The difference between e-learning & microlearning?

E-Learning vs. MircolearningWhen companies are looking for solutions to help train their staff, there can be a lot of jargon and specialist language that confuses matters. Two such words that are widely used at the moment are “e-learning” and “microlearning.”

Although the words are used interchangeably at times, they actually refer to different things. There is, however, some overlap between the two and part of a company’s e-learning approach can comprise of microlearning.


E-learning, which is sometimes called electronic, online or digital learning, is learning that people do with the use of a computer or some similar tech. Although it doesn’t necessarily need an online element, today’s e-learning content is typically delivered via the internet and e-learning has matured as the internet has.

There’s no single approach to, or form of, e-learning. It can refer to a university’s online learning environment for students as much as it does a smartphone app for individuals learning a new language. Among its common features, though, are access to educational materials, online tests and places for groups to discuss learning topics.

For businesses, e-learning can save time and money by reducing the need for classroom-based training. It can also make it easier for companies to track the learning progress of their employees by collecting data and allow employees to learn from wherever they were, be it travelling for meetings or halfway around the world at a different office.


Microlearning breaks topics down into tiny pieces. It is shown to aid the learning process because it suits the brain’s ability to learn short, easily consumable segments, rather than being overwhelmed by large volumes of new information in one go.

The approach can be delivered in a variety of ways, such as via emails, articles and mobile apps. In fact, asking a colleague how to do something is effectively microlearning. Microlearning suits what is known as a “just-in-time” approach to learning, meaning training is delivered in bite-size chunks where and when it is required, rather than in long, out-of-context blocks. For this reason, it is said to better suit the shorter attention spans of today’s learners, with microlearners also typically in control of when and how often they learn.

The language learning app Duolingo, TED’s TED-Ed youth and education short video lessons and Venngage’s approach to providing infographics that contain just the most important info about a topic, are all examples of popular microlearning platforms.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 10 Mar, 2017