Client Stories

Mobile Applications for Microlearning: A Review of Academic and Industry Implementations

Time Frame:

Fall 2017


  • Cross-comparison matrix
  • Interviews
  • Literature Review
Linda Austin, a Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) Fellow and the Project Director for NewsTrain

Client URL:

Explore technical systems for microlearning and specifically provide design recommendations for mobile microlearning applications for journalists.

The project was organized into two project phases.

  1. IE Lab evaluated best practices and ideas for microlearning approaches that can be used on smartphones. Three research methods used were academic literature review, popular trade/press review, and a platform cross-comparison matrix of app features for microlearning purposes.
  2. IE Lab conducted interviews for understanding the successes and failures of microlearning in journalism.

  1. Based on the Phase 1 results, the deliverables included a summary report of the academic literature review, a summary report of the industry (popular/trade press literature) review, a matrix of best practices/characteristics embodied in the Unleesh mobile app versus other six mobile learning systems.
  2. Based on the interview (Phase2) results, IE Lab identified types of skills that are best taught in mobile microlearning as well as how to teach, structure and present micro-lessons for journalists.

Actionable techniques were recommended for designing mobile microlessons:

  • How to teach/design microlearning lessons: interactivity, feedback, personalization
  • How to structure courses: independent micro-lessons with content segmentation, learning paths, multi-formats
  • Technical settings: push notifications, learning analytics, big data analytics, dashboard design
  • Short micro-lessons and active assignments: brevity, granularity, learner assignments / problem-solving

Evaluation Criteria: Background information; Interface design; Course/lecture length; Costs and benefits; Device Application (mobile/smartphone/app/offline version); Subscription service; Instructional design; Overall assessment

Evaluation Criteria