Using Microlearning In Formal Education

Did you know that students only remember 21% of what is taught to them – just after a month? In an age and time where the attention span of an average human being is lesser than that of a goldfish, this statistic doesn’t surprise us at all!

Remember when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) first came into existence? Who knew such bite-sized and easily digestible learning modules would become a trend in the online education industry. The term MOOC was coined in 2008.

It has been almost a decade since this phenomenon by storm – giving people from all age groups and educational backgrounds a chance to learn something new, and not necessarily about academics or college-level courses. This point brings us to microlearning.

What is microlearning exactly?

It is a method of learning via short, bite-sized modules through the digital mediums. It helps in faster consumption and increased retention of information as large chunks of complex data are broken down into manageable pieces of information.

Three major characteristics of micro-learning are as follows:

  • Brevity: Micro-learning sessions are short, but with no defined duration.
  • Granularity: It focuses on one topic, concept or idea.
  • Variety: It can be in the form of a game, presentation, quiz, video, etc.

How important is microlearning in formal education?

We would say – very! The underlying premise of this concept that every human being learns differently – which means every student has a different way of consuming information. It is the versatility of microlearning that draws the learning community comprising students, teachers, corporate employees, etc. to it.

And since everything is so digitized around us, we are always being exposed to micro-content. In simple words, we are consuming information continuously, no matter where we are. If used in the right way, the education sector can benefit greatly from microlearning. Here’s how:

1. Short attention span? No problem.

A 2003 NCBI study indicates that we can typically tolerate just 4-8 minutes of factual lecture before we start to seek other forms of stimuli. 14 years later, the situation hasn’t changed even a bit. Luckily, this short span of time is long enough to consume a micro-learning module in any digital format properly.

2. Microlearning literally beats time

Since they are bite-sized, it is not just easy to consume them but also producing them is a quick process. With the turnaround time of a typical textbook is 5 years, there are chances of redundancy by the time it goes for print. But with microlearning, it is possible to absorb data in real-time!

3. Digital content can be accessed from anywhere

Microlearning and digital media go hand-in-hand. This means you can learn and assess yourself from anywhere – while on-the-go. It takes off the pressure of sitting at one place to study!

4. Learn at your own pace

Since every student has a different pace of learning, microlearning enables everyone to learn at a speed they are most comfortable with. The students can watch, read or listen the module as many times as they want. There’s no hurry. There’s no competition.

Three methods of applying microlearning in the classroom

1. PechaKucha

It is a presentation method that relies more on visuals than on written text. It typically consists of 20 images/slides and the presenter takes about 1 minute to explain each image/slide. It is a good fit for microlearning because it focuses on a specific timescale and can accommodate condensed content – which makes it easier to consume.

2. Oust

This mobile platform provides unparalleled distribution, and with the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, offers an opportunity to highly personalize the learning content for every individual. Oust makes learning fast, fun, and exciting by using sports, movies, and local languages to engage learners from all backgrounds.

3. Infographics

They offer a perfect representation of photos, statistics text and design – all the elements which make them so appealing! An infographic typically has tons of information, designed beautifully and condensed, much to the learner’s delight!

Dos and dont’s of implementing microlearning in the classroom

While the concept of microlearning seems to be interesting, it is important to keep a few guidelines in mind for it to be a successful endeavour:

1. It has to be interactive

If it is not, then there’s no difference between microlearning and traditional forms of learning. If a student finds the microlearning module boring, then the purpose is lost.

2. It won’t click instantly

It will take a while to choose the right device and the right size of the microlearning module. Microlearning is a customized educational solution and it is effective only when the student has found the right type.

3. Don’t lose sight of the goal

Since there is so much data out there, it can get difficult to keep track of the things a student actually wants to learn. Hence, it is advised to never lose sight of the goal.

4. Set an objective

The reason it is important to set an objective for every module is to make sure the learner doesn’t try to push 30 minutes’ worth of information into just 5 minutes or less.

The main aim of microlearning is to enable the students to learn in a healthier and smarter fashion. It is a definite “yes” in the world of formal education.

Traditional Training Processes vs. Micro Learning

Simply put, getting trained is the action of undertaking a course, module or exercise to evolve in a specific skill in a working or educational environment. In this competitive world, it has become all the more necessary to develop industry specific skills to grow both personally and professionally.

40% of learners say that they don’t have the time they need to train themselves. 79% believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem wherein 26% see it as an urgent problem. 80% of learners said to have forgotten whatever they learnt during training within 30 days itself! And the worst part is fewer than 15% of learners are able to successfully apply whatever they learn.

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Top Five Myths About Microlearning

If you ask us the buzzword of this time and age, we would have to say it is “micro learning”. Used by educational institutions and corporations as it allows the learners to acquire information in very specific bursts.

Moreover, micro learning appeals to them as it is available to them exactly at the time of learning need. This means the learners are in control of what and when they are learning. Some of the diverse formats of delivering content for learning include multimedia videos, emailers and e-books.

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This Is How Micro Learning Affects Behaviour Change

Did you know in 2000, our attention span was 12 seconds and now it is just 8 seconds – which is even lesser than that of a goldfish? In a time and age where the attention span of human beings has reduced considerably, microlearning seems to provide an ideal instructional approach to broaden the overall knowledge base.

Simply put, it is the method of delivering nuggets of information to the learners who don’t have the time to take a lengthy course at one go and want to avoid the risk of getting overwhelmed by large volumes of data.

This on-the-fly learning technique helps the learners advance their educational goal anytime and from anywhere as long as they have the proper resources in place; for instance, internet. Multimedia videos, emailers, e-books are some of the diverse formats of delivering content for learning.

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Oust Labs brings fun of competition and games to training of blue-collar workforce

This article originally appeared in Yourstory

Pivoting from being a gaming-micro-learning platform for students, Bengaluru-based Oust Labs works as a plug-and-play SaaS-based platform for the training of the blue-collar workforce.

Now that the Nokia 3310 is back, the most common topic of conversation, apart from the fact that it can survive an earthquake, is Snake and the highest score one can manage. This isn’t surprising because the combination of an interesting game and the element of competition has always been a lethal one, and this is just the mix Shrikant Latkar, the first engineer of his family from Belgaum, Karnataka, wanted to introduce in education.

Having worked with mobile app developers in his capacity as the CMO of InMobi, Shrikant was fascinated by the idea of creating games that could be used to make learning fun.

So when he got the opportunity to join in as an advisor for Fuel, a competitive gaming startup, he jumped at it. They were initially using competitive gaming to get scholarships for students going to Columbia University, Harvard, or Stanford.

Competing with each other on topics, chapters, and subjects, the students and peer network would be contributing to their studies at the same time. “Because of my passion for gaming and education, I worked with them for a year and a half. Fuel soon pivoted from education to a pure gaming platform, and that is when I decided to start up on my own,” says Shrikant.

This is how Oust Labs, a competitive gaming and learning platform, came into being. Today, Oust Labs works as a plug-and-play SaaS-based micro-learning platform for companies that need to teach new skills to the blue-collar workforce. Enterprises can create whatever kind of content they need to train their workforce in real time.

Oust Labs

The early days

When Shrikant started in 2015, he already had a ton of work experience — he had worked at BPL’s R&D centre; had, being one of their first employees, helped set up AT&T BEL Labs’ Pune centre; and worked in the US for 20 years.

Shrikant had, however, always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and there were some early signs of this passion — in his second year of engineering, his project was bought by a local company. In his career path, he consciously moved from engineering to product management, primarily to understand the business side of things. He eventually climbed up the ladder as VP of product design across his career.

Explaining the idea of Oust Labs, Shrikant says,

“My idea for Oust was, ‘How can you take some interesting gaming principles, which allow you to be engaged with a platform for a long period of time and use them in learning?’ Games like FIFA are on for almost 10 years with fans for life.”

The platform, had, however, begun purely in the education space. It was when Shrikant realised that adding a social community and having the chance to play against someone increased stickiness that they began focusing on competitive gaming with social features.

Focusing on mobile content

Owing to the fact that people are used to doing multiple things on their mobile phones, ever-shortening attention spans, and the high degree of motivation required to take an e-learning course, Shrikant realised micro-learning would be his best bet.

They initially built the platform for students of classes five and six, but on finding the motivation to play and learn too low, shifted their focus to students of classes 11 and 12. With the initial test, the team saw that their platform had stickiness and engagement and they even got seed funding from Mohandas Pai.

Moving towards the pivot

Oust Labs was launched in March 2016 and saw decent traction. However, that was the time when Byju’s was beginning to conquer the market. Shrikant adds that monetisation was a problem.

“We learnt that Indian parents are okay with a free app, but paying for it isn’t an option. They will spend lakhs for tuition classes but not a mobile app. Also, most colleges don’t allow students to carry their mobiles. We saw that there was a problem to get people to pay and Byju’s had already broken into the area.”

Shrikant mentions that during the process of seeking a path for revenue generation, he showed it to some people in the ecosystem, who said it would be great for employee training. After talking to several new-age internet companies, they realised that the need of the hour was the training of the blue-collar workforce.

They onboarded plumbers, nurses, physicians, and mechanics, but their attendance in classes wasn’t high.

The platform today

Seeing as how this lack of training is one of the biggest hurdles in the path of a company looking to scale, Shrikant realised that what these people need is short training that is reinforced continuously, leading to the micro-learning concept. At present, the platform supports over 29 languages. The current version of Oust Labs for enterprises was launched in August last year.

Explaining their model, Shrikant says,

“Here the customer gets the content. Enterprises can develop courses on their own and they don’t have to pay us. It’s a SaaS platform, where the customer pays for the licence. The highest price is at Rs 300 per user per month. The price varies as per the components. Also, the higher the volume, the lower the price. Currently, the lowest price is at Rs 100.”

The training of the blue-collar workforce has become super important. Today, there are several platforms like Portea, Care24, Ola, Uber, Zimmer, dunzo, and Housejoy which use the services of these workers. On an average, these platforms are believed to hire over 1,000 people in a month. There already are players like Babajob, Jack On Block, Nanojobs, and Bookmybai in this space.

Currently, Oust Labs is made up of a team of 16 people and has raised a bridge round by Mohandas Pai and 3one4 Capital and a couple of angel investors. Shrikant says there is a clear path to revenue with better deal sizes. “We even have customers in South Asia and the US. Now that we have found the perfect product/market fit and found a customer base, our aim is to grow and add more customers,” says Shrikant.

Disclaimer: Mohandas Pai is an investor in YourStory.