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SAFE: A Microlearning Design Approach

People are easily distracted in today’s digital world. As a result, we're finding that an effective way to reach the modern learner is through microlearning. By breaking down learning into bite-sized modules, training becomes less of a chore and something anyone can easily master on any given day.

Specifically, when you start to think about how to design microlearning, there are four important guidelines to always keep in mind. Think SAFE (Short, Accessible, Focused, Engaging).


The general rule for microlearning is that each block of content should take around three to five minutes for the learner to complete. Research shows that the average human attention span is less than that of a goldfish. That means that the more efficiently you can deliver impactful content to learners, the more likely they are to actually soak up the knowledge.

It can also be a challenge to fit lengthy training into an already packed workday, but microlearning makes it easier to fit training into the flow of any day. Long, complex sessions can seem daunting. Microlearning gives learners the ability to tackle smaller modules a little bit at a time.


Just as ensuring the brevity of microlearning helps learners fit training into a busy workday, so does making it accessible. In today’s world, we can do just about anything from our smartphones, so why shouldn’t we be able to access training from them? In 2019, 52.2% of web traffic came from mobile phones, and by 2025 almost three quarters (72.6 %) of internet users are expected to access the web solely on their smartphones. In other words, the numbers don’t lie. It’s essential that your microlearning is mobile accessible.


When you only have three to five minutes to deliver content, trying to pack too much into a small session can immediately derail your opportunity make an impact on your learners. For microlearning modules, content should be focused on one specific topic or idea.

The most effective way to ensure you make each piece of content focused is to segment your content. Identify one well-thought-out learning objective for each module. Not only does identifying these objectives help you keep each microlearning block focused, but it also helps you better organize the entirety of the microlearning curriculum and align with business needs and goals.


Just because microlearning sessions are short, we can't disregard the importance of making these brief interactions engaging. Remember, with the attention span worse than a goldfish, you can still lose learners!

  • Use an effective mix of visuals and media to help learners retain information
  • Focus on relatable, real-world scenarios that illustrate the key idea within each module
  • Consider a gamification aspect where learners earn badges or rewards as they complete each module

Microlearning is a training solution that adapts to the needs of the modern learner. When you execute a SAFE microlearning design, you ensure not only that your training program positively impacts your learner, but it effectively meets your business needs as well.

Our team of industry experts is ready to partner with you and help you think about the best way to design a successful microlearning program to achieve your goals and objectives. Click here to contact Jed, our President, and find out how Ardent can help you develop a successful microlearning solution.

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