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How Nanolearning Could Affect The Future of Education

We live in a world of immediacy. If we want something, we want it now! If we're hungry, we head out for some fast food or have it delivered. If we want entertainment, we turn on the TV and start streaming a movie. And now, if we want to learn something new quickly, we have nanolearning. 

Nanolearning—also called microsessions or microlessons—are short two to ten-minute, multi-media-rich tutorials. The beauty of nanolearning is that you can access these lessons anywhere you have WiFi or data service, 24/7, since they are primarily accessed through smartphones and tablets. The revolutionary educational concept here is that you do not need the active participation of an instructor.

But how will nanolearning affect the future of education? Will it phase out the need for us teachers, or will we adopt the practice?

How Does Nanolearning Work?

Nanolessons are delivered through text messages or online platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Youtube. Each lesson focuses on learning just one thing. Some lessons are even interactive. These microlessons may or may not be linked to more in-depth information, leading to longer learning sessions if the student desires. Teachers can use them as stand-alone lessons or as supplemental material to help students with location-based comprehensive learning at traditional grade and high schools, technical schools, junior colleges, or universities.

The development of these DIY learning courses requires the creator to be tech-savvy, meaning they need the ability to create dynamic infographics, videos, podcasts, social media posts, and familiarity with apps used for microlearning WhatsApp.

Who Is Eligible To Create These Courses?

When it comes to our long-standing, traditional educational institutions, there is a protocol for vetting teachers from grade schools through colleges. People wishing to teach at these locations must meet established criteria. For example, public school teachers must earn a four-year degree and have teaching experience before applying for teaching jobs.

And this is where the first potential issue arises with nanolearning.

At present, the quality of a nanolearning course is based on how many followers the content creator has. We can assume that the more followers, the better the lesson quality and student satisfaction. The marketplace may be the ultimate judge of who's providing the best learning experiences.

Still, how can we trust that our students are learning accurate information? We know that "research" and "study" are quickly becoming vague, non-specific terms to generalize someone's knowledge acquisition on a subject. Whereas teachers went through years of school and course study, some nanolesson content creators could have merely spent 30 minutes looking up a subject they don't quite understand or are presenting at 50% accuracy.

Whatever nanomaterial you use in the classroom, screen it first. Use your best digital literacy skills and impress these skills on your students, too.

Information Overload?

Some educators believe that we are losing our ability to focus and retain new information because of our daily sensory overload. In contrast, others think that it equips us to take in more information and retain it. And the more chunked down it is—meaning broken down into bite-sized blocks of information—the more we learn and are prone to take action on what we've learned.

What Are The Benefits of Nanolearning?

Here's what some experts will tell you:

  1. Because nanolearning consists of chunked-down, highly focused lessons, this approach leads to higher levels of comprehension and retention of that material.
  2. Nanolearning also results in higher levels of attention because each microlesson is short. These lessons don't give the student time to drift off into a daydream. They are a quick, concise, in-and-out approach to learning. Could it be that because the student knows the lesson will be short, they are more agreeable to invest their complete time, focus, and energy into short learning spurts? 

Quite simply, the idea here is that nanolearning leads to higher productivity levels.

Is Nanolearning The Wave Of The Future In Education?

As stated earlier, bringing nanolearning into our traditional education institutions will require retraining teachers and instructors to be tech-savvy in creating new multimedia lessons. Multiply that by each teacher teaching up to five classes a day and doing this five days a week, and you can see where creating nanolearning lessons for every course is probably a no-go.

  • Though the videos are short, they still take time to record.
  • Nanolessons will not provide the in-depth lessons students need to fully understand the background of something.
  • It puts too much attention on tech and less on other, equally and sometimes more effective modes of teaching.

But what if schools create new positions for nanolearning course specialists? These specialists would collaborate with the teachers to develop microlessons for their students. However you look at this unique new form of instruction, we will have to phase it in slowly if embraced. This way, we can build our school's microcourse library.

Despite this, nanolearning could become a useful way to connect to students in a world we cannot control—and we shouldn't hesitate to start using it now. Social media isn't going anywhere, and short-form video is the trend to follow. 

As prompted by their teachers, we could see older grades using nanolessons as a form of peer education, creating nanolessons for each other. Students could find themselves trying to recreate or explain chemistry reactions they see in the videos. Or, as we've already seen with the countless number of dance trends out there, nanolessons could be applied to a movement class or physical education curriculum.

Nanolearning Conclusions

As you can see, the future of education is looking like "a brave new world." It could be that ultimately our traditional educational institutions will have no say when it comes to nanolearning. Parents and students may end up demanding it.

And our schools will want to provide nanolearning courses if they see evidence that students are learning more because they are choosing to learn.

Nanolearning is filling a niche in education, even though it will never replace comprehensive education.

The question is whether or not our schools have the flexibility and the budgets to adopt nanolearning. And also whether our teachers and instructors are amenable to becoming tech-savvy "content curators" along with their existing teaching duties.

Written by Ellie Hudovernik
Education World Contributor
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