Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Anneke Schmidt, PhD
Whether you’re offering corporate training programs or eLearning courses for individual learners, knowing the best practices and industry standards that will enhance your students’ learning experience and promote understanding is key.
With small chunks of learning content, online students can process and commit information to memory more effectively. This microlearning technique also allows for flexibility and customizability so that learners can focus on the topics they need to know, when they need to know them.
To help you develop more engaging and impactful eLearning units, this article explores the benefits of incorporating microlearning methods into your online courses.
What Is Micro-Learning in Online Courses?
Microlearning is a pedagogical approach that offers bite-sized teaching materials aimed at achieving one learning objective or outcome at a time. As an e-Learning professional or course creator, you can use microlearning to plan and design more engaging learning resources to achieve a specific learning outcome.
This learning technique is based on the microlearning theory that affirms that short and repetitive learning increases long-term comprehension and retention rates. It also acknowledges that people have different learning preferences. So, providing a wide range of brief and targeted content can cater to various learners.
These findings are particularly important for online course creators. Compared with traditional instructor-led classroom teaching, online microlearning courses utilize digital media such as video, infographics, images, and texts for better retention of knowledge. In this context, popular microlearning examples include gamified quizzes, short blog posts or news sources, animated videos, or even a case study that presents and solves a single problem.
This helps to break down a complex topic into more manageable pieces that can be easily digested by learners in a “study small, learn big” approach.
7 Benefits of Using Micro-Learning in VLEs
Virtual learning environments (VLEs), such as online training courses, allow learners to access the course content wherever they are. However, being faced with huge chunks of knowledge can impede learning, especially when learners only have limited time to study and busy personal schedules. That is why it’s essential to incorporate microlearning techniques in your e-Learning course.
Not convinced yet? The most important benefits to consider are that microlearning:
#1 – Reduces Course Development Time
Developing eLearning training materials can be costly and time-consuming, but microlearning helps to limit the scope of your content development. According to Dr. Ray Jimenez, microlearning cuts course development costs by half and ensures the content is developed 300% faster.
Since microlearning modules are delivered online, you can also take advantage of ready-made resources and save on development time. So, if you’re developing corporate training materials, you can use short videos from YouTube or create your own screencasts to provide just-in-time training for employees. Micro-learning also allows you to customize the teaching materials at any time for a personalized learning experience.
This helps to create a more sustainable development process for your team, as you can reuse and update the modules as needed.
#2 – Facilitates Faster Learning
The short structure of microlearning units means that students can encounter, take in and apply new knowledge to solve a problem or tackle a task quickly. This is because microlearning promotes on-demand skills, unlike traditional long-form learning content, which sometimes covers extraneous information that may not be required to perform a particular task or solve a problem.
If information is delivered in small bites, students are more motivated to learn, and instant repetition enhances the learning process. Suppose you want to teach a foreign language. In that case, you can create short micro-lessons focusing on one concept at a time, such as a specific grammar rule, and then provide simple practice exercises to reinforce the learning.
That way, learners can master the basics before moving on to more complex concepts requiring a different learning acquisition process.
#3 – Limits Cognitive Overload
Another benefit of microlearning is that it prevents the cognitive overload that comes with consuming large quantities of information – simply by breaking down the content into manageable parts.
Cognitive overload occurs when our working memory is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new information, making it difficult to process and remember all of it. When this happens, we are less likely to learn anything at all.
Since microlearning does not overburden the working memory of the brain and is focused on a specific task or problem, it allows students to learn more effectively and achieve their learning objectives with minimal mental exhaustion.
#4 – Improves Knowledge Retention
Microlearning improves knowledge retention by allowing learners to receive just-in-time information when needed. When students can immediately apply what they have learned to a real-world task, they are more likely to remember the information than if they had to wait to use it.
This positively impacts the learner’s forgetting curve, a well-documented phenomenon in cognitive psychology that describes how our memory of newly learned information decays over time. As Ebbinhaus’s theory of memory formation suggests, we are likely to forget 70% of new information within 24 hours unless we actively review and practice it. However, if we receive micro-lessons on a regular basis, we can effectively combat our short attention spans and ensure that we retain more information in the long term.
Microlearning allows students to retain knowledge at a deeper level as they reflect, evaluate and connect what they learn with real-world situations.
#5 – Is Accessible and Mobile-Friendly
Another advantage of microlearning content is that it’s more accessible than traditional learning since it can be delivered through a variety of mobile-friendly platforms, such as apps, blogs, podcasts, and social media. This means that learners can access the content at any time and from anywhere – which is ideal for people who don’t have the time to sit down and learn.
In addition, the mere fact that microlearning modules are shorter than traditional learning content makes them less intimidating and more likely to be completed “on the go.” Plus, since they can be studied in short bursts, they are ideal for learners with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Bite-sized mobile learning can, therefore, be more engaging for students with special needs since it employs a variety of multimedia formats, such as videos, infographics, and games to capture their attention and help them learn more effectively.
#6 – Supports Self-Paced Independent Study
Apart from being more accessible and mobile-friendly, microlearning content supports independent study. Given the fact that the bite-sized modules can be completed at the learner’s own pace and in their own time, this learning method is ideal for learners who prefer to work independently or who need to fit their studies around other commitments, such as work or family.
Self-study thus allows students to take control of their learning process and move at a pace that suits them. This is particularly beneficial for adult learners, who often have more responsibilities than younger learners and may not be able to commit to a regular schedule.
Microlearning content can support independent study in a variety of ways, such as providing practice exercises, revising key concepts, or introducing new material.
#7 – Promotes Learner Engagement
And finally, microlearning is more likely to promote learner engagement than other learning methods since it employs different multimedia formats and active learning strategies.
Active learning is a student-centered teaching method that involves learners working together to solve problems or complete tasks instead of passively listening to a lecture. This hands-on approach is more effective for learning than the traditional lecture format, as it helps students to better process and retain information.
Microlearning content is more likely to engage learners and help them study more effectively since it employs active learning strategies and multimedia formats that make the learning experience more enjoyable.
The Bottom Line
Creating online courses that appeal to your students and motivate them to learn is not an easy task. Microlearning can help you achieve this by providing bite-sized modules of content that are easy to digest, mobile-friendly, and engaging. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your online courses, incorporating microlearning into your teaching methods could be an effective solution.
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