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Macrolearning versus Microlearning versus Contextual Microlearning

By Asif Rehmani
Updated October 15, 2023

One of our clients had made substantial changes in their web application and was wondering how best they will communicate those changes to their thousands of users since they are all spread across the United States working from home.

The usual answer used to be to do a live training in person or through a webinar online.

But does that really work? Will your users remember every step you showed them? No. They won't.

My recommendation to them was to use contextual microlearning to their advantage so users can contextually experience the changes as they come across them.

If you haven't seen contextual microlearning in action yet, I have incorporated some examples at the end of this short article. Let me also briefly explain the difference between Macrolearning versus Microlearning versus Contextual Microlearning.


This is the type of formal learning that most of us are already accustomed to. These are intended for deep learning by diving into a topic area. It's in the form of physical or virtual classes that are taught by instructors or employ some type of self learning approach by the learner. As a trainee, you are expected to complete quizzes and assignments to demonstrate your understanding of the subject area.

Will you remember every single thing you learned in class? Most of us will not. But hopefully you are able to grasp most of the main concepts and later know what to look for when you really need a specific piece of information you learned about in class.


Microlearning has come a long way over the last couple of decades. We can fetch an answer pretty easily by searching for a topic online. For example, I want to make Nutella crescent rolls for my daughter so I search and find a 5 minutes YouTube video that I follow step by step and a few minutes later I see my daughter enjoying the best tasting Nutella rolls ever made by a dad 🙂

Contextual Microlearning

The traditional microlearning still requires you to step away from your flow of work to search for some piece of information to find your answer. Contextual microlearning on the other hand brings the learning to the learner in context of their own environment so there is no context switching involved.

Contextual microlearning is exactly what we focus on at VisualSP.

Examples of contextual microlearning

Contextual microlearning is best explained with visuals. No amount of words do justice to the power of contextual microlearning without just showing it in action. Having said that, here are a few examples of what contextual microlearning looks like.


A 'reminder to call' tooltip comes up automatically when you visit an account in Salesforce that has an overdue activity for calling the client


A walkthrough showing the navigation bar changes you've made in Dynamics 365 sales


A short video about sharing files that comes up automatically when you visit your SharePoint document library for the first time

These are the types of contextual experiences VisualSP builds for our clients. We truly believe that the concept of contextual microlearning is very powerful since you are delivering context sensitive answers to your users even if they don't know the right question to ask.Let me know if you and your team want to see any of these or our other scenarios in action. We can schedule a private demo to show you what we have been up to with our clients around the world.

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