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Is micro-learning the future of e-learning?

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
December 30, 2015

hasibuddin ahmed

Hasibuddin Ahmed

Micro-learning is an innovative method to make e-learning more effective and is more cost-effective when compared to other forms of e-learning. According to experts in the industry, this type of learning is going to gain in popularity in the days to come.

Julie Clow, the Erstwhile Manager of Learning and Organizational Development at Google, defines micro-learning as “discrete chunks of information or skill-based knowledge that can be delivered in short bursts of time.” With the help of micro-learning, the cognitive load on students is reduced, and achieving more focused learning is a possibility. The traditional methods of e-learning are more comprehensive, where a topic is delivered to students completely and the course would run through the pre-determined duration. In such situations, students don’t have much control of the course, but in micro-learning, they can control the amount of information received and request it according to their needs.

Bite-sized learning is not something very new; its presence was inconspicuous. Nowadays, I get all my news, facts, and other current affairs from social networks and apps specifically built for those purposes. I rarely watch news channels and read magazines to gather such information. What is the change that took place in me? It is not that I am no longer interested in those channels for delivering information. It is just that the new channels can be tweaked to receive topics of interest and required information in bite-sized formats. I do not want to scan through a whole magazine or sit through a whole episode to get the information or news I want. In short, I can save time and do something more productive.

We are living in the age of information, and with so many different channels, the methods of e-learning must evolve. With its flexibility, micro-learning has become a popular way of e-learning in recent years.

How an effective learning method got more effective

The popularity of micro-learning is increasing and it has already changed the way knowledge is shared in a corporate world. In its case study, Qualcomm shows how micro-learning has helped in breaking down the silo mentality and bridging the gap of knowledge sharing between different departments. This is a good way for an organization to increase productivity and benefit from linking together different knowledge groups.

The question is how did micro-learning all of a sudden gain such importance when it has already been there for years? The answer is simple; the perfect platform was not there. With an increase in the number of smartphone users, mobile learning has gone up. According to an article by Ambient Insight, the revenue in mobile learning is expected to be $14.5 billion by the year 2019. This mobile trend has made micro-learning one of the most effective types of e-learning today.

The other primary reason for micro-learning becoming an effective method is the rise of the next generation of learners. Nowadays, interns and young professionals want to climb their career ladders quickly by learning new skills and gaining expertise on the job. Today, job seekers can find many job sites which provide bite-sized modules for professionals who are preparing for interviews in their desired professions. Today’s generation of students also have a very short attention span; it may be due to the multitasking demands that many modern job profiles are associated with. Micro-learning is the perfect way students can learn effectively whenever they want.

Advantages of bite-sized learning

  • Absorb information effectively

There is a limit to how much information our brains can process, and if it exceeds our power of attention, then the learning process becomes ineffective. When the required information is tailored in a bite-sized format and delivered according to the requirements, it becomes easier for users to effectively understand it.

When loads of information are dumped to students, it becomes difficult for them to process those loads at one time. According to science, the attention span of humans is not more than 20 minutes; after which neurons require a short break. Traditional e-learning sessions last at least half an hour, making it difficult at the end of the session to remember everything that has been discussed.

  • Learn on the move

Bite-sized modules enable students to learn on the move without needing to dedicate any specific amount of time. With the growth of mobile and tablets as a medium of learning, micro-learning has become an easy way to understand any topic whenever and wherever required. It has removed the need for separate learning sessions that may become difficult for professionals and students with a limited amount of time to dedicate towards the learning process.

  • Supports just-in-time learning

The most important thing about micro-learning is that it supports just-in-time (JIT) learning. This has made it a popular type of learning in workplaces, where professionals can learn additional skills whenever required for them to undertake a certain project. JIT learning gives students more flexibility and helps them to save time which would have been wasted in attending a traditional course.

The future is bite-sized

It is true that the traditional methods of learning will still retain value most of the time, as it provides comprehensive learning. However, with the increase in mobile users and the millennial workforce, the shift towards micro-learning will gradually increase. The process of micro-learning is also very cost-effective and can be useful for ready learning.

Hasib Ahmed is a professional writer working with the job portal – He often writes articles based on the e-learning industry and provides useful tips for learners. He is also an avid reader and passionate about the beautiful game of football. Reach him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn

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