Monday, July 18, 2011

BPN 1576 The twitter of e-learning

Recently I attended a conference on micro-learning in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. It is a very intersting subject, when you get deeper into it. To me it is the twitter of e-learning; a worthwhile subject to get into. I was asked to say something about micro-learning and tablet-like devices such e-readers and tablets.

For micro learning so far mobile phones and smart phones have been used. But with the arrival of tablets the question can be posed: What does the introduction of e-readers and tablets in micro-learning mean? Just a pure replacement of mobile and smart phones?

In order to evaluate the impact properly a definition of micro-learning is needed:
"No matter if learning refers to the process of building up and organizing knowledge, to the change of behaviour, 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." (Hug 2005, p. 4).

The definition is rather broad. In practice micro-learning has found a place between e-learning and social media, in particular twitter and tweets. One could say that micro-learning is the twitter of e-learning: the content is compact and short and sent by SMS through a mobile phone or by text through the small window of a smart phone.

By introducing a 3G or wi-fi e-reader or a 3G or wi-fi tablet into the range of devices, these devices can perform the same tasks as a mobile phone and a smart phone do now, which is micro-chunking the learning material. But as these tablet-like devices have communication tools and also e-mail tools, it offers a new possibility: the coincidence of time and context. In the online daily newspaper business, especially from the business newspapers this is called day-parting. It means that the content of news follows the rhythm of the day and the use of devices. So at daybreak one is presented with an overview of the news headlines on the PC at home. On the way to the office the smart phone will produce bullets of news. In the office the user will get longer articles in between the activities. During lunch the smart phone takes over again and in the afternoon the PC, while on the way home the smart phone functions again as communication device. In online business newspapers this means that items are longer for PC and are short bullets for the mobile phone.

Presently, micro-learning is restricted to short messages and reminders. With smart e-readers and tablets micro-learning can expand its strategy of feeding content to the student. Depending on the supposed day rhythm of the student, a mix of usual short messages and longer messages with explanation can be offered.

BPN 1576

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