You’re looking at microlearning when you watch “Tasty” videos. This is a demonstration of a dish being created right before your eyes. You can’t help tapping or clicking to see more. You get drawn in. After watching a few videos you realize you get information on preparing the item from start to finish without a huge amount of time watching the process. You learn something along the way: perhaps it is using a combination of ingredients that is new to you or a different use for an ingredient or kitchen equipment you already have. This process of creating short, informative and repeatable content is referred to as “microlearning.” You can use this method in your course. Reel your students in.
Most students juggle work, school and life. According to the US Department of Education, 65% of degree-seeking students in 2014 were “non-traditional” students (US Department of Education, 2016). Getting and keeping students’ attention and engaging them with new content can be tricky. By creating mini-lessons, activities, and exercises, students can use their mobile devices and access the modules while they wait in line at the grocery store, ride the bus, wait between classes. Creating learning opportunities is one way to get students to think about your course concepts outside of class time. In Make it Stick (2014), the authors say, “Periodic practice arrests forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain” (p. 104).
Microlearning relies on simple, short, concise instructional material. Consider the success of BuzzFeed-style quizzes. The Make it Stick (2014) authors say, “To be most effective, retrieval must be repeated again and again, in spaced out sessions so that the recall, rather than becoming a mindless recitation, requires some cognitive effort” (p. 433). Short quizzes with automatic feedback do the trick. Let the student know, ‘your results do not count in overall course grades. You can take quizzes more than once.’ This generates practiced, reinforced and more likely to “stick” learning.
How do I use microlearning?
Material may already be available that fits your objectives; you can share these resources with students by sending links or embedding select items in your course. Or use free software to build your own microlearning.
- Duolingo (language learning)
- TED-Ed or TEDx or Khan Academy
- Infographics like https://designschool.canva.com/blog/best-infographics/
- Search for relevant YouTube or Vimeo videos
- Relevant podcast recordings like Vulture.com’s 20 Great Podcasts Under 25 Minutes Long
- Word of the Day (variety of apps)
Build your own
- Explain Everything or Screencastify for screencasting
- QuizletFlippity.net (flashcards, hangman, puzzles…)
- Auto-corrected Google Form
- Vennage (infographics)
- Blackboard Kaltura for video
- Learning Glass
- Blackboard for quizzes and games quizzes
If you are interested in putting this into practice, be sure to attend one of UAF eLearning’s Open Labs. Find dates at iTeachu.uaf.edu/events.
For more detailed information see, Learning in Bursts: Microlearning with Social Media from Educause.
Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick. Harvard University Press.
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, sex, and age: Selected years, 1970 through 2024.