I must confess that I have never been a huge fan of TikTok. When the platform first rose in popularity over the pandemic, scrolling through endless dance challenges and Dalgona latte attempts only made me increasingly restless. For every video that I found interesting, there were hundreds that seemed banal. In the wake of the recent microlearning trend, however, I decided to give the site another shot.
Microlearning, simply put, is an educational approach that delivers concise bursts of information to learners. Based on the principle that learners better retain information when it is presented in small digestible pieces rather than lengthy complex forms, the most important thing about microlearning content is that it is short. And where better to execute this than TikTok—a platform built entirely on short-form videos designed to be wholly personalised and addictively engaging?
Scroll through the #LearnOnTikTok hashtag, and you’ll find everything from tips on hair care and gardening to high-level biology experiments and bite-sized language lessons. Even popular science educator Bill Nye has filmed informative TikToks on topics that Gen Z want to learn about.
Beyond being a tool for education, microlearning signals a shift towards short-form content that is meaningful—measured not by its ability to go viral but by its depth and utility. In using TikTok for the purposes of education and information, users make learning both more accessible and increasingly diverse.
A mere half hour on the site has yielded me two new exercises to add to my dance training workout, a quick introduction to Italian painting techniques and a brief spiral into the intriguing but incredibly niche topic of the Barkley ultramarathon. Of course, not everything I learn will be of use one day, but it is nonetheless fascinating to get a glimpse into topics that I would never have imagined learning about.
Perhaps this is where TikTok’s biggest appeal lies. Where else, after all, would I get trivia about marine biology delivered to me in one moment, and a deep dive into the intricacies of symphony orchestras in the next?