Micro-learning: training method adapted to our concentration abilities

Micro-Learning is a relatively new approach. It is supported by neuroscience, which encompasses all disciplines studying the anatomy and function of the nervous system, brain and memory.

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By Handaj Soukayna
Student researcher in training engineering and educational and communication technologies, Mohammed Premier Oujda University, Morocco

Our micro-learning is a relatively new approach. It is supported by neuroscience, which encompasses all disciplines studying the anatomy and function of the nervous system, brain and memory. This therefore refers to new perceptions making it possible to better understand how to optimize learning and at the same time how to better train, whether in basic training (mainly students belonging to generation Z) or continuing training (employees, employees and officials).

Indeed, a large part of the students come from generation Z, born with web 2.0, which also explains why they are called “digital natives” or the “connected generation”. The results of a study showed that students of this new generation have an aversion to lectures, rather need activities and variety, want to learn and act quickly. They prefer speed to depth.

In the same perspective, the latest brain decoding tests, uncovered through neuroscience, have shown us that the maximum attention of a human being is limited to a maximum of 10 minutes. The short format of micro-learning perfectly matches this logic and allows it to make the best use of the learners' ability to concentrate.

In this article, we will try to approach the notion of micro-learning : on what neuroscience work is the micro-learning? What is the micro-learning? And how can it be set up?

Maintain concentration? Easy to say…

Work has been done on the brain activity of an attentive and non-attentive brain. Tests make it possible to measure the capacity of concentration and the evolution of this one from second to second. What is indubitable is that we are extremely weak in the face of distraction. We know that our attention is volatile, and we also know that we have periods when our concentration is better: in the morning for some, in the evening for others.

But since we are there, what is attention?

It is simply the ability to filter what, in this uninterrupted flow, seems interesting and useful to us from what is not. Attention translates in this way, at each moment, the relative importance that each individual grants to beings and to things, potentially in the form of thoughts.

… and concentration?

Concentration, on the other hand, consists in continuously keeping active the neurons which keep in memory our intention of the moment (what we intend to do). Which supposes that it has been clearly defined!

Without respite, the brain is exhausted

Too much or too little energy can affect concentration. Break times are very important. Our selection filter can be faulty, and our concentration can be dampened. Remember that attention is a filter. The illusionist knows how to use the filter of our attention very well. He hijacks it for the benefit of what he wants to hide from us.

Namely that the brain makes decisions as quickly as the gaze moves, that is to say three or four decisions per second. He deserves special treatment, REST!

Best performance

Micro-goals? … Interesting!

The idea is to segment the programs into small modules, to set very short-term objectives. This will reinforce the intention. This will also enhance success and therefore self-confidence. If the objective is short, we will be able to notice more effectively the drifts of our attention and to rectify them. So, to improve your concentration, there's nothing like organizing a succession of small tasks, interspersing breaks.

In other words, to facilitate the task of the neurons, it will be in our interest to favor concrete intentions and especially in the short term, because the activity of these neurons is extremely volatile. Clearly, if you want to stay focused, do not hesitate to cut your vague and distant final objective into micro-objectives of a few minutes at most.

In short, it is comfortable to create “concentration bubbles”, focused on a single concrete objective for a short period and fixed in advance.

Our micro-learning, What is that?

The term micro-learning has been used since the beginning of the 21st century, mainly in the context of online learning. This is usually an abbreviated form of expression for all kinds of short-term learning activities with micro content.

Our micro-learning is a training or learning modality in a short sequence of 30 seconds to 3 minutes, using texts, images and sounds. In other words, it is a lecture broken down into small units, repeated in small sequences in order to allow the learner to be able to produce or achieve a desired result. The micro-learning is based on short knowledge modules around a precise notion, with a defined objective. It can be used for formal training, but it also finds a wider and more informal use, in particular allowing a better learning performance.

Why the micro-learning?

According to cognitive neuroscience, it is absolutely necessary to work on a concept several times during its learning in order to maximize memorization and promote its anchoring.

According to the experiences of the German philosopher Hermann Ebbinghaus, 70% of the knowledge taught is simply forgotten if no booster shot is given later. As a result, thanks to the decomposition of the modules into several short sequences, easily consultable by the user, the micro-learning allows them to regularly review their knowledge, which greatly improves the effectiveness of the training.

In addition, apart from danger, our brain tends to go towards sources of pleasure. Hence the highlighting of another key point of the success of the micro-learning, which resides in the ease with which one can transpose the traditional mechanisms of the game into the latter.

Indeed, it is now commonly accepted that we learn more easily when we "play", the game, stimulating our emotions and our senses, helps to focus our attention and improve our memorization. This is also due to the fact that the game stimulates learner engagement, which reinforces learning.

Easy to set up

Flexible and adaptable tool!

Since each learner can connect to the platform wherever they are, the micro-learning allows all the users concerned to be trained, without number limits, and without having to bring them together at the same place on a fixed date. Convenient from a logistical point of view.

In addition, unlike face-to-face training, the micro-learning is extremely flexible in its organization. It allows you to better integrate into the daily life of employees, often disrupted by unforeseen circumstances. It offers the opportunity for these learners to meet the training or information needs according to the work situations that arise without wasting time for more professional efficiency.

According to neuroscience, there must be coherence between things: the environment with the need for concentration, the content with the visual, etc. This contributes to the intentional comfort of placing oneself in a state of concentration, and of not favoring possible incompatibilities. Something that we find in this new form of training.

Perfectly adaptable tool, the micro-learning can take many forms. It can thus be:

  • a MCQ sent by text message to which the employee in training must respond;
  • a set of videos and documents focused on a theme;
  • a resource center with documentation, articles and videos to review;
  • a screen saver where the employee must solve small training exercises to reconnect when his computer goes to sleep.

It can also be used on different media: from smart phones to computers and tablets.


The main interest of micro-learning is to avoid the cognitive saturation that occurs during teaching sequences by focusing an activity on a single message. It allows you to return in a targeted way to a concept at the precise moment when it is needed.

Note that not all training can be done by micro-learning, it is an excellent tool that can support formal and informal training programs.

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