What Google Primer means for microlearning and what we can learn

Posted by Natalie Donalds,

April 7, 2016

Google Primer is part of the ever-growing list of products from the huge technology corporation Google. It is an educational app featuring lessons on online marketing. It uses microlearning techniques to deliver those lessons, and the delivery method is via mobile devices.

That is the technical explanation but what has that got to do with microlearning in your organisation? Will Primer impact the industry or is it something that is important only to Google? Unless you are interested in doing the micro learning courses that the app offers, why should you care about Google Primer?

Where It Came From

The first thing you should consider is where the app came from. To say Google Primer is not a mainstream Google product is an understatement. The company is widely known to task its employees with spending 20 percent of their time on side projects, i.e. projects that are outside of the normal working scope of the employee and on products that are new or outside of Google's core areas of focus.

Those side projects have had failures, many of which we have probably never heard of. There have been notable successes too though, including Gmail and Google Maps.

Google Primer is unlikely to reach the heights of Gmail - for an indication of that you only have to look at the size of the team in Google that is working on it. That team is very small. The fact that it has been given breathing space by Google's management, however, is a positive sign and another demonstration of Google's support for microlearning initiatives.

The Problem

Another thing to consider when looking at the importance of Google Primer is the problem that Google is solving with the app. They didn't just do it because they could or because it would be a fun thing to do. Instead they are trying to solve a problem.

That problem is caused by the increasing complexity of online marketing techniques, products, and solutions. Google's own online marketing products and services are a good example - if you’ve tried running a Google AdWords campaign on a competitive keyword you will know how complex and expensive it can be.

The complexities exist because audiences are more demanding and the technology is constantly advancing. The result for Google is a widening gap between those who can and those who can’t – those who can use their tools (and therefore spend money) and those who can’t. Google’s objective is to narrow the gap.

The Solution

Google could have made their products and services easier to use and therefore less granular. They could also have offered stripped down versions of their products, or they could have created websites, books and webinars, all with longform tutorials.

The route they chose, however, was to create a microlearning that delivers on the objective but does so in a way that fits with how their target market uses technology and how people most effectively learn.

That’s a lesson that we can all learn.