Microlearnings: a 21st Century Digital Strategy

Microlearnings allow students to focus on pockets of learning they are unsure of or need to revisit.
Michelle Bradley
Jul 19, 2024
Learning bite by bite adds up.

As a STEAM educator, Microlearnings have been part of my teaching practice even before I knew there was a name for them. Microlearnings are short and focused learnings that allows students to view and focus on content that is directly related to their needs. 

Microlearnings can be in multiple forms - video, audio, image, or text - and on multiple platforms. They allow students to focus on pockets of learning they are unsure of or need to revisit. Conversely, it also allows students to bypass learning they already possess. Mapping the resource to the students’ needs and the learning experience is essential. Advantages for educators and students are discussed below:

Advantages for Teachers
• Flexibility of planning. Microlearning allows educators to accommodate diverse learners and encourage students to pursue areas of interest and challenge.
• Personalised learning. They allow for a more personalised approach, catering for individual needs and requirements for teaching and learning strategies.
• Brief and focused. Learning in short and sharp bursts, with highly focused responses to a learning need, means that the updating, revision, and presentation of information can be completed quickly.
• Assessment feedback. By integrating small and focused assessments into microlearning modules, an assessment of student understanding can be achieved quickly.
• Engagement. Quick and focused learning is more likely to engage and maintain student attention.

Advantages for Students
• Reinforcement and speed. Microlearning allows students to engage with content at their own speed and in their own time. Students will be able to revisit learning to reinforce their learning or deepen their understanding.
• Improved retention. It is much easier to learn for the long-term attainment of information and knowledge if the content is presented in smaller, manageable chunks.
• Cater to students’ own diverse learning requirements. Because of the way that microlearning can be presented, students can access the learning they need when they need it, in the way that they need it.
• Self-directed. Students (and educators) can use microlearning resources to extend or reinforce learning at their own pace, and to follow paths of interest.
• Used in various teaching formats. Microlearnings can support students when needed, in face-to-face, online or hybrid (mixture of face-to-face and online) formats.
These microlearnings can take time to produce, but if created a step at a time, individual resources will turn into a large bank of resources that can be used time and time again.

How to Use Microlearnings as Part of Your Pedagogical Approach
There are two main approaches to using microlearning within your classroom. They are “just-in-time” teaching and “flipped learning”. These concepts are shown in further detail below.

Just-in-time Teaching
This concept is not new to educators. In essence, it is the practice of educators giving students what they need, at the time that they need it, in the way that they need it.
The newer component in the process is using microlearning to enhance, consolidate or develop understanding of content requirements. Content is available to them on demand, through learning management systems and content development sites.

Flipped Learning
Flipped learning has been around for a long time but has had a renaissance of late. In the past, it was seen as a method for students to improve their knowledge through independent study outside the classroom. 

However, today’s students are less engaged with longer videos, and there is also the issue of students’ access to large files effectively depending on their internet or computer access at home, contributing to the division of students into those who can and cannot access technology in their home or school environment.

The more contemporary way to use the flipped learning approach is to create shorter and sharper microlearnings for students. These videos or other content are then made available to the students in a format that is accessible to them. This content is then suggested as an enhancement to existing learning, helping to reduce students’ workload outside the classroom.
Finally, using microlearnings can be an effective strategy for educating students across the curriculum.

For further resources and strategies, see Creating authenticity in STEAM education: A design thinking and project-based learning approach. Now available through Amba press. https://ambapress.com.au/collections/recently-published/products/creating-authenticity-in-steam-education