Have you ever been so hungry that once food is in front of your face you immediately devour it? While it is delicious and satisfying at the moment, over-indulging often leaves you with stomach cramps and feeling sick… leaving no room for dessert! Sticking to bite sized portions allows you to avoid indigestion and leaves you room to appreciate more tasty options.
Now that we have established that bite sized options are the way to go, we can also apply this concept to other areas in our lives. Introducing the idea of bite sized learning: a teaching strategy implemented to deliver content in very small, focused nuggets (yes, food is still on our mind).
Information overload can be a serious issue… have you ever walked out of a class, lecture, educational retreat, or seminar and your mind has just gone blank because you’ve been wayyyyy too over-stimulated?
The way that content is typically presented now is drawn-out in an effort to jam-pack every bit of information into long classes or multi-day events. It can also be a struggle managing costly events, time constraints, and burnout when trying to fit meaningful training or learning sessions into everyone’s hectic schedules.
Bite sized learning is as simple as it sounds. This strategy focuses on deconstructing online content into small chunks that are easy to digest. These modules are fairly short and refined; they are meant to range anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes long and fixate on one main topic or idea of interest, as opposed to more conventional methods of learning that can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours long in an effort to brush through and consume a wide range of objectives.
With a major shift happening from more traditional styles of learning to eLearning or online learning, bite sized learning is an efficient and productive way to increase the retention of learners and improve engagement. There are many perks to this rapidly growing learning approach, which is why businesses all over have been adopting this method.
- What Is Microlearning? The Case For Shorter, Bite Sized Learning
- How to Create a Mini Course (Step-by-Step Guide, Examples, and 7 Expert Tips)
- Offers flexibility for mobile learning
One major advantage of bite sized learning is that it offers flexibility. In more conventional learning environments, people had to schedule a significant amount of time out of their busy schedule to attend in-person lectures or seminars. While there are certainly some benefits of learning in person through a hands-on learning approach, that kind of style is more beneficial for those areas of learning that require visual and kinesthetic techniques.
For auditory learning that often involves reading, writing, and memorization, there isn’t as big of a need to be in person for that style of learning. Bite sized learning offers flexibility for learners to be educated at any time and in any place – they don’t need to take a chunk out of their day to commute or block off a significant period of time.
With bite sized learning, modules are delivered in short, manageable bits that can be combined and consumed in flexible ways. This is a huge benefit for learners, depending on their immediate needs and preferences. They can work through various learning ‘nuggets’ that are valuable to them at the time through mobile learning, and also they can access these topics in an order that is useful to them.
- Improves engagement
We all know how easy it is to get side-tracked or have a wandering mind… sometimes it can be hard to stay alert and focused, never mind actually processing and digesting information!
Engagement with eLearning proves to be an especially difficult obstacle to overcome, as there are so many potential distractions (and no teacher there to keep a watchful eye on you). This is where bite sized learning has come into play. When learners know they don’t have to sit through a dreadful 60-minute session that covers too many topics to comprehend, they are more likely to pay attention.
Bite sized learning is a solution to prevent learners from dealing with mental exhaustion, boredom, and burnout. Learners are more motivated to consume quick yet meaningful content. The concept of bite sized learning also allows students to better understand the information that is presented, instead of thoughtlessly absorbing an overwhelming amount of knowledge.
Studies have found that students’ interest in learning and their understanding of the material immensely improved when smaller chunks of material were presented. This led to more engagement and overall better performance as students were able to successfully retain information and improve testing abilities (Liu, Wei, and Gao (2016). The use of small, well-planned, bite sized chunks of information help students who were previously disconnected, disengaged, and unmotivated tune in to be more driven and engaged.
- Caters to the working memory
Information that is presented in small portions is easier to digest, understand, and remember. From a psychological standpoint, the information processing theory is a cognitive theory that explains how information is encoded in our memory. This theory explains how we pay attention to the present moment, and how our brain filters information and stores it in either our long-term or short-term memory.
Of course, it is important that information gets stored in our long-term memory for us to be able to actively apply and use this knowledge. In a corporate environment when employees are given training, or in any kind of learning setting, you want your audience to understand and retain the information.
By breaking the learning material into different parts, people are better able to encode this information into their long-term memory. The psychological method of ‘chunking’ information allows people to take smaller bits of material and combine them into more meaningful – and therefore more memorable – wholes. This technique allows learning to be more manageable and easier to consolidate information into long-term memory. Learners are much more able to remember and transfer this knowledge to their daily tasks once it is processed into long-term memory.
- Increase in productivity
Now that we have established that bite sized learning offers more flexibility with mobile learning, enhances engagement levels, and helps us more efficiently process information into our long-term memory, you might already assume that productivity levels will increase! Not only are people able to be more effective with their time, they are able to better remember key points that are useful.
One very advantageous feature of bite sized learning nuggets is that they are often better than larger learning modules for just-in-time support. For example, if an employee needs a quick refresher on a specific process for how something operates, they most likely need it right away.
It is a much better use of time to jump through a quick couple-minute video or presentation rather than sifting through an hour-long module trying to find that one particular concept. Traditional learning styles forced learners to sit through a ton of extra irrelevant material, instead of cutting to the key concepts. Bite sized learning allows for learners to access material that is relevant to their issue at hand, and act on it immediately, increasing their productivity.
- Benefits modern learners
Modern learners are used to content that can be consumed on any device at any time throughout the day. Learning that is broken down into bite sized chunks has a higher chance of being accessed and retained. There are 4 different types of learning styles, and learning in small chunks caters to everyone. Bite sized learning allows for those who struggle to find a period of concentration actually be able to focus and actively learn, as it is only for a short amount of time.
One of the biggest barriers to learning is the constraint of time. Most people struggle finding the time to learn and being able to concentrate. Because of this factor, the demand for mobile learning has grown. People want to be able to learn anywhere and at any time… however, watching a 5-minute video on your commute to work sounds a lot more appealing than a 60-minute audio lecture. Traditional eLearning courses can be overwhelming and ineffective – people are expected to sit through long lectures and there is an overload of information.
Bite sized learning, unlike the traditional approach, focuses on meeting the needs of modern learners. Modern learners are used to being able to access information at their fingertips, however there is an overabundance of information that can definitely seem overwhelming.
Bite sized learning caters to this, as it allows them to access small nuggets of condensed information at their fingertips, anytime and anywhere. Mobile learning combined with bite sized learning offers the freedom for people to escape lengthy lectures and retain short chunks of information at a time that is convenient for them.
Now that we have established the benefits of bite sized learning, let’s talk about some tips on implementing bite sized training and some bite sized learning examples.
- Create short modules
It is difficult to give your full attention to something for longer than 20 minutes! Normally, after 60 to 90 minutes, our alertness decreases. Rest is important for learning, as it allows information to be digested. Short, bite sized eLearning modules that are available for people to watch when they are alert and at their peak energy levels is what often leads to successful results. Also, have some fun using various teaching strategies; there’s no doubt that different students shine under different teaching approaches. Check out our other blog post on the 5 Most Effective Teaching Styles. Remember, keep your modules brief and in bite sized nuggets for better engagement and retention!
- Stick to one topic at a time
People tend to get overwhelmed easily… and introducing more than one topic in a short time span could lead to over-stimulation. That’s not to say that you can’t introduce complex ideas in a bite sized learning environment, it just may be simpler to narrow down the subject matter to one idea at a time and focus on the key takeaways learners are required to know. It is important to highlight only the main concepts and avoid getting overcrowded with excessive and unnecessary information.
- Assess learners Proficiency in a bite sized manor
One of the greatest benefits of bite sized learning is the ability to support learners with the knowledge they need most. While bite sized learning is a very effective method in communicating key concepts, sometimes it can still be a challenge to gauge what stage learners are at, and what level of knowledge learners are able to comprehend. By adding short recaps into bite sized courses, you are able to better understand what level your students are at. Incorporating a simple short quiz or survey can help identify learners’ strengths and weaknesses, and determine their skills. Just remember to keep it bite sized as well!
- Provide additional resources
While some things are good bite sized, others are meant to be devoured! Maybe you’ve sparked someone’s interest and they are looking for more than a bite sized nugget.
Providing additional resources on the condensed version of the topic can be very beneficial to those who want to expand their knowledge and skills. It’s important to remember that everyone has a different learning style, and it’s good to try to be accessible to all. As well, accommodating various types of intelligences can generate better learning outcomes. Giving learners the flexibility to explore topics at a deeper level will help keep them more engaged.
- Create a bite sized learning schedule
With eLearning modules, it can sometimes be tricky to stay on track and up to date with everything. Providing a learning schedule, map, or timeline that outlines the different units will be very beneficial for both the instructor and the students.
There you have it! Hopefully our guide to bite sized learning can help you help others.