Micro Learning: Lesson Bursts with a Powerful Punch

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

Adult learners are busy!  Work, family, multiple classes, and a variety of other competing student priorities force educators to re-think how students consume classroom content.  Small digestible quantities are better suited for students’ busy lives.  We will discuss how AIU built the case, tested, and launched micro-learning at their Online campus.


Molly Sheahan serves as Director of Faculty Development and Support for American InterContinental University (AIU). She has played an integral role in the successful implementation of adaptive learning in the classroom. As part of this effort, she developed and led a comprehensive system of training and support as well as created a community that cultivates adaptive learning instructional practices and student support systems. After earning an M.A. in Industrial Organizational Psychology, she has served in several capacities including leadership coaching, talent development consulting, and organizational development with a focus on leadership development and employee engagement. With over 15 years of experience in both the healthcare and higher education industries, she continues to pursue her passion for talent development through her current role with AIU.

Additional Authors

Dr. Solari has over 20 years of experience in higher education, pre-dominantly in an operations role, focusing on organizational change and leadership development strategies within the non-traditional and online sector. Dr. Solari’s work with nonprofit institutions includes fiscal leadership at both Florida State University and Emory University. Her proprietary experience includes her current leadership position with Career Education Corporation (CEC) and ten years with Apollo Group. While with the Apollo Group, Dr. Solari mentored several college and university partners throughout the Northern and Southern regions. Dr. Solari has had the opportunity to play a role in addressing and implementing nontraditional models of education. She is experienced with identifying, compiling and analyzing key performance indicators and constantly seeking opportunities for improvement and optimization. She has assisted numerous universities with identifying obstacles inherent in traditional education models and has challenged universities to adopt a flexible posture to better meet student needs. Dr. Solari is passionate about providing all students with the highest quality educational experience. She appreciates the value of providing non-traditional learners with quality program offerings and creating a dynamic on-line learning environment rich in success-building skills. Dr. Solari joined AIU in 2014, and is also an active member and evaluator with the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Extended Abstract

The nature of online learning necessitates advances in student engagement, content consumption, and pedagogy.  Innovation in a fast paced online learning environment is a necessity, requiring consistent review and analysis of how we facilitate learning with busy adult learners.  Higher education institutions have been drawn to rethink the fundamentals of student learning, how we facilitate learning, and our role as faculty. 

AIU engaged in a classroom instructional practice whereby synchronous one hour lectures were provided each week of a course.  During these sessions important unit concepts were explained, learning materials came to life, industry relevance was infused into unit content, and faculty were available for group discussion.  The challenge – students rarely attended. 

Evidence has shown that our students don’t attend for a variety of reasons; it doesn’t suit their schedules, they aren’t always certain that they need what an instructor may provide that week, they want only what they need only when they need it, or they simply don’t have time to review archived versions.  The AIU Online campus was presented with specific challenges that needed a solution:

  1. How do we get just in time information to our students?
  2. How do we determine exactly what they need?
  3. How do we ensure they are digesting it?


Based on feedback, students also shared that they found themselves fast-forwarding through recorded lectures to find exactly they needed, and often dropped that practice in favor of finding answers outside of the classroom/online campus, a practice that is discouraged in courses where academic research is encouraged. AIU conducted literature research to identify learning trends that appealed to its specific student demographic and patterns with which students interacted in the classroom.  As a result, micro-learning, a growing trend in learning and higher education was piloted and eventually adopted with encouraging results. 

Micro-learning allows faculty to chunk content into short and succinct consumable quantities.  With thorough review and tracking of student progress throughout a course, creative content display appealing to multiple learning styles, catchy labeling and descriptions, and creative distribution, AIU’s goal was to increase the rate of student consumption.  With over 180 courses currently leveraging the benefits of micro-learning, we will share the benefits, parameters for development, lessons learned, and faculty input on micro-learning in the online classroom.

This presentation will showcase and allow for discussion around the evolution of micro-learning at AIU, share practices and lessons learned, and discuss the faculty experience in classroom implementation.



GIURGIU, L. (2017). Microlearning an Evolving Learning Trend. Scientific Bulletin, 18-24.

Janko Žufić, B. J. (2015, September 23-25). Micro Learning and EduPsy LMS. Central European Conference on Information and Intelligent Systems, pp. 115-120.