Micro Learning – The Next Big Wave in Learning

The celebrated economist, Herbert Simon while coining the term Information Overload said,

“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it”.

The amount of data getting generated keeps burgeoning – a recent IBM research figure says 90% of the data generated ever has been in the last two years alone. While Big Data is the name of the game, how does learning from this data take place? A learning enthusiast today is faced with a daunting task with data flowing everywhere around her and she having to grapple with vast volumes of high-velocity data hitting her from all sides – TV, the internet, newspapers, E-Learning sites, her own classroom, social media and what not. And what indeed is happening? A paucity of attention; or in scientific terms, a reduction in attention span or attention span deficit. No wonder, a recent Microsoft research finding states that attention span in the digital age has dropped from 12 seconds to 8.

Are we in for a situation wherein there is water all around and not enough of it to drink? Maybe, but yes, the indomitable spirit of humans to solve problems leads one to a solution which addresses this issue conclusively – no I am not talking as much about Big Data Analytics as I am about Micro Learning. Micro Learning is a new paradigm in the world of learning. It facilitates learning by offering extremely small bite-sized pieces of information in short bursts of time. The idea is to break down large volumes of content into extremely small capsules that make one understand the deeper concepts without having to go through pages of reading or hour long lectures. The challenge is not in breaking down the content into smaller pieces of information. It is rather in compressing the large content into small logical pieces of information. The learner consumes the content in extremely short durations and understands the concept. Maybe, that also kindles the student’s imagination. So it is not about showing the effulgence of knowledge, it’s about showing a ray that has the potential to unlock an individual’s inquisitiveness to know more and explore more and lead her to the larger, longer forms of information.

In an information scarce world, the interest probably was in seeking information and consuming it before it became unavailable – like maybe the library shutting the doors on a holiday. But now, with more than abundant information available anywhere and anytime, the challenge is to provide the learner with the information that just suffices the need and opens the doors to more serious thinking. Welcome, Micro Learning!

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