Teaching Tip: Using Micro-Learning and Micro-Content

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The PLC (Professional Learning Community) will be providing the teaching tip of the week throughout the academic year in support of their goal of interdisciplinary collegiality.

Students can sometimes be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of textbook reading. They are busy with work, family, and outside lives in addition to completing required readings for their courses. One way to enhance traditional textbook readings includes the use of micro-learning and micro-content. Micro-learning is “learning on the go” that can be heard, viewed, read, or contemplated by the student in small and manageable segments of content. Instructors can create or locate micro-content to supplement course content; some of this micro-content can be accessed through a mobile device for convenience to the student. Some examples of micro-content include digital flashcards or short practice quizzes (e.g., through Quizlet), short podcasts (1-5 minutes in length), or short video clips (1-5 minutes in length).

Micro-content can cover tricky academic vocabulary, key concepts, review of material, and more. It can also be a way for the instructor to share her or his perspective and commentary on the materials, for instance, through a short audio or video clip. A tool within Blackboard that can be used to produce Professor-authored video content includes Kaltura. I prefer to use the free tool “Audacity” to record micro-podcasts on key terminology for the teacher candidates in my online courses. For each micro- podcast, I include the transcript for the podcast in addition to posting the link to the audio. An example of a professor-authored micro-podcast (an example of micro-content) is here.  Another tool to create short pieces of content is the free screencasting tool, Jing.

An alternative to creating your own micro-content is to locate it online. Aim for quality and clarity of content. Students can also create micro-content for their own study, e.g., by creating their digital flashcards with the free resource Quizlet mentioned earlier. Micro-content can be an optional or required part of the course!

~Peggy Semingson, peggys@uta.edu, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education

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