Distinguishing e-learning from microlearning

When 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, also known as electronic, online, or digital learning, involves using a computer or similar technology for learning purposes. While not exclusively reliant on online platforms, contemporary e-learning is predominantly delivered through the internet and has evolved in tandem with online advancements.

E-learning encompasses diverse formats and approaches, ranging from university online learning environments to language-learning smartphone apps. Key features include access to educational resources, online assessments, and platforms for collaborative learning.

For businesses, e-learning offers a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to traditional classroom training. It enables companies to monitor employees’ learning trajectories through data collection and facilitates learning flexibility, allowing employees to engage in learning activities from various locations, whether traveling for work or stationed in different offices worldwide.


Microlearning breaks down topics into bite-sized pieces, harnessing the brain’s preference for digestible segments over overwhelming data dumps. This approach can be delivered through various mediums like emails, articles, and mobile apps. It encompasses a “just-in-time” learning style, offering information in manageable chunks when and where needed. This method caters to modern learners’ shorter attention spans, empowering them to control their learning pace and frequency.

Popular platforms like the language learning app Duolingo, TED’s TED-Ed youth educational videos, and Venngage’s info-packed infographics exemplify effective microlearning strategies.

This article provides a brief insight into e-learning for businesses. You can find out more about how microlearning can benefit your staff here.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Persia is passionate about helping organizations improve employee engagement across their professional development initiatives.
Published: 8 Jan, 2017