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Microlearning vs. Bite-Sized Learning: Key Differences and Features

Microlearning vs. Bite-Sized Learning

Employee training, whether it is conducted through traditional channels or eLearning programs, needs to overcome the problem of learner disengagement to be truly successful. According to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, “The true scarce commodity of the near future will be human attention.” Recent studies have revealed that employees can easily forget 50-80% of their learned concepts if they are not reinforced after the training program.

A Software Advice survey also found that 58% of employees are more likely to use their company’s learning programs if the content is divided into shorter modules. This is mainly due to two reasons - the widespread availability and penetration of mobile technology and the rapid decline in average attention span from 12 to 8 seconds (which is less than that of a goldfish).

This brings us to the concept of bite-sized learning (or microlearning) for employee training. While full day training programs are now considered "passé," the focus has shifted to smaller learning units that are easier to consume and retain for employees and to meet learning objectives as well.

So, what is bite-sized learning – and is it any different from microlearning? Let us look at some key features and benefits of bite-sized learning and understand how it is different from microlearning.

What is Bite-Sized Learning?

Do you think bite-sized learning is only about shorter modules? Many learners think so, but it is a common misconception. For example, a 5-minute course module does not necessarily qualify as bite-sized learning. What matters is the overall learning objective or outcome of the training module.

How is this different from traditional courses? While traditional courses focus on achieving multiple and related objectives, a bite-sized learning module focuses on achieving a single learning objective or outcome (be it in 5 minutes or more). This is one of the many benefits of bite-sized learning, as the learner does not need to retain large chunks of delivered knowledge or information.

Whether it is delivered through bite-sized learning apps on the mobile or through online videos, every learning module is considered bite-sized as long it aims to meet a defined learning objective.

Features and Benefits of Bite-Sized Learning:

  • Self-contained modules ranging from one to 15 minutes.

  • Just-in-time training support for immediate use in employee tasks.

  • Focused on completing a single learning objective per module.

  • Lesser time and attention span required to consume relevant information.

  • Suitable for “on the go” mobile-based learning.

  • Lower employee development and training costs for employers – along with improved ROI on employee training budgets.

What is Microlearning?

While bite-sized learning is all about achieving a specific learning outcome or objective, microlearning goes way beyond this aim. In other words, it also focuses on the adopted learning approach. Typically, in today's digital age, microlearning aims to deliver shorter content through various mediums including eLearning, online videos, blogs, gamified learning, and more.

Apart from delivering the usual benefits of shorter content, microlearning is a "perfect fit" for today's learners who are demanding personalized content (that is suited to their learning abilities), which can be accessed at any time and from any device. A Deloitte study found that an average employee can only devote 1% (or 4.8 minutes each day) of their working time for training and learning purposes. This requires the learning content to be short and crisp – to engage online learners.

Among the latest trends, interactive gamification approaches like storytelling, online quizzes, visual designs, and competitions are being deployed to make learning more “fun and engaging” in microlearning.

Features and Benefits of Microlearning:

  • Variety of online learning techniques and technologies to choose from.

  • Enables personalized learning that is adapted to each learner’s needs.

  • Facilitates knowledge retention and recall among employees.

  • Easy accessibility to learning modules when and where the learners need them.

  • Easy to integrate with the bite-sized learning approach.

Microlearning and Bite-Sized Learning – Key Similarities and Differences

Although these terms are used interchangeably, there are key similarities and differences between the two (as highlighted in the above definitions). The notable aspect is that both these approaches can complement each other to provide improved learning opportunities to employees. For example, using the bite-sized learning principle, the microlearning approach can be implemented using a variety of technology-based tools like short videos, infographics, gamification tools, and online learning apps for employees.

As an example, for effective onboarding, training courses for new employees can be "modularized" into various segments that focus on skill-building, employee policies, and job-related skills – that can be delivered through shorter and independent bite-sized learning content.


Owing to the gradual decline in human attention span and increasing time constraints, bite-sized learning and microlearning are emerging as the best way forward for organizations that are looking to maximize their returns from employee training and development. Compared to traditional training methods, they offer key features and benefits that can work for both employees and employers.

Among the largest online providers of microlearning services, Oust Labs provides customized solutions in mobile and gamified learning to its customers in various industry domains. Here are some blogs to explore why the future of employee training belongs to microlearning and bite-sized learning approaches.

If you want to know how to implement the best microlearning solutions in your enterprise, get in touch with our experts now.

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