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What is the Science of Micro-learning: Examples, Benefits, Platforms

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Published on: 20 Sep 2022

Microlearning: meaning "small" learning; a concept that highlights learning on the go.

But what is the science behind it, and why is it the talk of the (learning) town?

This blog will walk you through:

- the science behind microlearning

- the platforms where you can experience microlearning

Trust me, it won't be another boring read!

Are you still gulping tons of textbooks, e-books, and countless reading materials? Why make learning a chore when it can be fun?

What if I tell you that learning doesn't have to be boring?

No, I don't mean it in a "make learning fun with colours" or any unreliable marketing gig.

Let me point out a quick and easy method one can try within 2 to 30 minutes: microlearning. Yes, you read it right. 2 to 30 minutes are all you need every day to learn and upskill.

Micro + learning = shorter form of learning

But there's more to it than you can imagine.

Let's explain it better through the section below.

Definition of micro-learning

Micro-learning: derived from the Greek word "micro", meaning small.

The micro-learning process aims to deliver short, to-the-point, and specific topic-oriented material.

The idea: Make learning short and time-saving to learn anytime and anywhere.

In simple words, micro-learning provides knowledge in minimal time but with desired outcomes. It helps in learning at the convenience of the learner.

Microlearning Theory: The Origin

The concept of micro-learning began with Hermann Ebbinghaus. He developed the scientific approach to studying and classifying memory in the 1880s.

The test:

Ebbinghaus studied people's memory storage in the case of certain syllables and sounds. Throughout the research, he tested the memory storage of various subjects.

The result:

Ebbinghaus noticed that the memory capacity of a person is never consistent. It can increase, decrease, and increase again. There's also no static pattern of when it increases or decreases.

There are two factors on which a person's memory storage depends:

  • The subject matter to learn
  • The methods used to learn.

The consistent methods and experiments in Ebbinghaus are consistent in two cases:

  • People's forgetting limits
  • The forgetting limits explained in a "forgetting curve."

How is the concept related to the post-modern micro-learning methods?

E-learning saw a fast hike after 2020. Students would sit for hours in front of their laptops to complete semester courses.

People with WFH jobs found time to work on skills beyond their professional niche. I remember dedicating my WFH time to learning how to play the guitar. It was the perfect time to learn a skill I had harboured since my school days.

Once offline colleges and WFO jobs opened up, time became a concern again. People no longer had space to fit in the leisure activities they once focused on.

In my case, being back in the office was refreshing, but the lack of time for interests and habits started taking a toll on me. I wasn't learning anything new, and my guitar training halted. The unproductive feeling cost me my confidence and self-esteem.

That's where the concept of micro-learning caught my attention.

These bite-sized courses did not need me to enrol in a class. The short courses fit into busy schedules. Plus, they enhanced my learning ability. The learning material has easy-to-consume mini-episodes.

The picture from Axonify below depicts what happens in a microlearning session. It includes the tailored course content, gaming aspects, potential rewards, and feedback.

Process of microlearning

Vital statistics that reveal the value of microlearning

Sh!ft reported that microlearning could improve engagement by 50%. Moreover, 58% of employees agreed that learning in shorter segments is more effective.

➡ A study by Luminita Giurgiu reported that microlearning improves knowledge retention by 80%.

Sh!ft reported that microlearning is 17% more effective in transferring learning.

➡ As per a study by Statista, micro-learning was a training method in about 27% of retail businesses and 22% of finance. After 2020, the use of microlearning increased by 40%.

Let's understand the science behind microlearning to know more about it.

Micro-learning from an expert's eye

Let's understand the science of micro-learning through an expert's eye. Dr Alice Kim is an expert in neuroscience and experimental psychology. She explains four strategies that enhance a learner's experience:

  • Spaced repetition
  • Retrieval practice
  • Confidence-driven assessment
  • Interleaving

Let's understand each of these strategies.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a learning pattern with long breaks between learning. The aim is to enhance memory retention. In microlearning, learn for anywhere between 2 to 30 minutes (based on your preference) per day. Keep a 24-hour break until the next session.

The science behind it:

The human brain needs intervals to transport information from short to long-term memory. Learning with distributed sessions rather than absorbing everything at once is easier. It helps in retaining the data in the long run.

Microlearning breaks down the content into bite-sized chunks. This allows the learner to absorb the knowledge without forgetting.

Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice is when the learner faces challenges in bringing back memories. Micro-learning compels the learner to "retrieve' the learned information. Prompted through quizzes and online tests, it helps the learner know their progress.

The sole purpose is to let the learner analyse how much they have learned. Nobody judges the learner but themselves. And in doing so, they realise what they have learned and where they need to improve.

Confidence-Based Assessment

Microlearning builds the habit of learning every day. It cultivates a schedule in the learner's life to spend a few minutes learning something new. Such patterns build metacognition. Metacognition is the science of being aware of one's own knowledge and thinking. Microlearning creates confidence by letting the learner reflect on their progress over time.

Interleaving

Interleaving is when a person learns many skills at once rather than focusing on a single task. In simple terms, it is a person's ability to multitask. Microlearning boosts multitasking abilities by allowing the learner to learn something new daily.

At the same time, it provides enough time to focus on daily activities. The learner, thus, learns through microlearning while living daily real-life experiences.

Relation between microlearning and human psychology

Microlearning has a deep connection with psychology. It affects 4 significant aspects of human psychology:

  • Cognitivism
  • Constructivism
  • Behaviourism
  • Experientialism

Let's understand how each of these aspects relates to microlearning.

Cognitivism

Cognitive psychology emphasises the core of the human mind. It includes significant activities like decision-making, problem-solving, attention, memory retention, reflection, and more.

With its straightforward approach, microlearning builds the learner's mind to absorb knowledge. Microlearning modules focus on engagement and memory retention. Hence, they shape the core of the learner's mind better. With its short and easy-to-consume content, microlearning helps in improving cognitive skills.

Constructivism

Constructivism is a person's ability to build knowledge by adding information. It highlights how a person adds more information to what they have already learned.

The human mind has information pre-stored. Microlearning defines constructivism by adding bite-sized information every day to this pre-existing knowledge. The learner masters skills and knowledge by combining everything learned in chunks.

Behaviourism

Behavioural psychology is the response to environmental stimuli. A person's thoughts and actions result from a negative or positive environment.

Microlearning cultivates positive behaviour. How? Microlearning indulges the learner in effective learning, even for 10 minutes. They develop a sense of accomplishment for learning something new in this short time. This positive boost inspires the learner. They return to learn more, thus, developing a positive habit of learning daily.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is the science of learning through experiences. Micro-learning courses connect with the learner in the most engaging ways. It uses podcasts, videos, and more effective formats to keep the learner interested.

Micro-learning pushes the learner to go beyond watching or listening to the content. Instead, it makes them go through the content as an experience. These microlearning modules trigger curiosity and inspiration to brainstorm ideas. The entire module presented like an experience is what makes the process fascinating.

There are valid reasons why micro-learning is emerging as a trending learning method. People don't want to learn without an actionable intent anymore; they want to learn on the go.

Let's understand the benefits of micro-learning.

Benefits of micro-learning

Let's look at some of the top benefits of micro-learning.

Quick learning

Micro-learning helps you learn faster. How? The higher the amount of knowledge, the slower you get at learning. Absorbing more extensive content means repeating what you know throughout your learning period. If you don't, you will forget it in an instant. Short micro-learning courses are easier to store in your mind. It helps you learn something new daily rather than memorising the same stuff daily.

Easy to consume

Micro-learning has bite-sized information that makes it easy to remember. Smaller portions digest faster as compared to larger bites. You can consume short learning material while performing your regular activities.

Learn at your own pace

Micro-learning has the potential to lead you on a journey of self-exploration. When you learn on your own terms, you discover things about yourself like:

  • Your interest in learning
  • Your attention span while learning
  • Your memory storage

Hence, you understand your pace of learning. This helps you gain knowledge without hurrying it and making it more difficult.

Affordable

Micro-learning is super cost-effective. Yes. It is negligible compared to a full-length course. Moreover, you pay for these courses whenever you want. Long courses compel you to buy an entire course that you may or may not use forever. That's not the case here. Micro-learning allows you to dictate what you buy and how much you buy.

Engaging

Attention while learning is easy to divert. Even the most intelligent student can lose attention while learning. Hence, micro-learning makes it easier to stick to the learning without losing focus. Students feel more engrossed in these courses because:

  • They are short
  • They are interesting
  • They are not full of fillers.

The psychology behind it is that people are more engaged when they learn something new for a short span of time. It doesn't let them feel overwhelmed or bored by providing too much information.

Prominent results

Bite-sized learning material allows permanent learning. Long courses need you to mug content and repeat it over time. But, micro-learning courses ensure that they are stuck in your head like a song. These modules allow you to learn in bits every day. They ensure that whatever you are learning remains in your memory for a long time.

Looking for examples of micro-learning? We got those sorted for you!

Examples of micro-learning

Let's check out some of the best examples or formats of micro-learning.

#1. Micro-learning videos

The world is raging to be digital in every manner possible. Videos can communicate and convey messages to people you don't even know. They are your thoughts and emotions in a display, meant to show and deliver a specific message to someone. Micro-learning uses engaging videos as an opportunity to convey learning messages.

For instance, a YouTuber uses videos to show his ideas and experiences. It becomes easier to understand what he wants to explain. Doing the same via text is not always clear. There's always a chance of misunderstanding what the person wants to say.

Animation, too, is a massive part of micro-learning. Micro-learning platforms use animations to convey messages. You can see them in abstract shapes or even characters of storylines. This generates interest and helps the learner gain knowledge without boredom. Moreover, learners feel less confused when they learn through visual content.

#2. Micro-learning podcasts

Another explored form of micro-learning is creating podcasts. Podcasts are audio files filled with engaging content to keep the listeners engaged. Learning can happen through podcasts, and that too, in a very convenient way. A learner can listen to podcasts while on the go and learn the skills.

For instance, when I wanted to learn how to strum the guitar, I took a lot of help from visual micro-learning courses. At the same time, I was listening to podcasts about guitar maintenance, chords, notes, and more. Listening to these podcasts even for 10 mins a day helped me because the information was stuck in my head. The ingrained memory would prepare me for better hand-eye coordination.

#3. Short courses

Short courses are the prime feature of micro-learning courses. These short courses can be in any form: video, audio, or text. These are the prominent features of short courses:

Every short course has a precise context.

Each short course is specific to a single topic.

Each short course keeps the learner engaged with to-the-point and interesting content.

The end goal of short courses is to make learning easy to understand. They can display data in an intriguing manner. Learners can access short courses and learn as per available time and current mood.

#4. Micro-learning audios

The world of micro-learning also welcomes various types of audio content. Micro-learning creators create audios that contain information about a specific topic. Listen to this audio while commuting to work, working-out, or at any time of the day. This is a great way of acquiring knowledge without missing out on the daily activities.

#5. Explainer videos

Explainer videos are currently trending on platforms like YouTube. Types of explainer videos: educational videos, upskilling videos, entertainment videos, and more. The idea is to create a video using colours and elements to make them engaging. These videos make even the most complex concepts and theories easy to understand.

#6. Short Scrolling Pages

Yes, scrolling pages. This is one of the most trending types of micro-learning. The learner scrolls a page that provides all the information they need on a specific topic. The content is in an accessible format. The learner needs to go through it and understand the main points highlighted. It's a quick and easy way to grasp what the topic wants to explain.

Wondering where you can get such interesting micro-learning courses? We have some platforms listed for you.

Platforms for micro-learning

Let's look at the best micro-learning courses that you can try today.

KoolStories

Emerging as the first-of-its-kind social learning platform, KoolStories is a free app. It is for anyone who wants to learn or improve skills. The app has creators (experts) who create free and short videos to learn called Snipts. Additionally, KoolStories has super affordable micro-learning courses. These courses cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.5. Packed with intriguing and informative videos, these videos are quick guides.

You can:

-watch snippets: 1-minute short videos (much like reels and shorts) to scroll and learn.

-chat with like-minded people: Connect with experts and learners. Chat to discuss skills and share progress.

-speak to creators through one-to-one sessions: Get rid of queries through personalised consultations. Interact with experts of your choice.

This simple micro-learning platform offers you a platter of services at once.

7Taps Microlearning

7Taps Microlearning is a trending platform. The app makes it easy to access information from your phone. Gone are the days when you had to sit in front of a laptop or desktop to learn a skill. This mobile app makes it easier to learn wherever and whenever you want. The brand's popularity has reached international brands like Honda, Netflix, Amazon, and Pfizer. The aim of the platform is simple:

Provide fast courses and learning materials that fit within 30 minutes.

Docebo

Docebo is an easy-to-use micro-learning platform. It provides engaging content that aims at knowledge retention. The platform ensures that learners learn at a slow pace through its cloud-based LMS. The gamification of modules makes the courses more engaging for learners. Training modules contain crucial information to help the learner gain relevant knowledge.

QStream

QStream is another fantastic micro-learning platform. The app recently caught the world's attention because of its specialised challenges. These special challenges are skill-based and target learning and problem-solving skills. While performing these challenges, the learner learns how to use the skills required. Because it's a fun game, it also helps the mind calm down and feel relaxed. The game also tells learners about their weak points and where they lack knowledge. Hence, as a learner, you get to learn:

  • Your strengths
  • Your weaknesses
  • Where you need to improve
  • Skill as a whole
  • Competitive obstacles

QStream unravels a whole new world of growth through its micro-learning gaming format.

GnowbeLearn

Gnowbean is another fantastic micro-learning platform that provides specific training content. The platform covers training modules for various niches. It includes:

-industrial growth and safety

-human resources

-marketing

-management

-finance

-sales

-accounting

-IT

-digital transformation

-hospitality

-digital marketing

-analytics, and more.

You get 14 days of free trial for using this app. Thereafter, you can access the exciting features of the platform by paying $8.33 per month. Also, you can gain certifications from recognised institutions for the skills you learn.

The Action Beyond Knowing

Now you have detailed information about micro-learning. You understand what it is, how it works, its benefits, and where you can try it. So, how about giving it a shot?

Remember, learning one step at a time may be slow, but it can be a genius way to be a more brilliant version of yourself.

FAQ

How can I learn through micro-learning?

It's simple. Experts create content in the form of audio, video, texts, infographics, and more. All you need to do is go through it.

Is micro-learning useful?

Research proved that micro-learning is 80% more effective than regular learning. Learning one-step-at-a-time means learning on a daily basis without feeling overwhelmed. Of course, it is useful.

 

Why is micro-learning popular?

Micro-learning is popular because it is easy, quick, affordable, and time-saving. It makes learning easy without skipping your regular activities.

 

Can I try micro-learning for free?

Most micro-learning courses come with a price tag. But the good thing is the cost is negligible. A standard micro-learning course costs $1 to $4. Plus, there's no compulsion to buy a long course. You spend your money only on what you want.