ArticlePDF Available

Micro Learning and Narration Exploring possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling for the designing of "micro units" and didactical micro-learning arrangements

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Micro learning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term-focused activities. The paper presents basic understandings as well as a special concept, Integrated Micro Learning (IML), which is based on a patent-pending technology. Basically, this approach supports repetitive learning through embedding the learning process into daily routines by making use of communication devices. Through this method new learning spaces emerge and become available for life long learning. In this context, outlines of the role of narrations and storytelling for the designing of "micro units" and didactical arrangements are explored.
Content may be subject to copyright.
(5169 words / May, 2005)
Micro Learning and Narration
Exploring possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling for the
designing of “micro units” and didactical micro-learning arrangements
Theo Hug, Innsbruck
Paper presented at the fourth Media in Transition conference,
May 6-8, 2005, MIT, Cambridge (MA), USA
Abstract
Micro learning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term-focused activities.
The paper presents basic understandings as well as a special concept, Integrated Micro
Learning (IML), which is based on a patent-pending technology. Basically, this approach
supports repetitive learning through embedding the learning process into daily routines by
making use of communication devices. Through this method new learning spaces emerge and
become available for life long learning. In this context, outlines of the role of narrations and
storytelling for the designing of “micro units” and didactical arrangements are explored.
Authors address
A. Univ. Prof. Dr. Theo Hug E–mail: <theo.hug@uibk.ac.at>
Institute of Educational Sciences Internet: http://homepage.uibk.ac.at/~c60357/
University of Innsbruck http://ezwi1.uibk.ac.at/
Liebeneggstr. 8 http://ele.researchstudio.at/
A – 6020 Innsbruck Tel. / Fax: +43-512-507-4048 (Fax: -2880, Sec.: -4041)
Austria
Biographical information
Theo Hug is Associate Professor of Educational Sciences at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) and
also head of the Research Studio eLearning Environments, Research Studios Austria at the ARC
Seibersdorf research GmbH.
His present areas of interest are media education, media literacy, e-education, media communities,
methodology of qualitative research in social sciences and philosophy of science. He is author and
editor of many articles and books, among them “Media Education and Globalization“(Frankfurt/M. et
al, 2000), “How does Science generate Knowledge?” (Baltmannsweiler, 2001), “Instant Knowledge,
Bricolage and Tacit Knowledge” (Innsbruck, 2003; with co-editor Josef Perger), “Introduction of E-
Learning in Business Companies” (Wiesbaden, 2004).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
1
Micro Learning and Narration
Exploring possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling for the
designing of “micro units” and didactical micro-learning arrangements
Theo Hug
1 Points of Departure
The debate on postmodernism has faded at the end of the last millennium. It has brought
about a variety of metatexts, which have altered our view of the social environment and
provided ideas for a new framework for the analysis of societies, cultures and knowledge.
One of these metatexts is without doubt ”The End of the Great Narratives,” by which Jean–
François Lyotard (1984) condenses his analysis of knowledge in so called ‘highly developed
societies’. According to his view, in the sphere of modernity knowledge was closely tied to an
– for lack of a better word – ‘ideological’ framework, for example the emancipation of
humanity or prosperity of everybody through capitalism. These common ‘modern’ ideologies
have lost their obligation and power of legitimation in the 20th century.
If we look at society descriptions and time diagnosis today, some of them are tied up to the
postmodern condition in terms of post-industrial, computerized societies. Others are focussing
on different aspects which are expressed in terms like multi-cultural society, multi-option
society, world society, education society, adventure society, fun society, communication
society, information society, knowledge society, media society, etc. Each of the descriptions
opens up particular horizons of discourse and analysis, and even if we are aware of their
limits we cannot focus on the blind spots of the concepts while using them. And as soon as we
look at further details we find paradoxes and ambivalences such as the need of educational
changes and processes of internationalization of education vs. wide spread reform resistances,
the high value of economic performance vs. missing justice of chances, the ongoing
commercialization of knowledge vs. knowledge obligation to the community, or various
forms of edutainment vs. needs of media education and media literacy. For these paradoxes
and ambivalences and many other current developments media are important driving factors
not only in terms of media technologies or media institutions but rather in the sense of
complex interplays between symbolic, technological and societal formations. Mediation
means more than an aspect of technology which is opening up new spaces of communication,
affecting habits, value systems and world views or changing the modes of perception and
thinking. It means continuing transformation of the human condition in all of its physical,
psychological, biological, socio-cultural and economic aspects. Against this background,
medialization can be described as conceptual reinterpretation of the interplay of symbolic and
material dimensions in the process of worldmaking.
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
2
Therefore, I want to keep in mind the notion on medialization and mediated societies as a
starting point, both in the sense of empirical evidence about mediated environments and the
medialization and globalization of lifeworlds as well as in the philosophical sense of historical
constellations of interacting media1.
In view of this short description and current knowledge dynamics – for example politics of
knowledge, fragmentation of knowledge and new forms of mediated knowledge – an
important question arises: How can we promote learning and educational processes in
mediated working spaces and life worlds? One might think that pedagogical institutions act as
forerunners in this situation. With the exception some individualists, school experiments, and
innovative companies, the mainstream seems to insist on traditional models.
“Our learning institutions have been created in the spirit of research and openness, yet they
have acquired their own neurotic tendencies. Most notable is the strong reaction to change in
the classic models of distributing learning. Models of courses, programs, and degrees are still
central, even though technology and new needs on the part of learners are creating a climate
that requires a more dynamic alternative.” (Siemens 2005: 4)
Concepts of micro learning offer flexible and dynamic alternatives which are needed in view
of medial, societal and environmental changes. In the following sections the basic ideas of
micro learning and the concept of Integrated Micro Learning (IML) are presented.
Furthermore, some possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling in the context of
micro-learning arrangements are explored.
2 Micro Learning
Unlike micro teaching, micro learning is a rather new expression. Yet, in the 60ies, in
particular at the University of Stanford (USA), methods of micro teaching have been
developed. Based on critical views of traditional lecturing in teacher education, Dwight &
Ryan (1969) summed up the state of the art in those days. They designed a cyclical model
(teach – critique – re-teach – critique). Their program aims at the acquirement of skills in
teacher education. It puts an emphasis on team teaching and mentoring, and it is structured
into micro lessons, micro periods and laboratory phases for research purposes. These ideas,
which have been advanced in many ways throughout the last decades, are corresponding with
ideas of micro learning both, on the level of acquirement of skills and usage of teaching
methods and also on the level of reflecting on the learning processes.
Today, we can find many different concepts and practices of micro learning. Some are dealing
with special topics such as health care in the context of continuing education, others are
referring to the communication technologies being used in the teaching and learning
processes, for example short message service (SMS) or e-mail. Figure 1 shows as selection
1 Cf. Margreiter (1999) and his considerations about a media-apriori (ibd., p. 17), and Binsbergen & Mul
(2005).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
3
concepts and versions of micro learning including some uniform resource locators (URLs) for
further information.
Figure 1: Concepts and Versions of Micro learning – Mindmap
In terms of time, the range goes from less than a second2 up to more than one hour. The
subject matter can deal with single letters, short texts or quite complex tasks. Along with that,
the corresponding levels of meso learning or macro learning can refer to different areas, too
(see figure 2).
Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Example 5 Example 6
micro level single letters vocables,
phrases,
sentences
learning
objects, micro
content
learning
objects
competencies
of learners or
teachers
learning of
individuals
meso level
words, letter-
figure
combinations,
sentences
situations,
episodes subareas,
narrow themes topics, lessons designing a
lecture
group learning
or learning of
organizations
macro level conversation,
linguistic
communication
socio-cultural
specifics,
complex
semantics
topics, subjects courses,
curricular
structures
designing a
curriculum
learning of
generations or
learning of
societies
Figure 2: Micro learning – meso learning – macro learning
The exemplary distinctions shown in figure 2 may give a sense for the variety of
understandings. In fact, many more are in use. But rather often elements of such distinctions
are used implicitly without taking notice of alternative options or explaining contexts and
meanings.
2 So far, pedagogical concepts of “nano learning” have not been developed. Nevertheless, one can find the
term ‘nanolearning’ on the internet referring to learning something about the subject nanotechnology (cf.
Hopkin 2005, Demeester 2005).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
4
Defining „Micro Learning“
There are many ways of defining micro learning. In fact, almost the whole spectrum of
learning concepts can be differentiated in order to focus on micro and macro aspects of the
respective context. For example, a process of imitation that takes just a few seconds, one or
two repetitions and no specific resources can easily be distinguished from a process of
imitation which takes months or years, which affords attention to many details and which
needs special locations for learning as well as specific skills and resources. To make it more
concrete: For many people it is very easy to learn to clap hands3 loudly – for most of the
people who were brought up outside Andalusia (Spain) it is very difficult to clap along the
rhythm – to be precise: the compas – of bulerias4 in a group using gentle and raucous methods
as well as changing patterns and counter rhythms (“contra tiempo”).
No matter if learning refers to the process of building up and organizing knowledge, to the
change of behaviour, of attitudes, of values, of mental abilities, of cognitive structures, of
emotional reactions, of action patterns or of societal dimensions, in all cases we have the
possibility to consider micro, meso and macro aspects of the various views on more or less
persisting changes and sustainable alterations of performances.
It is obvious that different disciplines which are dealing with learning are talking about
diverse domains of reference. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between different ways
of talking about learning and that means talking about observers observing changing systems,
their descriptions and their cultures and methods of observation (cf. Schmidt 2003).
As a result of my observations I want to present a draft of a framework which enables various
definitions of micro learning rather than give one single definition. In my view, the following
dimensions are appropriate to describe, analyze or generate versions of micro learning:
Time: relatively short effort, operating expense, degree of time consumption,
measurable time, subjective time, etc.
Content: small or very small units, narrow topics, rather simplex issues, etc.
Curriculum: part of curricular setting, parts of modules, elements of informal
learning, etc.
Form: fragments, facets, episodes, „knowledge nuggets“, skill elements, etc.
Process: separate, concomitant or actual, situated or integrated activities, iterative
method, attention management, awareness (getting into or being in a process), etc.
Mediality: face-to-face, mono-media vs. multi-media, (inter-)mediated, information
objects or learning objects, symbolic value, cultural capital, etc.
Learning type: repetitive, activist, reflective, pragmatist, conceptionalist,
constructivist, connectivist, behaviourist, learning by example, task or exercise, goal-
or problem-oriented, „along the way“, action learning, classroom learning, corporate
learning, conscious vs. unconscious, etc.
3 The exception proves the rule. Of course, there are “easy” clapping tasks that may take a whole life to come
to a “solution”. Remember the famous Zen koan “Listen to the clapping of one hand” – or if you have taken
that hurdle: “Try to look through it.”
4 A fast and vivid flamenco style.
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
5
This unsystematic draft of a framework makes clear that the general term micro learning is
used as a metaphor referring to a set of models of learning. The various versions of micro
learning can be analyzed by looking at the explicit or implicit comprehension of the
dimensions listed above and their interplay. This open “definition” allows us to deal with
different concepts, frameworks and domains of reference.5
Talking of a paradigm shift in this context may be overdrawn, but the transition from common
perspectives on teaching and learning to micro perspectives and the significance of micro
dimensions in the process of learning opens up spaces of innovation in the field of attempts to
promote learning and to create viable and productive learning environments.
Integrated Micro-Learning (IML) and the Knowledge Pulse®
In view of the widespread dissatisfaction with common “learning platforms”6 and the need of
flexible systems we searched for alternatives to the prevalent „one-way-streets“ in e-
education. Who does not know “language trainer shelfware” in the form of CD-ROMs,
learning management systems filled up with PDF- and PPT-collections and concepts of old
pedagogy dealing with new media? Many of the established e-learning systems offer old
courseware in new pipes. They feel like foreign elements in school, workflow and lifestream.
As a first result of this search for alternatives we developed a concept of Integrated Micro-
Learning (IML)7 based on the principle of making use of the use of media. This concept
meets following criteria:
It is open, flexible and modular and – at the same time – allows the use of learning
management functions.
It enables concomitant learning embedded in workflows together with the
development of knowledge architectures.
Short learning sequences are initiated according to the use of media and the client
settings („push-approach“). Small units are delivered automatically based on a slip
box system. Each learning step is put forward by a Microstep Manager®.
Thus, IML offers ways of bridging the gap between the individual’s willingness to learn and
the frustration resulting from contexts which do not support learning but rather impede it.
This is achieved by making use of the everyday use of information and communication
technologies for didactic purposes. Integrated Micro Learning (IML) is designed to empower
the learner with a tool which embeds learning activities into daily life according to user-
dependent patterns. Therefore, in addition to the learning which takes place either in
institutional or auto-didactic contexts as well as during e-learning courses, IML accompanies
learning on an individual basis (cf. Gassler 2004, Gassler et al, 2004).
5 The heterogeneous concepts of micro learning can be analyzed and reconstructed in detail with reference to
the concept of variation (cf. Goodman 1978, Goodman & Elgin 1988, Hug 2003).
6 Learning Management Systems (LMS).
7 Integrated Micro-Learning (IML) is a development of the Research Studio eLearning Environments
(http://ele.researchstudio.at) in cooperation with the Institute of Educational Sciences at the University of
Innsbruck (http://www2.uibk.ac.at/ezwi). The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economy and
Employment (Austria) and also the Tyrolean Future Foundation.
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
6
IML works on the basis of subdividing the learning process into small activities8 embedded in
everyday life. Learning takes place along with professional and domestic activities and as
such is in strong contrast to “artificial” learning found in conventional course-settings.
1 2 3 4 5 6 ..
1 breakfast (coffee machine, toast er, radio)
2 commutation to and from workplace (car radio, public transport, mp3-player)
3 meeting (beamer, notebook, PDA)
4 PC use, telephone calls (PC, cell phone )
5 lunch break (coffee machine)
6 PC use, telephone calls (PC, cell phone )
.. leisure time (TV, cell phone, car radio)
Daily routines - schematically
Figure 3: Daily routines – Schematically
Figure 3 outlines a possible daily routine starting with breakfast and commutation to and from
work and ending with some leisure time. IML is based on the principle of a delayed access to
technical devices and information services. These access delays open up small time frames for
learning. In this manner, learning spaces are created.
2 3 5 6 8 9
Computer-based Integrated Micro Learning
11 12 141
Accsess delaying
learning activity Normal PC use Non PC use - other
activities
4 7 1
01
3
Figure 4: PC-workplace as an example for Integrated Micro Learning
Figure 4 illustrates a typical workflow of a PC user where Integrated Micro Learning is
embedded into the daily work routines. The use of other electronic devices, such as mobile
phones, can be shown in a similar way. In this example, the learning activities are bound to
the use of the PC. Whenever the user wants to continue working on the PC after having given
attention to other commitments he or she is presented a learning activity which could be
skipped be pressing ESC but normally should be completed before proceeding with other
activities. In this manner, time-slots are used constructively for learning purposes.
8 These “micro activities” last approximately 15-30 seconds per task.
© ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH – RSA Studio eLearning Environments
© ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH – RSA Studio eLearning Environments
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
7
Consequently, interference with work in progress must be avoided. The best way to do this is
to design the accompanying learning process along the small everyday transitions when using
digital media. We believe that other options, for example the attempt to introduce learning
activities as regular time-based interruptions (e.g. pop-ups) regardless of the present activity,
fail because they disturb cognitive processes and rather impede learning than promote it.
The first prototypical IML solutions are quite simple. One of the solutions is available online,
it can be downloaded for free.9 This screen saver (“Lernschoner“) supports language training.
Once installed, idioms and phrases are offered as soon as the screen saver starts. The user can
then translate the sentence, request the solution to see the sample solution, self evaluate and
use the system as usual. One can also start the “Lernschoner“ manually with an icon on the
desktop. According to the settings, this procedure can be repeated up to ten times with every
start of the “Lernschoner”.
At first the Lernschoner shows a phrase in a
language. Now you have to translate the
sentence. Then you request the solution to see
the sample solution.
When it is shown you have to evaluate yourself
whether your answer was correct or matches
with the sample solution.
Figure 5: Screen saver for learning (“Lernschoner“) as an example for Integrated Micro Learning
As shown in figure 6, one can see easily that the principle of keeping it simple is also heeded
when using the screen saver of mobile phones.
Figure 6: Mobile micro learning as an example for Integrated Micro Learning
9 See http://www.schonendlernen.at
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
8
The text based mobile version will be enhanced with multimedia elements. Also a simplified
installation (e.g. WAP push) is planned. The application is currently implemented for
Symbian Series60 and it is going to be developed for Java MIDP 2.0 devices (a prototype is
already finished).
Thus, learning can be an unintrusive element of everyday routines and workflows.
Furthermore, IML can be an integral part with respect to
overall didactical concepts, knowledge management and communication design,
collaborative learning and group didactics,
practice, knowledge transfer and application of learning results,
learning success, grading and evaluation,
different digital technologies, platforms and media environments,
demands of administration.
So far, some experiences with IML have been made with screen savers and mobile phones in
the context of continuous education at operational and private levels.10 In all cases, data were
processed on the basis of a special learning-algorithm similar to the former use of file-card
boxes.
In the near future, different learning forms, various didactical arrangements and also further
technologies like PDAs, TV sets or vending machines will be explored. In this context, the
concepts and practices of narration will be sounded out with respect to questions of
motivation, improvement and especially to aspects of re-integration, re-combination and re-
contextualization of micro activities, learning sequences and information chunks. So, how can
we make use of narrations and storytelling for educational purposes in the context of micro-
learning arrangements?
3 Narration and Storytelling in the Context of Integrated Micro Learning
Concepts of narration and storytelling for didactical purposes are widespread on the level of
primary schools (cf. Golden 2000), partly in second language learning (L2 learning) as well
(cf. Caré & Debyser 1984). Such concepts are also quite widespread as narrative forms of
psychotherapy (cf. White & Epston 1990, Grossmann 2003), as elements of hypnotherapy (cf.
Erickson & Rossi 1979), and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) (cf. Grinder & Bandler
1981). But if you look at common forms of corporate learning or e-education as well as at
learning at the university level you will hardly find well going and established concepts of
narration and storytelling in service of didactics.
Looking at the context of micro learning, some first pragmatic considerations about
possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling can be given. According to design
options I want to distinguish between three levels referring to a single screen (1), to a set of
screens (2), and to more complex uses of sets of screens (3).
10 For first evaluation results in the field of second language learning see Gstrein & Hug (2005).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
9
Level 1: One-picture stories and elements of fabula (single screens)
In view of the simplicity of the IML-approach and the claim of a smooth and undisturbing
integration into daily routines, the old idea of one-picture stories seems to fit perfectly for
enhancements in terms of narration. Also text-based short stories (e.g. SMS poetry) as well as
text-picture combinations (e.g. illustrated texts, sub-titles for animations) can meet similar
functions. Text and images have been ubiquitous in human communication for centuries and
also the connections between the usage of the two modalities. On the one hand, the
interrelations between the two modalities can be a source for rich forms of multimodal
communication. They refer to and depend upon each other which can be enriching and
clarifying or disturbing and irritating. On the other hand, we have an individual strength of
each of the two modes which can be utilized in productive ways.
Moreover, single screens, for example of mobile phones or PDAs, can depict both forms –
separately or integrated into a multimodal form – also in terms of memory hooks and
mnemonic rhymes.
Figure 7: Example for a memory hook (Weidenmann 1991: 38)
Figure 7 shows an example of a memory hook which was developed to improve recollection
of an invention of Karl Jansky11 (1905-1950), an American radio engineer who designed an
antenna for better telecommunications. The image shows a scene with two juveniles eating
bread with jam, using telephones, and, thus, referring to the topic in an alienated way. The
similar sounds of the name ‘Jansky’ and the term ‘jam’ facilitate anchoring and the effect of a
better recollection of the basic fact. The example shows how single pictures can support
processes of learning and memorizing.
In similar ways cartoons, caricatures and elements of fabula (actors, scenes, situations, events,
key statements) can be utilized in the context of micro-learning offers. Depending on the type
of illustration12 and the concept of picture perception respectively text-picture reception,
single-screen depictions can instigate narrow and comprehending processes of narration and
11 See http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Jansky.html (consulted: 2005-08-15).
12 For example, types of illustration can be distinguished in terms of static vs. dynamic characteristics,
argumentative claims (logical pictures, pictural analogies, dialectical text-picture combination, discourse
fragments, etc.), or in terms of categorical distinctions such as pictures, images, diagrams, charts, etc..
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
10
storytelling.13 Such “micro stories” can aim at small and well-defined content parts but also
re-frame the whole learning process.
Level 2: Multiple-picture stories and arranged elements of fabula (sequences of screens)
For example, a sequence of a few pictures or a comic strip can act as basis, inducement and
motive for telling a short story dealing with certain learning contents. Compared to level 1,
successions of pictures or sequences of text-picture combinations show less forced directness.
On the other hand, they offer more detailed depictions of relatively complex issues. Elements
of fabula can be arranged in micro steps in order to successively describe parts of a story.
Similar to level 1 the depictions can aim at specific learning contents and subject matters or at
wider contexts of narration. They also can refer to second order topics and include meta-
reflexive elements or aim at meta-learning directly. In contrast to proto-learning, which
involves individual facts or actions, Deutero-learning refers to learning to learn, which means
learning about the context of learning as well as the content of learning (cf. Bateson 1972:
279 ff). For example, a set of micro activities can be initiated by textual elements, successions
of pictures or sequences of text-picture combinations which can include „nested loops“ by
seeding of meta-reflexive tasks, story-elements or elements of framing and, thus, contribute to
a complex storytelling process.
Level 3: Elaborated forms of narration and storytelling (complex uses of sets of screens)
On third level we have elaborated forms of the utilization of narration and storytelling for
didactical purposes. Amongst the variety of well proven concepts two of them seem very
suitable for the adaptation in the context of micro-learning arrangements: the concept of
global simulations (cf. Caré & Debyser 1984, Yaiche 1996, Mentz & Rattunde 1997) and the
storyline concept (cf. Creswell 1997, Egan 1989, Fehse 1995).
The concept of global simulations (“simulation globale”) was developed in the 70ies by
Francis Debyser and Jean-Marc Caré. It is an action learning model using scenarios or
outlines (constraints), elements of role play and hands-on elements. The basic idea does not
refer to global learning or the globalization discourse but to frameworks which quasi embrace
the elements of the whole learning process. These frameworks, offered by teachers, encourage
the learners to collectively invent their worlds in playful ways14. The global simulations –
such as village descriptions, travelling, islands, buildings, etc. – can be distinguished from
functional simulations (e.g. inventing a traffic network, international conference, hospital,
etc.). Basically, the teacher asks fruitful questions in the context of the arrangement in order
to facilitate participation without heading for completeness in terms of learning contents.
These questions, important information and communicative elements can be integrated into
the context of global simulations as micro-steps by using electronic devices such as cell
13 For a general survey of concepts of visual representation and learning see Anglin et al (2004).
14 Playful ways of learning and the concept of ludic spaces are of increasing importance in our mediated
societies (cf. the project “Playful identities. From narrative to ludic self-construction”, Jos de Mul et al,
http://www2.eur.nl/fw/hyper/NWO/programma.htm; consulted: 2005-05-15).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
11
phones, PDAs or PCs. In this manner, the elements of micro learning and global simulations
can refer to each other.
The second example of an elaborated form of narration and storytelling, the storyline concept,
is more structured and relatively widespread. It was developed in Scotland during the mid
60ies and it is also known as the “Scottish storyline method” (cf. Creswell 1997).15 Starting
point was the animadversion on discrete and isolated subjects in the curricula of primary
education (cf. Creswell 1997: xiv). Interdisciplinary approaches are presented as an
alternative, underlined by a clear vote for a shift from discipline-based education to
meaningful and context sensitive integration of different branches and subjects. As a
consequence teachers and students are meant to be actively involved in the learning process.
The storyline constitutes a narrative framework for the structuring of learning contents,
networked episodes, tasks and activities. It follows a narrative outline (setting the scene in
time and place, introducing characters, creating ways of living) and a pedagogical outline
with reference to key questions, learning tasks, activities, resources, media and cooperative
interactions. Along with the episodes incidents are introduced. There are several principles
relevant for a successful application of the concept such as the principle of story, the principle
of anticipation, the principle of the teacher’s rope, the principle of ownership, the principle of
context, the structure before activity principle (cf. Creswell 1997: 10 ff). Like in the case of
global simulations micro learning steps are per definition quasi part of the concept here. On
the one hand, micro activities and knowledge fragments can be brought together by means of
the storyline concept. On the other hand, Integrated Micro Learning can support the unfolding
narrative by means of delivering questions and basic information in each episode.
4 Micro Learning and Narration – An Outlook
The examples given in part 3 show up some possibilities of utilization of narrations and
storytelling for the designing of “micro units” and didactical micro-learning arrangements in a
sketchy way. They all can be explored more detailed and applied in various contexts. In
addition, further options are waiting to be explored, for example with regard to re-framing
strategies, postmodern (“rhizomatic”) versions, discourse concepts, game-based elements (cf.
Prensky 2001) and new production practices in terms of blogging, podcasting and digital
storytelling (cf. Lambert 2003; Porter 2004). To sum it up, we are able to develop many ways
of making use of narrations and storytelling for educational purposes. Vice versa, the IML
approach can be used as an instrument to enhance and enrich learning processes and to
support creative didactical methods. I am sure that along with micro and macro transitions of
media new forms of knowledge and learning are evolving. But as long as the transformation
processes are elusive and unstable, and as long as digital technologies and software products
are transient and unreliable, the communicative stabilization of new genres and formats
remains an open question, quasi sentenced to the definitiveness of preliminary answers.
Comparisons with former transitions, for example the emergence of novels as a result of the
15 See also http://www.storyline.org (consulted: 2005-05-15).
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
12
invention of the letterpress, are insofar easily misleading as the innovation cycle was a
question of many decades in those days and not a question of a few years, months or weeks.
In this sense, learning and narration become questions of media anthropology.
We also have to be aware of possible limits of the utilization of narration and storytelling.
Important characteristics of these domains may easily disappear in the light of overestimated
intended purposes and overwhelming instrumentalization. But as pointed out at the beginning,
mediation means continuing transformation of the human condition in all of its important
aspects, and the stories about instrumentalization and its effects are told in certain historical
constellations of interacting media, too. However, the narration of micro learning has no end
in itself. It aims at new ways of bridging formal, non-formal and informal learning in a
mediated world.
References
Anglin, Gary J.; Vaez, Hossein & Cunningham, Kathryn L. (2004): Visual representation and
learning: the role of static and animated graphics. In: Jonassen, David H. (ed.): Handbook of
research on educational communications and technology (pp. 865-916). Mahwah / New Jersey:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bateson, Gregory (1972): Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine Books.
Binsbergen, Wim van & Mul, Jos de (eds.) (2005): The mediatic turn: Aspects of the ontology of
mediation. (book outline: http://www.shikanda.net/general/gen3/index_page/philosop.htm;
consulted: 2005-05-15).
Caré, Jean-Marc & Debyser, Francis (1984): Simulations Globales. Sèvres: CIEP/BELC.
Creswell, Jeff (1997): Creating worlds, constructing meaning: the Scottish storyline method.
Portsmouth / NH: Heinemann.
Demeester, Tuur (2005): Archive for the 'NanoLearning' Category. (online document:
http://mylearningblog.org/category/nanolearning/; consulted: 2005-05-15).
Dwight, Allen & Ryan, Kevin (1969): Microteaching. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.
Egan, Kieran (1989): Teaching as Story Telling: An Alternative Approach to Teaching and
Curriculum in the Elementary School. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Erickson, Milton H. & Rossi, Ernest L. (1979): Hypnotherapy: An Exploratory Casebook. New York:
Irvington Publishers.
Fehse, Klaus-Dieter (1995): Storyline - ein Modell für inhalts- und handlungsorientiertes Lernen im
Fremdsprachenunterricht. In: Die Neueren Sprachen, H. 94, pp. 26-53.
Gassler, Gerhard (2004): Integriertes Mikrolernen. Innsbruck (diploma thesis).
Gassler, Gerhard; Hug, Theo & Glahn, Christian (2004): Integrated Micro Learning – An outline of
the basic method and first results. In: Auer, Michael E. & Auer, Ursula (eds.): International
Conference on Interactive Computer Aided Learning, ICL 2004, Sept. 29 - Oct. 1, 2004, Villach,
Austria (CD-ROM).
Golden, Joanne M. (2000): Storymaking in elementary and middle school classrooms: constructing
and interpreting narrative texts. Mahwah/N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Goodman, Nelson (1978): Ways of Worldmaking. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.
Goodman, Nelson & Elgin, Catherine Z. (1988): Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and
Sciences. London: Routledge.
MiT4: The Work of Stories Theo Hug: Micro Learning and Narration
13
Grinder, John & Bandler, Richard (1981): Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the
Structure of Hypnosis. Utah: Real People Press.
Grossmann, Konrad P. (2003): Der Fluss des Erzählens. Narrative Formen in der Therapie.
Heidelberg: Carl-Auer-Systeme.
Gstrein, Silvia & Hug, Theo (2005): Integrated Micro Learning during Access Delays – a New
Approach to Second Language Learning. In: Zaphiris, Panayiotis (ed.): User-Centered Computer
Aided Language Learning. Hershey/PA: Idea Group Publishing (forthcoming).
Hopkin, Karen (2005): Nanolearning. (online document:
http://www.nyas.org/ebriefreps/main.asp?intSubSectionID=2737; consulted: 2005-08-15).
Hug, Theo (2003): Lesarten des “Instant Knowledge”. In: Hug, Theo & Perger, Josef (eds.):
Instantwissen, Bricolage und Tacit Knowledge ... Wissensformen in der westlichen Medienkultur
(pp. 135-151). Innsbruck: Studia.
Lambert, Joe et al (2003): Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Travelling Companion. Version 4.0,
Berkeley: Digital Diner Press (online document: http://www.storycenter.org/cookbook.pdf;
consulted: 2005-05-15).
Lyotard, Jean–François (1984): The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press (french org., 1979).
Margreiter, Reinhard (1999): Realität und Medialität. Zur Philosophie des 'Medial Turn'. In: Medien
Journal. Zeitschrift für Kommunikationskultur, Jg. 23, H. 1, pp. 9 – 18.
Mentz, Olivier & Rattunde, Eckhard (1997): Simulationen in offenen Unterrichtseinheiten -
Möglichkeiten für den Fremdsprachenunterricht. In: Burger, Günter (ed.): Fortgeschrittener
Fremdsprachenunterricht an Volkshochschulen. Frankfurt: Deutsches Institut für
Erwachsenenbildung (DIE), pp. 75-88.
Porter, Bernajean (2004): DigiTales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories. Sedalia/CO: bjpconsulting
(online information: http://www.digitales.us/products/digitales_book.php; consulted: 2005-05-15).
Prensky, Marc (2001): Digital Game-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Schmidt, Siegfried J. (2003): Was wir vom Lernen zu wissen glauben. In: Erpenbeck, John et al (eds.):
Was kann ich wissen? Theorie und Geschichte von Lernkultur und Kompetenzentwicklung.
QUEM-report, Heft 82, Berlin, pp. 11-26 (also available online:
http://www.abwf.de/content/main/publik/report/2003/Report-82.pdf; consulted: 2005-05-15).
Siemens, George (2005): Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern
Knowledge Needs. (online document: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/ldc.doc; consulted:
2005-07-12).
Weidenmann, Bernd (1991): Lernen mit Bildmedien. Psychologische und didaktische Grundlagen.
Weinheim: Beltz.
White, Michael & Epston, David (1990): Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York / London:
Norton.
Yaiche, Francis (1996): Les simulations globales: mode d'emploi. Paris: Hachette.
... Referred to as micro-or bite-sized content, micro-courses, or just-enough information, or micro-e-learning and micro-learning. Hug [6] suggested that micro-learning be also known as 'bite-sized' learning because it uses proportioned bite-sized pieces of exercises. ...
Conference Paper
The COVID-19 crisis forced a rapid shift away from traditional face-to-face, blended, and hybrid learning experiences to off-site learning, drastically reducing the usual planning and design time and negatively affecting the existing scaffolding of an in-class course. This Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) is a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis. This presentation will discuss the use of technology for enhancing English for Academic Purposes (EAP) word, above-word, and sentence-level language instruction through micro-lessons. These lessons were hosted on an online content management system to provide support for learners. The lessons learned from this experience should be applicable to content designers using larger MOOCS that are interested in adding micro-lessons to their courses. The main challenge was the short timeline available to the course designers and the difficulty in dividing some macro-lessons into functional micro-lessons. This was relatively simple when dealing with the word level, such as the pronunciation of minimal pairs. However, when making lessons for the functions, the lesson duration tended to approach the limit for micro-lesson length. The functional sentence examples required more visual references, and the large variety of possible sentence patterns required that many patterns could not be included. The functions of generalization and personal opinion usually require a relatively large amount of text input that is time-consuming to assess, but the need for immediate feedback meant that the micro-lesson had to accept student input that was machine measurable. For these reasons, the researcher feels that the language functions would be best presented to the students in both a virtual class and as supplemental micro-lessons that are freely accessible at any time by the students.
... The content is usually created by subject matter experts with authoring tools and includes a wide range of topics presented through combined learning objects. Both micro and macrolearning be conceptualised in many ways referring to different aspects, which in turn include different areas, as shown in Table 1 [17]. Recently, an interesting study which examines the design of microlearning showed that adult learners have contrasting opinions about the content areas perceived to be relevant for macrolearning, conceived as longer timeframe, and microlearning [18]. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses a conceptual framework for the design of Open Educational Resources (OERs) for online language teacher training including an example of practical implementation. The authors identify in the principles of micro-and macro-learning, cognitive load theory and Threshold Concepts (TCs), the key elements that lead to the creation of effective OERs designed for the Lilac Project which aims to support language teachers in managing online learning environments. Data from questionnaires and focus groups were utilised to establish a set of TCs connected to online language teaching. These were then cross-referenced with existing TCs, and utilised to create micro learning content that does not negatively impact the cognitive load, but, at the same time, is positioned within a larger macro structure that allows for the development of deeper knowledge and competences. The structure of Lilac OERs will be presented as a practical example of how the potential of technologies to support learning can be embedded in online contexts.
... One current trend within this e-learning community is called microlearning [34]. It provides learners small and comprehensible pieces learning content, called learning nuggets [55]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the context of e-learning, it is challenging to incorporate emerging technologies, such as alternate reality games or Virtual Reality (VR), within current learning trends. Microlearning is such a current trend. It divides large and complex chunks of content into small and elementary learning nuggets. These single self-contained nuggets are then composed to overarching lessons or courses. The concept of VR nuggets dovetails this educational trend. VR nuggets are standalone, self-contained, and rather short VR experiences that can be combined with other learning nuggets. By using initial implementations of VR nuggets, they can be used to let authors create VR earning content, for example, to let learners experience alternate realities. In this paper, we further investigate the VR nugget authoring concept and extent it. We introduce two novel authoring toolkits that rely on VR nuggets – one based on context-related module interaction (CoNMoD) and one based on visual scripting (ViNS Tiles). In two separate user studies, we examine the acceptance of the toolkits and compare them to existing authoring environments that also rely on VR nuggets but utilize different interface techniques. These studies’ results emphasize the importance of exchanging content between different established tools and indicate the acceptance of our tools regarding their hedonic and pragmatic qualities, also compared to existing tools from related work. As a conclusion, we propose an exchange format for VR nuggets that supports their reusability. It enables authors that use different toolkits to work together. They can utilize VR nuggets created with other toolkits and still use their own preferred toolkit. By means of an expert survey, we draw conclusions on technical aspects and a suitable platform to make VR nuggets available to the community. This survey indicates that potential authors would use such an exchange-approach for creating and presenting VR content and that they are willing to share their work and to contribute in a VR nugget authoring community.
... Theo Hug is considered to be one of the founders of modern thinking on microlearning, a word he promoted in 2005, along with the main features that characterise microlearning. 7 He emphasised that microlearning is short, focused on a single objective or 'knowl- ...
Article
Full-text available
In the latest “When I Say…” instalment, microlearning is defined with illustrative examples as a valuable pedagogy characterised by short duration and focused content.
... As discussed before, we distinguish two types of textual process descriptions that can be provided through the auditory channel, or narration: flow descriptions and element descriptions. The use of narration has shown to enhance learning for both procedural knowledge with an order in time [11], i.e., process model information in our study, and factual knowledge of a specific topic [34], i.e., additional process information. However, narration can impact their comprehension differently. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Conceptual models play a vital role in the engineering of information systems. A variety of stakeholders rely on their use, but they often find it challenging to make sense of such models. This is particularly known to be the case for process models, which capture complex temporal behavior. In practice, professionals often extend process models with textual descriptions to make them easier to understand, but it is not known whether this creates an even higher cogni-tive burden. In this study, we adopt the dual coding theory and the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which suggest that people experience a better learning process when materials are presented via two different sensory channels (i.e., auditory and visual). We used this theory to set up and conduct an experiment with 42 participants that involve models of two real-life processes. We also implemented an online environment, which presents additional information on process model elements through the auditory channel in the form of narration. Our findings support that the use of narration may have a positive impact on process model comprehension, although it seems to depend on the kind of model elements that are explained. We discuss the implications of these findings and suggest further directions for research into process model comprehension .
Chapter
Remote monitoring has taken prominence as hundreds of new opportunities flood the market to innovate business and household devices. On offer are efficient Web-based tracking and management tools as this digital transformation plays out. However, along with the alluring hype runs the stark reality, these digitised systems require experienced open-source scripting programmers to write the code. Priscilla emerges as a popular BETA home automation software environment with embedded routines for remote controlling of digital devices, elaborated in framework European FITPED project (www.fitped.eu). A recent pilot study tested the Priscilla software programming tool’s effectiveness, with 26-students given an online questionnaire with 27-questions, scored using a five-category Likert-scale. The data analysis used the Rasch measurement theory to examine the psychometric properties of the chosen Likert-scale. This pilot study’s findings stand as an example of the importance of lessons learned to enhance the reliability of further work planned for examining the effectiveness of other such open-sourced programming language online courseware.KeywordsA Rasch measurement analysisPriscillaSurveyMicrocources
Chapter
This paper discusses Ukrainian primary school students’ learning outcomes in Mathematics, obtained from a study. The researchers’ hypothesis is that the use of the methodological approaches providing meaningful mathematical activities for students, even in the initial stages promoted in the New Ukrainian School Reform (the NUS Reform) facilitates progress. The conclusions presented are based on the first cycle of the National Monitoring Study of the Quality of Primary Education. The authors believe that students’ low performance in the External Independent Evaluation (EIE) in Mathematics at the final stage of compulsory secondary education partly results from ineffective primary education. The results also reveal an extensive gap between rural and urban students as well as small and large class sizes. The authors consider MSQPE results as base-line, allowing for tracking the differences in the students’ performance while implementing the NUS Reform. Mathematical skills emphasized by experts also among the main parts of the computer programmer skills. And therefore should be seen as an important basis for the application and development of other contemporary and expected competences. The introduction and wider implementation of innovative methods including microlearning, in teaching and learning pf mathematics as one of the core in programming skills, are highly recommended.KeywordsMathematical competencesMathematics educationEvaluationExternal Independent Evaluation (EIE)Monitoring Study of the Quality of Primary Education (MSQPE)MicrolearningProgramming skills
Article
Full-text available
"I am very impressed by the practicality of [Egan's] introduction of the use of story-forms in curriculum for young children. His model is fascinating, and its various possibilities in a range of fields makes it worth a good look by many kinds of teachers."—Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia
Article
Time pressure and lack of motivation are often seen as obstructive factors in secondlanguage (L2) learning. In fact, L2 learning is much more of an ongoing process than just taking a course. In response, a new approach to learning has been developed, called integrated micro learning (IML), based on a patent-pending technology that allows integrating language learning into a learner's daily routine with the help of electronic devices. It thus helps to envisage a new mode of information technologyassisted L2 learning as part of vocational and educational training. In this chapter, we introduce the concept of IML in general and with regard to L2 learning in particular. We also report on the first prototypical representation as well as the first experience.
Article
charts, graphs, and diagrams are more abstract but do use spatial layout in a consequential way (Knowlton, 1966; Levie & Dickie, 1973; Rieber, 1994; Winn, 1987). Levie (1987) has suggested that there are at least four lines of research,on illustrations: (a) picture perception, (b) memory for pictures, (c) learning and cognition, and (d) affective responses to pictures. In this
Article
Mikrofiche-Ausg.: 3 Mikrofiches. Sekundärausg. eines mehrbändigen begrenzten Werkes. Paris, Univ., Diss., 1993.
Article
Digital Game-Based Learning, by Marc Prensky, is a strategic and tactical guide to the newest trend in e-learning - combining content with video games and computer games to more successfully engage the under-40 "Games Generations," which now make up half of America's work force and all of its students. The book fully explores the concept of Digital Game-Based Learning, including such topics as How Learners Have Changed, Why Digital Game-Based Learning Is Effective, Simulations and Games, How Much It Costs, and How To Convince Management. With over 50 case studies and examples, it graphically illustrates how and why Digital Game-Based Learning is working for learners of all ages in all industries, functions and subjects.