher Level Learning

How to Create a Blended eLearning Strategy

Blended learning offers the best of both worlds,  involving learning activities as a mix of face-to face and online learning. It is important to create an informative, effective blended learning environment with a blended learning strategy that facilitates knowledge retention – doing so involves considering the goals of the course, as well as different approaches to blended learning.

Define Goals

You will want to define your blended learning course’s objectives and goals before you begin creating the content. This is because the content itself needs to be matched to students’ needs, which should be clearly identified. You should consider what skills a learner needs to develop and what information must be included within the course’s syllabus in order to develop these skills. Also, you should consider what instructional design models and learning tools could be used to convey this information.

Lefoe and Hedberg (2005) say an effective blended learning strategy takes a learning design approach. This means looking at the learning goals and basing the teaching/learning activities and assessment upon them. A course outline and/or syllabus are beneficial as they help the learner to stay on track during the course, meanwhile the developer can use the outline to monitor whether the course is progressing at the intended pace. Recognising your goals and learning objectives is crucial when developing the syllabus. It is also beneficial to specify what will be asked of the learner in terms of deadlines and assessments, participation, how the content will be delivered, and any materials required.

Consider Models and Modes of Student Engagement

Examples of blended learning design approaches:

 · Mostly face-to-face teaching with some online learning

 · A mix of face-to-face and online learning

· Mostly online learning Face to face Blended Online

Anderson (2004) argues that an emphasis on interaction rather than content is fundamental to blended learning.

When designing a blended learning course, you should think about different modes of student engagement:

 · learner – teacher interaction (how learners engage with teachers)

– this can include learning activities & assignments , lectures, tutorials & workshops,  discussion in class and forums

 · learner – learner interaction (how learners engage with each other)

– this can include collaboration, group work, discussion forums, peer review, shared files

· learner – content interaction (how learners engage with content)

– this can include individual student activity, self-study exercises, review of recorded lectures, self-assessment and quizzes

Feedback is Important

It is also good to inform the learners how they can communicate with the instructor/teacher if they have a question or concern, as well as determining how you will you gain feedback from your learners. This could be constructing a survey following the blended learning course, or a online chat for which feedback can be given.

Creating your blended learning strategy may seem complex, but with meticulous thought and planning and clear definition of goals, leading to the creation of a syllabus, you will most likely develop an effective blended learning strategy.

Check out our LinkedIn, Medium blog and website blog for related elearning articles

The Benefits of Gamification – and the Science Behind It

3 Tips for Mastering Microlearning

3 Benefits of Blended Learning

3 Benefits of Blended Learning

Blended learning is not a new concept

Blended learning involves combining face-to-face instructions with online learning. There are many benefits, for example, the approach gives learners the flexibility of being able to access training materials on their own time, at their own pace. Here are just 3 more of the benefits to using Blended Learning…

 1. Delivers An Engaging Learning Experience

First of all, a blended learning approach can deliver engaging training that your learners are sure to benefit from. When training content is presented in a variety of formats, then it is easier for information to be retained, because more attention will be focused on it. 

For example, watching a video or experiencing a simulation that’s related to the topic of training keeps learner engaged and therefore ensures that content is understood, meanwhile increasing the enjoyment of the learning experience.

2. Money Saving

Blended learning can help counter the rising expense of classroom training. Any resources needed for face-to-face classroom training are reduced, thus saving money in the process. With a blended learning approach, most materials are online and easily accessible at any time on smart devices, available to download, read, and edit.

3. Enhances Training Effectiveness

Finally, complementing classroom training programs with online training is a great strategy to reinforce learning. This is because learners can retain information more effectively when learners are given opportunities to practice what they have learned. Due to the nature of the approach, learning can be spaced and repeated, meaning online quizzes can be implemented to ensure learners are retaining the knowledge, thus improving effectiveness.

Certainly going forward, an increasing number of organisations are certain to take the blended learning approach, as along with these, there are countless benefits of using this approach to facilitate optimal learning.

For more info…




3 Tips for Mastering Microlearning


It is becoming increasingly important to make training content that learners can access and consume quickly in order to facilitate better retention of information. These microlearning tips will help you to achieve this.

1. Know Your Learners

For your learners to understand what you create, it is vital that you understand your learners first. It is important for them to relate to the content. For example, those being trained to work in a supermarket may benefit from content that in some way relates to food. As a result, learners will absorb information most effectively if they can relate to the content. Therefore, using real world examples in your microlearning also achieves this and improves motivation and knowledge retention.

2. Make Use Of Games

Gamification is achieved by using elements of gaming to enhance your content. One way to do this is to build a game-based quiz at the end of each module to test learning, which may reward performance with badges or awards to keep learners motivated and on track with their performance.

Quizzes can provide you with important information about how well your learners are doing. Furthermore, larger quizzes can be broken down into smaller ones, therefore ensuring that your learners are effectively retaining the information.

3. Use Images, Videos and Infographics

If you can communicate an idea more easily with an image, this may be more effective than just describing it in words. Hence, incorporating different multimedia elements like pictures, videos and infographics is an effective way of ensuring knowledge retention and making sure your microlearning makes a powerful visual impact. Thus, it is best to use engaging and visually appealing images to highlight key points of a topic.

Microlearning as part of a blended learning program is the future of learning. However, it must be efficient and engaging, with visually appealing, precise content. This leads to effective retention of information.

For more info on microlearning…




3 Key Benefits of Microlearning

Microlearning allows learners to absorb information based on what is required at a particular time, meaning courses are broken down into consumable pieces of information.

Microlearning has a number of advantages when compared to traditional learning for organisations that are looking for increased learner participation, memorability of courses, and so on.



  1. Better Engagement and Retention

Microlearning allows content to be delivered in short “bursts”, therefore enhancing knowledge retention. This engages learners more effectively as the microlearning is targeted for a specific learning objective, making its duration shorter.  Thus, learners don’t feel bored or fatigued as they may do while working through longer courses, as microlearning content is around 5 to 10 minutes long. It allows them to quickly understand the concept, so they don’t feel rushed or bored, meaning they complete the course faster.



2. Faster development

Because knowledge transfer is more efficient in a microlearning model, the overall duration of training can often be reduced, saving organisations time and effort and ultimately getting the job done faster. When content is produced in small quantities as opposed to a major course, the production cost is also minimal. Microlearning courses are faster to develop and deploy, and so they fulfill the needs of the organisation to train their staff much more quickly without investing a lot of time into developing longer training modules.


3.  It’s conveniently mobile friendly

Since the courses and modules are broken into bite-sized pieces, the learners can look up courses on-the-go. Being able to access microlearning in daily life, to and from work is a popular way in which many people use their free time to continue learning. Microlearning can be implemented on any device, be it a computer, tablet, or a smartphone, meaning modules can be worked through in learner’s own time for example when at home or even over a lunchtime coffee break. Because the courses are short, they can be very easily accessed on a smartphone or device. Mobile learning offers convenience and flexibility to learners, providing a variety of interactive activities for learners on the go. Having the option to complete training on personal mobile devices can increase willingness to engage with the learning experience.


These are just some of the many benefits of using microlearning to improve learner experience.

5 Steps to Using Microlearning Successfully in Your Content

Using microlearning in your training is an effective method of improving learner motivation, knowledge retention and success, but how do you go about incorporating it into your training? And how are you to be sure it is effective? Here are 5 steps to using microlearning in your content successfully.



  1. Engage trainers before learning

What happens before and after training can be just as important as what is done during training. This is where priming comes in. Priming refers to events before the training that increases the likelihood of learning and retention of key information. Priming is a memory phenomenon in which exposure to one stimulus influences a response to another related stimulus.  For example, prior to training, you can prime learners by having them engage with a video or game before the training ever begins.


2. Chunk your content into bite-sized pieces

In order to create microlearning that facilitates knowledge retention, chunking your content into smaller ‘portions’ can help achieve this. Cognitive load theory states that we have mental “bandwidth” restrictions, meaning our brain can only process a certain amount of information at a time. Chunking is handy here as it lowers the cognitive load. These short training “bursts” can be delivered daily or even several times a week, and fit effortlessly into today’s busy schedules.


3. Testing

Testing increases learning more than any other study method, and incorporating tests and quizzes into employee training programs is a critical part of the learning itself. Long-term memory is increased when some of the learning time is assigned to retrieving the information. It is important to make the testing challenging – researchers from neuroscience and psychology support the idea that making training programs more challenging improves long-term retention.


4. Reinforcement

Without reinforcement, information can be quickly forgotten, but learners do not want to repeat a longer course only to get the specific information they needed. That’s where microlearning comes in, proving itself useful when specific aspects of a course are required to be revisited. Learners can jump back in to the course and access the information again quickly and easily without repeating information they already know. This leads to successful reinforcement in particular areas, resulting in better knowledge retention.


5. Making the content compatible with smartphones

With the number of smartphone users currently by the billion, elearning on the go is a convenient way to gain new knowledge. When people use smartphones to answer questions or gain skills, concise and simple information that does not take long to read and understand is ideal.

Microlearning, when coupled with eLearning on smartphones, acknowledges the learners’ need for short and concise information that can be absorbed “just in time”, and is beneficial as it allows for on-the-go learning and increased knowledge retention.


If implemented effectively, microlearning can propel businesses and its employees to maximum success. These steps should help guide your implementation of microlearning into your learning content.


Introduction to Blended Learning

Blended learning is a combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional classroom methods) and online technology based elearning, both integrated together so that one compliments the other, creating a new, hybrid method of teaching.



Blended learning is composed of self-pacing and live training. So, for example, a student might engage in learning within a real-world classroom setting, while also later completing online multimedia coursework to supplement the lesson. This is highly convenient as the learner is able to work at their own pace outside the classroom and only has to physically attend class for a limited time. It has been suggested that students who complete online coursework followed by interactive, face-to-face class activities have an enhanced learning experience.

Blended learning is often also referred to as ‘hybrid’ learning, and it can include many forms of online education environments. Tools and platforms that complement blended learning include LMSs and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Some organisations use blended learning as their primary method of teaching, while some may only use it on rare occasions.

Instances of Blended Learning are usually made up of around three components:

  • Traditional in-person, offline methods facilitated by an educator
  • Online methods and learning materials, including pre-recorded material from an educator
  • Independent study issued to build upon skills

While traditional education tends to mainly deliver material through lectures, blended learning lectures can be filmed ahead of time, so the student can watch on their own time at their own pace.

Examples of Blended Learning

One of the major benefits of blended learning is the ability to create an online resource within your LMS (learning management system) that learners can refer to before and after live training sessions.

Completing online learning activities before live training can help learners prepare, as such activities will introduce the content, and could include reference reading, watching videos or answering a pre-course questionnaire to assess the learner’s abilities.

Based off these activities, instructors can identify areas that need to be focused on during the classroom-based training session, or in other areas of the course, allowing the educator to tailor it to the learners’ needs.

This also ensures that learners will enter live training sessions with the same knowledge level on a topic, meaning that the instructor will not have to cover the basics, therefore saving time.

Learners can also complete exams or quizzes, and submit assignments for the course instructor to assess, aswell as being able to give feedback online via the course.

Additionally, online group chats can encourage learners to discuss the content of the course – forums are also a great way for learners to discuss any live sessions.


Related Articles:






6 Steps to Implementing a Gamified eLearning Environment

When designing elearning content, considering the motivations of the learners will significantly increase the effectiveness of knowledge retention. Yu-kai Chou refers to gamification as “Human-focused design” as opposed to “Function-focused design”. This means that rather than focussing solely on just delivering the learning content, gamification is concerned with how content can be delivered so that the participants will retain and engage with it. This is perhaps the most important step in using gamification for elearning: thinking of the users first.



A plan is important during the implementation of gamification. It is crucial to think about the business objectives, intended behaviour, learners themselves, and so on. Here are 6 steps towards gamifying your content…


1. Define Goals

Before gamifying your content, make sure you define success.  Otherwise, it will be hard to determine when – or if – success is achieved. Your business will have objectives, possibly multiple, and whether they have been achieved will be evident in the results of the gamification. It is important to address business needs, and not just use gamification needlessly to support content that is inapplicable to the organization or the learner.

Once it is established what the learners are to take away from the course, these expectations must be clearly communicated – the learners must know about the course and understand its purpose. This could be in the form of a tutorial, for example, so that they are able to recognise the goals.


2. Understand The Context

Certain gamification techniques are suited to different courses and/or learners, while some may not be so suited. There are many different elements that decide which gaming features will best suit the tailored needs of learners. For example, the degree of employee motivation may affect how rewards are integrated into the gamification, and what rewards may be best suited.

Always consider how a given gamification technique will work within specific content, too. For example, introducing a point system may not motivate learners much if there isn’t a leaderboard, or if their user profiles aren’t visible. The goal of gamification is to appeal to a learner’s desire to compete and achieve, in addition to learning. When these points can be seen by co-workers, it gives a sense of public accountability to continued learning.

3. Structure The Experience

Researchers from the University of Toronto found that when milestones are in place, learners view the overall learning objective as more achievable, which helps motivate them to get started. The longer an online course, the harder it is for a learner to build up enough motivation to start.

It is effective to set the content up in stages, milestones, or ‘levels’, as recommended by research. One benefit of breaking a course down into easily digestible parts is that it can be identified where learners may get off track, leading to a better understanding of the users. Another benefit is that it will be easier to edit the course to make it more effective.


4. Game Elements

Following this, different gaming elements including badges, avatars, achievements, leaderboards, and so on are added to the eLearning course, creating an engaging and interactive experience.

Interactive gamified learning experiences help boost knowledge retention. This could include techniques like flip cards, quizzes, puzzles, matching, and discussion boards. A timer could also be added to any lesson or content type as a means of turning any learning experience into a gamified one.

It must be ensured that gamified eLearning is fun – for many learners, collaboration, competition, rewards and scores are important to be sure that they are motivated to continue.


5. Use Reward Systems

As mentioned, it is beneficial to reward learners with points, badges, certificates, prizes and more. Badges are visual rewards earned as learners progress through the course or content – they help display progress and make progressive learning more visible. It is effective to provide a place where learners can display badges to maximise the social effectiveness of gamification, such as a leaderboard.

While rewards like badges and points have no financial value, learners can still be motivated to work hard to acquire them. This is an example of intrinsic motivation, where the learners aren’t learning to receive something tangible, they are working to acquire new skills and knowledge. On the other hand, be warned, because although intrinsic motivation works for some, others may have extrinsic motivations. This means that rewards like gift cards and money can often drive short-term motivation. However in many situations, extrinsic rewards actually decrease motivation overall.

Finally, if your organization doesn’t necessarily want to gamify a course, you could instead create giveaways, offer discount codes, or give learners feedback, e.t.c. This can add significant value to your LMS.



If implemented effectively, gamification can propel businesses and its employees to maximum success. These steps should help guide your implementation of Gamification into your learning content.

 The Benefits of Gamification – and the Science Behind It

What are the benefits of gamification?

Who doesn’t like being rewarded for their hard work? Awarding badges, certificates, or points, can result in an improved, more engaging learning experience. Gamification in eLearning has become increasingly popular as not only does it make the learning experience more effective, it motivates individuals to reach their end goal more quickly — and feel more satisfied when they get there. But beware, some of the elements of gamification produce extrinsic motivators and will only work for short periods of time. Consider using intrinsic motivators such as empowerment and meaning; these are the Duracell motivators that play the long game. Gamification Octalysis.

But what many people may not realise is that there is an exact science behind why gamification in eLearning is so effective. Dmitri Mendeleev (Russian Scientist who first published the Periodic Table of Elements) was even one of the first scientists to use gamification to complete an educational task.

benefits of gamification

So, what is the science behind gamification in eLearning?

When we play games and are rewarded for our achievements, even if it is simply moving to the next level, our minds our stimulated and hormones are released. These hormones are called endorphins, which are also released during exercise, and they bring on feelings of well-being and enjoyment. Because of these endorphins, learners experience accelerated motivation, excitement and sense of accomplishment when learning, making the gamification experience more effective and memorable.

Benefits of Gamification In eLearning

So now that we know the science behind it, below are the key benefits of employing gamification strategies in your organisation.

1. Better experience and knowledge retention

Gamification in eLearning creates an exciting effective, informal learning environment, allowing learners to practice real-life situations and challenges, adding an interactive element to your eLearning courses. This creates the feeling of immersion, which captures the attention of learners and motivates them to succeed. When learners feel positive about their learning process, they become active participants rather than passive observers. As a result, Gamification in eLearning boosts knowledge absorption and retention by blending learning with the production of endorphins, and therefore successfully committing information to the long-term memory.

2. Versatile Applications

Gamification can be used to fulfil a variety of learning needs including product sales, induction and onboarding, customer support, awareness creation, and compliance. Even a subject matter that may be complex or dull can be absorbed more efficiently, because learners are actively participating in and enjoying the learning experience. Gamification can also cater to the needs of every individual. Working against personal benchmarks, being recognized for a job well-done, offering training narratives – gamification provides everyone, and not only those at the top of leaderboard, with the potential to improve their performance.

3. Provides Objective Data about employees

eLearning allows employers to easily measure how well their employees are progressing through the learning process. Gamification can show, in an unbiased and objective way, who is performing especially well, and who might need a bit of a wake-up call, eliminating the need for guesswork and assumptions. Gamification can essentially act as a means of constant and automatic data collection. This can be data about anything in your organization – sales reps productivity rates, internal knowledge usage rates, and more. Such data can be extremely valuable, even though it can be overlooked.

5. Allows for Automatic Feedback

Just as it is important for employers to monitor the progress of employees, it is equally as important for these employees to receive constant, up to date, and automatic feedback. Gamification is a great way to do so. For example, by using leaderboards, it is possible for employees to see how they are doing compared to other individuals and teams in the organization, or to benchmarks they had set for themselves previously (with the caveat mentioned earlier!). Feedback allows users to consistently understand how well they are doing and what they can do improve, and therefore is one of the most important elements of gamification.

This article should give insight on why you should evaluate gamification and the benefits of gamification for eLearning, the science behind it, and how it will benefit both your learners and your business.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning: What’s the Difference?

Gamification and game-based learning can increase learner engagement and training success, but there are key differences between the two that need to be understood to ensure that you adopt the appropriate strategy for your training.

Game-based learning can be defined as the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.

Gamification is the act of adding game elements to a non-game situation, with the potential to turn routine, mundane tasks into refreshing, motivating experiences.


Basics of Gamification & Game-Based Learning

Gamification is the process of applying game based elements or mechanics to existing learning platforms or content to increase the engagement, motivation and interest of the learner. The game mechanics can be applied in the form of achievements, rewards or recognition, awarding badges on completion of assessments, and more. These elements increase learning ability through increasing persistence, goal orientation, learning by repetition, and through collaboration with peers. Gamification can make the learning experience more motivating and engaging for the learner but be careful when you are designing elements of gamification; intrinsic motivation is the key to motivation and more often than not a badge or an award only motivates extrinsically and therefore is short lived.

Game-based learning is the integration of a fully-fledged game or simulation to achieve specific learning objectives through the path that the game lays out. Often an immersive experience, it allows learners to think logically, plan strategically, and move ahead towards the goal. The learning content is integrated within the context of the game, and retention of the learning material is also higher due to the entertaining nature of the game.


While game-based learning does use many of the gamification strategies such as awards, level ups, etc, gamification itself cannot be equated to game-based learning. Recognising the different elements and tools used for both gamification and game-based learning will differentiate the two strategies and assist in choosing which to use.

Gamification involves:

  • Scoring mechanism/badges/awards
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • etc

Game-based learning involves:

  • Rules of the game
  • Storyline
  • Avatars
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • Simulations
  • etc

Which one should I use?

Game-based learning requires a lot of effort and time because the content must be designed to fit within the game elements, and also must be devised in such a way that the learners are made to learn but simultaneously have fun. So, you need to choose the right game approach for the given content, then consider the programming effort for the learning.

Possible across all custom learning, gamification offers a solution when you want to simply increase the fun element and engagement level of your training. By adding game elements to the course, you can make the learner more participative and involved with the concepts being presented. The learners are kept interested in continuing their learning through being presented with awards, level ups, and so on.The game mechanics and element that will benefit the custom learning course the most should be implemented for optimal success.


While it is evident that gamification and game-based learning are related, they are essentially two separate entities.  However, it is also certain that both are excellent tools for increasing learner engagement and motivation.

Related articles:

bunchball – gamification

edutopia – game based learning

thelearningcounsel – why game based learning?

heacademy – gamification and game based learning