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  • Writer's pictureJeff Irvine

Microlearning to assist with maintaining currency

I came across the following definition of microlearning while researching elearning strategies on the eLearming Industry website;

Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content to learners in small, very specific bursts. The learners are in control of what and when they’re learning. Why has microlearning blown up recently? (Pardon the pun) To answer this question, you have to take a look at who comprises a majority of learners. By 2025, Millennials alone will make up 75 percent of the workforce. The average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds. And it got me thinking... in an age of social media, hectic schedules and multitasking, is microlearning really just a millennial thing, or is it in fact something that we all do on a frequent basis and how can we maximise its potential in the VET Industry? On the ASQA fact sheet on meeting trainer and assessor requirements, it discusses under activities which a trainer and assessor could participate in to contribute to the demonstration of current industry skills which includes Personal development: through reading of industry journals, with subscriptions both online and in print, but is subscribing to Velg Training, The VET Gurus, a few SSO's and blogs really enough and or making a difference?

I would have a guess in a time poor and often fast changing sector, many of these subscriptions end up in a "to read" folder and if you are like me, most likely flicked over to your trash every few months once the inbox gets too big.

If we apply the microlearning approach here, formalising what you already have at your fingertips, you are not only developing your skills and knowledge, but also adding a big tick in the compliance box, and potentially educating your peers, colleagues and students in the process. Don't turn away, or close this page, as it's not as hard as it sounds, in fact your already 70% there... Regardless of whether you are pinning on Pinterest, connecting on LinkedIn, tweeting on twitter or yammering away or slacking off on a company site like TEAMS or Slack, chances are you will come across an article, blog, story or Update about an area of interest to you, and probably one that you train in. On average we are checking our phones now 85 times a day, and I get it, we don't want to miss out. In 2015 it was reported that Every minute:

  • Email users send 204,000,000 messages

  • Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries

  • Blog writers post 1400 new blog posts

  • Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content

  • Twitter users tweet 277,000 times

  • Amazon makes $83,000in online sales

  • Tinder users swipe 416,667 times

  • What’s App users share 347,222 photos

  • Instagram users post 216,000 new photos

  • Pandora users listen to 61,141 hours of music

  • Apple users download 48,000 apps

  • Yelp users post 26,380reviews

  • Skype users connect for 23,300 hours

  • Vine users share 8,333videos

  • Pinterest users pin 3,472images

  • YouTube users upload 72hours of new video

Source (Bit out of dat - but imaine the figures today...) With all that new content and interaction being pushed at you, where do you actually start? Following are a few strategies in adopting microlearning to maintain currency and ensure compliance.

  • Bookmark, pin, snap or save - if you come across something that is interesting, relevant, challenging or new; save it for later. Create a folder or system where a collection of saved information can be stored and accessed at a time where you may not have 100 other priorities, or when your Bus stop isn't approaching and you risk missing (again!). Keep it simple, save and continue on with you day. I find Google Keep as a handy tool/app for making quick notes, which I can decipher and structure logically at a later stage.

  • Set a schedule - you lock in time for your emails, your lesson planning, your assessment marking - so why not apply this concept to your learning. Regardless if it's 10mins and day, 30mins a week or scheduled during your lunch break - put time aside to sort out your saved content. Establish a system that works for you. My approach is moving out of the general space and into one of three folders

  • if content related - goes into a Supplementary resource folder for the relevant unit and will become supplementary readings for students, case studies or even reference materials for resources.

    • If of industry interest - goes into a share folder and used for posts across various platforms for my networks and colleagues to access. I have been known to over share, so a schedule works well for me - a weekly plan of what will be shared, where and why. You don't need to be as formal, but a systematic approach certainly fits in with my style

    • If a spark is ignited - I save into a research folder. This folder is my go to on various topics, ideas, concepts that I would like to research more about. Having this folder eliminates the need for the question "where do I begin?" As at any point in time, I have a bank of ideas waiting to be researched - helping me stay on top of the industry and across all areas. If you undertake resource development or updates, this folder will also be gold in your world!!

  • Encourage engagement - now to share. Choose your platform, audience and be free. This could be to students based on class room discussions, colleagues that deliver in the same content areas or in general, or why not kill two birds and share with employers and seek their opinions - also helping with the industry engagement requirements When sharing, saving, posting or whatever tomorrow's new platform will require, add a question, ask an opinion, share your thoughts or even attach a poll. By questioning you are engaging emotionally and connecting with what is known, which is what helps build neural connections and long-term memory storage.

  • Record the recycle - by keeping a simple log, or even by saving my weekly social media schedules, I have created a summary of what I have read, and how I utilised, allowing for it to be recorded on my trainer profile.

This has turned an activity that I already do (apparently 85 times a day) into a meaningful task that helps stay across the industry, my requirements and helps inform those around me - who would have thought, an educator educating...

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