The Rise of MicroLearning


An increasingly visible trend in education is the use of the smartphone as a vehicle for learning anywhere—on the bus, on an airplane or a train, in a coffee shop, in the park, at work, or at home. This type of education comes in the form of “microlearning”—5-minute lessons that contain text fragments and reference Internet sources. Often they include a short video clip and a few questions to test whether the lesson has been understood.In fact, creating these short lessonscan also be instructive. That’s why executive students also sometimesbecome co-producers (with publishers and teachers) of operational and strategic content within their organizations. Micro-learning provides the opportunity forcolleagues in the workspaceto experiment with information and communication technology (ICT) as a means to education, in an actionable way, in the workplace. Indeed, it makes education a lever for innovation within the organization. (Note: this was the premise of

A good example of the application of micro-learning can be found at the Dutch Police Academy. Within the academy’s Future-Oriented Development course, new strategies for the police are tested through micro-experiments. Students are able to mount experiments and to see how those experiments fit into the larger context of police strategy, as well as ensuring that their contribution reinforces that strategy. This bottom-up connection with the large top-down strategy through small strategic initiatives on the shop floor is not new; in fact, it dates back to the 1980swhen the management and strategy scientist Henry Mintzberg distinguished larger, top-down “planned” strategies from small, innovative “emergent” strategies.

Within the Police Academy, micro-learning is used to reinforce what is already in place for strategy, as a blueprint andas a dot on the horizon. Through doing small experiments, the students at the Police Academy develop strategic initiatives from continuouspractice. This helps everyone to realize that what we do in daily practice is influenced by strategy. Mintzberg says that we need to see the operational process as a strategic theme. In the police organization that is very important, because the operations of police work is subject to disruptive change, such as cybercrime. Combining thinking and doing actually improves adaptive ability for both employees and units, thereby reducing decision times. Value and commitment are both created and accelerated with the adoption of a new method or technology from micro-learning experiments. In effect, through watching and listening when they do not know the outcome in advance, participants are allowed to truly look and learn. The goal is for participants to learn to create a design for a sustainable experiment—and then implement that experiment, followed by open and collegial discussion of its effects. 

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Hans Mulder, with the support of Roel Verhaert of the City of Antwerp and Benito Shukrula of the Police Academy of The Netherlands, titled ”ICT Innovates the Organization by Micro-experiments and Micro-learnings” and published in AGConnecton (Date). Go to (link)



  |     |     |     |     |  

Subject Matter

Skilled ResourcesGeneral Interest

About the Author:


Hans Mulder Hans Mulder MSc BA is Standish European research director and professor at the Antwerp Management School. As the founder of his own company, Venture Informatisering Adviesgroep, he is on the management and executive boards of various IT companies. He is regularly engaged as an IT expert when conflicts between companies need to be resolved in or out of court.

The Standish Group
Jim JohnsonJim
Jim CrearJim
Lou ViannaLou
Theo MulderTheo
Jan PoortJan

The Standish Group News

The Standish Group Events


CHAOS Tuesday Podcast

The Dezider