Microlearning: How Getting Information In Short Bursts Helps Learners Succeed

With smartphone use on the rise and attention spans fading fast, a new type of learning is gaining popularity.
fish in bowl using microlearning through phone app

Humans have very short attention spans. In fact, according to the latest research, you’re probably already struggling to focus on reading this. Our attention spans have apparently dropped to just 8 seconds — one second shorter than that of a goldfish. Our inability to concentrate on one thing for a long period of time can make learning any new skill a challenge. Fortunately, education has evolved with the times. That’s where microlearning comes in.

The concept of microlearning is simple: Delivering information or content regularly in short bursts, often via computer or smartphone. The key components of microlearning are the short amount of time required (generally 5-15 minutes per lesson or activity), the narrow topics covered, and the interactive nature of the lessons. They’re intended to be fun and engaging, so you don’t doze off like you did during your monotone college professor’s lengthy lectures.

Some examples of microlearning include:

  • Taking a multiple-choice online quiz
  • Reading a short article, often accompanied by infographics and other visual aides
  • Sorting or matching sets of items (like a Spanish word to its English translation)
  • Memorizing vocabulary and then getting quizzed on it

When you learn a language with Babbel, you participate in 10-15 minute bite-sized lessons that are highly interactive. They’re short and engaging and include review sessions that help you retain the information you’re learning. That’s the real goal of microlearning.

And it seems to be working, according to e-learning blogger Nikos Andriotis. He writes that we learn more and retain information better when the content is delivered in smaller chunks.

You won’t be surprised to learn microcontent is primarily delivered on mobile devices. Being able to learn casually — anytime, anywhere — is an important part of microlearning. And the smaller screen is perfect for small nuggets of information. Educational programs like Babbel are available on mobile, and Babbel even syncs your learning progress across your devices to make casual learning more accessible.

Goldfish may have slightly longer attention spans than us, but can they learn a foreign language? Probably not. But you can!

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