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Microlearning: Unleashing the Power of Millennial & Gen Z's Attention Span

“Informal learning experiences are particularly appealing to us, as we crave knowledge at the point of need, regardless of location or time” 

Microlearning, a powerful method of acquiring knowledge and skills through short bursts of study or practice, has emerged as a highly sought-after educational approach worldwide. The harmonious pairing of microlearning with Generation Z is particularly noteworthy, as attention spans across generations have dwindled to mere seconds.

Harnessing Microlearning for Generation Z

As a member of Millennials myself (individuals born in the mid-to-late 1980s to 1996), I have personally experienced and witnessed the value and utility of microlearning. Informal learning experiences are particularly appealing to us, as we crave knowledge at the point of need, regardless of location or time. Our affinity for microlearning stems from a shared characteristic: a shorter attention span.


The Effectiveness of Microlearning

“microlearning serves as an ideal solution for individuals burdened with busy schedules"

Research indicates that microlearning boasts an impressive 80% memory retention rate compared to traditional learning methods. This heightened effectiveness can be attributed to the focused learning objectives and the smaller increments of information provided to students.

The brevity of microlearning modules encourages students to engage more fully with the course material. Personally, I have found great value in micro-units while consuming digital training videos, as they enhance my understanding of the subject matter.

Moreover, microlearning serves as an ideal solution for individuals burdened with busy schedules, offering the satisfaction of continuous learning, even within limited time constraints.

Unveiling the Science Behind Microlearning

A study conducted by the University of California – Irvine reveals that the average attention span of an individual peaks at around 11 minutes before distractions become prevalent. I have personally observed this phenomenon in my own life, where effective studying occurs within shorter intervals. Microlearning capitalizes on this by delivering information rapidly and in manageable portions. Why spend 30 minutes studying when a micro-unit, encompassing a concise lesson, demonstration, interactive exercise, and quick review, can be completed in just 4-5 minutes?

Surveys among employees demonstrate a clear preference for breaking lessons into smaller segments. In fact, 58% of respondents in a Gallup poll believed that this approach would enhance their learning experience. Notably, 94% of e-learners expressed a preference for lessons lasting less than 10 minutes. These findings align with scientific research indicating that the human brain can only effectively process around five new pieces of information at a given time. Such insights contribute to the resounding success of microlearning.

Microlearning: Transforming Industries

The upward trend of microlearning across various industries has only intensified since the onset of the pandemic. Consequently, employee learning methods have adapted to the current business landscape. Noteworthy case studies showcase the successful implementation of microlearning in diverse companies, including Walmart, Bloomingdales, and Intercontinental Hotels, leading to enhanced productivity and performance.

The Future of Learning

In the past, I have encountered online courses promising boundless knowledge. Like many individuals, I succumbed to these marketing ploys, only to be met with overwhelming content. Courses comprised of numerous topics, each with an extensive list of lengthy lessons, often proved discouraging.

A Google consumer survey highlights the challenge of training my generation. Sustaining concentration for more than four minutes can be a daunting task. Our thoughts can easily scatter, except during those rare moments of deep concentration lasting four to eight minutes. We owe a lighthearted acknowledgment to social media for seemingly reducing our attention spans to a mere blink.

This is the main reason why I believe in the new direction we are taking at Digital Girl Africa. We are not just about equipping women relevant digital skills, it's also about teaching them the benefits of lifelong learning like future-proofing their skills.

Ian Mangenga

Founder + CEO


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