Microlearning isn’t a new concept in language learning; however it is gaining momentum due to specialization in learning and student demands for a personalized experience. Increasingly, language centers, schools and institutions segment their courses in order to achieve more specific objectives. This multiplies the offer and allows students to specialize. One language training program can be divided into various microlearning modules, allowing students to focus on the subjects and topics which are the most useful to them, that they consider to be the most interesting, or in the areas where they have shown weaknesses.
What is microlearning?
Microlearning, also known as instant learning due to its immediacy of use also goes by the names learning pills or knowledge pills. That is to say, short lessons that are used to impart specific knowledge or to revise previously covered areas with new exercises.
Caracteristics of effective microlearning
Like any other e-learning content, language training supported by knowledge pills must contain relevant information. However, in the case of microlearning this aspect goes a step further. Content curation plays a decisive role in this strategy, since its most outstanding characteristic is the speed with which it is consumed, that is, the brevity of the lessons. To achieve this, it is important that the content focuses exclusively on the central theme of the lesson, without any additional factors which, although they may be interesting, would detract from the main theme and would be better placed in a different pill. The academics Asni Nor Rizwan, Abdul Rani, Muhammad Zahid, Ali Siddik and Fariza Khalid describe where the necessity of this change to microlearning came from in their study at the National University of Malaysia:
The change to microlearning is due to the avalanche of information, the ease of dealing with small formations and its characteristics: anytime, anywhere, at any pace. (…) The four principles of microlearning design are: availability “when and where”, audiovisual relevance, personalization and “less is more”.
The Paradigm Shift To Microlearning And Its Design Principles, Asni Nor Rizwan Abdul Rani, Muhammad Zahid Ali Siddik & Fariza Khalid, Fakulti Pendidikan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
As the authors of the previous study point out, in addition to the brevity, there are other characteristics that define microlearning:
#1 Flexibility of consumption: anytime, anywhere
Its brevity makes microlearning the perfect training as it can be reviewed at anytime and anywhere. It is important, therefore, that these training sessions are multi-device and can be accessed through a network or the internet. In Dexway online courses, students can connect to their courses comfortably from their smartphones, through a web browser or by downloading the apps, and even access the course without connection or data (after downloading).
#2 Audiovisual relevance
Convenient to access and easy to navigate. The pills should show simple menus and be easy to understand.
The possibility of personalizing training allows the student to decide which subjects he or she wishes to study. Modular training, which allows students to choose between several specific subjects in which to specialize, offers each student a personalized experience based on their own interests.
#4 “Less is more”
We have already mentioned that content curation is essential for a training based on microlearning. The objective is to condense all the necessary information in the most synthetic way, discarding everything that is not relevant and leaving the central theme of the training pill.
What is it used for in language courses?
Although its use is incredibly versatile, in language training, microlearning pills are characterized by supporting classes or allowing students to acquire knowledge within a specific sector. Let’s look at three possibilities for this e-learning strategy within language training:
- As a complement to online or traditional classes
- To bridging learning gaps in certain students. Problems can be dealt with by helping them to stay up to the class level, therefore avoiding abandonment
- Specific modules according to sectors (business, tourism, service industry, health)