Home > Blog > #PKMChat 2015-03-18 MicroContent and MicroLearning

Time: New York Wed, Mar 18th, 4 PM ET, Paris 9 PM CET, Sydney Thu, Mar 19th 7 AM AEDT

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Use, Parallels, Practice, Characteristics of MicroContent and MicroLearning

While the concepts are not new, they are on the verge of becoming mainstream. From consumers point of view short, to the point, contents and learning fit well with short attention span. Even with no attention span limit we face the overflow of content. If it’s too long, too complex we don’t read it (tl;dr). From context point of view microXX fits well on mobile device, small screens and mobile, on the go consumption. From editorial point of view it fits well with social media posts, content upcycling, curation. How long for a MicroLearning, MicroContent? MicroContent: 100 words, 600 characters. About 6 characters per word. About 5 tweets. 5 Pieces of MicroContent = 1 Short Blog Post (Measured from Cendrine’s post). 1500 words Ideal Blog post length is 3 times more. MicroLearning: Microlearning videos should be 4 minutes or less according to John Eades. 120 words for every minute of video this makes about 400 words, way more than above. Tom suggested up to 10′. WriterStore says 1 page of script = 1 minute = 90 words. The opposition of Content as text and Learning as video is not fondame,tal, it just happened to be where it starts. IMHO it’s better to see the MicroContent as being the ground on which a MicroLearning (an activity) is build. There is also no need to strictly compare size and length. Just one is a minimal way to express an idea, the other a minimal unit of learning. MicroContents are mainly reassembled in larger pieces MicroLearning aim at providing flexibility at learner level. A MicroLearning must have a learning payload: Learning Objectives, prerequisites, a way to confirm that learning took place. Such information (if explicited) could be seen as attributes or appendices of the piece, not counted in the measures above. While I have not yet seen MicroLearning capable delivery system, one can imagine how it would work. Depending on the learner level of advancement, his availability, the context some MicroLearning would be presented. Because it’s a learning and not just a lesson it is a complete piece. It can be skipped, replayed independantly. Of course breaking a large topic in small chunks is a new competency. Side question is the language used. When we write tweets we use abbreviations, acronyms, loosy grammar and sound equivalent (gr8, ur, r). We make use also of Hahstags wich are a way to encapsulate a new jargon. Without an urban dictionnary or a hashtag dictionnary it would be impossible to understand many of the Twitter Chats taking place. This phenomen of compression and encoding of specific meaning in a jargon was common in some disciplines. it is now widespread to pack the information in microcontents (Post from Mandy Edwards explaining this). What question me at this stage, questions I wish to share, is what are the best practice to isolate ideas, stay short, very short and still be effective. If we think Knowledge Management wise, someone willing to share his knowledge would be well advised to share it as MicroContent. It’s a shorter effort, it requires to be focused for a shorter time. if one needs to redo, rewrite, edit it, it will also be a smaller effort. Knowledge could then be shared as burst of MicroContent. if we think Marketing, and content marketing more precisely, we reach a similar thinking. Not surprisingly the need is very similar. The bottom line of a learning experience is to allow new behaviors, to be more aware, informed. Today marketing plays a similar role in the context of a sale. Before someone is ready to buy he must understand the benefits, the advantages of the product and eventually buy by himself. Where instructional designers think of producing a learning activity, marketers will think about funnel, steps, call to action. But knowledge shared as such, typically by Subject Matter Experts, is not always suitable for immediate consumption or spreading at large scale. It can be the based of Knowledge Transfer if a conversation can take place around it but isolated, as a dry piece it’s unlikely that learning will take place on the receiving side. Learning activities are design based on the content. This means some work, effort, competency has to be applied to the content to turn it into learning. It is only at this cost that Content becomes Learning. That’s what I understood from the art of IDs, chats after chats. Could MicroLearning be build on top of MicroContent, piece by piece, isolated ? That would be a major change of process in the way learning is designed, more agile. I think so. Tom Spiglanin seems that share it as well. I can imagine very well that the people sharing their knowledge (SME), equiped with better Knowledge Management systems could flag their contents inside the vast content to share. Flags could indicate suggested, recommended learning paths, navigation, prerequisite, typical tasks that one would expect a person to accomplish when the learning is complete. Given such information the work of the ID would be much easier and faster. Faster implies a shorter delay between the moment the expert shares his knowledge and the moment the learner can consume it. Now this is the ideal case where there is a one to one split between how the subject matter experts splits his thinking and how the content turned into learning activities can be digested. Not very likely IMO, but what becomes possible is to refine further the splits and rebuild the storyboard in the knowledge management base. In such a situation learning and content continue to coexists and live in parallel. Next questions are about deconstruction of larger content. More to come … Once again, #PKMChat we will be in inquiry mode. Nobody owns the truth, the good answers. We bring our experience, our background to the chat and share it. Stay connected to this post as new links will be added. PKMChat being about Personal Knowledge Management encompass Knowledge lifecycle in general. Our first chat was about learning, acquiring Knowledge. Our second is about sharing it. Week after weeks we will switch from one end of the lifecycle to another while exploring all the channels that could be used: social, formal, writing, videos. Feel free to suggest topics by tweeting to @pkmchat.



  • Q1: Did U experience MicroContent or MicroLearning? Share links, tips, impressions, feelings
  • Q2: Is it easier to produce MicroStuff? Hurdles, best practices?
  • Q3: How to reduce the dependency of microstuff understanding on the context of the learner or consumer
  • Q4: Microstuff requires new writing, design skills? name, describe such skills How to learn them
  • Q5: How to turn a microcontent into a micro experience causing a change of behaviour, attitude or knowledge
  • Q6: Can we chunk all we know? Is it desirable? Share tips to produce snackable bits out of large content.
  • Q7: How links, associations, combinations of microstuff can help to build a larger impact on learner

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