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Principles and Models Governing Microlearning Design for Digital Learning Solutions

Microlearning is a strategy that is being increasingly used by organizations to train their employees, customers, vendors, and product end-users. In an earlier blog, we have examined how microlearning is an important part of corporate learning solutions. This blog will offer a quick introduction to some of the interesting principles and theories that govern or influence the use of microlearning design when used to create digital learning solutions for the modern workplace. We will also look at how microlearning impacts learner engagement and improves retention of learning.

Principles Influencing Microlearning Design

Miller’s Law

Miller’s Law was proposed by George Miller in 1956. He was an eminent psychologist. His theory was that a normal individual would have a tough time remembering more than seven different items at any given time. Additionally, people were likely to forget these items in about 30 seconds. The derived postulates from this theory are:

  • The span of immediate memory is limited to 7 items.

  • Short-term memory capacity varies from person to person.

  • Chunking of larger information into smaller units helps people remember things easily.

When Miller’s Law is applied to microlearning, it does not mean that the developer bombards the learners with 7 different pieces of information in quick succession. It is more of a reminder that the learning content needs to be suitably structured and designed so that it can be easily understood and remembered.

ARCS Model of Instructional Design

Devised by John Keller, ARCS model of Motivation is an instructional design model that is used in teaching as well as developing eLearning content. ARCS stands for – Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. The ARCS Model is better suited for focused microlearning design. It motivates the learners to complete the learning module by – attracting attention, offering relevant learning content, boosting the confidence of the learners, providing them the satisfaction of having learnt something new, and completing the lesson.

This quick video offers a quick introduction to the ARCS Model.

Though the ARCS Model is not specific to microlearning and is applicable to any form of learning or teaching; it holds greater relevance in microlearning wherein one tries to fit in information within shorter time-frames, and aspires to help the learners remember more of the learning content.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus studied different people to understand why some people forgot things faster than others. He also conducted experiments on himself to understand how quickly he was able to remember or forget things. He came up with some interesting observations:

  • Memories weaken over a period of time and one tends to forget things

  • Retention of learning varies from person to person and in most cases, people begin to forget things once they have finished reading or watching something. The biggest drop in memory is immediately after the learning event

  • It is easier to remember ideas and thoughts that have a proper meaning instead of absurd or nonsensical rhymes

  • Factors like stress, sleep, emotional, and physical well-being; play a key role in how people remember things

  • Repeating ideas and concepts multiple times helps improve retention of learning

Watch this video to learn more about the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

The applications of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve in microlearning design are:

  • Spaced repetition of learning concepts to improve learning

  • Properly structured learning content improves the retention of learning

  • Creating a conducive learning environment through the learning content helps improve the learner experience

What Makes a Great Microlearning Solution?

The following strategies when used properly make a microlearning solution work well:

  • Clear learning outcomes stated up-front

  • Relevant content tailored for the target audience

  • Properly chunked learning content with clear start and end-points

  • Right mix of visuals, audio, and on-screen text

  • Appropriate assessments to test the learners

  • Spaced learning to enhance retention of learning

Use-Cases and Scenarios to Use Microlearning for Training

Microlearning can be used in different training scenarios. Some of the best use-case for deploying microlearning as a training solution are:

  • Employee Onboarding

  • Office Etiquette Training

  • Corporate Communication Training

  • Product Training

  • Sales Rep Training

Benefits of Microlearning

The benefits of using microlearning for training are:

  • It is easier to build and deploy

  • Cost-effective and saves time

  • Easier to update the microlearning solution based on user-feedback

  • Greater flexibility to deploy on dedicated mobile learning apps

  • With a focus on video-based and mobile app-based learning, microlearning is the better option


At S4Carlisle, we have worked with different organizations across industries to develop innovative microlearning solutions that foster digital workplace learning. These microlearning solutions have helped our clients improve the quality of their training and prepare their employees to take up the challenges of work with ease. If you would like to deploy a microlearning solution to train your employees or customers and are looking for a trust-worthy and experienced eLearning vendor, please write to us at to learn how we can design and deploy the ideal microlearning solution for your organization.


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