The Best Example of “Micro-learning”: Us

The definition of this new, not new, over-hyped, trending idea is pretty vague. Plus I’m not a fan of yet another formal intervention commandeering the term “learning”. I get it, it’s easy. Yes, these things can lead to learning but in itself, it’s not. Learning is a verb, a process, not a tool or technology. Donald Taylor did well to pull together a definition in his latest post and referenced some of the others who had opinion such as Nick Shackleton-Jones and Donald Clark. I also recommend seeing what Gary Wise had to say.

Micro learning’ is learning from content accessed in short bursts, content which is relevant to the individual, and repeated over time to ensure retention.” – Donald Taylor

Content, short burst, relevant. I think he’s right, but these terms still leaves lots of wiggle room. And given I have the space to work with as do all the vendors, I contend that 10,000 years of evolution has really been defined by micro-learning and most specifically micro-learning in the form of conversation. Small “nuggets” in the form of quick quizzes, video vignettes, audio clips and demonstrations have value but rarely contain the trust, specific context, emotion and right size of information (knowledge and even wisdom) that are found in our interactions.

So once again, rather than seek some glitzy new technology, organizations would do better to improve communication, to make it easy for knowledge to flow. I repeat, this is not a technology solution, it’s a human one. It starts with a mindset shift to be open, to “show your work”, to reposition management as a resource, to create environments where it’s ok to ask and answer questions and to be wrong.

This is simple, conversing is simple, but it’s not easy… certainly not as easy as purchasing a new technology and avoiding real, long-term impact.

2 thoughts on “The Best Example of “Micro-learning”: Us

  1. Micro-learning is by no means a new form of learning. It has existed for ages. Parents teaching a child to tie shoes, tell time, etc. Learning in any shape, form, or fashion has no meaning unless it is useful to the person who needs the information. For example, I was buying bagged lettuce, and the woman and her daughter next to me were trying to determine which bag looked better. “Ah!” I thought, “Time for a mini-lesson.” I share that bags that have more air are not the ones to buy since the lettuce ferments in its own gases over time. Buy flat ones. That was knowledge both she and her daughter could use at that moment and the next time they buy bagged lettuce. We need to be aware that learning takes place in many forms and happens every day to everyone of us. So, share what you have learned today and use those micro-learning skills.

    1. Thanks. Yes, without a doubt one could argue most learning is small. Of course what this really is is “microtraining”. The training industry lives to rush to the outcome rather than their own input 😉

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