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Micro-learning — at the crossroads of education, learning and technology

People's desire to learn and largely available good quality education is a wonderful mix, almost magical. It’s enough to look at the timeline of technological advancements — it is staggering to see how the development of technology skyrocketed in the last 50 years.

This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the help of an important ingredient however. Education had a big role in this dizzying performance. After all, innovation is built mainly on the vision and cultivated knowledge of pioneers. In this context education doesn’t refer strictly to schools and universities, it is much more than that. It also means learning on the job, workforce talent management and also continuous personal development; in a nutshell, life-long learning.

As education in all its forms became available to more and more people, geniuses started popping up everywhere. This was possible because companies, and society as a whole, realized that the human resource is the most important resource of them all and they started to develop it through knowledge infusions. This paradigm shift was the hotbed of the change, but the large-scale availability of education and good quality knowledge dissemination across the world is possible thanks to modern technology.

Probably you see where I’m getting at. The relationship between education, learning and technology is a never-ending circle.

I know, never-ending circles usually are used to describe bad and destructive relationships, but this is not the case. But here it is something good, it is an upward spiral that benefits all of us.

Therefore we have to pay special attention to keep this synergy of education and technology sustainable in the long run, hopefully forever. Advances in technology continuously change educational needs and sometimes it seems hard to keep up. But at the same time, it also offers innovating tools that help in the knowledge transfer process and make learning more adaptable to current needs.

Micro-learning as part of the education-technology circle

One such adaptation of learning that seems rather fitting in the era of technology is micro-learning. Why is that?, you may ask.

You see, even good things can have unpleasant side effects. Take for instance laughing. It is good, it is fun and it is healthy, but if you laugh too much your face muscles will become sore. And so it is with technology.

It gave us innovative tools, increased our life expectancy and gave us the comfort of modern life, but it also has less pleasant side effects. One such side effect is the accelerated lifestyle we are experiencing. It seems we are doing everything at high speed. We’re eating faster, sleeping less, we are working faster and better than ever, we’re traveling faster, and yet we often experience the feeling that we are out of time.

Probably all modern workers have this feeling at some point. Even if we feel like we don’t have time — not even for ourselves — we have to work hard to keep up with the fast-moving technology so we don’t fall behind and remain competitive on the job market.

The only way to keep up is through constant learning and personal development.

The problem is, we seem to have less and less time to learn. This time shortage coupled with the distractions caused by our exposure to information overload makes the learning process a lot harder. In this scenario, it can be really helpful if the company implements micro-learning in their training strategy.

Micro-learning has a number of characteristics that can increase learning efficiency and can help employees to keep up with the evolving environment and new technology.

  • Short information packs

    During the learning process, interruptions can be really counterproductive. Once disturbed it can prove hard to re-engage in the information transfer process. When deciding the length of the learning module another important aspect to consider is the learners’ attention span. Opinions differ on how long humans’ attention span actually is, but one thing is certain: as the number of possible distractions increases, the attention span inevitably will decrease.

    Micro-learning fragments the information in smaller bite-sized modules which can be easily incorporated into the tight schedule of busy employees. The learning content can be delivered with modern instruments and employees can learn when they see fit, or when they have the time. Or even better, they can use the information on the job to solve work-related challenges.

  • Concentrated information

    Even the most up-to-date workers can find themselves facing problems they've never seen before, especially if they are new employees. But if they have a micro-learning system at their disposal, they can acquire the necessary knowledge relatively fast and they lose a lot less time solving the problem.

    I like to think of micro-learning as a very good help center, full with useful and focused information. To be really efficient, micro-learning modules have to be concentrated and they have to get straight to the point without lengthy narrations. Giving concise descriptions to employees through a modern content delivery system enables them to learn fast, and it offers the possibility of just-in-time learning.

  • It works wonders with mobile learning

    It seems we circled back to the synergy of technology and learning. A good proof of this great combination is micro-learning strategy enforced by mobile technology. Nowadays almost every modern worker has a smartphone with a fairly big screen that makes reading and watching videos possible everywhere and at any given time. From the micro-learning perspective, this is a great opportunity. Employers don’t have to invest in hardware that supports the learning process. Instead, they can use their resources to invest in a modern learning management system with all the bells and whistles.

    Since people always have their phones on them it is really easy to access the learning content when they need it. They don’t have to sit in a training room struggling to pay attention to the instructor, fighting all distractions that may occur. Instead, they can learn when they have the necessary time and disposition or when they need information during their work-related activities. And they can do all this at their own pace without the pressure of keeping up with others.

It is hard to put a value on one’s time, especially in this modern fast moving environment. We all have just a limited amount of time so it should never be wasted. With a micro-learning approach, instructors can make sure that the learners’ time is used efficiently during the training process by delivering the right amount of knowledge at the right moment.