Microlearning and Macrolearning: Can’t They Just Get Along?

Questions to ask when determining which learning approach to use.

In the wake of the rapidly accelerating drive to microlearning, a growing number of articles are appearing in the literature expressing a caution that complex skills require a degree of depth, application, and feedback for which microlearning is not effective. These articles maintain that for this reason, macrolearning—time intensive, instructor led, preferably live and in person—continues to be the approach of choice for complex skills and should not be compromised in favor of microlearning. Microlearning providers, on the other hand, continue to describe benefits of high relevance, applicability, and learner engagement to an increasingly broad range of topics and skills.

Some questions to ask when determining which learning approach to use include:

  • How new is the topic for the learner?
  • What breadth or depth of knowledge is needed?
  • How much practice and feedback are required to master the skill?

If the answers to the above questions are “a lot,” then macrolearning is indicated.

Beyond these considerations, there is a growing number of success stories of combining micro and macrolearning. For example, microlearning that provides reminders, tips, and additional examples can be an effective reinforcement to a macrolearning experience.

Just more proof that micro and macrolearning really can get along.