How often do you Google something that you don’t know?
- What is “COVID”?
- How do you say, “I love you” in French?
- “The best Banana bread recipe”
These are all examples of microlearning.
Put simply, microlearning is a skill-based approach to learning that delivers information in small, digestible chunks.
Which of these options do you think your students would prefer?
A. Reading a static textbook and listening to a CD. No interaction. No sense of accomplishment.
B. Watching a one-minute animated video, getting immediate feedback on a quiz, moving forward on a progress line, and earning a digital badge.
In a nutshell, the average learner cannot focus for long and is used to consuming bite-sized pieces of content in shorter bursts of time. They are easily distracted and become bored and disinterested quickly. Microlearning keeps students moving forward with bite-sized steps towards clear goals.
Technology is changing how we process information and interact with people
Have you ever been out for dinner and noticed how others are texting, checking, scrolling, liking, tweeting… and well, not paying attention to you and others around them?
Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Data from Statistic Brain shows that in the year 2000, the human attention span was 12 seconds. In 2015, it declined to just 8.25 seconds.
This is precisely why people prefer information that is short and to the point. It’s also why they perform better and will continue to be motivated when they feel they have completed something.
The microlearning format is well suited to the 21st-century learner as it offers the flexibility and convenience of self-paced learning. Self-paced learning is being able to learn something when and where you want and at your own pace.
Microlearning content types include vocabulary flashcards, short and entertaining videos, listening exercises and reading passages and digital quizzes.
It also includes presentations, tutorials, assessments and short online lessons.
How long should a micro lesson be?
As the name implies, microlearning is short and fast. Though there are no rules regarding how long a typical micro lesson is, as a general rule an entire micro lesson shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes long.
Lessons should be broken down into objectives and each objective should be broken down into steps. This will keep students focused and feeling that they are making progress and moving forward. They will also know where they left off since the lesson is broken down into chunks.
Learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches the working memory capacity and attention of humans. This is the ideal time that it should take to complete a step towards an objective.
If steps are any longer than this, students will become bored and disinterested in the material.
Lessons should be as long as necessary and not a second more!
What types of activities should my lessons include?
It’s good to mix it up so students are processing content and practicing all 4 skills. Transition between skills so that they are reading for a minute or two, listening for a minute or two, speaking and/or writing for a minute or two, etc. This will help improve all of the important skillsets and their overall ability.
We are not wired to maintain focus for long periods of time. Learning in short bursts, and using different modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) will keep students focused, entertained and interested.
Each objective should provide a specific task and goal for the student to achieve.
Students will lose motivation without a sense of accomplishment. Microlearning gives students a sense of accomplishment as they make steady progress towards their goals. Progress lines, and micro interactions will help keep students motivated to keep learning.
Why is microlearning more efficient?
Students can access the lesson material when they are ready and when they have time.
Lesson materials are broken down into small bite-sized chunks and students are less likely to be distracted and “lose their place”. – This makes comprehension easier and retention more likely.
The feeling of making progress and moving forward helps students maintain their motivation and they are more likely to continue learning where they left off. On the other hand if a course isn’t broken down into steps and objectives and students don’t have any sense of accomplishment, they are less likely to come back and resume where they left off.
Why is microlearning so popular?
It’s the easiest, quickest and most efficient way to learn something.