The Adoption of Micro-Learning

Letters From Bear // Friday October 20th, 2017

Smartphones as a platform for micro-learning

According to Common Sense Media, children aged 14 to 19 spend more hours on their phone every day than they do in a classroom. And although schools that do ban cell phones or technology in the classroom tend to see a rising trend in their student’s grades, our society will never be able to define that as our solution because it is inadvertently in direct contradiction with the trend that most of those students will predictably have a future in the tech industry. So, the education industry runs into a problem here.

Students across America care more for their virtual world, where they can run away to with their phones, than they do of the real world. However the true problem causing this arguably atrocious and unacceptable decrease in test scores and grades is something being referred to as ‘knowledge gaps’.

“C’s Get Degrees” — Unknown Source

This is where in our society, the grade of a ‘C’ in our classroom is becoming increasingly more and more acceptable, resulting in students moving on to larger and more complex concepts in the classroom, whilst only retaining knowledge for 70% of the framework that those concepts are built upon.

With lacking mastery of principle concepts that the rest of our educational curriculum is built off of, how can we ever expect to see students succeed in school? Currently, the solution to these ‘knowledge gaps’ is to have students repeat the same class for an additional year, which although may be effective in some cases, is to the rational person an absurd waste of time within that student’s educational career. You are having students repeat a full year of a class in efforts to have them learn that 30% of material that they didn’t understand.

Now, as with any problem, there are always multiple solutions. However for the purposes of this article, and my background, I want to focus on just one of them. That is, something referred to as ‘micro-learning.’

In our age of Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and every other curse placed on our teenage minds, the BBC reports that as of 2017, teenagers have an attention span of 12 seconds, something predicted to continue decreasing… and comparable to that of a goldfish.

In a world where we all consume our data and information in 140 characters or less, it only makes sense that our educational curriculum should distributed in the same, micro-orientated manner. So what is ‘micro-learning?’

Well, Co-Studio, the creator of the application ‘Lrn’ and one of the original authors of ‘micro-learning,’ has defined it as the following:

Micro-learning is learning in short, focused bursts of information. For example, a typical micro-learning activity could be viewing a flashcard, memorizing a word, listening to a short podcast, watching a brief video or answering a series of questions in a quiz.

With this, ‘micro-learning’ targets smartphones as the platform to carry the future of education. Students not only receive the ability to fil those ‘knowledge gaps’ brought on them by the unaddressed-in-education generational trend of addiction to technology via algorithms, machine learning, and access to the vastest library of knowledge our world has ever seen, but also the convenience to learn, develop, and apply their new knowledge beyond the four walls of a classroom.

Learning Spanish in Duolingo

Now, the technology is here, and the learning tools have been linked to the technology by companies like DuoLingo, Khan Academy, Google with their Primer app, Chegg with their flashcard app, and countless others. So, the question on many people’s minds is, why is it that we still aren’t seeing better results and decreasing ‘knowledge gaps’ with our students?

Well, there are many reasons to blame for this, most prominent of which is schools having yet to adopt, accept, and applicate these new age learning methods into circulation as a part of their curriculum. What is most worrying to me is the lack of embracement in the idea that the way we educate our youth could ever evolve into something better or more efficient. People, but more importantly, students, deserve a right to know their options in learning a concept. If schools refuse to talk about them, someone must take on that role.

Artificial intelligence has been learning about us for the longest time, and it’s only logical that at some point it will start teaching us. Sadly, we already know and have proven it can. It’s just a matter of when we will let it.


Thanks for checking out this blog post, written by our CEO, Bear Matthews. You can follow Bear on Twitter here and connect with him on LinkedIn here.

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