How a Meal ≠ X Bites

I read a provocative article on Micro Course Content which was linked from an article on the (potential) rise of mobile learning. Note the word potential as we only really see smartphone adoption rate information, not actually micro course content adoption or success rates.

Side note: unclear why a learning company couldn’t use the word how instead of why other than clickbait laziness.

Micro Course vs. Full Course

The problem with *micro course content* is that it while there are some small, stand-alone learning elements, such as things like vocabulary lists, historical events, or perhaps some refresher content, many things that make a long course necessary, including extended attention drawn to a particular subject, over time, makes this “micro” stuff not very useful.

A Week’s Worth of Dinner or 400 Bites

Dividing a course into 400 bites is a bit like dividing a week’s worth of dinner into 400 bites. There is a reason we don’t do it that way, and it doesn’t make sense. A well-designed multi-course meal (not necessarily a large meal, but one with complexity and integrity) alternates between different palatial experiences. Time spent on each course, and time between courses, as well as the order of those courses and the differences in taste are all required to have a complete experience, and also to form memories of that experience.

Thinking Takes Time

The more educated people become, the longer it takes them to accomplish tasks which become ever more complex. 5–7 minutes is enough to read an email and come up with a response one already knows and understands. But actual thinking takes longer than that. Simply because more people have smartphones (and thankfully their screens are getting a little bigger), doesn’t mean that everything can, or should, be put on small screens and divided up into small attention span segments that can be accessed on-demand. Sure, some things work for that, but most learning, I would argue, does not, nor should it, nor could it.

Doing Takes Time

These days, while I certainly have some tasks that are fairly quick, or might take an hour or so, much of what I write on my task list takes 4 hours or more. Originally that was shorter, but these are the kinds of time divisions needed to accomplish something. Either it will take 4 hours of focus (basically, half a day), or multiple 4 hour blocks, or it can be squeezed into a half-day when other small tasks are being done.

Originally published at mcneill.io.