When it comes to learning, employees want what they want when they want it.

Tedious training sessions, forced instruction and epic employee manuals are outdated teaching tools, and are quickly becoming replaced by the likes of entertaining micro-content providers such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Long live microlearning.

Not that it hasn’t been around for the last several decades, albeit under the guise of “reusable learning objects,” “minilearning,” “microcourses,” “nanolearning,” and our favorite, “knowledge nuggets.”

As buzzwords and jargon are prevalent in the elearning industry, it’s worth taking a moment to define the two industry terms we’re addressing in this post: microlearning and blended learning. Microlearning is a teaching style in which the learner requests and controls the delivery of short bursts of information. Traditionally, microlearning has primarily been used as part of a more developed blended learning course, whereas blended learning is typically composed of several microlearning modules bundled together to achieve a pre-arranged training goal. Historically, blended learning has been the elearning industry’s stock in trade, defined by its flexibility and ease of use.

Microlearning, on the other hand, has long been a concept in search of the right technology. Fortunately, modern society’s ability to search, tag, link and instantly share information has caught up to its simple genius: Allow the employee to ask for information when they want it, how they want it.

Two real-world examples of our society’s newfound appreciation for microlearning can be seen in the popular Google Helpouts and TED-Ed. Both of which serve as instant educational tools to anyone requiring more information about Google products (Google Helpouts) or the world in general (TED-Ed).

The same passion for learning that sparked the growth of these two social teaching tools can be applied to corporate training and employee growth as well. We are currently experiencing a shift in technology and instructional design in which forward-thinking businesses – local and global – can utilize microlearning in addition to traditional blended learning courses in the workforce.

For most corporate training departments, offering access to microlearning modules is the next natural step in workforce training. A majority of companies have long enjoyed the convenience and lower cost that elearning brings to staff training and development. While traditional interactive blended learning courses are preferred, many forward thinking companies have developed a nontraditional “flipped classroom” method in which employees are responsible for learning concepts on their own and then practicing or qualifying that knowledge in organized training sessions.

Integrating microlearning into corporate elearning programs is the next evolutionary step in workplace training and development. Modules can be easily created to educate staff in all aspects of brand culture, from hiring and development to on-going training and general communication. The best part is the convenience. Microlearning is fast, mobile and can be accessed from laptops, smart phones, tablets, and desktops as schedules permit.

Consider microlearning as an ideal solution for “just in time” learning situations. For example, an HR professional about to conduct an interview can access the company learning management system and search for instruction modules using the key word “Interviewing.” After watching a couple of informative video clips they may then be prompted to click on links to best practice articles or case studies to educate themselves further on the subject. When they feel ready, they can access a compliance course on interviewing dos and don’ts complete with an assessment quiz to ensure competency in the subject. Research completed, they are now prepared to conduct an interview that meets company standards.