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Can microlearning improve student's engagement? Is it more advantageous compared to traditional ways of delivering content? Should microlearning be used in every single course? The article was originally published at https://elearningindustry.com/advantages-of-microlearning-really-worth-trouble

 

Why All That Fuzz? 5 Advantages Of Microlearning

Introduction

Lately, there’s been much debate regarding the differences of microlearning and "full content learning". Let’s clear something out. Both solutions demand a substantial amount of time to be developed and require skillful content creators and Instructional Designers who will also take into consideration the pedagogical aspects of learning. So the question arises. Is microlearning really worth it?

Microlearning

Let's first clarify what microlearning is. Let me give you an example. Have you ever opened a bag of chips? When was it that you realized that you had consumed the whole product? Well, the question most of the time is rhetorical. Only after you had consumed every single bit, you could begin understanding that you had actually eaten everything inside. It is normal since "after you pop, you can’t stop". The same applies to eLearning. Microlearning is like those chips. You can consume bits of information without recognizing the fact that you’ve been fed the whole time by the course’s material. According to Tom Kuhlmann (The Rapid E-learning Blog, 2015)

"The trend in online learning is small, digestible chunks. Some people call it YouTube learning. The trend makes sense. We’re using more and more mobile devices where quick hit training works better and chunked content is easier to process".

Thus, microlearning breaks information content into small, easy and fast to consume parts. Microlearning focuses on helping learners achieve one discrete objective, about 5-8 minutes each, making it a little different than mini-courses, which break large courses into smaller modules (What Is Micro-Learning? n.d). Microlearning content has to be presented in many different forms. For example, a combination of presentations, activities, games, forum discussions, videos, quizzes, book chapters could really enhance the whole concept (Malamed, 2015). It should also be noted that a gamification system applies better to microlearning courses since the learner can easily be awarded rewards because the activities and assignment are meant to be shorter compared to regular courses, effectively leading to higher engagement of the students.

Advantages Of Microlearning

There is a variety of benefits that are connected with microlearning:

1. Time

Microlearning is considered to be the ideal solution towards both adult learners (since they have a shorter attention span) and digital natives (this term is widely debated nowadays though) who love quick videos and short games (Pandey, 2016). After all it so fast-paced that it won’t disrupt people as a full day of training or even a three-hour webinar.

2. Format Diversity

Unlike old versions of Moodle courses that used to be full of text and exercises, modern courses need to be enriched with appealing media that lead to better retention of knowledge. Besides, the content has to be as interactive as possible in order to immerse the learner and cultivate into him or her a sense of ownership of the content.

3. Learner-Centric

Since those huge texts are not the case, it is more probable that the rich media and the content that these media represent is more likely to match the individual needs of every student (Pandey, 2016). After all the course is meant to help the learner and offer one certain skill. The tutor’s role is to provide assistance and guide the student who shouldn’t be bombarded with information.

4. Immediate Results

Another benefit of effective microlearning is that it enables a person to quickly close a small knowledge gap. This way, the learner needs are taken into consideration since one can really fast locate the exact type of information required precisely at the moment of demand (Malamed, 2015).

5. Transferability

Since the information is "chopped" into small bits, it is easier for the course designer to take those bits and insert them into new courses without having to put the initial development effort. This eventually will lead to reduced budget costs since the content has already been created in a previous stage.

Is Microlearning An All-Around Solution?

Is microlearning the ideal solution though for every single field and area? The answer is no. With its emphasis on small bits of learning, it is not so great when it’s essential to have a holistic view of the training material. The flow of information in microlearning courses is not so smooth compared to bigger courses so the user may not be able to connect disparate elements into one coherent picture. Before deciding which one to use make sure to understand your audience’s previous level of expertise on the subject and adjust the creation process accordingly.

Bibliography

Malamed, C. (2015). Is Microlearning The Solution You Need?. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/what-is-microlearning/

Pandey, A. (2016). 10 Benefits Of Microlearning-Based Training. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://elearningindustry.com/10-benefits-microlearning-based-training

Kuhlmann, T. (2015). The Rapid E-learning Blog. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from http://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/how-long-e-learning-course/

What Is Micro-Learning?. (n.d). Retrieved May 21, 2018, from https://community.articulate.com/articles/what-is-micro-learning?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=elh-101

Article also published at https://elearningindustry.com/interactivity-in-elearning-programs-importance 

 

 

Why is it so vital for a course to be as interactive as possible? Static text and boring pictures cannot engage learners deeply. Instead, a variety of strategies should be taken into consideration.

 

The role of interactivity

Although eLearning programs are able to overcome the geographical constraints that arise in the conventional class, they also create uncertainty amongst the learners about the quality and frequency of the interaction they enjoy (Borup, West & Graham, 2012). In distance learning, feedback is categorized into feedback among the learner towards the content, the trainer/educator towards the learner, and finally the learners (Chou, Peng & Chang; 2010). Regular interaction among the teachers, the students, and the content is a vital factor in achieving learning objectives (Wei, Peng & Chou, 2014).

According to Yung-Ming (2013), factors influencing the perception of interaction experienced by users are mainly about controlling the content, the sequence of communication, the speed and the consistency of the responses they receive, and the personalization of the feedback on their questions and actions.

These factors influence the intrinsic motivation of users, the perception of the ease of use of the learning system, as well as the consideration of the usefulness and the interest that stimulates (Framework for improving web-based eLearning interactivity, 2016). Indeed, the importance of perception of ease of use and feedback are found to irredeemably affect students' performance in eLearning programs (Wei, Peng & Chou, 2014).

Best Practices To Increase eLearning Interactivity

Interaction needs to be reinforced by concrete practices that will satisfy the needs and the potential insecurity of trainees. In order to facilitate distance learning, teachers use electronic platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard, which support the management of online courses and activities while enhancing student exposure to the teaching subject (Wei, Peng & Chou, 2014).

Those platforms have to be enhanced with the appropriate tools that will facilitate the communication between the participants such as email forms and chat rooms. Thus the student will overcome the fear of insecurity due to the distance barrier. If those obstacles are set aside, the user will become more willing to log in regularly to the system and take part in the implemented activities. After all, it is imperative that users enter frequently, as it has been observed that this way the interactivity with other participants, teachers, and pupils is strengthened (Wei, Peng & Chou, 2014).

Educators play a key role in engaging students with other participants in a modern and asynchronous way, encouraging them to respond to their questions by creating a learning community that will provide learners with equal opportunities for communication such as live lessons and interaction in the virtual environment (Maboe, 2017).

At the end of the course, the teacher should be able to develop with the students an asynchronous communication and manage it in the appropriate way so that the learning community can engage in discussions on the topic to be debated (Maboe, 2017). Besides every course developed should be enriched with content that not only offers meaningful skills to the trainees but also needs to be presented in a way that attracts their attention and interest. Programs that can be used to do include Articulate’s Storyline or Adobe’s Captivate.

In conclusion, substantial technical assistance should be provided to the users because of issues that may arise due to lack of the necessary technological knowledge and to ensure the smooth operation of the system throughout the program (Maboe, 2017).

Sources: 

  • Borup, J., West, R.E. & Graham, C.R. (2012), Improving online social presence through asynchronous video. The Internet and Higher Education, 55(3), 195-203.
  • Chou, C., Peng, H. Y. & Chang, C. Y. (2010). The technical framework of interactive functions for course-management systems: students' perceptions, uses, and evaluations. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1004-1017.
  • Framework for improving web based e-learning interactivity. (2016). 24th Telecommunications Forum (TELFOR), Telecommunications Forum (TELFOR), 2016 24th, 1. doi:10.1109/TELFOR.2016.7818925 
  • Maboe, K. A. (2017). Full Length Article: Use of online interactive tools in an open distance learning context: Health studies students' perspective. Health SA Gesondheid, 22221-227. doi:10.1016/j.hsag.2017.02.001 
  • Wei, H., Peng, H., & Chou, C. (2015). Can more interactivity improve learning achievement in an online course? Effects of college students' perception and actual use of a course-management system on their learning achievement. Computers & Education, 8310-21. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.12.013 
  • Yung-Ming, C. (2014). Roles of interactivity and usage experience in e-learning acceptance: a longitudinal study. International Journal Of Web Information Systems, (1), 2. doi:10.1108/IJWIS-05-2013-0015   

This article aims to compare and clarify 2 of the major learning theories, Constructivism and Behaviorism as well as to find out how they can contribute to designing online learning programs.The article was originally published at https://elearningindustry.com/designing-online-learning-programs-constructivism-behaviorism
 
 
 

Designing Online Learning Programs

Behaviorism

The basic principle of Behaviorism is that learning is the result of a person's response to a stimulus. The student does not work independently on the environment but on the contrary, the behavior is controlled by environmental factors, thus not having the control of the learning or the time it takes to achieve it (Technology in Education, n.d). All the objectives are predetermined, while the student is tasked with absorbing the offered knowledge so that in the final stage it may present desired and predetermined behaviors. The student is individually assessed and controlled if his behaviors and performances can state that he has acquired the new knowledge according to the criteria the teacher has set the right response (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Thus, the teacher is at the center of learning, trying to find ways to elicit the desired behaviors by providing the appropriate stimuli without taking into account the social-cultural context of the learners as well as their needs, ultimately failing to contribute to the acquisition of a higher level of competence or those skills that require deeper processing (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis, 2005).

Constructivism

On the other side, another predominant learning theory is constructivism, which asserts that learning is an active procedure as students enter the process of building knowledge by trying to clarify the events of the world environment (Technology in Education, n.d.). Constructivists believe that learning only happens when there is active processing of information and so they ask students to create their own motifs by linking new knowledge to those motives. As a result, this enables them to constantly undergo the cultivation of their post-cognitive skills (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis, 2005). Constructivists do not share the stance of behaviorists who claim that knowledge is independent of the mind and believe that the mind is the internal representation of the outside world. This way they believe that students are forced to construct their own knowledge through personal experiences and real events (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Actions in the constructivist model enhance the ability to solve the problems of those involved and the ability to conduct research and work within a group. At the same time, the educator plays the role of the assistant-supporter of the learning process and his students, encouraging them to formulate their own ideas and conclusions (Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

Which One Is Better To Use When Designing eLearning Courses?

The creation and the need to adopt a technological approach to the internet learning stems from the theory of constructivism. In an article by Vrasidas, Zebbys, and Petros, Vygotsky's theories of self-regulating and reflective knowledge express the inseparably linked nature of those theories with new approaches in the field of education (Vrasidas, Zebbys & Petros, 2005). As a result, teaching is driven to its peak, as the teacher is now invited to combine both pedagogical approaches and technological applications and new teaching approaches, effectively designing an authentic learning environment where the learners will benefit the most. (Erben, Ban & Casta ~ neda, 2009; Medina & Alvarez, 2014). Unfortunately, most applications and tools that are available neglect the need for cooperation between the participants focusing solely on individuality. It is crucial for eLearning designers to add meaningful activities that promote communication and teamwork. This is a win-win solution since at the same time the intrinsic motivation of users is increased because of the interest in those activities.

Despite their differences, these 2 learning theories are well suited to the design of online learning today. Although the various technological tools are primarily designed in the context of behaviorist theories, most teachers choose to use a combination of behavioral and constructivist design patterns, perceiving the dynamics of both theories in order to satisfy the educational peculiarities of each student (Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

Bibliography

Vrasidas, C., Zempilas, M., & Petrou, A. (2005). New pedagogical theories and the role of education technology. In S. Retail Advanced Internet Technologies in the Service of Learning (pp 33-58).Athens: Kastaniotis.

Erben, T., Ban, R., & Casta~neda, M. (2009). Teaching English language learners through technology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Technology in Education. (n.d.) Learning Theories. https://economu.wordpress.com/εκπαιδευτικό-υλικό/θεωρίες-μάθησης ">Retrieved October 4, 2017, by https://economu.wordpress.com/Educational-york/views

Kostantinidis, A. (2005). Learning Theories and Their Effects on Educational Software Design (Dissertation, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2005).

Medina, L. C., & Alvarez, C. P. (2014). Fostering Collaboration in CALL: Benefits and Challenges of Using Virtual Language Resource Centres.

Weegar, M.A. & Pacis, D. (2012). A Comparison of Two Theories of Learning - Behaviorism and Constructivism as applied to Face-to-Face and Online Learning. Presented at the E-Leader Conference. Manila, Philippines.