What is Single Concept eLearning? And Why Should You Care?

Single concept e-learning delivers narrow, focused learning concepts in short, online modules. This makes learning easier, more engaging, and well-suited to our intuitive brains. It also offers flexibility for our busy schedules and short attention spans.

You’ve probably taken an e-learning course before, or are familiar with how it works.

What did you think of it? Was it a productive use of your time? Did you feel that you actually learned something?

If not, it’s worth considering a learning approach called single concept learning.

Stephen Meyer, CEO of the Rapid Learning Institute, describes why single concept learning is an effective learning approach—it provides narrow learning insights delivered through focused modules.

It works because our brains are wired to intuitively learn from narrow windows of experience. The multi-concept, “fire hose” learning approach that we’re more familiar with can lead to cognitive overload and poor results.

Single concept e-learning is single concept learning delivered online

Single concept learning is well suited for online delivery.

When combined with the versatility and flexibility of online learning, single concept learning becomes single concept e-learning and can deliver excellent results.

Single concept e-learning delivers concise, focused learning, one concept at a time.

Being online, it also provides freedom from the constraints of linear learning modes like books or lectures. This allows for nonlinear patterns of consumption that suit modern learners.

Single concept e-learning is also effective for difficult-to-train skills, such as soft skills. These are related to behavior more than knowledge and, therefore, are difficult to teach.

It’s not easy, says Anne Fisher in a Fortune article, to change people’s personalities through training.

But with the immersive experience of modern e-learning combined with a single concept learning approach, soft skills training can be successful—this article shows you how.

Single concept e-learning in practice

Single concept e-learning modules are relatively short, usually running for 5-15 minutes. They are often called bite-size learning.

Based on research by the Rapid Learning Institute, 94 percent of Learning & Development professionals prefer these bite-size modules to typical e-learning courses that run for 30 minutes or more.

According to Shift Learning, a global training firm, single concept e-learning also improves psychological engagement, is easier to remember, and leads to better outcomes.

Closely related to single concept learning is microlearning. This has an even narrower focus and delivers very specific content.

Small microlearning modules can be combined to build larger, single concept e-learning modules.

For instance, you can utilize microlearning videos in a training mix for skill-building, like tips on safety and equipment handling”, suggests Naveen Neelakandan of Wizcabin, a specialist e-learning firm.

Despite its benefits, single concept e-learning has its limitations, however.

Elucidat, a global training firm, cautions against delivering modules randomly. “That would misuse the small amounts of time modern learners have and disable the learning from sticking”, says Kirsty Greany.

Atomi, another training firm, suggests that single concept e-learning is not well suited for complex tasks or skills, its narrow focus and speed being drawbacks in these situations. It may therefore be insufficient for some long-term learning goals.

Nevertheless, single concept e-learning continues to grow. With proper design, its benefits can be substantial for corporations and individuals alike.

EI Designs, for instance, a learning consultancy, promotes single concept e-learning in nuggets of 2-5 minutes in length.

These have been successfully deployed in a variety of corporate applications including induction and on-boarding, application simulations, product training, sales training, compliance training, and change management amongst others.

single concept learning online


For many of us, our busy lives do not allow much time for learning. Whether as part of corporate training or for self-improvement, single concept e-learning offers an ideal solution.

With its focus and flexibility, it caters to the circumstances, time pressures, and short attention spans of our modern age.

It also suits our biological tendency to absorb information one concept at a time.

If you’re looking to do an online course and want to maximize your chances of success, firstly you should follow sensible tips, such as these, and secondly, you should seek out a single concept e-learning approach.

It will make your learning experience more productive and rewarding, one bite-sized concept at a time.

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