MicroLearning: Principles and Applications
Through a post on LinkedIn, I came across an article by Nidhi Sachdeva about MicroLearning. As a researcher at the University of Toronto, she has focused on the need for concise and purposeful learning methods. In an ever-faster-moving world where we are bombarded with information, micro-lessons can help us learn with focus and effectiveness.
What is MicroLearning?
MicroLearning is about providing information and knowledge in short, crisp units that get straight to the point. This can range from short tutorial videos on YouTube to using flash card apps like Anki. Interactive infographics and quick quizzes, such as those found on Kahoot, also fall under this category. Tiktok videos and concise podcasts, provided they are educational and aimed at the rapid transfer of knowledge, can also fall under MicroLearning.
Six Design Principles of MicroLearning
Nidhi Sachdeva wrote in her blog article "Let's Focus on 'Learning' in MicroLearning" about the essential design principles of MicroLearning:
- Valuable content: Central to every piece of MicroLearning is the content. This should not only be relevant but also add value for the student. A successful MicroLearning takes the best of the student's prior knowledge and combines it with new information. This creates a synergy that strengthens the learning experience and optimizes knowledge expansion.
- Clear Instructional Goal: For a successful microlesson, it is fundamental to have a clearly defined goal. It's not enough to just share information; you need to know exactly what you want the learner to learn. This clarity ensures that you, as a designer, remain focused and that the student knows what he or she has learned afterwards.
- Appropriate length and structure: While microlessons are short by definition, this does not mean that all information has to be crammed into a short amount of time. The structure should be such that it holds the learner's attention, and each piece of information should have its own space. This ensures clarity and prevents overloading the student.
- Appropriate Timing: Knowing when to offer a lesson can make the difference between an effective and an ineffective micro-lesson. By offering the subject matter at a time when it is relevant, you ensure maximum impact and retention.
- Contextually appropriate format: The way information is presented is almost as important as the content itself. Depending on the content, target audience, and context, a particular medium, such as video or text, may be more appropriate. Knowledge of educational theories can help you choose the right format.
- Choice of suitable interactivity: Learning is an active process. By adding interactivity, such as quizzes or assignments, the student is stimulated to think and is actively involved in the learning process. This not only increases engagement but also ensures deeper understanding and better retention.
The principles that Sachdeva cites for MicroLearning seem useful to me. I think it makes sense, when designing educational activities, to ask yourself questions such as:
- Why do I think this content is valuable?
- What do I want the participant to have learned afterwards?
- How do I make sure my lesson is well structured and concise?
- When is the best time to offer the lesson?
- How do I package parts of the lesson (video, text, visual resources)?
- How do I ensure active participation?
I can imagine that these principles are not only useful for MicroLearning but can also serve as a guideline for designing longer educational activities.