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The rise of micro-courses: What, Why & How

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Micro-courses are trending in the education industry, becoming increasingly popular among learners. But what exactly is a micro-course? A micro-course is a short, self-paced online course that takes just a few hours to complete. They can be as quick as one hour or as long as 10 hours — but they typically fall between three and five hours in length. Micro-courses can help you learn about foreign languages, health, and wellness, career development, or travel planning. In this article, we’ll explain why micro-courses are so popular now. 

What are micro-courses? 

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Micro-courses are online courses that are shorter and more focused than traditional courses. They tend to be around five to six weeks long, with just a handful of lessons per week. 

Though the name sounds new, micro-courses have been around for some time, but it’s only recently that they’ve gained popularity on course-selling platforms. 

According to the market research firm Technavio, micro-courses will become the dominant form of digital education by 2023 as consumers continue seeking shorter, more affordable educational experiences. 

Micro-courses are typically priced around $25 or less, making them an affordable option for students who want to learn a new skill but can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a traditional course. Because these courses are shorter, they’re also more focused than their longer counterparts. They usually include just one or two instructors and often focus on the basics of a subject matter. 

For example, Skillshare has a variety of micro-courses available on topics like writing, photography, and graphic design. Udemy also offers a wide range of micro-courses, many of which are only $10 or less. The company says that more than 100,000 students have taken its most popular micro-courses. You can build micro-courses at Wise as well! 

Why are micro-courses gaining popularity? 

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  • Micro-courses help learners to focus on specific areas of interest. 
  • They are less expensive than full courses. 
  • They offer more accessibility than full courses. 
  • They help professionals up-skill and increase worker pay, which is great for people who want to move up at their jobs and make more money.

Additionally, considering the current layoffs, it is important to use micro-courses to stay relevant to your job profile.

Micro-courses can cater to people with a short attention span (yes, there is such a thing!) because they’re bite-sized chunks of information that can be taken in easily over a few days or weeks—and then forgotten about until needed again later. Which means they’re perfect for busy workers! 

Micro-courses can also supplement your current knowledge and learn something new that will help you in your job. They’re great for people who want to completely add to their skill set or switch careers. 

What is behind the rise in micro-courses? 

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The rise in micro-courses is a result of several factors. First, online learning platforms allow instructors to offer courses at a lower price point and with greater flexibility than traditional institutions. Second, the rise of online education has challenged the traditional model of higher education, which is often criticized for its lack of accountability and rigor. As a result, it has become easier for students to find alternative methods of learning that allow them to advance their careers without sacrificing quality or cost. Finally, many instructors have found that shorter courses offer an efficient means by which they can share their knowledge with others and build their credibility as experts in their field. 

The rise of micro-courses also reflects the changing nature of work. As more people enter the freelance economy and become self-employed, they must learn new skills on demand. Micro-courses provide an effective means by which individuals can gain new expertise without committing to a lengthy course of study. 

Is a micro-course right for me? 

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Micro-courses might be a good fit for you if you’re looking for a quick and affordable way to get new skills. As the name suggests, these mini-online courses are short—usually under 10 hours of content—and focus on one subject. They’re designed to get results quickly, so they don’t include all the bells and whistles of traditional online programs. 

If you have a very busy schedule and don’t have time to commit to a full course that requires weeks or months of study, this could be an ideal option for learning something new in your spare time. Micro-courses also work well if your goal is to learn something specific rather than complete an entire degree program or certification process (for example: how to manage social media accounts). 

And finally, if your interests lie outside mainstream academic subjects like business or health care administration (often offered through massive online open courses), micro-courses might be just what you need! The variety of options available means that anyone can find an area that piques their interest while still being able to take advantage of faster turnaround times than other types of programs offer 


The rise of micro-courses results from the changing culture and preferences of consumers. As we have seen, people are increasingly looking for more flexible ways to learn—and that trend looks to continue in the years ahead. As online learning continues its rapid popularity, new models like micro courses will also grow in importance. 



A lifelong writer and communicator, Uttiya writes about core education products that fascinate her. She like following pedagogy and recent research on online education

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