Microlearning and MyEnglishLabs

SCAD Language Studio ? Professor Christina Cavage, Human Resources headshot, Fall 2013 ? Photography by Stephanie Krell, courtesy of SCADChristina Cavage

Why FLIP, or blend face-to-face learning, with digital learning? Well, the reasons are numerous. Many I have outlined here in the previous months. Moving some content outside of the classroom allows us more flexibility in the classroom. Additionally, it allows our classrooms to go back to a collaborative, communicative, rich language environment. However, it also allows our students to microlearn.

What is microlearning? While the term may seem new to you, the concept is not. Students learn best when content is presented in small chunks. Think of YouTube and Khan Academy. The success of these sites speaks directly to their appeal to digital natives—learning in bite-sized pieces for those ever-dwindling attention spans for traditional lectures. Recent research indicates that exposing students to new content in small doses is the most effective for learners today. Yet, while traditional learning methods are decreasing, media consumption is rapidly increasing for learners of all ages. Thus, the success of Khan Academy and TedEd. So, what about our ESL learners? How can we provide more microlearning for them?

That is exactly what many of the MyEnglishLabs do. While they follow a FLIPped model, they also provide bite-sized lessons. In Next Generation Grammar the Grammar Coach lessons range from 1 to 3 minutes, and the same is true for Project Success and others. Good microlessons should further learning while reducing the complexity of the concept. Additionally, they should be self-contained. Take a look at this Grammar Coach video:

In 3 minutes and 12 seconds, the Grammar Coach not only “taught” adverbial clauses of time, but did so in a way that was simple and clear for the student. Complex concepts are broken down and “seen” by the learner. Jennifer, the Coach, even “checks” or “assesses” student learning, giving students time to reflect on the new concept autonomously. That is microlearning.

Using the digital environment allows learners to see and hear the content in a medium they are comfortable with and within a time period that holds their attention.

Traphagan, Tomoko; Kucsera, John; Kishi, Kyoko. “Impact of Class Lecture Webcasting on Attendance and Learning.” Educational Technology Research & Development 58.1 (2010): 19–37. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.