Much is made these days of things like micro-learning: presenting training in small chunks; and spaced learning: a series of short, intense training sessions.
But do these really help?
They seem very attractive and I’m sure that in some situations they are very effective. However, if they are applied to all learning situations equally, they’re unlikely to help the learner, and there’s a very good chance that they will hinder instead.
Sometimes you need a good chunk of time to ‘get your head round’ a topic and really understand it – breaking this type of learning down into small pieces is unlikely to be helpful.
Part of the issue is that some topics have long, intertwining threads going through them e.g. learning how to be an effective negotiator, and some are discrete, or self-contained points e.g. learning keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl+S (Command+S on a Mac) to save a document.
There are only so many shortcuts that you can learn at a time and you would only need a few minutes to learn 3-4 useful ones. Whereas, if you spent 3-4 minutes on learning how to become and effective negotiator, you’d be stopping before you got started.
In short, not all learning topics are the same and therefore a blanket approach might work sometimes, but a lot of the time it won’t.
Little and Often Learning
We know that doing things like exercise are better for us when we do a little everyday e.g. it’s better for you health (and feet) to walk 3 miles a day than to try and walk 21 miles once a week.
And the same is true to some extent to learning. Given that some topics will need more time, it’s still better to spread that out over a period of time, rather than trying to cram everything in at once.
Videos are great for Little and Often Learning
Let’s say you’re running an internet security campaign. Asking people to watch a short explainer video once a day (perhaps with a cup of something) is not onerous, and it’s certainly easier than watching 5 videos in a row.
You could choose these from our Information Security group and email the link out once a day. Or embed the videos on your intranet and again send the link out – perhaps with the link attached to a thumbnail image.