How to Use Nano-Learning to Create Better Online Courses

Article by Jeremy Moser / Updated at .09 Apr 2024
11 min read
How to Use Nano-Learning to Create Better Online Courses

Nano-learning is a powerful tool that course creators and teachers can use. It helps to design easy-to-digest courses and learning modules. This aids students’ journey to knowledge. 

In this blog, we’ll:

  • Define nano-learning.
  • Provide examples of nano-learning.
  • Dive into the popularity and potential of nano-learning.
  • Outline the benefits of nano-learning.
  • Explain the differences between nano, micro, and bite-sized learning.
  • Reveal nano-learning applications from a leisure and professional development perspective.

What is Nano-Learning?

Imagine mastering new skills or acquiring knowledge in just a few minutes per day – that's the power of nano-learning. Nano-learning is a learning method that breaks down educational content into very small, easily digestible units, and according to research studies, is “suitable for everyone.” Think DuoLingo!

These units are brief, focused, and designed to be consumed in short periods of time. The goal is to make learning more accessible and adaptable to busy schedules by allowing learners to engage with it whenever they have a few spare moments. 

Apart from brevity, some hallmarks of nano-learning are the following:

  • Highly targeted: Each module has a single objective — to communicate one specific piece of knowledge at a time. 
  • Easy accessibility: Nano-learning helps students learn on the go. That’s why it’s delivered through mobile devices. Students can access course materials at any time and from anywhere.
  • Delivery through multimedia: Nano-learning works best through videos and/or interactive eLearning platforms, complementing its ’on-the-go’ nature.

Students can keep in touch with them, but in this case, the course isn't delivered in traditional methods. Course creators set up the course so the students can learn at their own time and pace.

Will Nano-Learning Take Off?

Nano-learning promises to become one of the most popular educational approaches. The global nano-learning software market was valued at $0.96 billion in 2022. That value is expected to grow by 13.6% through 2030. 

Even universities are beginning to agree that micro-credentials will someday replace degree programs.

Universities Nano-Learning statistics

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As of 2023, the average human attention span is 8.25 seconds but can range from two minutes to 20. For context, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds, giving the idiom “you have the attention span of a goldfish” a whole new (ironic) context.

Attention span statistics

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We’re too busy (and understandably forgetful), making the rise of nano-learning inevitable. In fact, people generally prefer nano-learning over traditional learning contexts. 

The good news is that we’re primed for short-order learning. When information is fed to us in bite-sized pieces, we can consume and retain it better than sitting through hours-long lectures. 

And eLearning authoring tools help us in this regard. They’re primed for creating nano-learning content in the following ways:

  • Many tools come with templates and themes that don’t take too long to customize with brand colors and logos. These advancements make it easier for course creators to build bespoke learning materials. 
  • Nowadays, eLearning tools easily support heavy multimedia formats. These formats include videos, animations, and interactive elements. Quizzes and games present learning materials and test students’ knowledge in an engaging format.
  • Any good platform will have a responsive design. Should the student wish to switch from their laptop to a mobile, it should be no problem.
  • Thanks to auto-translation tools, you can switch the course’s language in a few clicks.

Benefits of Nano-Learning

Just as it sounds, nano-learning reduces learning time. 

 study published at the 4th International Conference on Research in Education reviewed the use and impact of nano-learning in education.

The result? Students and teachers practicing nano-learning were able to achieve 100% of their educational goals.

Nano-learning techniques make it easier to tackle complex topics. They also help students grasp difficult areas. 

For example, if a creator wants to teach something as intricate as quantum computing, they can. But they should break it down into multiple modules. This strategy outperforms lengthy lectures. 

The added advantage is that passing each module gives students a sense of progress. The creator can add stop gaps between modules to test knowledge using quizzes–all designed to aid continuous learning.

You can also apply different learning strategies that cater to individual learning styles. For example, people with certain visual or auditory difficulties will need reasonable adjustments. 

Other benefits include:

  • Universal compatibility: According to the study mentioned above, nano-learning is “suitable for everyone.” Its flexibility and adaptability allow it to be applied to any topic for any student. 
  • Higher engagement and completion rates: As alluded to above, people’s busy lifestyles, combined with their desire to learn, make them likely to embrace nano-learning.

Just-in-time learning is specific. Employees or students receive the necessary knowledge at the right time and in the right order.

Nano-, Micro-, and Bite-Size Learning: What Are the Differences?

There are a lot of buzzwords in the online learning atmosphere. Although microlearning, nano-learning, and bite-sized learning are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them. 

Let’s reduce the confusion by reviewing each one in more detail. 




Bite-sized learning

DurationThree minutes (max)5–10 minutes5–15 minutes
Content focusBuilt to bridge a very specific learning gap that’s urgently necessary for the student.The learning objective is centered around a particular topic, but the details provided are more general or broad.The focus remains on a single topic but might go into a few more specific details.
Delivery methodDigital formats, often mobile-friendly.Various digital formats, including online platforms and mobile apps.Flexible, including digital and traditional formats.
Use caseIdeal for just-in-time learning.Suited for on-the-job training and reinforcing conceptsGood for quick reviews and introducing new concepts
ExampleA three-minute tutorial on a specific Excel function.A 10-minute module on basic Excel formulas.A 15-minute lesson on the fundamentals of Excel.

The idea with nano-learning is that it’s quickly accessible and doesn’t require guidance from a teacher. The student usually understands the short, specific contents without help. 

For example, the three-minute Excel tutorial can be as easy as a screen recording that shows the student exactly what to click and type. This knowledge is self-explanatory. It needs little elaboration or clarification, making it an effective learning strategy. 

Nano-Learning for Leisure

There’s a good chance you nano-learned something today. Casual and for-leisure nano-learning occurs through a variety of mediums.

Social Media

Apps like Instagram and TikTok provide fun and engaging tutorials for people’s hobbies and interests.

There are accounts dedicated to countless interests. For example, learning photography or how to play an instrument. Some accounts entertain specific lifestyle habits, like yoga and mindfulness. 

Such videos work because:

  • As the expert describes the tip, you can visually see them demonstrating it. This makes it easier to remember things and apply them immediately.
  • They use audio and interactive elements (like the tips flashing on your screen) to make it catchy.
  • Each video is short and gives no more than three to five tips on any topic.

Podcasting and Audio Lessons

Podcasts and other audio lessons are increasingly popular in the United States.

Podcast statistics in the US

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They’re arguably more convenient than video. Because you still need to hold something in front of you with video while you ‌listen to podcasts completely hands-free.

Short audio nuggets make for efficient learning. For example, creators delivering language lessons for travel enthusiasts can share “phrases for the day” in a five-minute audio file. Learners can listen to the file on repeat.

Podcasts are great for any topic that requires a more in-depth exploration. For example, it’s difficult to cover a historical event in five-minute clips if someone is teaching history. In this scenario, a series of 20-minute podcast episodes that break down the topic is better. 

And not all podcasts are audio-exclusive. Video podcasts are quite common and are great for incorporating visual demonstrations.

Video Tutorials

Video tutorials are an effective way to introduce learners to concepts or skills. Demonstrations are best understood through demonstrations.

For example, a short video can demonstrate basic programming concepts or teach the chords of a song on a guitar. The visual and auditory elements help cater to various learning styles, making complex ideas easier to grasp.

You can integrate video tutorials into traditional learning materials to provide a more comprehensive educational experience.

Video tutorials can also serve as individual learning nodes as part of a nano-learning network. Each concise video, focused on a single topic, can be a stand-alone learning unit. 

Learners can consume these bite-sized tutorials at their own pace. They can focus on specific skills or knowledge areas they wish to develop. This format is especially useful in contexts where learners need to acquire specific skills quickly. It’s also helpful for refreshing their knowledge.

Pro-tip: Add voiceovers to your videos to make them sound more professional. It’s a simple way to boost knowledge retention. And you can stand out from the crowd.

Interactive Quizzes

Interactive quizzes offer numerous benefits to enhance the educational experience.

Interactive quizzes provide immediate feedback. This is crucial for reinforcing learning and highlighting well-understood areas. They also show where more study is needed.

Quizzes also serve as an effective revision tool. Learners can reinforce and retain information better by periodically revisiting topics through quizzes. 

Not all quizzes need to be multiple-choice — here are a few alternatives:

  • Fill-in-the-blank requires students to recall information without cues. This provides far more powerful memory and recall skills than multiple-choice.
  • Drag and drop to match definitions with the right word, which helps cement concepts.
Quiz maker for nano courses

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The best part? Quizzes don’t always have to appear as a chore. You can incorporate gamification techniques to spruce up quizzes to make them more engaging.

Using gamification in education is steadily gaining traction. This growth is primarily due to its ability to make challenging material more enjoyable. It motivates students and enhances their involvement with the subject matter. 

Video games like Fortnite offer rewards like the “Batman who laughs outfit” and other add-ons and downloadable content for playing well. 

Elearning gamification operates on the same principle. Students can learn while having a good time and getting rewards for doing so. By setting goals, targets, and milestones, students are encouraged to learn. They keep it enjoyable.

Recognize each student for their unique skills, attitudes, and behaviors. The increase in engagement and retention might surprise you. 

Nano-Learning for Professional Development

Businesses are increasingly resorting to nano and micro-learning. The rise in LinkedIn Learning and eLearning applications like the Semrush Academy helps professionals keep up with new knowledge and developing industry trends.

Platforms like Uteach offer great options for businesses looking to create a wide range of employee courses. Organizations can get started for free, and a mobile app version allows student and employee training on the go.

Tool for nano learning growth

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Let’s look at some of the features of effective professional nano-learning courses.

Designing Short Modules

Short modules in learning are designed to focus tightly on specific objectives, making the educational content more manageable and digestible. 

Each module addresses a single learning goal. It enhances engagement by using interactive elements like quizzes, discussions, or practical exercises. 

Blended Learning

Blended learning is a method that combines traditional classroom teaching with online elements. It offers flexibility and personalization in the educational experience.

Since September 1, 2016, nano and blended learning have been recognized as legitimate methods for delivering Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs. The Standards for CPE allow for CPE credits through these modalities. 

However, acceptance and specific regulations for nano and blended learning vary among US states. This includes technical reviewer credits. 

Some states fully accept both methods, while others don’t. Different regulations and credit limits exist for these educational approaches across jurisdictions.

Nano-Learning Lessons

Nano-learning lessons can appear in many different formats, from videos to blog posts.

Lesson Example

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For example, this article on multi-factor authentication is a great demonstration of nano-learning. Here’s why:

  • Its sole goal is to educate the reader about multi-factor authentication and its benefits.
  • It’s short and focused. It covers the essential information about the topic in less than 10 minutes.
  • It’s accessible and engaging. It uses simple language, images, and diagrams to illustrate the concept. This makes it easy to understand.
  • It’s self-contained and independent. It doesn’t require prior knowledge or additional resources to learn from.


Infographics are particularly useful in summarizing large amounts of data. They also illustrate trends and explain processes in a straightforward, appealing format.

They make complex data more accessible, highlight key facts, and convey messages more effectively than text-heavy documents.

An infographic about infographics

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Start Your Own Nano-Learning Journey

The advantages of nano-learning are clear: 

  • Higher engagement and completion rates
  • Adaptable to different learning styles
  • Offers students a sense of progress
  • Simplifies complex topics
  • Universal compatibility

The days of training and development as a tick-box exercise are over.

If you want your employees and students to learn and retain information, nano-learning is the way to go.

Create your own nano-courses with Uteach, an all-in-one platform for online educators to manage every aspect of their business and see the benefits for yourself. Start for free or book a demo today. 

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