FROM THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MICROLEARNING FOR EDUCATORS
We’ve come up with over 50 ways that educators can use microlearning! In this series, we’ll give you 5 practical ideas for using microlearning in your teaching each week.
WHAT IS ‘MICROLEARNING’?
Microlearning is a way of delivering education in small, bite-sized learning units, typically allowing students to control their own learning, at their own pace.
The term microlearning dates back to 1963 in a book called The Economics of Human Resources by Hector Correa. Microlearning only really started to gain traction in the 1990s when the internet made it possible to create and access lessons online. Only recently has it become even more prolific, with smart phones making information available literally in our pocket.
WHY IS MICROLEARNING IMPORTANT?
Studies have shown that we learn more deeply when we are focused on a subject for a short duration of time. This is especially true when we go online, because the Internet is an environment that promotes cursory reading, and hurried and distracted thinking. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is supposedly turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.
When we ingest too much information into our working memory, we can experience cognitive overload. Our retention increases when we are given information in short bursts, and are allowed to process it more efficiently. Reading or listening (passive learning) in short spans of time can be useful, although it is especially effective when we also interact with our subject matter. This is known as “active engagement” and is one of the many benefits of microlearning. Promoting active engagement can increase understanding, and help students develop a personal connection to their learning, so that they “own” their learning and are responsible for it.
Microlearning gives educators so much freedom in choosing exactly what they want to include in their curriculum and allows them more flexibility when designing their course since they can select only the lessons or assessments they need. At BLENDING EDUCATION, we take microlearning even further by adding portability, trackability, and automatic grading and reporting scores back to your Learning Management System (LMS).
WHAT DOES MICROLEARNING LOOK LIKE?
Here are the basic characteristics of microlearning!
Short: It lasts 5-15 minutes (or less).
Focused: It has a specific focus on one single topic.
Interactive: It is combined with activities to promote active learning.
Flexible: It is available to use alone or with other microlearning, teaching, or classroom activities. Ideally, it should be used daily or several times a week.
HOW CAN YOU USE MICROLEARNING EFFECTIVELY IN YOUR TEACHING?
There are so many ways to use microlearning, either before, during or after class. In this series, we’ll give you over 50 ideas for using microlearning effectively. Here are the first 5 ideas!
IDEA #1: USE MICROLEARNING AS HOMEWORK AFTER CLASS.
Here’s the obvious one- use it as homework! Homework doesn’t need to be something that students will dread doing, and making it shorter allows students to learn without overwhelming them. Break up long lessons into smaller ones and students will feel like they’ve accomplished much more.
TIP: Pushing out microlearning bites on a daily basis helps keep learning fresh in students’ minds.
IDEA #2: USE MICROLEARNING TO IMPROVE GRADES.
Students can become overwhelmed for lots of reasons. If they need extra help, don’t give them extra work. Microlearning delivers lessons in short bursts, and gives students the opportunity to control how and when they learn. Creating several lessons instead of just having one long assignment gives students more opportunities to succeed.
TIP: Give students as many opportunities as possible to check their learning by providing short quizzes and feedback throughout their lessons.
IDEA #3: USE MICROLEARNING TO MAKE LEARNING AVAILABLE 24/7.
While pushing lessons out on a daily basis is ideal, you can also offer microlearning “on demand”. By allowing students to access microlearning content whenever and wherever they need it, you let them learn not only when it’s convenient, but also on a continuous basis. Learning becomes woven into their everyday lives instead of something that always has to be scheduled. And, when you make learning content accessible from mobile devices, it motivates students to learn in a way in which they are accustomed.
TIP: Create a learning repository in your LMS that’s always available and allows students to learn whenever they choose. Additionally, if you provide resources that look great on mobile devices, students can learn wherever they are. Many LMS providers are exploring making learning resources available offline, which will further aid learning in areas with little or no internet availability.
IDEA #4: USE MICROLEARNING TO REDUCE GRADING TIME.
It’s not just students who can become overwhelmed with work. Teachers can too! Imagine a huge pile of papers waiting to be graded. Then imagine instead, no piles of papers with smaller lessons and automatic grading. Technically there are more lessons, but when they’re self-grading and scores are automatically entered in your LMS grade book, you’ll save time and effort. Plus, all the benefits of the LMS can be leveraged, like data analytics and the ability to run reports. Instead of spending your time grading, you’ll have time to dig deeper: Who’s doing well? Who’s struggling? Who could use an extra push?
TIP: You may be thinking- more resources, more to grade. Look for digital resources that are easy to use, interactive and grade automatically. Try these self-grading resources from BLENDING EDUCATION’s Blending Space for free either online or in your LMS.
IDEA #5: USE MICROLEARNING FOR PERSONALIZED LEARNING.
Students prefer to have a choice in their learning. You can personalize student learning paths in many ways. Try providing a selection of microlearning topics and let students choose 2 or 3.
And who says you need to stick to one topic? The deepest learning happens when we explore, so don’t let students feel held back if they want to delve into related or unrelated topics. When we are learning, we’re forming thought processes and making new connections to what we already know and also developing new ideas. Letting students access a library of microlearning resources gives them freedom to explore and keeps them in their learning zone.
WHAT WAYS DO YOU USE MICROLEARNING?
We are passionate about teaching and learning and love the idea of microlearning. We constantly hear of new ways teachers are using microlearning in their teaching. How do you use microlearning in your teaching? Please share your ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEE HOW WE DO MICROLEARNING
BLENDING EDUCATION takes microlearning to the next level by adding responsiveness, trackability, and assessment to what we think microlearning should be. Each lesson in our Microlearning Library is self-contained and can either be used as a standalone unit of learning or with other teaching resources.
Our microlearning lessons are easy to use. To access them, you simply add a type of resource called an “external tool” in your current course (most LMS have this resource). You then add the URL, Consumer Key and Secret that we provide to you, and the lessons will appear instantly in your LMS!
And, because our courses are delivered through your LMS, you and your students don’t need to log in, nor create an account. Everything will be accessed straight through your LMS, so you’ll have complete control.
READY TO GET STARTED?
Get free ideas and resources that you can use right now! Head over to Blending Space and check out free lessons that you can try both online and within your LMS. You can also try our microlearning lessons on our demos page and get free blended learning resources.