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How Long is Microlearning?

Microlearning is an exciting trend in eLearning, referring to bite-sized pieces of content. But many people wonder how long is microlearning and how long should their videos be to be considered microlearning? 

As a refresher, microlearning refers to dividing your eLearning material into incredibly specific topics. Instead of covering multiple topics in a single lesson, you cover just one topic or subtopic. By focusing on one subtopic per lesson, you can keep each lesson short. The idea is that microlearning works with the attention span of your learners. 

So, how long is microlearning?

The simple answer is that microlearning should be as long as the learner’s attention span. 

The main thing to consider when deciding on how long to make your microlearning lesson is the learner’s attention span. This will vary based on your target audience, but there are some general rules to consider. 

Rule #1. Keep It Under 10 Minutes

The general rule of thumb for microlearning is that each lesson should be less than 10 minutes. If you can’t fit the entire lesson within 10 minutes, then see how you can divide it into smaller lessons. There are likely ways to divide the topic even further so you can do so.

Exceptions to the 10-Minute Rule

While you usually want to keep microlearning lessons under 10 minutes, this isn’t always possible. But the exceptions are rare. 

One of these exceptions would be for a highly technical subject, such as cybersecurity. Depending on the technical nature of the topic, you may not be able to easily divide it into bits. Perhaps there simply isn’t a good dividing point. Or maybe the learning just won’t go smoothly with a gap in it. 

But before you create content that is longer than 10 minutes, make sure that it can’t be divided up. You should have a very good reason to keep longer content together. 

Rule #2. 30 Minutes Is the Maximum

If you are certain that the topic can’t be divided without negatively affecting learning, then you still want to keep it as short as possible. While you can make the lesson longer than 10 minutes, 30 should be the absolute maximum. 

Rule #3. Think About Your Learners

When deciding if your topic can go past the 10-minute mark, carefully consider your learners. Think about how long they want to sit through a lesson. You hopefully already have data from them about their preferences. Keep this data in mind and stick to their preferred time limit. 

Rule #4. Don’t Forget to Consider the Platform

The other caveat to the 10-minute limit for microlearning is the platform that you will be using to share the lesson. The platform itself may have some restrictions. For example, if you are sharing your lessons on TikTok, they would have had to be less than a minute until very recently. 

Or, if you post them on YouTube, you may want to consider slightly longer lessons. This is because YouTube ranks based on watch time, among other factors. If your video is too short, it limits the watch time. So, you would probably want to stick to 10 to 15 minutes to strike a balance between watch time and attention span. 

Conclusion

Ten minutes is a simple answer to the question “how long is microlearning?” 

But when deciding how long your microlearning lesson should be, think about the attention span of your learners. Do your best to keep each lesson under 10 minutes and only make exceptions if necessary. 

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