Myth #9 (of 12): Micro learning is the future of education

“Pretty much every article I’ve read on “the next big thing” or “the future of learning” forgets the distinction between compliance, professional development, and capability acquisition.” (Bruck, 2015)

This quote echoes my sentiments exactly. Example: Recently Bernard (2015) published an article about how Google and micro learning are the ‘future’ of education. It was quite a weak article, based on outdated education philosophy and did not take into account that 70% of the globe still has poor or no access to the web. So where does micro learning fit into the education landscape?

Firstly, micro learning has been around since, forever. Ever rip an article of interest out of a periodical at a Doctors office or from an in-flight magazine? Ever browse headlines from news feeds till something catches your attention? Ever watch short (less then 5 minutes) YouTube video or a short TedTalk? This is micro learning.

Secondly, let’s call it what it is: micro-content. Short bursts of focused information so that a person will (if they decide to) integrate it into their learning experience. There is an interesting YouTube video about the history of Japan roaming around social media these days. It covers centuries in only nine minutes. It is sort of a Wikipedia on video. After watching it I had more questions than when I started – but not about Japan. My main question was how factual is it? I lived in North Asia for four years and quickly learned that any historical event has three versions: Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

Thirdly – in certain circumstances – this is a great way to get across desired cognitive information instead of useless meetings, boring training sessions, or long workshops. If it is done correctly, some of it will be linear in delivery, but most should be in a nonlinear format. So rather than “covering” content, companies use carefully selected material to help workers develop the skills of their discipline or profession. One site generating a ton of buzz is I have not used it, but respect the sources recommending it.

Fourthly, limitations. Complex socio-motor (hands on) training takes time and reflection. Could you pass a practical driving test with 5 minutes of driving practice a day? The same goes for reading literature, philosophy, psychology and every other ‘ology.’ A five-minute overview of Lord of the Rings is not the same as ‘living’ the experience from reading.

Final Thought: For those who suggest that micro content is the only way a Millennial will learn, read this!

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