By keeping the macro in mind, the micro learning stays centered on the learner and is sequenced within an entire learning experience.


From the learners’ perspective, macro learning involves a larger time commitment, a focus on specified learning objectives, and is often used when choosing to engage with content that is largely unfamiliar. In contrast, microlearning is something that can be done on your phone, in the subway on the way to work. It is quick and focuses on specific pieces of information or skills. eLearning professionals are currently grappling with these two types of learning as if they are not interrelated. However, an effective strategy embraces microlearning within the broader paradigm of the system in which it occurs. 


Let's start with the definitions:


This type of learning focuses on the whole of a topic or domain. It typically picks a subfield within an entire field. Learners are introduced to that content through what can typically be thought of as a course.

The expectation from the learner is that macro-learning takes longer and is a substantial investment. However, from the designer perspective, macro-learning focuses on the holistic nature and is essential to student-centered learning.



This type of learning focuses on quick bursts of content that are often made through a Google-search type of discovery. A learner can intentionally find this information or serendipitously encounter it through an unidentified information need. The learning in this environment is often implicit, in other words, it is barely discernible to the learner. From the learning designer perspective, microlearning is the ability to chunk content into easily consumable learning moments at the time of need.


Case Study: Understanding the Difference between the Two

Courtney is a data analyst assistant for her company and is looking to engage in professional development in order to be promoted to Lead Data Analyst. With this goal in mind, she might start searching for information on the latest in Big Data. Undoubtedly, through this search, she will be exposed to information related to certifications or courses online or in the company's LMS. She will also find individual web pages and links that talk about some aspect of Big Data.

Are both of these types of information in the domain of the eLearning designer? While the former undoubtedly has some instructional design behind it, the latter could be considered micro-learning a blog post or introductory website. However, it could also be a chunked micro learning opportunity to engage in a particular aspect of Big Data.

The primary difference between macro and microlearning is that in macro learning the focus is on the big picture and a complete learning series, while in microlearning is very short and there is a specific focus or skill that needs to be learned in a precise moment of need.


Weaknesses and Strengths of Both Individually 

By themselves, both micro and macro design have weaknesses and strengths. Unfortunately, the eLearning design industry tends to move on a pendulum from macro to micro design rather than situate in the middle. 

A weakness of macro design is that the focus on the holistic reduces flexibility for just-in-time learning or the 5-minute walk from the car to the office. In contrast, micro design is especially good at these situations. The weakness in micro design comes from the extreme focus on chunking and getting learners from one lesson to another without reflection on the big picture. 

Conversely, the strength evident in macro learning is that it explains concepts thoroughly. Whenever there is a new process that your employees have to learn or when a topic is particularly challenging, Macro Learning is preferred. This goes back to the focus on Macro Learning being the why of what is needed. Micro Learning excels in situations where people need immediate help or assistance at a granular level. Micro Learning should be considered a subset of Macro Learning.



1. IBI was designed with macro management principles

Designed with macro principles combined in harmony with micro modules, balance web-based learning and mobile learning. This allows IBI to keep the big picture of the student at the forefront of design that makes sure to central to the student.

2. We help Learners Master ONE Objective - and Explain How This Module Contributes to the Entire Puzzle

Designed to cover several objectives over an extended period combined with microlearning lessons, our courses the focus should be on helping the learner master just ONE objective. So, we make sure to give the learner ONE concept to digest and induce ONE change in behavior or attitude to fulfill ONE learning objective.

Each model also fits in with the overarching learning objectives or "macro" goal of the training program to guide the students as to why they are learning and what they should be able to do at the end of the entire unit.




At IBI Global, we believe that education drives technology not technology drives education since good teachers and experts inspire learners to be lifelong learners.



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