“Micro-learning” and education in the mobile age

“Micro-learning” and education in the mobile age
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As publishers have adapted to life on handheld screens, they’ve been forced to contrive new formats for content. Glossy iPad magazines have given way to more pragmatic bite-sized, mobile-optimized news startups, and a steadily increasing reliance on tweets, the original Jeep of the information superhighway.

But the bite-sized content bug has caught on in another field: education. As our screens have shrunk, our attention spans have, too, forcing educators to find more elegant ways of presenting text. Tools like Google’s Primer are gorgeously designed mini-courses for aspiring marketers, with short, snappy lessons that give the impression of quick progress.

Similar startups like Highbrow and Tenreads promise big aggregate learning in just a few minutes of reading a day. These tricky-to-maintain habits are steadily reinforced by push notifications on the user’s device—the same place where the lessons are conducted, making procrastination that much less likely.

Bite-sized learning has also popped up in online course design, where it’s used to increase engagement in younger learners with short attention spans. And as it turns out, it works in real life, too; Drexel University is now offering community bite-sized learning classes for local Philadelphia residents, describing the seminars as intense 90-minute sessions held continuously throughout the workday, ready for drop-ins.

Could micro-learning be accumulating in such force that it’s responsible for the drop in private college enrollments? Probably not—but it may eventually be responsible for eliminating the concept of traditional class-based learning altogether.

Read more from HP Matter’s Idea Economy issue here.

This article was produced on behalf of HP Matter by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.