Micro / Nano Learning?

5 February, 2008

Tram Stairwell

I’m sitting in the stairwell of a tram on my way home while writing this, I love technology!

Anyway on to the point above. Nano Learning is a term we have been throwing around our team for around 6 months. I have the feeling we came across it in one of Elliot Masie’s (still trying to find the link!) newsletters. It was a term that really captured our imagination, we have traditionally dealt in very large, very text heavy (at times very dull) e-Learning products, this term presented us with the opportunity to throw these traditions away and come up with something that was short sharp and too the point!

I’m now faced with making this concept become reality. In thinking about what this will be I’ve been wondering how I can manage  to create an engaging online learning program that can be completed in 10 – 15 minutes.

I have come up with a couple prerequisites:
* It must be interactive
* Those interactions must challenge the learner to apply something
* Each ‘Nano Learning’ object must have a clear objective and that must be achieved.
* The value must be visible to the learner.

I know the last couple of points cover kind of the same ground but I think they are important. I’m very conscious that these types of programs can become gimics; more about the multimedia developer’s flash prowess than the learner achieving something.

Too make sure I avoid this happening my first step is to cull the content, I’m dealing in an area of regulation so it is easy for SMEs to go into a LOT of detail! My aim is to have the SME define the must know points for anyone working within the particular regulation, I am also developing a larger scale e-learning product that will get into the details of the legislation so I should be able to get away with keeping it pretty high level.

In the I’D stage I’m very keen to ensure we build in many opportunities for practice. As the content relates a regulatory framework a business must work within, I should be able to come up with some good scenarios that will ask the learner to make decisions about appropriate courses of action.

Finally I think I need one 10 min module dedicated to reviewing the key points covered in the previous 3 – 4 modules.

The question is: will this result in a meaningful learning experience or will it feel like a rush job with insufficient detail? Donald Clark recently wrote about the Nintendo DS as a learning console; he commented on the way it uses short frequent practice opportunities for language, maths and memory training. Can a similar approach be adopted for a detailed regulatory environment?

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