Learning on the Edge: 5 Growing Trends Driving Learning and Development Today

Trend #4 Microlearning: How We Get Information Today
Neuroscientists, who have long tried to crack the code on how learning occurs in the brain, tell us that small bursts of information repetitively presented over a period of time help us to embed information in our short-term memories. Under the right conditions and with enough time, this information can move into our long-term memory as well.

However, consider the speed at which we’re accustomed to being exposed to information today:

• The average length of a broadcast news story is 90 seconds or somewhere between 90 and 150 words.
• The average length of uninterrupted video of a single speaker in broadcast news, commonly called a sound bite, has decreased from 43 seconds in 1968 to a mere 9 seconds since 1988.
• A tweet is limited to 140 characters, which coincidentally, when spoken aloud takes about 9 seconds – in effect, a tweet is simply a write bite.

How have learning strategies adapted to the every-shrinking attention span of our audiences?

Technology developments and media shifts are inextricably linked to how we learn today. Learning solutions continue to shift from instruction based in a broad context, to learning through short bursts of highly focused information, generally less than 10 minutes in length. Microlearning can be enabled through video, podcasts, blogs, interactive games, and on and on.

Microlearning focuses on efficiency in delivering information to learners when context is not essential for application. For example, you may be launching an upgrade to an existing product and you need employees to know what’s coming. Your instructional strategy may include a low-cost video short that plays in common work areas, a 60 second online product demo pushed out to employees’ mobile devices and a Q&A facilitated by the product manager in an online discussion board.

Are learning solutions in your organization keeping pace? How could microlearning transform instruction where you work?

Co-authored with Laura Butcher, Owner and President, The Learning Point (www.thelearningpoint.com)


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