Introduction to Microlearning

In a wide sense, microlearning can be understood as a metaphor which refers to micro aspects of a variety of learning models, concepts and processes.

"No matter if learning refers to the process of building up and organizing knowledge, to the change of behavior, of attitudes, of values, of mental abilities, of cognitive structures, of emotional reactions, of action patterns or of societal dimensions, in all cases we have the possibility to consider micro, meso and macro aspects of the various views on more or less persisting changes and sustainable alterations of performances."

Depending on frames and domains of reference, micro, meso and macro aspects vary. They are relational concepts. For example, in the context of language learning, one might think of micro aspects in terms of vocabularies, phrases, sentences, and distinguish them from situations and episodes (meso aspects) and socio-cultural specifics or complex semantics (macro aspects). In a more general discourse on learning, one might differentiate between the learning of individuals, group learning or learning of organizations and the learning of generations or societies.

Furthermore, microlearning marks a transition from common models of learning towards micro perspectives on and the significance of micro dimensions in the process of learning. The microlearning approach is an emergent paradigm, so there are no hard definitions or coherent uses of the term yet. However, the growing focus on microlearning activities can be seen by web users' activities on the subject, who tag their corresponding weblog postings and social bookmarks with the term 'microlearning'.

As an instructional technology, microlearning focuses on the design of micro learning activities through micro steps in digital media environments, which already is a daily reality for today's knowledge workers. These activities can be incorporated in learner's daily routines and tasks. Unlike "traditional" e-learning approaches, microlearning often tends towards push technology through push media, which reduces the cognitive load on the learners. Therefore, the selection of micro learning objects and also pace and timing of micro learning activities are of importance for didactical designs.