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With Micro-Learning We Can Flatten the Forgetting Curve

In a recent article I talked about the forgetting curve, the diagram that describes the speed with which we forget the things we’ve learned. If the Ebbinghaus’s curve defines the problem, micro-learning is the solution. It’s this process – in which content takes the form of small units tackled at regular intervals – that I want us to think about today. Let’s take a look.

Recapping the Forgetting Curve

I suspect you’ll agree that the forgetting curve can be quite a disheartening sight – with its suggestion that we lose half of the things we’ve learned within half an hour. To put salt in the wound, you forget a further 20% after twenty-four hours, if you don’t look over it again at least

This means that, a day after any presentation, conference, research session, or consultation, you’ll only remember 30% of what you mentioned. A week later, that is down to zero.

Hermann Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve drives home the reality of the expression, my mind is like a sieve. It shows just how much value training sessions, meetings, or books – personal development books or otherwise – lose due to the transience of memory. And it points in the direction of potentially more effective ways of learning too. Micro-learning is one of them.

How Do You Define Micro-Learning?

It’s my firm conviction that micro-learning is the future of education. Why? Because it’s the most effective way to intervene within the forgetting curve. It puts a plug into the holes in our mind through which our knowledge tends to disappear.

Experts define micro-learning as the educational method in which learners approach content regularly and in small units. Lessons or ideas are broken down into manageable pieces which are tackled in pursuit of short-term goals. As a result, attention shifts from the big projects and curricula to the bite-sized, the quickly read and digested, the ‘micro’.

It’s a term that is getting more and more traction since its early use in the noughties. Nonetheless, it is still most commonly used in the context of e-learning and tech-optimised education. So, to get a sense of what we’re talking about, think of language-learning apps like Duolingo or learning with flashcards. Micro-learning is exactly this.

What are the Benefits of Micro-Learning?

Why might we, as people interested in personal development, care about this educational concept? Because, as I mentioned above, it is the most effective cure to the forgetting curve. It is the best way to address the problem that we lose the knowledge of almost everything we learn.

The primary benefit of micro-learning is that it facilitates the greater retention of concepts, ideas, and thoughts. The science behind this is obvious. Rather than having a great lump of content to read in one go, returning to the subject at intervals engages your powers of recall. ‘What was this again? Oh yeah, I remember’, is the inevitable thought process in micro-learning. And it is this that makes the content stick.

Meanwhile, the mere fact that you only need to manage a little bit at a time enables much greater appreciation of that specific idea. I’ve talked before about how overwhelm can strike if we take on too much at once.  Micro-learning avoids this, by drip-feeding memorable information.

Micro-Learning and the Gen-ius Journal

It’s these ideas that form the basis of the theory behind my Gen-ius Journal and Gen-ius Guides. Just as change never happens if we bite off more than we can chew, we never learn anything if we overdo it either.

The Gen-ius Journal and Guides are organised in bite-size chunks, only 30 minutes a day, so that users retain as much of the content as possible, revisiting important points again and again to reinforce learning.

Achieving our dream days is not something that happens in one go. Rather, it requires the slow accumulation of habits, new mindsets, and rewards. And only micro-learning can teach that.

Listen to this Episode of The Gen-ius Podcast, all about The Forgetting Curve

Avoiding Overwhelm: HOW to Prioritise Your Tasks and Habits.

HOW to Implement Ideas After An Event