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506 The Evolution of Microlearning: Contextual Microlearning

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Thursday, April 13

Tracks: Micro & Workflow Learning

We are living in an age where we are constantly competing for our learners’ attention. In the age of YouTube, Tik Tok, Twitter, etc. it is harder than ever to make sure that our employees are getting the information they need at their moment of need. Microlearning has gained a lot of traction in the last couple of decades as a solution to this attention deficit. Many organizations have realized that providing targeted information to their employees in micro formats is more effective compared to long articles and courses. However, the traditional microlearning concept still requires the learner to step out of context to search and discover the information. Wouldn’t it be great if the information came to the learner instead of the learner searching for the information? Microlearning by itself is good but contextual microlearning is better.

In this session we will discuss and then show examples side-by-side of what microlearning versus contextual microlearning looks like. We will look at the history of how microlearning formats came to be and the challenges it was designed to solve. We will examine very specific examples of how microlearning works within organizations and also outside of it. Then we will talk about what is still working with microlearning and what is not. The technology has evolved, of course, but the lack of attention among learners has made it very hard for even microlearning to be truly effective. We will look at examples of how with traditional microlearning a learner has to step out of context of her work to search for information and then return back to the flow of work. After that, we will explore the concept of context switching. Specifically, the cost of context switching. We will examine how much time is wasted when a learner does not have the information she needs at her moment of need and has to switch context to search for information. Then we will dive into what contextual microlearning is all about. We will talk about how sometimes the learner does not even know what to look for and how contextual microlearning can automatically be brought forth, depending on the situation.

In this session you will learn:

  • How microlearning came to be and what challenges it looked to solve
  • Why traditional microlearning is not as effective as it used to be
  • What contextual microlearning is
  • The differences between microlearning and contextual microlearning
  • How to apply contextual microlearning within your organization
  • How to calculate continuous return on investment of contextual microlearning to evaluate if it’s working or not

Technology discussed:

Learning management systems, digital adoption platforms, contextual web experiences

Asif Rehmani



Asif Rehmani is hyper-focused on the areas of digital transformation and employee experiences. He advises CIOs at organizations around the world on how best to support and train their employees with a blended training approach. Asif is the CEO of VisualSP and has been training and mentoring on technologies since 2002. He has authored several books for Wiley publications and has spoken at conferences around the world.