Microlearning: The elearning trend for 2016

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There is a huge difference between passively watching a professor’s one hour online lecture and watching 12 short, five-minute videos spaced over a period of a week.

This second mode of learning is the newly dubbed ‘Microlearning’. Microlearning is an emerging popular learning format designed to be short and to the point. Microlearning doesn’t rely on you to process a large amount of information before breaking it down.

Instead, the basic building blocks of a topic are broken down into ‘microcontent’.

Microcontent is made up of small chunks of information that are broken down to their most easily digestible form.

These small pieces of information are known as ‘knowledge nuggets’ and are taught using the ‘Spacing Effect’ — taught progressively over extended periods of time — to avoid overloading people with an amount of information that cannot be feasibly retained.

This new concept in learning dramatically enhances the way we learn because it is quite effective in helping the mind retain information.

Microcontent to improve employee performance

Microlearning is emerging as a better fit for teaching today’s employee. Today’s millennial generation have grown up scrolling through small bits of unrelated news and status updates on Facebook/Twitter social media platforms.

They’re used to seeing embedded content, from pictures and memes, to automatically-playing videos, to short Snapchat stories and Vines. They can easily take in multiple sources of information at once, and in fact, many prefer to do so. On the flip side, they may find themselves disinterested by long lectures or videos that lack the fast pace millennials have adapted to.

Microcontent is made up of small chunks of information that are broken down to their most easily digestible form.

For busy employees, microlearning is a useful way to improve performance. They can learn without breaking their flow and losing focus on the task at hand. Furthermore, they can take in a small amount of information continually throughout the day.

This kind of learning is easier to retain and is an extremely efficient method for performance improvement. Employees can microlearn as they work, taking in byte size information. And for smooth onboarding of new employees, the benefits are incomparable.

Microcontent pushed to your mobile

Over the past few years, ‘push technology’ (the ability to ‘push’ notifications through a server as opposed to downloading existing information) has become one of the most efficient ways to communicate. Microlearning can be combined with push technology to allow an employer to send relevant informational updates to his employees, allowing them to quickly process new information as it is relevant.

With the proliferation of accompanying mobile apps, even brief bus commutes can be turned into learning opportunities. This can be as simple as setting a daily routine of learning on the bus/train, or setting in-app push notifications on your phone to schedule a few short spaced learning sessions throughout the day.

As long as the ultimate goal and vision is kept in mind, microlearning can be a really fun and effective way to learn.

Microcontent pushed through online guidance platforms

In addition to mobile, employers can push microcontent to their employees through online guidance platforms. Many large companies incorporate microlearning concepts by using step-by-step walkthroughs to educate and guide their employees.

When employees are learning how to use a website or new software program, online guidance platforms present small bursts of context-sensitive information to help them along the way. Instead of showing an unwieldy block of data and forcing an employee to pick and choose the relevant pieces, these systems show you an easily-digestible data point.

Microlearning is undoubtedly the wave of the future. The human brain is much more receptive to spaced-out learning delivered in smaller, easily digestible nuggets. This is especially true for the millennial generation who have notoriously limited attention spans.

Generational trends have dramatically changed the nature of online knowledge consumption. For these reasons, microlearning has a very realistic chance of shaping how education and the Internet will come together in the decades to come.

Now, for those readers who have read this until the end, I’d like to share with you a cause that is very close to my heart — the blind movement for people who are visually impaired. The NGO called LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is doing great work to promote the equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired through rehabilitation training, employment placement, Enchanted Hills Camp and other services. If you’re interested, check them out and see how you can help.


Originally published at www.trainingzone.co.uk on January 25, 2016.

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