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Microlearning and Moodle, part 4

Microlearning or micro-knowledge?

Continuing my exploration of Microlearning.

Each post I try and relate this slight nebulous concept to Moodle, H5P, and our ElearningWorld Mobile App as a way of trying down what it all means in the real world.

As usual, I’ll take another chunk of the Wikipedia page on Microlearning:

In a wider sense, microlearning is the way more and more people are actually doing informal learning and gaining knowledge in micro-content, micro-media or multitasking environments (microcosm), especially those that become increasingly based on Web 2.0 and wireless technologies. In this wider sense, the borders between microlearning and the complementary concept of micro-knowledge are blurring.

And as usual I’ll break this down into the key concepts:

  • More people are informally learning this way
  • Multitasking environments
  • Microlearning and micro-knowledge complementary, and merging

More people are informally learning this way

Well, we can’t argue that the nature of learning has changed. In the good old days we might sit in a library, quietly, or at home, and concentrate on reading. Or go to a lecture, and make notes (at the same time as trying to listen).

These days, a lot of people would just type two or three almost random words in the search engine they know (but can’t actually use very well) and hope for the best.

Certainly many people will learn about the news from Facebook, Twitter, and others. If I was trying to learn about world economics and politics I’m not sure that these tools are going to be particularly useful, not until I’ve researched and joined many appropriate Facebook Groups, learned how to use Hashtags and Search in Twitter, and then setup client apps that will actually feed me what I need. Micro-news tends to lose way to micro-opinion on many of the more popular platforms. Is that surprising?  Not really, Facebook was never intended to be the world news agency.

Multitasking environments

I’m not 100% sure what this means.

But I guess that while I’m sitting here typing this post in WordPress, I’ve also got Facebook active in the background, and Twitter, and I’ve got the occasional RSS feed, and Forum subscription coming through.

So while I’m working I’m also socialising, and there is the potential for something to come through that will be new to me … so I’ve got some informal learning in my multitasking environment.

Of course, there are some horrendous figures about how long the average worker spends on social-networking sites while they should be working. “I’m doing research…” they may say.

Microlearning and micro-knowledge complementary, and merging

Well yes, that seems fairly clear.

You do learn knowledge, so it’s natural these are two parts of the same thing.

However, there are dangers.

Watching a couple of 2 minute YouTube movies on global warming is not necessarily furnishing you with education and knowledge about the subject. It might have facts and figures you can’t verify. It may be an opinion piece. It may be overly emotive, and not so factual. And how do you easily find a link to the opposite viewpoint?

How does a teacher using Moodle handle this?

Well, the great thing is we have an educator there! This is the person who’s job it is to help the learner find balance. To think critically. To develop the analytical skills to understand the information and knowledge. Without the teacher in the mix microlearning and micro-knowledge can become micro-opinion.

A teacher using Moodle could create a Glossary, with 20 links to different resource for the same subject. Students randomly select one link each day. At the end of the week there is a Forum discussion about what they read … and helpfully what they think. That seems like a way microlearning can be effective.

Stuart Mealor
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Stuart Mealor

Stuart is interested in all things e-learning, with specific interests in Moodle, e-learning strategy, and business development. His experience in education over 30 years, MBA in International Business, and knowledge of e-learning systems implementation, together with graphic design background, give him a unique skill set for e-learning projects.

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