Micro-learning, Nano-learning, Mini-modules, QR Codes, and How Mobile Learning is Influencing Training

A year or two ago in 2011, I threw the term “mini-mods” at my boss. “What are mini-mods?”, he asked. I went on to proudly tell him that I thought up the term. I envisioned our oppressive (but awesome :D) training videos could be broken down into smaller, easy-to-digest, easy-to-reuse modules, or mini-modules. We could break down our materials, and that would enable us to use them on different platforms (mobile was all the buzz, and still is), different formats, etc.

Since them, I’ve had to come to terms that this was not my brilliant, original idea.  I found an article from 2006 which refers to nano-learning (exotic!): http://www.cedma-europe.org/newsletter%20articles/Clomedia/Nano-Learning%20-%20Miniaturization%20of%20Design%20(Jan%2006).pdf.  This article by Elliott Masie  provides five areas which would benefit from nano-technology, and it provides great examples for each.

Today I came across another short article by Mark Berthelemy about micro-learning from 8/2012: http://www.xyleme.com/blog/buzzword-micro-learning.  The most important quote from this article is, “Basically, micro-learning describes a method of learning, whereby concepts and ideas are presented (or retrieved) in very small chunks, over very short time-scales, often at the point of need, or at the point of maximum receptiveness.”

Of course, Mark mentions that micro-learning has been around since 2004. So much for my ingenuity!

Both of these articles have affirmed what I’ve been thinking all this time:

  • It is easier to learn in smaller chunks.
  • It is easier to plan smaller modules.
  • Mini-mods are easier to build.
  • It is easier for a SME to commit to development when it’s short and direct.
  • It is easier to place these items, to reuse them on a variety web platforms (think YouTube supplemental videos)

I love it. And… it gets better.  Recently, after I read a couple articles about how the tourism industry was using QR Codes in tourist spots, and I began to picture my training progams, even shared laptops working in the same fashion.  It’s the perfect, quick, small, PRINTABLE way to provide a link to your super-cool, to-the-point multimedia from anywhere. Plus, I think they are expanding what QR codes link to (I am still learning – please don’t quote me!). Here’s an article about how Philippine City provides QR Codes to tourists: http://qrcodetracking.com/tourism-philippine-city-uses-qr-codes/

Now, imagine putting both together. Make a small, 3 minute video clip about an energy concept (that’s my job!). Publish it online. Attach a QR code to it. Use it in classroom materials. Use QR codes for the bathroom stall micro-learning. Print them on labels and attach them to things to gain that “at the time you need it” learning edge. Put them in your user guides (scan the QR code to get detailed steps). I can think of a million uses for this! Make a QR Code here: http://www.visualead.com/qurify2/

It may have been a tougher sell in earlier years, but technology is catching up and providing ways to push us in directions few of us have even imagined. Put it all together, and you can come up with something extraordinary – even if it isn’t all that new!

Have you used micro-modules or QR codes to innovate your learning?  Please tell me how!  I love to impress my boss with reused ideas 🙂


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