The concepts of e-Learning and MicroLearning
Let's start this essay by expressing how those English speaking countries have influenced, through their technological achievements, other countries´ citizens´ awareness of their need to learn the English language: Mexico is a clear example. In spite of its geographical proximity to the United States of America, English teaching comes very late in the official curriculum in the official educational system. As a matter of fact, those who speak English relatively well, usually come from private schools which use the learning of a new language as a marketing and social tool. If the pupil becomes bilingual -either in French or English- he or she can use the new language acquired as a status symbol, which in turn can open up for him or her, better employment opportunities.
In this essay we will approach the online courses, namely the very innovative MicroLearning, which is part of e-Learning and owes its name to its very compact format which makes it a very practical version for training on the digital platforms.
What does Microlearning consist of?
The English term Microlearning could be translated as Learning by Drops, or Learning by Capsules. However, to avoid confusion, we will continue using the English word(s). In this Tech avalanche, so that Internet users learn different topics in greater depth, but in small doses and with a wide variety of topics to choose from.
This methodology contrasts with long-term courses; no longer sought after as avidly as before by people who have now assumed family obligations, and whose jobs do not allow them enough time to attend full-time to a technological college or a university.
Nowadays, workers feel very pressured by the importance given to the professional title or diploma. The present employee is now in the urgent need to finish his truncated studies, or to become certified in some aspect of modern technology, and the Internet has become a concrete possibility to study and get a certification. So online, these people can now finish a university degree or they can even take a master's degree and subsequently aspire to achieve a PhD. All this, without attending an educational center, even if they do have to pay some amount for enrolling, or for monthly or quarterly tuition; or maybe advance a lump sum to cover the cost of the training they will receive.
As explained by Diego Sánchez, the executive director of Vértice e-Learning: ¨ Microlearning, also known in Spanish, as micro-aprendizaje, could be defined as a methodology divided into small, inter-related training contents. A product that arises from the adaptation of traditional training to the consumer society within the fast concept of 'here and now'. This modality is organized around 'learning pills', that is to say, small training modules with a duration that should not exceed 30 minutes. Microlearning is based on the idea that the fragmented contents fit the interval of attention in which the human brain remains concentrated¨.
For companies: microlearning means the possibility of offering users an updated and immediate experience of continuous training. When the course is taught through a modular format, this approach allows creating different teaching alternatives with its contents.
For users: under this modality they can access -when and where they want- relevant updated contents. The new knowledge assimilate and settle with greater ease, since these contents are oriented to work specific areas of the sector in which the interested party works, or wishes to work.
The author of the article mentions that 'microlearning' contents have become a trend on the internet, but he makes it clear these should invariably adjust to the following modalities:
• To informal Learning. It should be based on the exchange of ideas and be cooperative.
• To Briefness in its text. Each individual pill must keep in mind it cannot last longer than 15 minutes
• To its Responsive nature. This brief course must also keep in mind that every webpage nowadays has to be properly seen on all devices, but at the same time keeping its structure as well as its original order.
• Interactividy. It is also a dynamic formation and it is based on gamification.
• Re-usability. It is expected to have flexible contents oriented towards learning of multiple platforms.
These make up the reasoning behind the rise of this microlearning trend, which also responds to a real market demand and intends to continue to stay at the forefront of online learning.
Microlearning, which is one of the e-Learning solutions of the Vértice platform, follows a methodology made up of small, inter-related training contents, which it calls "learning pills".
This is a product that arises from the adaptation of traditional educational training to that of society´s fast consumption 'here and now'. Such modality is organized around 'learning pills', that is to say, small training modules with a duration that never exceeds 30 minutes. This 30-minute margin is based on scientific basis, since such fragmented contents are adjusted to the interval of attention in which the human brain remains concentrated.
Regarding users, this modality facilitates access to relevant and updated content, when and where they want it. The new knowledge is assimilated and settled more easily, and it is oriented to work specific areas of the work environment for the student on-line.
Historical Panorama of Distance Education in Mexico
E-learning is the modern version of what in Mexico was understood in the 1930´s or 1940´s as Distance Education, which was essentially education by mail. This approach, even in those years, was different from conventional education, especially college education, since it was only available in Mexico City and one or two of the major urban centers of the Mexican Republic.
The Network of Scientific Journals of Latin America and the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal (redalyc.org.), In their essay entitled PANORAMA OF DISTANCE EDUCATION IN MEXICO, its authors Zaira Navarrete-Cazales * Héctor Manuel Manzanilla-Granados ** Navarrete -Cazales, Z. and Manzanilla-Granados, HM (2017) make a summary in the Latin American Journal of Educational Studies, titled PANORAMA ON DISTANCE EDUCATION IN MEXICO. The authors used documentary sources that helped them put together a historical review of Distance Education and its current status in Mexico. It is interesting to note that in the 20th century, Mexico was one of the countries most concerned with offering distance education; that became, the antecedent of what is now called e learning.
The driving force of distance education was the urgent need to bring literacy to rural populations. For example, since 1941, Mexico set up the Primary School for Adult Broadcasting. Later on, in 1944 the Federal Institute for Teacher Training was founded, offering courses by mail to teachers who trained peasants. These courses lasted six years, under two modalities: the Escuela por Correspondencia, where courses were begun and the teacher was trained at the work center itself. After that, the courses were completed at The Oral School to which they had to attend during the the period of teachers´ holidays. This improved the training since in those years 76% of the federal teachers and 86% of the rural teachers did not have a teaching degree.
Many years later, in 1966, another phase of distance education began; the so-called Telesecundaria project (Middle school teaching). Classes were taught live thanks to microwave technology and a closed circuit television. In this way, the academic program of secondary schools was taught, as these institutions were not in a position to meet the demand for secondary education in sparsely populated areas, generally with rural or indigenous inhabitants.
Later in the decade of the 70's an open high school model was implemented with the assistance of the Technological Institute of Monterrey, and it was right there, in Monterrey, where the first educational television channel in Latin America was created, with an emphasis on those basic educational levels .
Later on, by 1972 the Autonomous University of Mexico, created the Open University System, to promote independent study, doing away with those obstacles such as those of time, place, age, work, and so forth, that prevented students from gaining a university degree. Later, in 1997 it established the Coordination of Open University and Distance Education.
Not to be outdone, the National Polytechnic Institute adopted, in 1974, an Open Teaching System in several of its schools, beginning with an International Trade degree.
For 2007, the Polytechnic created the so-called Polivirtual, which offers baccalaureate or senior high school courses, bachelor's, post-graduate studies, as well as other educational services, but now with the support of information technologies available, as well as that provided by modern communications.
As we can now see, Mexico was one of the pioneer countries in Latin America, to set up and carry out distance education. During this second decade of the second millenium, several institutions and companies have adopted e-learning, making use of the great reservoir of experience obtained in the field of education at a distance.
All of this, is not just an effort of an individual country, but of the whole of Latin America, and the world itself. Nowadays, just by having access to the internet, you can access high level training (even Ivy League Universities, among others) and a very specific one.
However, we must understand the users´ evolution in terms of work and vision, in the world. On the other hand, we should not set aside companies such as Netflix and Google which no longer require titles and diplomas of high educational ranking. These firms focus on the individual himself or herself being hired, and on his or her work skills.
We do not know what the next step of these learning topics will be. However, at Kreativeco we do know that knowledge is increasingly accessible to the world population, providing opportunities for professionalization and opening up scenarios for the employee´s personal growth. This new knowledge of such issues, help us find for our clients real solutions that may be up to the level of what is now available in our world,; and that is bringing forth tangible results to its high performance teams.
* Link to this article: https://www.vertice.org/blog/que-es-el-microlearning/
Edgardo Flores Rivas y Luis Edgardo Flores Bolívar,
Ciudad de México.
October 21st., 2018.