So back to one of the buzzwords of the moment! There seems to be a lot of confusion about what micro-learning actually is so I really like this article which debunks several of the myths and makes many pertinent points.
Chances are we all use micro-learning on a regular basis both in work and other contexts - whether it be to learn how to assemble a piece of furniture (we all know the joys of those lovely IKEA diagrams!), change a tyre or, as I have done recently, to practise a yoga pose or find out how to grow grapes in the UK!
The whole article is well worth a read but here's a summary of the key points:
Micro-learning is not a new idea - although the term may be, the concept certainly isn't!
It's not all about shorter attention spans - people have always struggled to maintain focus on new information if they're new to a field of study, our challenge as learning designers is to find engaging and effective ways of getting that information across and micro-learning isn't always the answer. It will, however, often be part of the solution.
Micro-learning doesn't automatically solve the problem of retention and transfer - only active, repeated rehearsal of the same knowledge and skill will help in retention and application.
Micro-learning on its own is not always enough - some learning activities require a lot more than 5-10 minutes to achieve results and if we rely entirely on micro-learning we could be leaving important gaps.
Micro-learning isn't inherently motivating - a resource is relevant if it solves a current problem, provides us with some useful advantage or reduces a risk. If the learner cannot see the point, then ten seconds is too long!
Micro-learning isn't just for mobile phones - although a lot of micro-learning content is well suited to being accessed from a phone, this isn't a pre-requisite.
I'm a big fan of micro-learning and think it's here to stay, whether designed as a one-off to meet a specific learning outcome or as part of a wider learning solution. The term may change but the concept will live on!
Just because a learning resource does not bore us to tears or overload us with mountains of information does not mean it is necessarily motivating – an absence of negatives does not imply a positive.