Everything you need to know about microlearning, and why it works
Bitesize learning. Anytime. Anywhere. Efficient, effective and flexible. It’s the study style of the future
What do you picture when you imagine studying for an MBA?
Hours spent in the library reading long textbooks? A huge new bag to carry your many notepads to long classroom sessions?
How about a competency-based learning experience that calls for simply an electronic device – your smartphone or laptop, say – and short bursts of time to process digestible chunks of information? A learning experience that you can do anywhere, at any time.
It’s called microlearning, and it’s how we break our modules down for our learners at Nexford University.
The information might be complex, but we know that that way we learn online is different from the way we learn in the classroom, and needs a different approach. Which means you’ll find top-level concepts broken down into electronic flashcards, videos, podcasts and blog-length articles that you can quickly process and use.
Here are five reasons microlearning is the study style of the future.
1. It’s the best way for our brains to process digital information
Simply translating traditional ways of learning into online formats doesn’t work for our brains. Studies have found that today’s learners have a clear preference for reading online over print. But when tested on digital and print versions of newspaper articles and book excerpts, they remembered the key points of the print versions better. Is that surprising? Not really. For our brains to effectively process information online, it needs to be broken down. It can’t just be a like-for-like version of a printed page put up online.
Everything you learn with us is created exclusively for online learning. We’re true digital natives, built for digital natives. Our learning is interactive and bitesized. The concepts may be complex, but you’ll learn them by spending five minutes mastering one detail at a time, not hours studying the whole thing. You’ll listen to podcasts, watch videos, read short articles and test yourself with electronic flashcards. Here’s an example of how we measure your mastery of skills. That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?
2. It fits into your busy schedule
It’s often said that our attention spans are shrinking due to reading so much information online. But there’s really no proof this is happening, and plenty to suggest it’s a total myth. But, one thing’s certain; our learners have busy lives, and need learning solutions that fit into their existing schedules.
Whether you have family commitments, or are fitting your learning around your current job, we know that you probably don’t have a lot of spare time. But that’s the beauty of microlearning. You can fit in short bursts of study while you’re on your way to work, or after your children have gone to bed. It’s not about setting aside days at a time to study, or quitting your job to find a balance. It’s about fitting your learning into the life you already have.
3. It works out short term and long term
Because you’re learning practical skills from day one, you can take your learning experiences straight into your workplace. There’s no waiting a year to complete your studies before you can start bringing in your new ideas and on-the-job skills, and impacting your organization’s performance.
Microlearning works well for both simple ideas, and complex information. Where a subject is sophisticated, it’s broken down into small chunks so that you’re learning it piece by piece. If you can back up your learning by putting it into practice straight away, you’ll be bringing value to your employer, and consolidating what you’ve just learned. Simple, but effective.
4. It’s a good way of learning a lot, fast
Because our information is broken down into bitesize chunks, you can process it quickly. And because you’re progressively accumulating knowledge, your brain can retain what it learns. Which means you can build up your understanding quickly. Plus, it works for different parts of the learning cycle. Need to make sure you’ve really got to grips with something? Micro-review your new skills, and test them out in a real-life work situation. No long exams, or months spent waiting to try some of your new learning at work.
5. It’s a lesson in agile, startup mentality
The traditional methods of university learning might work while you’re studying. But only 11% of business leaders think that today’s graduates are ready to enter the workforce, according to Gallup. There’s a clear gap between graduates and their workplace expectations. Nexford’s online learning environment is a living lesson in startup, SME and bluechip mentality. The way you learn is more like how an employer would expect you to approach a project at their corporation, and we’re focused on giving you valuable tools for the workplace. Your boss doesn’t expect you to meet a project brief by disappearing for three months while you research the subject in your local library. They expect you to quickly master the skills you need to start bringing in results straight away.
Forget lugging around notepads, and trying to understand scribbled notes from last week’s lecture. We want our learners to be lean, agile and prepared for employment in today’s global workplace.
Microlearning is just one of the features of Nexford’s learning difference. Watch how else we’re redefining learning
About the Author
Nexford’s staff writers help you make the most of your university experience.
We’re based in the US and have teams across the world, including in the UK, Africa and Asia.