Information in way the human brain processes information has led to changes in eLearning course design. In the past, eLearning contained lengthy modules that could take from 30 minutes to an entire hour to complete. They were very involved and did not always result in a high level of user-retention. Breaking information into bite-sized chunks can improve the eLearning experience and increase student success.
What are Information Chunks?
A chunk of information refers to a key concept and its supporting details presented in isolation. Rather than providing students with one long course that consists of multiple learning objectives, learning chunks present one learning goal per course. These are shorter and may take as little as 15 minutes to complete, or even just a single minute depending on the content. Each chunk is focused and goal-specific.
Why Smaller is Better
The short-term memory has a limited capacity. The average human can only hold a certain amount of information in its working memory at a given time. When too much information is presented in a short amount of time, an increase in errors begins to occur.
Miller’s Law refers to the “magical number” of items – between 5 and 9 – that the brain can store in the short-term. (Additional studies show lower estimates –between 4 and 5).This means that long-term retention and application is improved by presenting information in smaller amounts.
Benefits of Learning Chunks
Improved eLearner Performance:
-Smaller amounts of information are easier for the brain to process
-Improved processing leads to greater understanding and retention
-Individual topics can be explored in greater depth
Increased eLearner Use:
-Faster completion time results in a more satisfied learner
-More adaptable to users’ hectic schedules
-Mobile learning is more likely to be accessed by users
No Compromise of Quality:
-Chunks can include the same video, audio, graphics, simulations, and animations as longer courses
-High-quality content is maintained
-Smooth transference from desktop to mobile still available
Today’s eLearners appreciate time efficiency. By providing large amounts of information in the form of smaller, easier to access learning chunks, users are more likely to access learning materials on the go, benefitting both the user and the information provider.