December 5, 2023

Microlearning vs. Nanolearning

Small is strong. Innovations have helped achieve effective results through more efficient means such as smaller surgical incisions, shorter but powerful means of communication, and more. Computers once the size of a room now come with 10-13 inch screens. Facilitating learning has not been untouched by the winds of change. How has corporate training turned into a busy work schedule in this digital age? This article will explore microlearning, nanolearning and their respective roles in corporate learning.

The world of information has expanded, but the ways to deliver impactful messages have shrunk. YouTube Shorts, Twitter and an app that summarizes the best news in 60 words are a few examples to be reckoned with. The learning-at-work ecosystem has also evolved.

Corporate training includes both in-person IELT and eLearning. In this highly competitive world of business, learning trends have changed to include short courses that facilitate learning in the flow of work (LIFOW). What courses are they?

Microlearning and nanolearning

Microlearning and Nanolearning are smaller chunks of learning modules that can be used to upskill employees. Which are they and how are they different? Let’s dive deeper.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a self-contained course that focuses on a specific learning objective, has its own knowledge checks and summaries. This is separate content. Some of the approaches used to engage students are rich multimedia and gaming strategies.

Microlearning is not about breaking large chunks of content into smaller chunks. Anchored to its educational objective, it is a complete and holistic learning experience.

  • It is driven by objectivity.
  • It only focuses on tasks and not history.
  • It can be implemented before, during and after formal training.

“Personally, I’m always ready to learn, even if I’m not always taught” – Winston Churchill

The message of this quote is reflected in microlearning. The student does not feel the excessive tolerance of the instructor. A good instructional design strategy guides the learner through the course.

  • The student can go through the educational modules at his own pace, according to his work schedule.
  • They learn by doing it themselves. Interactivity and scenarios keep them engaged.
  • A social environment for cooperation is ensured. Students can learn and discuss with peers.
  • Laughter and engagement through gamification deepen retention.
  • The remedy allows revision until becoming a pro.

Microlearning is effective in the following ways:

  • Increases knowledge retention.
  • Facilitates just-in-time learning.
  • It ensures the reinforcement of knowledge.
  • Provides additional information and tips to successfully complete the task.

Let us now understand nanolearning.


Nanolearning is also a short training course, but shorter and sharper than microlearning. It is ideal for repetitive training.

Microlearning and nanolearning share similarities

Both have similarities. For example:

  • Play a role in preparing teams for the future.
  • May be interrupted until LIFOW.
  • Facilitate reinforcement learning.
  • Help you learn at your own pace.
  • Provide affordable training solutions.
  • Focus on learning objectives.
  • Spread knowledge at the moment of need.
  • Give students control.
  • Have rich multimedia.
  • Reduce cognitive load.
  • Follow the Pareto principle of 80% effect with only 20% effort.

The difference between microlearning and nanolearning

They vary in scope and length of learning. While the average microlearning module may last 15 to 30 minutes, nanolearning modules are generally 2-5 minutes long.

Here are some examples.

The risk matrix and hazard identification forms can be explained in a 20-minute microlearning course, while nanolearning can be used as pocket cards to list hazard identification points before starting a task.

Microlearning can further use gamification strategies and scenarios to explain codes of ethics, mobile fraud and its prevention. On the other hand, nanolearning can list precautions for every fraud and code of conduct in smart cards.

Key things

  1. Microlearning and nanolearning are an integral part of future-ready teams.
  2. Both are short courses, complete in themselves.
  3. Microlearning modules are generally 15-30 minutes long, while onboarding takes 2-5 minutes.
  4. Both are cost effective and make reinforcement easy.


Microlearning and nanolearning are critical to building a future-ready workforce. These student and budget solutions can be adopted according to the range of skill requirements. Both can be incorporated into the workflow for appropriate purposes.

At Tesseract Learning, our learning and visual architects are constantly innovating and reinventing their approaches to designing, developing and delivering effective L&D programs. We use our powerful KREDO learning platform to create efficiencies throughout the training lifecycle and deliver exceptional learning experiences.

Contact me or leave a comment below to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

E-Book Publishing: Tesseract Learning Pvt Ltd

Tesseract Learning Pvt Ltd

Tesseract Learning works with global organizations to improve employee performance through a spectrum of digital learning solutions. Solutions include eLearning, mobile learning, microlearning, game-based learning, AR/VR, adaptive learning, among others.

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