Microlearning Madness: 25 Great Resources


Over the last five to ten years, corporate learning professionals have scrambled to engage their learners in an increasingly digital world. Learning trends such as mobile, gamification, game-based learning, performance support, use of learning science and interactive video are all attempts to capture learner attention and engage them on a deeper level. With so many distractions to compete with, learner attention comes at a premium. Training has to be engaging for it to stick.

Recently, these learning trends and delivery methods have converged to make a new trend, microlearning, possible. With time available for training and learners’ patience for cumbersome learning experiences decreasing, there is more pressure than ever before for L&D professionals to deliver bite-sized training that is highly effective.

At its best, microlearning leverages learning science to space out content and build long term memory. It helps learners build on knowledge they already have and provides immediate access to short, targeted lessons and support materials. At its worst, it becomes another distraction to ignore.

We’ve compiled 25 of our favorite microlearning articles to make it easier to learn about “bite-sized learning” and implement it effectively. This article isn’t going anywhere, so bookmark it for reference and come back whenever you need more inspiration!

Our 25 Favorite Microlearning Resources

  1. How to Make Microlearning Matter – Annie Murphy Paul, SHRM.org (Link)
  2. Microlearning: Fab or fad? – Tom Spiglanin, TomSpiglanin.com (Link)
  3. The Myth of Micro-Learning – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance (Link)
  4. Defining Microlearning? – Clark Quinn, Learnlets (Link)
  5. 5 Learning Trends to Watch in the Next 5 Years – Karl Kapp, TD.org (Link)
  6. Micro-learning as a workplace learning strategy: Sahan Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections (Link)
  7. Is Microlearning a Myth? Sharon Boller, ATD Press (Link)
  8. Is Micro-Learning the Solution You Need? – by Connie Malamed, The eLearning Coach (Link)
  9. Why companies are moving to microlearning platforms for training, Simon T Bailey, The Business Journals (Link)
  10. Can Micro-Learning help stressed, unmotivated learners? – Sharon Boller, Bottom-Line Performance (Link)
  11. Enterprise Microlearning – Marcia Conner, MarciaConner.com (Link)
  12. 4 Steps to Microlearning Mastery – Brian Bishop, eLearningIndustry.com (Link)
  13. Microlearning’s Meteoric Rise – Justin Ferriman, LearnDash (Link)
  14. Micro-learning: Its role in formal, informal and incidental learning Sahan Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections (Link)
  15. MicroLearning on a Mobile Device – Jennifer S Beaudin, Stephen S. Intille, Margaret E. Morris – MIT (Link)
  16. Microlearning in Mobile and Flipped Contexts – Educause (Link)
  17. Microlearning – Edutech Wiki (Link)
  18. Ideal Learning Event – Karl Kapp, KappNotes (Link)
  19. Microlearning: Best Practices for Corporations – Monica Singh, General Assembly (Link)
  20. What is Micro-Learning? – Articulate “E-learning Heroes” blog (Link)
  21. From Courses to Micro-Learning – Sahan Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections (Link)
  22. The Story Behind Micro-Learning – David Cutler, Spin Education (Link)
  23. The MicroLearning trend: Accommodating cultural and cognitive shifts – Jeff Fernandez, Learning Solutions Magazine (Link)
  24. Gaming, Micro-Learning and Mobile: The Perfect Trio – Steven Boller, Knowledge Guru by BLP (Link)
  25. 7 Tips to Create Memorable Microlearning Online Training – Christopher Pappas, eLearningIndustry (Link)

Our Knowledge Guru platform combines microlearning, games and mobile reinforcement.


Survey Says: Knowledge Transfer and Retention are Big Issues for L&D Professionals

learning and remembering survey results

We recently released the results of our Learning and Remembering Survey on the Bottom-Line Performance website. The survey asked two open-ended questions:

1. What knowledge do your employees need to remember to be successful in their jobs?

2. What challenges do you face when delivering training that helps employees remember this knowledge?

The survey had 34 respondents across 21 different industries…. most of them from Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 companies. Many of the respondents were current clients: organizations for whom we create custom learning solutions. Others were Knowledge Guru customers, and still more were corporate learning professionals who subscribe to our newsletter.

77% of respondents said that some form of fact-based knowledge was critical to employee performance on the job. Process, procedures, product knowledge and compliance information were all mentioned frequently.

Learning and remembering survey- process, procedure, product knowledge leads the way

The challenge? Getting employees to actually remember all of this information is hard. Respondents frequently cited knowledge transfer and retention as big challenges when delivering essential training. Many others also cited lack of learner motivation and engagement… or a lack of managerial buy-in for effective learning approaches. Others simply said they had too much content to deliver.

Challenges to employee remembering: retention leads the way

How Knowledge Guru Helps With Remembering

Knowledge Guru customers already know how the platform can help learners remember. The spaced repetition and feedback loops embedded in the games helps with employee remembering. The engaging gameplay increases learner motivation. The result? Greater retention of job-critical knowledge.

In some ways, the results of this survey are good news for Knowledge Guru customers. You are already using a platform that is designed specifically to meet the learning challenges your peers mentioned most!

The key, of course, is to embed solutions like Knowledge Guru into a larger curriculum  that truly drives success for learners. Getting organizational buy-in for an initiative like this can be tricky, as these survey results suggest.

See the rest of the survey

To see our key takeaways from the Learning and Remembering survey, as well as some of the actual responses, read the full survey recap on the Bottom-Line Performance website.


When Remembering Really Matters: The Power of Serious Games for Learning (Free Webinar)

How confident are you that learners really remember what they learn from training delivered in your organization? Research has shown time and time again that remembering is hard and forgetting is easy. So how do you combat this all-to-common problem with training? That’s what this webinar is all about.

Sharon Boller, President and Chief Product Officer, and Steven Boller, Marketing Director, are delivering a jam-packed session through Training Magazine Network where they demonstrate research-based strategies for retention—and how they relate to games. If it’s important for your employees to be able to recall information from your training (which they should be able to do, or why spend money on training at all?), then you can’t afford to miss the information in this webinar.

The webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 10:00AM Pacific / 1:00PM Eastern (60-Minute Session). Click here to register now!

Can’t attend? Register anyway. We’ll send you the recording and materials after the event.

Sharon and Steve will explain how games can help form long-term memories… and business results. And since everything we do is grounded in research, they’ll provide recent research on games and case studies that demonstrate how games can be used for learning.

In this session, you will:

  • Identify the potential costs of not remembering
  • Gain an understanding of research-based learning principles such as spaced repetition, feedback loops and more
  • Identify the connection between research-based learning methods and tangible business outcomes

PLUS! Attendees will be entered to win a free “starter” package for use in your organization and – after the webinar – are invited to remain for a focused exploration of the game-creation platform, Knowledge Guru.

About the Presenters

About Sharon Boller
Sharon Boller

Sharon Boller is the president of Bottom-Line Performance (BLP). She founded BLP in 1995, and in 20 years has developed a wide array of learning solutions for corporate, government, and non-profit clients. Sharon has 25 years’ experience in learning design; she is the Chief Product Officer of the Knowledge Guru game engine, a platform for creating serious games. She has spoken at numerous conferences—including ASTD, ISPI, and SALT on the topics of learning design and game design. Sharon holds an MS degree in instructional systems technology from Indiana University, where she graduated magna cum laude.

About Steven Boller
Steve Boller

Steven Boller is the Marketing Director at Bottom-Line Performance. He is the editor of the popular Lessons on Learning and Learning Game Design blogs. Steven has written over 100 educational articles and blogs, appeared on numerous content aggregators and industry websites, and developed content for several Knowledge Guru games. He has served on the program committee for the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development and has presented nationally at DevLearn, ASTD Techknowledge and ASTD International on the power of serious games for learning.


Four Strategies for Long-Term Retention in Corporate Learning (White Paper)

In some organizations, training is a “check the box,” “we’ve always done it this way” activity. That may work in some situations, but what about when remembering really matters? Corporate learning professionals need strategies to improve both knowledge transfer during the initial learning event as well as the rate of long-term retention.

Sharon Boller, Knowledge Guru creator and Chief Product Officer, has authored a new white paper on strategies you can use to help learners remember. It includes the learning and remembering strategies used in Knowledge Guru alongside other strategies we use time and again in our custom solutions.

Most importantly, you’ll find five unique business challenges in the white paper… and the strategies we used to solve those challenges for our clients.

The white paper is available as a free download in the Learning Center on our Bottom-Line Performance website. Click here or click the image below to download the white paper.


This white paper, together with our Primer on Spaced Repetition and Feedback Loops, serve as the ideal introduction to the research-based learning principles we use in our Knowledge Guru games. We incorporate these strategies for learning and remembering into all of the custom learning solutions we develop as well. By studying the white paper, you will be able to:

  • Apply research-based strategies for both learning and remembering into your own learning designs.
  • Effectively use Knowledge Guru as a tool to increase learner retention.
  • Ensure any solution you implement at your organization is backed by research-based learning principles.

Download the white paper here.

The Corporate Learning Guide to Spaced Repetition and Feedback Loops (Free Download)

There are many causes for ineffective training, but one of L&D’s greatest enemies is forgetting. If learners fail to embed new knowledge into their long-term memory, they will be unable to apply it on the job. When training is treated as a one-time event, tangible results will be limited.

You know there’s a problem. But what can you do about it?

We’ve put together a free guide highlighting the research-based approaches of spaced repetition and immediate feedback. Research has repeatedly shown that using these techniques can increase retention of new knowledge and skills. By basing your own learning designs off of these principles or using a solution that already has the learning principles built in, you can greatly increase what your learners will remember.

What’s in a name?

Spaced repetition goes by several names in the L&D world. You might have heard this technique referred to as spaced learning and repetition, interval reinforcement, distributed practice, the spacing effect, or something else entirely. We have chosen to use the term “spaced repetition” for the purpose of this guide.

Who’s this guide for?

Any business professional looking for one of the following outcomes through a corporate learning program:

  • Less accidents
  • More sales
  • Better customer service
  • Faster new hire on-boarding
  • Fewer mistakes

What’s in the guide:

  • The five corporate learning content areas (accounting for 55% of total training) that benefit the most from spaced repetition approaches.
  • Five common learning solutions that fail to help learners retain knowledge.
  • The real story behind the forgetting curve, and what the latest research has to say about Herman Ebbinghaus’ theory.
  • An introduction to spaced repetition, including “micro spacings” and “macro spacings.”
  • The difference between feedback that helps learners remember and feedback that doesn’t.
  • A case study of an organization that used a spaced repetition solution and achieved tangible business results.


4 Ways Serious Games Link to Learning (Free Download)

4 Ways Serious Games Link to Learning

A growing body of research supports the use of serious games in the workplace. And thanks to a year of successful implementations in corporate settings, some great case studies now point the way for organizations ready to use games for learning.

Whether you want to use a true serious game, a gamified solution, or a combination of the two… it’s a great time to do so.

While research shows that people learn more from games than other learning solutions, many L&D practicioners still do not know why games work… so they avoid using games entirely.

If you think you want to use a game for learning, you first must become familiar with the types of “fun” in games, what’s required for real learning to happen, and the ways games can link the two.

We’ve created a new guide to help you accomplish this. The content, researched and written by Knowledge Guru creator (and BLP president) Sharon Boller, takes the mystery out of using serious games in the enterprise. It’s a simple thing, really: become familiar with the ways people have fun in games, identify the common principles all effective learning solutions share, and then carefully map the two together.

And once  you map the “fun” elements of your serious game to the elements needed for learning, you’ll also want to employ some research-based learning principles to actually help people remember the content after they’ve learned it. Are your game mechanics and game elements actually mapped to the cognitive tasks learners need to perform on the job? Are you taking advantage of the latest research on how the human brain best commits knowledge to long-term memory?

The guide, titled 4 Ways Serious Games Link to Learning, is available as a free download.

4 Ways Serious Games Link to Learning

Top 5 Game-Based Learning Posts on Our Blog in 2013


What a year it has been for the Knowledge Guru product! We first launched the game engine in October 2012, added the Game Creation Wizard in 2013, and are now humming along with happy customers and a wide range of feature enhancements planned for the coming year.

Besides product enhancements, a big focus of ours is educating the community on how serious games and gamification can be used for learning. We’ve published many articles on our blog, as well as on the Bottom-Line Performance blog, on the topic. Since BLP President and Knowledge Guru creator Sharon Boller is passionate about using games for learning, it comes as no surprise that some of the best posts were written by her.

These five articles were the most-visited on our Knowledge Guru website in 2013. We will be back with more great content this January.

1. Linking Games to the Learning Experience: Learning Game Design White Paper: Sharon Boller wrote nearly a dozen blog posts on the topic of learning game design in 2013, each covering a separate step of the process. She later took those posts, edited and re-worked them, and turned them into a comprehensive white paper on learning game design. Collectively, this was the “hot topic” on our blog in 2013. Read it

2. 100 Great Game-Based Learning and Gamification Resources: One of the best way to share the game-based learning love is simply connecting readers with all of the great content available on the web. We compiled a list of 100 of our favorite articles, each one offering a unique insight on using games (or game mechanics) for learning. See them

3. Game-Based Learning Infographic: There’s a reason this infographic has been shared far and wide and even made it on to Edudemic: it’s a one-stop overview for valuable game-based learning research and case studies. See it

4. 5 Great Serious Games and Gamification Blogs to Follow: This post continued on our theme of finding valuable content shared by other experts in the game-based learning space. See some of our go-to blogs in a more concise format than the large list of resources mentioned above. Read it

5. Getting Started in Learning Game Design: Need a roadmap for kicking off the learning game design process? This post has it. Sharon Boller lists the five overarching steps to learning game design, and even includes a graphic for staying on track. Read it

The Learning Design Behind Knowledge Guru Games

Interested in spaced learning and distributed practice? Then download our free Primer on Spaced Repetition and Feedback Loops. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about these concepts so you can incorporate them in your own training.

Many of our customers are first drawn to Knowledge Guru because they are looking for a serious game. They want their training to be more game-like and fun for learners. But as much as we are believers in the power of games to improve learning outcomes, the fact that Knowledge Guru is a game is not as important to the learning value as the learning principles we built into the game’s design.

Any game becomes useless for learning unless learning is carefully built into the game mechanics and game elements. In the case of Knowledge Guru, we use three research-based learning principles within the game to help players acquire knowledge. These principles are at work in every Knowledge Guru game, no matter what content you put into the tool (as long as you write your question sets correctly!).

Here’s a brief overview:



It’s intuitive, really. We need to repeatedly study material in order to remember it. In Knowledge Guru, game questions are grouped into question sets, which are groups of three questions. Each question set is linked to a learning objective in the game. Each question set teaches one piece of information, but the three questions each approach it in a different way. Question A might be fact recall, Question B a true or false question, and Question C a scenario question where learners apply the information in context. More about creating question sets here.

Another way to think of repetition is practice testing. A 2013 report by the Association for Psychological Science rated Practice Testing as a “highly effective learning tactic.” Giving learners more evaluations aids in further learning… and each path in the Knowledge Guru game is another mini “evaluation” or challenge learners must complete. Because the information is brought to mind multiple times, it is easier to remember. This is similar to the learning benefit found from using flash cards.

Spaced learning


Sometimes referred to as distributed practice, spaced learning happens when we space our learning out into small chunks over time. The same Association for Psychological Science report referenced above found that intentionally breaking learning into smaller bits and spacing the practice out builds long-term memory better than other study methods.

We use spaced learning in a “macro” and “micro” way within Knowledge Guru. The most obvious is the Guru Grab Bag mode, which contains all of the questions from the normal game mode, but is only unlocked when learners complete the regular game. By returning to the game days or weeks after completing it, the learning is reinforced.

Spaced learning can even be beneficial if the repetitions are spaced only a few minutes apart. Since the three questions in a set are placed on paths A, B, and C, learners are exposed to the same information after short breaks (if they complete the topic in one sitting).

Immediate Feedback


When learners get a question right in Knowledge Guru, three things happen:

  1. They move on to the next question.
  2. Points are awarded.
  3. Depending on where they are in the game, achievements are earned.

In this way, the game is providing feedback to players for the performance. It’s saying “Good job! You’re getting it!” When players get a question wrong, they receive immediate feedback explaining their misstep, and the following things happen:

  1. Points are deducted.
  2. The game provides an explanation of the mistake.
  3. The learner returns to the same question and must try again.

Instead of merely letting players get the answer wrong, the game immediately corrects them and helps them learn why they answered incorrectly. This is how Knowledge Guru helps people learn content, rather than simply evaluating them on how much they already know.

It’s More Than Just a Game

While gaming is central to Knowledge Guru, we see the learning principles behind the game as the most valuable element of the product. We’ve aligned our efforts so each enhancement and iteration uses the principles of spaced learning, repetition, and immediate feedback to help people acquire knowledge faster.

Game-Based Learning scroll

DevLearn Post-Conference Resources

We had a great deal of fun talking games and gamification at DevLearn 2013. Whether you attended Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp’s learning game design workshop, visited the Knowledge Guru® booth in the Expo, or attended our learning stage session on ways you can build your own games, we are grateful for the opportunity to connect and share with you.

In the learning stage session I gave with Leanne Batchelder, Powerful Learning Games You Can Build Yourself, I called out some specific resources we would send to you after the conference. Here they are:

Scroll of Knowledge: Game-Based Learning: Why Does it Work?

This downloadable PDF outlines the four requirements needed for learning, then maps them to game elements and mechanics that match. The scroll is a great introduction to the world of games. If you’d like to see the sources and research studies associated with the scroll, contact us.

View Game Based Learning Scroll

Event Slides: Powerful Learning Games You Can Build Yourself

Our learning stage session summarized the recent research and case studies surrounding the use of games for learning, then showed you how you can use Knowledge Guru to build your own learning games. See the slides below.

Using Game Mechanics and Game Elements in Learning Games – New White Paper by Sharon Boller

Sharon Boller, creator of Knowledge Guru® and President of Bottom-Line Performance, has authored a new white paper on using game mechanics and game elements in learning games. Through a variety of case studies and real-life examples, the white paper demonstrates how learning game designers can design game mechanics and game elements that support real learning outcomes.

Learning Game Design White Paper

Click the image to download the white paper!

When a game’s mechanics, or set of rules that the game itself and players follow, are too complicated, it detracts from the learning. But if the mechanics are too simple or predictable, players will not find the game fun. And even when the game mechanics are figured out, you’ll still need to choose appropriate game elements (we list 12 common ones) that link to your desired learning outcomes.

Sharon explains all of this and more… while showing that the secret to a good learning game is to play test and iterate, always seeking the right balance with game mechanics and game elements.

Game Mechanics

  • Learn to choose the right game rules for players to follow… and the right set of rules for the game itself to follow.
  • See examples of learning games used in corporate and non-profit settings and examine their game mechanics.

Game Elements

  • See an overview of the 12 most common game elements, including competition, collaboration, strategy, chance and more. Most importantly, you’ll learn how each one of these game elements can link to learning… and which learners will respond best to each element.
  • See examples of each game element being used in a real-world learning game… mostly in corporate settings.

Written for Designers, Developers and Managers

If you play a role in designing, developing, or managing the creation of learning solutions and are ready to include games in your learning mix, this white paper for you. Look for a recurring series of “Questions to Ask as a Learning Designer” to challenge yourself, or your design team, to think differently about learning game design.

Download the White Paper

You can download the white paper here.

About the Author:

Sharon Boller - game based learning practicionerSharon Boller is the president of Bottom-Line Performance, Inc, an Indianapolis-based learning design company. She is also the lead designer of the Knowledge Guru® game engine, a tool for creating simple quiz-based desktop and tablet games.

Sharon founded BLP in 1995 when online learning was a blip on the screen of the T&D industry. 18 years later BLP can show hundreds of digital learning solutions it has designed and produced for corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. Sharon’s primary area of interest is games and the gamification of learning. In addition to her work with Knowledge Guru, she is leading the development of a more complex game engine that will allow creation of story-driven, multi-level, learning games as well as the creation of small “mini-games.” She has been the lead designer of numerous other digital and tabletop learning games.

Sharon considers herself very much a learner rather than a teacher and her presentations are geared toward this. She likes to show her own lessons learned and point people to the plethora of others whom she considers her “gurus of game design” and the people she constantly tries to learn from.

Sharon speaks at numerous conferences on the topic of learning game design – including ASTD, Training, and SALT. She also co-facilitates a learning game design workshop with Dr. Karl Kapp, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. She authored one of the chapters in his upcoming book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook, which will be published in 2014.