A 21st Century Learning Community optimally exploits “electronic tools” (tools like the Internet and the Cloud) to improve the ability to learn the skills we need to thrive.
What’s Actionable on this Page
- Understand the key foundational activities of a Learning Community: Focusing, Filtering, Dynamic Course Updates, & Defined Learning Communication Codes.
- Begin to see how you can apply the Learning Community approach to your life, the lives of your family, friends, and/or co-workers.
A Learning Community uses an Open Source Algorithm to assign meta-tags to information so it can be more easily filtered and focused to help maximize each of our unique learning opportunities.
I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”- Winston Churchill
The Benefits of Micro-Learning
Micro learning is more effective and powerful than the traditional approach of hour-long, day-long, or semester-long courses.
Micro-learning, blended with mobile and “Cloud” technologies, enhances learning effectiveness by making learning contextually personalized and dynamically up-to-date.
By integrating mobile devices and the “Cloud,” Micro-learning becomes device, time, and location agnostic. Making learning mobile, helps integrate learning into the daily flow of life, which encourages “continuous learning.”
Micro-learning, combined with the power of emerging technologies, makes learning more powerful and natural.
- Information changes quickly
- People find it difficult to keep up with things
- Resources are freely available online
- Newer technologies support it
Immediate Results. One benefit of effective microlearning is that it enables a person to quickly close a small knowledge or skill gap. For example, some universities are using a microlearning strategy to help students learn about collaborative and social technologies, such as how to set up a Google+ account.
Diverse formats. For both unstructured and structured learning, microlearning has the potential for using a very blended approach to instruction.
Budget friendly. Production costs for microlearning should be much lower than the costs for a major course production. The vision of microlearning is smaller and laser focused.
Quick achievements. Because people can typically process around four bits of information at a time, it’s easier for a learner to achieve success from a short learning intervention. I’ve found this myself when studying a foreign language.
Ideal for tagging. Small chunks of instructional content can be tagged for easy search, access and reuse.
Fast-paced culture. Microlearning is a solution that busy workers will appreciate because it is not as disruptive as a day of training or even an hour or two of eLearning.
“Micro-Learning” is learning in small (3 – 7 Minutes) Learning Packets – As opposed to the traditional approach of learning through hour-long, day-long, or semester-long courses.
Micro-Learning is based on small, well planned (fits into your Personal Learning Plans), bite-sized chunks of units or activities (called “Learning Packets”) that are short-term, digestible, and easily manageable.
- Brevity: Microlearning events are short, though there is no defined duration.
- Granularity: Due to their brevity and purpose, microlearning focuses on a narrow topic, concept or idea.
- Variety: Microlearning content can be in the form of a presentation, activity, game, discussion, video, quiz, book chapter, or any other format from which someone learns.
There are some disadvantages to using a microlearning strategy. Here are some to consider:
- Lack of research. There is insufficient research to know whether microlearning is an effective strategy for reaching long-term learning goals.
- Learning fragments. For long-term learning goals, microlearning interventions could end up as content fragments that are not tied together.
- Lack of cognitive synthesis. We can’t be certain that learners will synthesize content from microlearning well enough to construct appropriate mental models.
- Potential for confusion. If a microlearning solution includes a wide variety of formats, some learners could have problems switching between them.
Most likely, many weaknesses cab be fixed by with appropriate instructional design practices, such as providing overviews, recursive content and ensuring there is sufficient content integration.
Cognitive Science Foundations for Micro-Learning
Micro learning works within the constraints of the human brain with respect to our 3 – 7 minute attention span.
Micro-Learning aligns with research that proves we learn better when engaged in short, focused sessions, rather than long sessions that can easily result in information overload.
Micro learning is not a newly invented approach but rather a realization of 30 years of fMRI research into how the human brain is wired to learn.
I truly believe, based on my understanding of our world, Micro-Learning is optimal instructional approaches today.
Significance for Today
Micro learning is suited for the just-in-time performance-based learning requirements of today’s workforce.
It correlates well with instructional strategies such as spaced repetition and distributed practice that refer to learning using small, repeated, and increasing steps.
Highly Successful Examples of Micro-Learning
- TED Talk.
- Grovo: Teaches professional skills with 60-second videos
- Coursmos: Platform that supports micro courses
- Daily Bits Of: Short courses delivered by email
How the Atlantis Learning Communities Use Micro-Learning
Very brief lessons and learning activities are becoming more common. When the audience and content can benefit from extreme chunking, well-designed microlearning seems to be a good strategy. Some example uses:
- Learning languages or topics that require repetition
- Learning a software application
- Business processes and procedures
- Interacting with case studies
- Practicing micro skills that build into larger skills
- Applying best practices
Other Use Cases
- A Case Study of Micro-Blogging for Learning at Qualcomm
This presentation (by B.J. Schone and John Polaschek at DevLearn 2009) discusses how Yammer was shortlisted and implemented at Qualcomm for encouraging micro learning within the corporate environment.
- Micro-Learning Simulation Cases to Augment Classroom Learning
This is an inspiring case study about a company called NexLearn which successfully used “Micro-Learning Objects” — a subscription-based learning nuggets program — to reinforce previously-encountered learning objectives on stroke prevention and atrial fibrillation to board-certified family physicians after an in-class learning experience.
- Micro-Learning Impacts
This contains seven interesting case studies that demonstrate how participants at Training Magazine Events applied micro-learning ideas to produce measurable business results.
- A Vision for Micro Learning
This is a brief video produced as part of the 6th International Micro Learning Conference in which Luvai F Motiwalla (Professor of Management, University of Massachusetts, USA) shares his vision about micro learning.
- Is There Value in Micro Learning?
This is the video recording of a panel discussion (conducted by La Salle University College of Professional and Continuing Studies) that explores the pros and cons of micro learning. Though lengthy, the discussion touches upon some interesting aspects of this learning approach.
- 7 Micro-eLearning Techniques to Improve Performance
At this article (by Christopher Pappas) you will find an in-depth look at how you can integrate Micro-eLearning techniques into your eLearning course, in order to improve performance and provide your students or employees with the most beneficial eLearning course design.
- The Age of Bite-sized Learning: What is It and Why It Works
This is a brilliant post (by Karla Gutierrez of SHIFT eLearning) that examines the reasons for learners preferring bite-sized learning, and the benefits it offers over traditional approaches.
- Megatrends in MOOCs: #4 Micro Learning Paths
This article (by Bryant Nielson) discusses how Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC)s can act as frameworks for a wide variety of micro learning activities.
- Is There Macro Value in Micro Learning
Here is a brilliant article (by Deanna Hartley) that contains many interesting examples and use cases from industry experts such as Jay Cross and Harold Jarche.
- Tracking Micro Learning with Tin Can API
This article (by Tadej Stanic, CEO at Edynco) discusses the significance of tracking micro learning and how Tin Can API plays a key role in the process.
- Grovo. Bite Size Is the Right Size: How Microlearning Shrinks the Skills Gap in Higher Education
- Hug, T. Microlearning in N. Seel (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer, 2011.
- Hug, T., & Friesen, N. Outline of a microlearning agenda. eLearning Papers, Nº 16, pp. 1–13, 2009. http://www.academia.edu/2817967/Outline_of_a_Microlearning_agenda
- Kovachev, D., Cao Y., Klamma, R., and Jarke M. Learn As You Go: New Ways of Cloud-Based Micro-learning for the Mobile Web in Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 7048, 2011, pp 51-61.
- von Rosing, M., von Scheel, H, and Scheer, A. The Complete Business Process Handbook. Morgan Kaufmann, December 6, 2014.
- Micro Learning as a challenge for Instructional Design
This paper by Michael Kerres (Professor of educational sciences at the University of Duisburg – Essen, Germany, and head of Duisburg Learning Lab.), discusses the challenges that micro learning poses for traditional instructional design, and the revised role of instructional design in developing effective e-learning solutions in the new scenario.
Coursmos is the world’s first learning platform that supports micro learning. It hosts several hundreds of micro-courses – online courses that are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. These courses are characterized by minutes-long lessons that can be taken while on the move.
Cognibloom is a social micro learning tool that empowers people to share their expertise by helping them create social quizzes.
Twitter is the most popular micro learning tool that helps create and share information with people, thereby building relationships.
Yammer is the most popular enterprise micro learning tool that helps employees collaborate across departments and locations within organizations.
- Global Micro Learning Association
Global Micro Learning Association is a meet-up that was started with a goal to create a platform for micro learning professionals to share their knowledge, expertise, and ideas to build better learning experiences.
- Micro Learning Conference 8.0
This is an invitational conference scheduled to be held from October 1-3, 2014 at Krems, Austria. It is the first conference world-wide that focuses on micro content and learning as a singular area of technology enhanced learning.
Micro learning is going to be the future of learning.
It is all set to transform how we learn both for our personal as well as our professional needs.
I can easily see micro learning tools evolving into an essential component of any enterprise learning toolbox.