Micro learning and bite sized brain friendly learning
Driven partly by budgets and managers demands to have staff away from “the day job” as little as possible, micro or bite size learning solutions have gained popularity in recent years. Go back 20 years and a 5 day course was the order of the day, then 3 days.. 2 days.. 1 day and then into one hour sessions. Now we are in the age of micro-learning. Learning solutions that often take just seconds to achieve, that can be chained into significant learning programmes – all self driven!
What is micro learning?
The term Micro learning is often associated with the time required to meet a learning need, for example answering a question, memorizing an information item, or finding a needed resource (Masie 2006). Learning processes that have been called “micro learning” can cover a span from few seconds (e.g. in mobile learning) up to 15 minutes or more. There is some relation to the term micro-teaching, which is an established practice in teacher education, where a session typically lasts less than 30 minutes.
Micro learning can also be understood as a process of subsequent, “short” learning activities, i.e. learning through interaction with micro-content objects in small time frames.
Often some form of technology based delivery system is associated with micro learning, but this is not always the case. Most micro-learning situations features the learner identifying the learning need, sourcing the solution and undertaking the learning unsupported.
Does micro learning work?
In the article Neurobiology confirms: MicroLearning conveys knowledge in a brain-friendly way with research taken from the University of Innsbruck it appears that there is evidence that this approach works. Although this research and the production of a commercial product from the same institution is a little concerning.
In addition reading the work of John Medina in his book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School Medina espouses many of the factors for effective brain friendly learning to be those found in a micro-learning methodology.
In this 2008 piece by the fast company the author Marcia Conner explores ways in which micro blogging technologies can aid organizations with micro-learning.
Is micro learning widely accepted?
There has been a conference on micro learning approaches for several years. It is a well respected event, although it does tend to focus on technology solutions. There have been studies into the effectiveness of learning that lasts less than 5 minuted duration – the so called human attention span. certainly many of us have used this approach informally for personal learning and development for some time. the fact that this approach is difficult to “systematize” means for many learning and development professionals introducing it as a formal strategy is to say the least challenging.
Is micro-learning “THE new learning solution”?
In 2008 and 2009 a lot of activity and academic papers were published – however since then it has almost stalled – the reason? well its not because it does not work – quite the opposite – it as a strategy works very well, but as it is not about mass content it means there is little commercial opportunities. For the best “micro-learning session” is the one designed, identified and sourced by the learner themselves.
What does this mean for learning facilitators?
Simple – our role now is not providing the solutions – but providing people with the skills and resources to identify and facilitate their own solution. So if you are a learning facilitator – do you speak Twitter, Facebook & RSS?
Quite simply “just in time” learning works – it always has – and always will.