What is micro-learning and why is it important?

Micro-learning involves courses with smaller chunks of content, which research showing much better information retention and overall comprehension. [1]

There is a common misunderstanding that micro-learning is needed because attention spans are getting shorter.

The “Goldfish Myth” states that the average human attention span is now just 8 seconds, which is less than the average attention of a goldfish. This is not backed up by scientific evidence.

The source of this Myth can be attributed to a Microsoft Canada report published in 2015 called How Does Digital Affect Canadian Attention Spans?

The ‘report’ doesn’t have any authors’ names, there is no evidence it is peer-reviewed and is published by a marketing magazine, so difficult to verify. There is literally no real scientific evidence to back up the claims.

There is a much wider consensus, however, that humans find it difficult to sustain focused attention for longer than 20 minutes.

Microlearning takes this idea to the next level by shortening the length of time spent on learning activity.

What is micro-learning?

Research indicates that short bursts of less than 10 minutes are more likely to be undertaken. So breaking up learning into smaller bite-sized components will result in better completion and improved retention of the material. This means having one objective for each piece of learning.

Adult learning approaches suggest more control over what is learned, how and when learning takes place.

Traditional long-form approaches overload learners with content, which gets in the way of them interacting with the material. Being active with the content means learners make it their own and retain it.

Having bite-sized learning means learners only need to do the courses that are relevant to them and can be just-in-time.

Micro-learning could well become the dominant form of learning because it is more relevant, effective and timely.

What do you think?

[1] Kapp, F; Proske, A; Narciss, S and Körndle, H. (2015). Distributing vs. Blocking Learning Questions in a Web-Based Learning Environment, Journal of Educational Computing Research, Volume: 51 issue: 4, page(s): 397-416

1 thought on “What is micro-learning and why is it important?”

  1. I have no formal knowledge of learning but your paper sounds right.
    I once authored a report on national roads and found that 1/2 the governing body wanted diagrams and the other 1/2 wanted text description.
    I have taken a number of computer learning courses and I think my retention was better for those with video presentation, followed by text Q&A with instant marking and options to re-take the test. It seems to make sense to re-do the things I got wrong. It seems to me that I learnt better from this type of course than from any other method. There were also supplementary notes and face to face meetings world-wide.


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