How do people learn from online content?

Small manageable chunks, granular as some would call these learning objects. For the professional adult learner, new information must be associated with prior knowledge. Ingesting knowledge is similar to eat a large meal. Just as one's digestive systems starts in the mouth, so the intake of new information must come is small bites. Study after study shows that taking in information in small bite-sized chunks leads to increased learner digestion. The education market has recognized this trend of shorter lessons, and providers have shortened e-learning courses from 4 hours to 1 hour to 30 minutes. "In 1999, research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that a distributed approach to learning can increase transfer by 17 percent. In 2002, the BBC compared a bite-size approach with longer training and found that bite-size resulted in greater understanding, application and retention than a day-long equivalent. Further, when calculating costs, the savings of a bite-size approach can be up to 30 percent. Yet some organizations struggle to adopt a bite-size approach."¹

How can an online education developer enable bite-size delivery?

  • *Miniaturization: With bite-size, less is more. Short, regular periods of high-intensity exercise get you fitter faster than endurance training. Bite-size learning gets to the outcome faster. By combining bursts of energy with sufficient reflection time, light bulb moments that challenge the way people think and behave are triggered.
  • * Contextualization: Our job isn't to help participants learn; it's to help them solve real-world problems. The starting point for design should be what you want people to do when they leave. We can't ignore the desired business outputs; the trick is to find a balance between what learners need and what the business expects.
  • * Mass-customization: Transfer is increased when participants feel that learning is relevant and personalized. Bite-size means you don't have to pick a whole course. By offering learning bites that are directly relevant to organizational outcomes, a balance can be struck between individual choice and offerings that can be delivered at scale.
  • * Focus on transfer: The more psychologically engaged participants are, the more likely they are to apply what they learn. Bite-size, distributed sessions provide more opportunities to engage. They consolidate participants' prior learning with tools and techniques to practice back at work. Sustainment is therefore built into the experience, not tacked on as an afterthought.
  • * Deliver to unarticulated, unmet needs: Innovation in learning and development functions comes from understanding learners' unarticulated, unmet needs. For many people, there is a strong desire to develop, but little time to do it, and traditional training methods fail to represent culture focused on performance and efficiency. A bite-size approach is therefore welcomed by progressive organizations seeking to breathe new life into how they develop their people.


    • 1 http://www.clomedia.com/articles/the-best-and-worst-of-bite-size-learning?interstitial=ai

Tags : elearning

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