What students need, when they need it – meet micro learning

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author:  Caroline Carlin, TELT  Infographic: Laura Ridings, TELT

Think about your last Google search – did you get beyond the first page of results?   Often, we don’t. If the information we want isn’t right there in front of us, chances are we’ll just change our search terms rather than wade through pages of irrelevant content.  Over the last few years the way we consume information has changed.  With a vast array of easily accessed digital content around us, we’ve become much more savvy about filtering out the unnecessary.  For many of us, the way we learn is making the same transition.  We want just in time information that meets our needs in that moment.  Rather than watch an entire Lynda.com course, we’ll hone in on the video we need to help us solve the current issue. 

Move over to micro learning 

The idea of micro learning isn’t particularly new but it is a hot topic in education right now.  Creating focussed, bite sized bursts of learning helps students to digest and retain information.   Rewards are relatively quick.  Once they’ve mastered one topic they move onto the next, feeling a sense of achievement.  Students start to develop independent learning skills, choosing their own pace and revisiting manageable chunks of content as many times as needed.  Micro learning is often tech based.  Many apps such as Sway and Stream (Office 365) will produce responsive content, so it can be accessed anywhere at any time – on the train, over breakfast, even waiting for the bus.  And for you the content creator, these short nuggets of learning are easy to update compared to a long, recorded lecture or presentation.   

Top Tips for creating your own micro learning content 

  • By its very nature, micro learning is short.  There’s a lot of discussion around the ideal length – anywhere between three and ten minutes.  The point to remember is that it should focus on a single topic.  And focus on that topic succinctly.  Don’t try to squeeze 20 minutes of content into just five. 
  • Consider creating a playlist of short videos which builds to a larger learning goal so students can understand the greater context. 
  • Make the most of your Surface Pro and Office 365 to create engaging content with narration, interaction, infographics and demos. 
  • Include knowledge checks and quizzes to reinforce a student’s understanding of a topic.   
  • Rather than simple questions such as true/false, ask them something to really test their understanding such as choosing the correct statement. 
  • Take things a step further by asking them to demonstrate their knowledge – create a Flipgrid for them to share their opinion or ask them to develop an Ignite talk (all in the micro learning spirit). 
  • In a flipped classroom, videos can be an effective tool.  Students view the video outside the classroom and arrive ready to discuss and reflect on what they understand about the topic. 
  • Often, microlearning will be consumed on a mobile device so make sure your content is responsive.  Many apps will give you different views of your content. 
  • Try using real world examples and scenarios where relevant to help students relate to the content. 
  • Keep in mind that not every topic will be suited to micro learning – if its complex, other options could be better.


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