Microlearning can be characterized as follows:

Microlearning processes often derive from interaction with micro content, which takes place either in designed (media) settings (e-Learning) or in emergent micro content structures like web log postings or social bookmark managers on the World Wide Web.

Microlearning can be an assumption about the time needed to solve a learning task, for example answering a question, memorizing an information item, or finding a needed resource. Learning processes that have been called "microlearning" can cover a span from few seconds (e.g. in mobile learning) up to 15 minutes or more. There is some relation to the term micro teaching, which is an established practice in teacher education.

Microlearning can also be understood as a process of subsequent, "short" learning activities, i.e. learning through interaction with micro content objects in small timeframe's. In this case, the design, selection, feedback and pacing of repeated or otherwise 'chained' microlearning tasks comes into view.

In a wider sense, microlearning is a term that can be used to describe the way more and more people are actually doing informal learning and gaining knowledge in micro content, micro media or multitasking environments (microcosm), especially those that become increasingly based on Web 2.0 and wireless web technologies. In this wider sense, the borders between Micro learning and the complementary concept of micro knowledge are blurring.