Microlearning: hungry for knowledge nuggets


Photo: Michigan Engineering

The overall concept of microlearning isn’t a new thing; that is, the principle of learning in small and repetitive steps has long been applied to areas such as language learning or when learning to play a musical instrument. However, technology enhanced microlearning – delivering digital content in small and specific chunks (also known as learning nuggets) – is a growing trend. Yes, many e-learning ‘trends’ come and go but microlearning continues to provide big opportunities for learning to evolve.

By Annika Burgess


Microlearning ticks all the teaching boxes: bite-sized nuggets of content are easy to digest, understand and remember. Often mobile-friendly, visual and sharable, the short bursts of information leave you sufficiently satisfied and likely to come back for more.


“Microlearning is a great method and I believe we will see this as an emerging trend. I generally believe that schools are slow to adapt but you will see microlearning emerge more, also in the workplace,” says Martin Henrik Andresen, Project Manager for Mobile Learning at BI Norwegian School of Business.


In some universities microlearning is used to break up course content into five- to ten- minute packages in the form of microlectures. Videos of microlectures are made available online for students to access at any time and, by focusing on one specific message, are proving to be an effective way for students to grasp complicated concepts.


At the BI Norwegian School of Business, through a number of pilot programmes, they have been adapting fragmented content to mobile devices, finding that the right mix of mobile learning makes courses more engaging and also helps part-time students stay up-to-date.


“The mobile element is crucial for microlearning to be effective; this way you get right into the hands of the student,” Andresen says. “For the part-time students, this has been an effective way to keep the student involved on a daily basis. Providing bite-sized parts of the course meant that the content became much more accessible and more easily understood. The learning packages students have received were also effective when repeating the course in the days before the exam.”


Generally less than three minutes long, BI’s mobile learning packages are mostly made up of videos accompanied by short text, as well as occasional infographics to further explain certain elements. An optional quiz can also be integrated as a way for students to cross-reference knowledge.


After starting with microlearningas part of a blended learning experience in part-time courses for banking and insurance studies, BI now gives teachers the opportunity to test the mobile platform in the courses they find suitable.


“You should provide the right content and let the user decide on what platform he wants to consume it. That is how you build loyalty and retain attention. We are a strong believer in good class lectures and we see mobile microlearning as a great opportunity for lectures to evolve,” Andresen says.


Mobile microlearning also enables students to produce learning packages for peers; a concept that is being taken from the classroom to the workplace at time when more and more organisations are switching large-scale training programmes for a blend of micro solutions.


Using microlearning pedagogy, knowledge workers can create authoritative mini-courses that can be quickly and easily accessed by employees. This type of informal coaching, as well as methods such as short videos and online peer communities, encourage continuous learning while also saving organisations time and money.


Hear more from Martin Henrik Andresen at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2014

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