Alex Khurgin, of Grovo, argues that organizations should consider micro-learning as a potential new learning method.

Click here to read his blog post on the ATD Ed-Tech Blog…

Published in the personal growth section of Medium, compiled by Zavyalov Artem, is a list of micro-learning tools. 

It is certainly NOT the TEN BEST, but it does offer some interesting finds in the area of personal growth. Indeed, one of the apps is said to prevent you from spending more than 5 minutes a day in learning!

Click here for the link…

Update 2017: This Pilot has Concluded

Original Post:

Organizations Wanted to Pilot Leadership-Development Subscription Learning!!

I am looking for organizations who are interested in piloting subscription learning as a tool to aid in developing their managers and energizing their senior management’s strategic initiatives.

To read more about the benefits and possibilities for subscription learning and leadership development, read my article posted on the ATD (Association for Talent Development) website.

Potential Benefits

  • Reinforce concepts learned to ensure remembering and application.
  • Drive management behaviors through ongoing communications.
  • Utilize the scientifically-verified spacing effect to boost learning.
  • Enable dialogue between your senior leaders and your developing managers.
  • Inculcate organizational values through scenario-based reflection.
  • Prompt organizational initiatives through your management cadre.
  • Engage in organizational learning, promoting cycles of reinforcement.
  • Utilize and pilot test new technologies, boosting motivation.
  • Utilize the power of subscription learning before your competitors do.

Potential Difficulties

  • Pilot efforts may face technical difficulties and unforeseen obstacles.

Why Will Thalheimer and Work-Learning Research, Inc.?

  • Experienced leadership-development trainer
  • Previously ran leadership-development product line (Leading for Business Results)
  • Leader in the use of scenario-based questions
  • Experienced in using subscription learning
  • Devoted to evidence-based practices
  • Extensive experience in practical use of learning research

Why Now?

  • Employees have less and less time for long training sessions.
  • More than ever training has to deliver on-the-job results.
  • Learners demanding that learning come to them when they are mobile.
  • Microlearning is the future of elearning and talent development.
  • Because Work-Learning Research and Will Thalheimer are dedicated to subscription-learning — Will plans to write a book on it — we are offering substantial discounts for pilot organizations.

Next Steps!!

  • Contact Will Thalheimer, PhD to arrange an online discussion of the possibilities.
    • email:   info AT worklearning DOT com
    • phone:   617-718-0767

Subscription learning doesn't have to be about information. It can directly or indirectly prompt actions. In a recent field study, a one-sentence text produced results. Here's the abstract from the journal:

"Parental involvement is correlated with student performance, though the causal relationship is less well established. This experiment examined an intervention that delivered weekly one-sentence individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program. Messages decreased the percentage of students who failed to earn course credit from 15.8% to 9.3%—a 41% reduction. This reduction resulted primarily from preventing drop-outs, rather than from reducing failure or dismissal rates. The intervention shaped the content of parent–child conversations with messages emphasizing what students could improve, versus what students were doing well, producing the largest effects. We estimate the cost of this intervention per additional student credit earned to be less than one-tenth the typical cost per credit earned for the district. These findings underscore the value of educational policies that encourage and facilitate teacher-to-parent communication to empower parental involvement in their children's education."

Kraft, M. A., & Rogers, T. (2015). The underutilized potential of teacher-to-parent communication: Evidence from a field experiment. Economics of Education Review, 47, 49-63.

Here's another article on Microlearning, this time from MemeBurn.





Google, of course, is trying to sell a product when it says that everyone is getting content in "micro moments," that is, in "moments of intent" when they have a "how-to-do" need. Yes, sounds a bit like Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson's Moments of Need, but the relation between the two is only searchable.

Two thoughts here:

  1. Again, we see more and more emphasis on short learning interventions.
  2. These types of microlearning interventions are only in play when the learner has a clear sense that they need help that new information can provide. There are many other learning needs that aren't covered in "moments of learning intent."

Here is the Google Post with all the new micro-moment buzzwords…


Fort Hill Company, long known for its innovative approach to training transfer, is now getting into on-the-job learning. Their new tool, 70-20, organizes learning opportunities around challenges. Learners engage in challenges and document evidence of their progress through text, photos, video, or web links. Learners can assign themselves challenges or be assigned challenges by a trainer, coach, or manager. Challenges assigned to multiple users enable social learning.

70-20 Logo

Licenses run for a year, so that learners can engage in challenges over time, making 70-20, not a subscription-learning tool per se, but one that can be used for subscription learning.

Fort Hill's experience is that challenges are most successful as learning opportunities when they are short and focused on a specific task or goal. Kathy Granger of Fort Hill told me that she envisioned enlightened learning facilitators utilizing 70-20 for subscription learning by creating a global challenge with specific sub-challenges strung together in an intentional way.

Reflection on Leveraging On-the-Job Learning

Although the percentages in the 70-20-10 model are of dubious origin (and are not verified by science), there's no denying that people learn while they work. The big question is whether this on-the-job learning is leverageable, and if it is, what are the most effective ways to leverage that learning.

Lots of folks are working on this. Group-learning platforms (like LearningStone) provide socially-enabled on-the-job learning support. Coaching-directed performance learning (like Cognitive Advisors) provide performance-support level coaching. Now we can add Fort Hill's 70-20 to the list.

It's great that organizations are attempting to leverage on-the-job learning. Kudos too to vendors who are developing tools for this purpose.

We're still early in figuring out how digital tools can help. More work and experimentation need to be done. New mobile tools may provide superior benefits, but old-fashioned management has a role to play as well. Let's not forget that apprenticeship — a potent on-the-job learning method — has been around for hundreds of years.

There are several dimensions of on-the-job learning that come into play with the new tools.

  • Whether the learning is leverageable or just organic.
  • The extent to which the learning is directed or spontaneous.
  • The extent of push technology.
  • The motivation of the learners.
  • The involvement of learner's managers (or coaches, mentors, etc.)
  • The validity of the learned information.
  • The ability of the tools to reinforce key points.
  • The ability of the tools to go beyond recognized needs to target unrecognized needs.

So much more to learn…



Michiel Klonhammer, one of the founders of LearningStone, taught me something last week — that subscription learning could be delivered within communities of learners, at least in those communities that have the advantage of a scheduled curriculum.

Subscription learning at its core is the periodic delivery of very short learning nuggets to learners. From the perspective of learners' cognitive architecture, there are several advantages to this method of learning. First, it can utilize the spacing effect, the finding that repetitions spaced over time are better remembered than repetitions not spaced over time. Second, it can reinforce ideas, providing the benefits of repetition itself. Third, because learners are likely to encounter these nuggets at work, they are more likely to be integrated in memory with workplace contextual cues.

The most obvious vision of subscription learning involves the intentional delivery of learning nuggets, designed and scheduled to maximize effectiveness. What Michiel (pronounced Michael in the English-speaking context) taught me is that short learning nuggets could also be delivered in a less prescribed manner when communities of learners deliver learning messages to each other.


LearningStone is a group-based learning platform that is typically used by learning facilitators (trainers, educators, and managers) to take learners through a curriculum and maximize learning-related interactions between learners. LearningStone's creators believe strongly that the human element is a key to learning. They built LearningStone to provide blended learning with a strong focus on collaborative learning — where the system and the trainer or coach can stimulate collaborative actions and both the system and the participants can stimulate other participants to join in, to be engaged and be motivated.

From a subscription-learning perspective, LearningStone's curriculum interface schedules learning events. These learning events are focused on the whole group, not the individual. That is, the learning events are not scheduled based on a particular learner's performance in learning. In addition, learning can occur at the initiation of the learners themselves.

I still have more to learn about LearningStone, but here are some initial reflections:

  1. Having a scheduled curriculum, even if it is not individualized, can provide learning nuggets spaced over time in an intentionally-designed manner.
  2. Obviously, this may miss some of the advantages of individualization, including more targeted retrieval practice, more precise feedback, and gamification affordances; yet, such spacing and intention can produce better learning than one-time events.
  3. Where communities of learners are active, their interactions can provide additional short learning events — and perhaps, just as peer mentoring is often more effective than expert-mentoring, such interactions may be especially beneficial to learners. 

Alex Khurgin, Director of Learning and Creative at Grovo (a Microlearning Vendor), says that Microlearning is good for enterprise learning because it builds alignment with organizational goals, it meets the needs of today’s learners for shorter and shorter learning nuggets, and it’s cheaper than longer learning initiatives.

You can read his article at the Chief Learning Officer website. It’s worth the read as further evidence that vendors are hot to push for shortened learning nuggets.

Of course, microlearning is more potent when it is intentionally threaded over time, utilizing the scientifically-backed principles of spacing, retrieval practice, and feedback.

The buzz is in the air…There is definitely something changing in our industry…With many recent discussions of microlearning, subscription learning, nano learning, and the like, it seems the marketplace is being readied for a pivot to a different type of learning…

In a webinar today, David Mallon, Senior Vice President at Deloitte, shared how Bersin by Deloitte sees the future of the learning industry.

In a nutshell, they’re pushing the idea of “Continuous Learning.”


As you can see from the diagram, they see almost any learning modality as a possible leverage point for continuous learning. To be clear, they are not embracing subscription learning, they are arguing that we in L&D need to engage learners continuously to maximize learning.

As part of the same presentation, Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify did share examples of subscription learning, though she didn’t call it that. You can see the Axonify learning model below. Notice how spaced repetitions and retrieval practice are backed into it.

The bottom line is that the industry is beginning to recognize the importance of supporting remembering,  application, and on-the-job learning — and subscription learning is a new tool in the toolbox.

Some of you may be interested in the Learning Landscape Model, which highlights the importance of remembering, prompting, application, and on-the-job learning.