What’s the difference between microlearning and e-learning?

The buzz words when it comes to training staff these days seem to be “e-learning” and “microlearning.” While these terms are often used interchangeably and there is some overlap between the two, they actually refer to different things. Let us break down the jargon for you…


E-learning is sometimes called electronic, online or digital learning and is a form of learning that involves the use of a computer or other similar technology. While e-learning doesn’t necessarily need an online element, these days content is generally delivered via the internet. As the digital world continues to advance and expand, so too has e-learning, which is increasingly used in schools, universities and by businesses to train staff in an easy and cost-effective way.

The main benefit of using e-learning is that it saves time and money by reducing the need for classroom-based training. “With little time, and pressured work environments, distance and online flexible learning are likely to be key to the future of our workplaces,” says David Willett corporate director at The Open University in an article for Training Journal. “Affordable for companies and more accessible for employees, the concept of anytime-anywhere learning is likely to further proliferate the employment landscape.”

However, there are many other advantages. E-learning can make it easier for companies to track the learning progress of their employees as programmes can collect and record data, which can be used to analyse training material and see what does and doesn’t work. It also enables employees to learn from wherever they are and at a time that suits them. There’s no longer they need for everyone to be in the same place at the same time.


Microlearning is a type of learning that breaks topics down into bite-size pieces, which better suit the human brain’s ability to learn. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, in this modern world humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, so it’s important to deliver training in easily consumable segments, rather than large volumes of information that could easily overwhelm the learner.

While the concept of microlearning doesn’t require electronic delivery, digital devices definitely aid the effectiveness of this type of learning. Microlearning can be delivered in a variety of ways from videos on laptops to games on mobile phone apps. Thanks to this flexibility, it suits what is known as the “just-in-time” approach to learning, where training can be delivered exactly when and where it is required instead of in long, potentially out-of-context blocks.

It also gives control to the end user, allowing learners to pick and choose when, where and how they learn. They could be on their way to a meeting and need a quick brush up on their presentation skills or they could be about to enter a building site and need a refresh on health and safety regulations – the key this with microlearning is that it’s quick and easy to access from anywhere.

Want to know more about how to incorporate e-learning and microlearning into your company’s training infrastructure? Get in touch with us. Video Arts is an award-winning e-learning provider, renowned for delivering corporate training in an entertaining and memorable way through video.

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