Why studying less to gain more up-to-date knowledge will shape the future of education.
GUEST COLUMN | by Anton Pavlovsky
Most educators think that lack of motivation and shrinking attention spans are the culprits in the dismal state of online learning. According to a study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the online course dropout rate averages around 96 percent. However, the demand for skills changes faster than learners finish any long-term course, questioning the relevance of education. The rise of generative AI only reinforces the trend, boosting the demand for concise “just-in-time” knowledge. This advancement ignites the revolution in edtech, bringing microlearning to the forefront.
‘…the demand for skills changes faster than learners finish any long-term course, questioning the relevance of education. The rise of generative AI only reinforces the trend…’
In contrast to traditional time-consuming study commitments, microlearning delivers short and targeted modules. By breaking down complex topics, it enhances knowledge retention and engagement, while minimizing the time and effort spent on learning. In this article, I will explore how a bite-sized approach can revolutionize the way we gain knowledge in the AI-dominated environment.
1. Seamless Integration into Busy Lifestyles
The average person spends about 7 hours per day on internet-connected screens. With microlearning, people can access educational content anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Whether it’s listening to a book summary during a commute or completing a quick interactive quiz during a lunch break, microlearning seamlessly integrates into busy routines, ensuring consistent progress.
The modular nature of microlearning enables people to progress at their own pace. Learners take small, manageable steps toward their self-development goals without feeling burdened or constrained by rigid schedules. Bite-sized formats also make navigating large amounts of content easier and help customize the experience by focusing on the most relevant ideas and topics. Thus, microlearning ensures that valuable educational opportunities are not lost amid competing demands for attention.
2. Improved Knowledge Retention
Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve demonstrates that people typically lose 80% of the knowledge they learn within a month. By delivering educational content in bite-sized chunks, microlearning employs spaced repetition. The approach suggests that reviewing information improves knowledge retention. For instance, returning to key insights from books over time maximizes the value of reading. The flexibility of microlearning allows people to access the content on-demand, ensuring that the knowledge is relevant and applicable, which also contributes to long-term memory formation.
Microlearning also enhances retention by involving both transient (short-term) and sustained (focused) attention. Learners rely on their transient attention by engaging with the material during short periods of available time. At the same time, by structuring the content to be concise and relevant, microlearning keeps learners engaged and facilitates sustained attention. Interactive formats help users focus and contribute to deeper understanding by stimulating cognitive processes like critical thinking and problem-solving.
3. Bridging Skill Gaps
As technology rapidly advances, new skill sets are in demand, and professionals must continually update their knowledge to remain competitive. The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum indicates that by 2025, about 50% of the workforce will require reskilling. With the ability to quickly deliver relevant information in bite-sized formats, microlearning enables individuals to stay abreast of emerging trends, empowering them to adapt to changing job requirements and industry demands.
Easy-to-consume learning modules ensure that self-development becomes a sustainable habit. This consistency helps people embrace lifelong learning, become more agile, and process new information more effectively. Whether it’s mastering essential soft skills or understanding machine learning algorithms, microlearning equips professionals to thrive in the AI-dominated study and work environment.
Overall, microlearning has the power to address two critical challenges: shrinking attention spans and changing skill demands. Microlearning captures and sustains learners’ attention by delivering content in bite-sized, easily digestible modules. The flexibility of a learning flow enables busy adults to acquire new knowledge and skills in a way that best suits their lifestyle, concentration limits, and evolving needs.
Anton Pavlovsky is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Headway, a global edtech startup with Ukrainian roots. In 2023 Headway made the GSV 150 list of the world’s most transformative digital learning and workforce skills companies. More than 50 million learners in 140+ countries use his company’s products. Anton is an advocate of lifelong learning and pursues a mission to help people grow by making the best ideas accessible. Connect with Anton on LinkedIn.