Micro-Content is the Future of Mobile Learning

July 24th, 2019

A fairly recent feature on Google’s search results page is the featured snippet. It shows the web pages that give the best bite-sized answer to a user’s question. Interestingly, a February 2019 article by Smart Insights revealed that web pages that appear in these featured snippets receive 31% more traffic than even the first non-snippet search result. That’s the power of micro-content. So, what does this have to do with education or learning in any form? Well, to be the most effective, education needs to cater to the needs of today’s learners.

Catering to Today’s Learner

While technology has changed the way we live and learn, we also need to accept that attention spans have drastically declined. An article by the BBC says that the average attention span has decreased to a mere 8 seconds. That’s less than the attention span of a goldfish!

Needless to say, for education to be effective, it needs to cater to the needs of today’s learners. This means providing information that is not only relevant and engaging but easily digestible – in short, micro-content.

There is no denying that mobile devices are the mode of choice for content consumption among today’s youth. The research evidence for this is overwhelming. In fact, a survey revealed that 80% of parents believe that using mobile apps made learning more fun and engaging for their children.

How to Use Micro Content Effectively in Your Mobile Learning Strategy 

Micro-content offered and consumed through tech-friendly platforms has three main advantages over traditional content – 

  • It avoids information overload, 
  • Ensures information relevance
  • And empowers the learner to choose their own pace, place and delivery mechanism.

This is also supported by the human cognition theory that places the limits of a person’s ability to process information in short-term memory. As such, human beings have a predilection towards content that is made available in small digestible chunks. In addition, learning is preferred as a step by step sequential process, giving a natural advantage to mobile phones as an easily accessible and learner-friendly medium. 

From short messages to micro websites, podcasts and memes, many Web 2.0 applications offer content in small chunks that fit the smaller screen space of a handheld device. 

Here’s how micro-content can enhance m-learning:

Performance Support

Micro-content makes it easy to access and assimilate tips and tricks, open up a cheat sheet or ready reckoner, as well as watch short videos on the go, to fix an immediate problem or answer a query.

Review and Reinforcement

Snackable content is a great way to review topics that have already been delivered in other ways, in order to reinforce learning.

Close a Small Knowledge Gap

Updates, additional information, and even short quizzes can be delivered to complete the knowledge loop.

Small Building Blocks of New Knowledge

Content can be sliced into small chunks of information, in order to serve as an introduction to a new concept, idea or topic.

Making Learning Fun

Interactive apps, infographics, short videos, animation, and gamification are some of the ways in which learning can be made fun and engaging via micro-content.

Most importantly, micro-content is easy to produce, and can be created and distributed quickly and much more cheaply than traditional learning modules. In short, it lends agility to a system that is traditionally seen as a slow mover. 

New and Emerging Trends in Micro Learning

Where the market leads, can policy be far behind? From micro-learning, policymakers are setting the base for “precision education,” an emerging field that refers to personalizing and improving virtual learning. 

According to Thomas Brock, the Commissioner for the National Center for Education Research, precision education could lead to online teaching tools that become “smarter” as students use them.

On the learner’s side, the more embedded machine learning algorithms get, the more micro-learning platforms will be able to ensure that the learning experience flows through in a continuum of linked or related content to ensure knowledge recall as well as enhance learner satisfaction.

It certainly seems that the time is ripe for education to be taken to the next level with a learning experience platform that is AI-driven to provide today’s learners with the type of learning experiences they seek.

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