Little Things, Big Packages

Do we have the attention span of a goldfish?

Attention spans are shrinking. The ability to concentrate on one topic for long periods of time has been replaced by high levels of stimulation, and little tolerance for “down time.” We are working more hours, getting less sleep, and our communications are challenging to manage. How do we teach in a time when no one has time?

The 90/20/8 rule says:

  • In the first 8 minutes of learning, we’re at our peak energy level
  • After 20 minutes, our neurons experience a noticeable drop
  • After 60-120 minutes, alertness implodes

Call it nano-learning or micro-learning; 3-7 minute chunks of learning matches the brain’s working memory and attention span. Apply some instructional design to the content and you have games, video, and graphics that can make the message stick.

Malcolm Knowles described the perfect teachable moment as the intersection of a small question with a great small answer. Teachable moments happen every day, every hour, and technology allows us to do this outside of the physical classroom.

References: Elliot Masie Learning Consortium
The Adult Learning Theory, Malcolm Knowles


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