Learning a new topic or subject can seem daunting. No two-person may face the same difficulties while doing so, and each takes their time to do it. This is because learning skills are dependent on one’s intellect. But no matter how developed the intellect of one person is, they will face a problem if asked to cram broad topics without understanding them. If someone is already busy with some kind of job of study, needs only a basic idea of a topic, spending hours on understanding the intricacies of the topic might not be required. This is where the benefit of microlearning lies. With the help of microlearning, it becomes easier to grab an idea of something if not entirely within a short time.
But before we get down to analyse the various aspects of microlearning, we need to answer the most critical question, ‘What is Microlearning?’ So, let us understand what it is.
What is microlearning?
There are several microlearning definitions given by experts, none of which is regarded to be the official one. However, all of them agree that microlearning is the method of learning a subject or skill in short bursts of lessons. Here, instead of long lessons or lectures, the information is provided in a compressed way to make it easier for the person to understand.
Microlearning makes the process of studying easier by breaking it down to compartments, so one doesn’t need to cram everything at once.
The origin of microlearning
Though official records haven’t been found regarding the actual microlearning definition or origin, it is believed to be present for millennia. Some even believe microlearning to be an innate skill of humans as we all learn things in short doses.
Hector Correa first mentioned microlearning in his book, ‘The Economics of Human Resources,’ published in 1963. Though after that it didn’t come into the limelight much later when computers came into being. Especially after the invention of smartphones, microlearning found its foothold. Credit needs to be given to the rising popularity of e-learning tools and methods.
What are the methods of microlearning?
Though there is no fixed rule about the methods used for imparting microlearning, there are commonly used ways. Here are the most common and popular methods of microlearning in current times:
- Short games with levels and challenges.
- Pieces of text.
- Audio lessons like podcasts, recorded lessons, etc.
- Short video lessons.
- Graphical content like sketches and charts.
- Quizzes, tests, etc.
However, it needs to be remembered that all the methods mentioned above for microlearning might not be available for every type of topic or skills.
Why is microlearning popular?
With the dependency on technology and lack of time, people are always on the search for short alternatives, unlike traditional learning methods. People want to learn more in less time, something that isn’t possible with traditional learning. And so, more and more are moving away from traditional learning methods and adopting ways like microlearning, etc.
Everyone is busy, running from one place to another with the constant goal of reaching somewhere. So, asking them to sit and study a subject or learn a skill in a detailed manner seems impossible. They neither have the required time nor interest.
But give them lessons that are short and can be accessed from anywhere, they’ll be up for it in an instant. Due to this reason, e-learning is becoming more and more popular nowadays. And the same is the case with microlearning as it is a significant part of e-learning.
Also, microlearning lessons are specifically designed for smartphones, as they are convenient to be carried everywhere. So one can keep learning even when commuting from one place to another. Microlearning lessons are divided into a series, so it doesn’t put pressure on the learner to learn everything at once. This increases the accessibility of learning, unlike traditional learning.
Thus, a simple search on Google today lists out hundreds of microlearning platforms and apps. And apps like Duolingo, Ted-ed are more popular than traditional learning methods nowadays.
What are some of the microlearning examples?
Though it will require way more than 1 article to list all the available examples of microlearning, our researchers have meticulously curated a list consisting of the most popular and convenient ones. So here are the best five microlearning examples you can use in 2020:
1. Language learning
You must be wondering, don’t we already know the languages? Yes, we do, at least our native language. But it doesn’t serve us much when we are on foreign grounds. So why not learn a second language that might help us in future. For example, if you desire to visit Italy someday, learning a bit of the language will help you go a long way. But as you only need a brief idea instead of the intricate details and nuances, it won’t be effective to enrol in some traditional lessons. So microlearning language apps are the way to go. Duolingo, Easy 10, etc. are some of the most popular apps out there that make learning new languages easy like games.
Also, as they are available on smartphones, you can carry them with you anywhere and everywhere. So maybe the next time when you’re on the subway, pop in the earphones and take a lesson on these apps?
2. Vocabulary and grammar
Grammar and vocabulary play a significant role in the way you express our thoughts. For example, you might have the perfect idea in our mind, but while expressing it, you can’t think of the word that would explain it best. If this happens with you, trust me, you’re not the only one. Almost everyone faces this problem from time to time.
But it’s straightforward to solve this problem by continually updating our vocabulary and grammatical skills. And that doesn’t need one to cram huge volumes of dictionaries and thesauruses anymore. There are several microlearning platforms and apps that will teach you one word or sentence a day. That not only breaks down the whole lesson into consumable amounts but also makes it more convenient.
3. Developing skills
No matter if we are a student or an adult associated with any kind of profession, there’s always a scope and also desire for learning new skills. For example, a teenager may desire to learn drawing, but due to his studies can’t afford to take traditional drawing classes. However, with microlearning apps and platforms, he can learn to draw at his own pace and time. And this way, he won’t be hampering his studies also as both the things are done simultaneously.
Again, an adult working in a bank is being considered for promotion. So, now he wants to do M.B.A to increase his value and help get the promotion. But traditionally doing an M.B.A course requires him to leave his job to attend the classes. So, he can easily sign up for any of the microlearning platforms and start taking a similar course at his own pace without compromising the job.
Not only that, in some cases, but even employers also use such microlearning apps or platforms. They do so to teach their employees about the new skills required for working properly in the company. Courses, for example, cryptocurrency, finance, customer services, business management, etc. are only some of the vast range of available courses.
4. Reading books
Many of us have a hobby of reading, and for some, it isn’t less than a passion. But, with constant work and less attention span, it isn’t easy every time to complete a book of three to four hundred pages. But what if you could simply get to know the gist of the story without the need of skimming through all the pages. Yes, there are many microlearning reading apps which will provide audiobooks to the users to listen. So one can listen to the book even when some other thing needs to be done. Some even have audio summaries of the whole book so that the user can know the key takeaways of the book within a few minutes.
5. Preparing for tests
Preparing for tests is always a tough thing to do, no matter whether you are a student or an adult. Let us take this instance. A student has to sit for an American College Test or A.C.T, but he doesn’t have the time and means to enrol in a traditional class for its preparation. Though earlier it would have meant that s/he wouldn’t be able to sit for the examinations, it is not so today. Thanks to several online microlearning tutor apps and platforms, he can easily prepare for the tests. After completing the lessons, he can also check his progress through several mock tests.
Again, few microlearning tools help people learn about particular entrance exams like MCLAT and several others.
What are the benefits of microlearning?
Though the list of benefits of microlearning is quite long, we are mentioning a few of them here. So, some of the most common benefits of microlearning are:
1. Content is super easy to create & consume
This benefit is for educators who prepare such courses. As microlearning courses have shorter content than their traditional counterparts, it becomes easier to create them and deliver them faster.
2. Affordability of the courses
Due to the small structure, educators don’t need to spend a huge amount on high-end tools to create the programs. Thus they can design and produce courses with a bare minimum amount. This also helps the users to enrol in such courses without the need of paying a hefty amount yet getting proper knowledge of the subject.
3. Flexibility of the learning process
Unlike traditional learning methods, the microlearning methods don’t follow a rigid pattern. The learner doesn’t need to adhere to the fixed timeline of the traditional courses. Instead, he can incorporate the microlearning lessons into his timeline according to his preference. For example, he can take them while commuting, having meals or maybe just before going to bed. This increases the flexibility of the course. And thus the user is more interested in sticking to it.
4. Better knowledge Retention
In traditional lectures, learners don’t have the option to go back and listen to them time and again. But in microlearning, the course material is always available. So they can go through it over and over. This helps them retain more knowledge about the subject. Thus the depth of their learning is more in case of microlearning.
5. Engaging content
Traditional learning methods can become boring at times, whereas microlearning has more engaging content. Usage of pictures, audios, visuals in it makes it more interesting. Also, as most microlearning tools are in the form of apps, it resonates more with the learners. This is because they already spend the majority of their days on apps ranging from social media to games.
6. Gives the users freedom
The key goal of microlearning is to enable the learner to use his or her free time to learn sometime instead of forcing them into doing so. So it provides them with the freedom to study at their will. Being small in size, they are also easy to download and finish within a short period.
What are the disadvantages of microlearning?
Though there are several good aspects, there are also some disadvantages of microlearning. Here are some of them:
1. Not suitable for complex subjects
Microlearning is best suited for simple to medium level subjects. However, it fails in delivering proper results in the case of complex issues because of their complex nature.
2. Lack of in-depth training
Microlearning is designed to provide a surface-level idea of a skill rather than an in-depth training. For example, someone can have a basic knowledge of playing the guitar through microlearning, but he won’t be able to be a virtuoso through it.
Seeing all the aspects of it, it won’t be unjustified to say that microlearning is here to stay. The attention span of users is decreasing day by day, and everyone wants immediate action. This is what will drive microlearning to the future of learning methods.