Microlearning: What It Is Not and What It Should Be

Alexander Salas, Learning Solutions, Mar 15, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

'Microlearning' is one of those terms that is becoming increasingly vague with use and popularity. According to this article, "the term 'microlearning' was coined by the Research Studios Austria as "learning in small steps," and it has been heavily popularized due to most of its interventions being Web 2.0 friendly." It is not itself a theory but can be associated with cognitive load theory (CLT). According to t he article, "CLT was first described by John Sweller, and it proposes that 'learning occurs in two mechanisms: 1) schema acquisition, or forming a mental map, and 2) transfer of knowledge into working memory.'” The idea is derived from George A. Miller's work in the 1950s (setting our cognitive capacity at 7 items, plus or minus 2). Microlearning, says the article, "is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a good companion for formal instruction. Microlearning may not be an optimal solution for complex tasks in workplace learning."

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