Learning nuggets: Why they 'taste' better than lessons

People love chicken nuggets because they are delicous, but what are chicken nuggets and can we 'eat' them?

You know chicken nuggets. But what are learning nuggets?

Chicken nuggets exist for some reason. Savoury and aromatic aside, the small pieces of deboned chicken meat make it easy for us to gobble them up. This explains why people call chicken nuggets, but not a whole chicken, 'fast-food'.

In the educational sense, 'learning nuggets' are the fast food. Similar to chicken nuggets, learning nuggets are bite-sized pieces of content (usually less than 5 minutes in length), with a few targeted knowledge points included, designed to help students attain specific learning outcomes. These characteristics have made learning nuggets an important element in micro-e-learning.

Nuggets v.s Lessons v.s Courses

Learning nuggets might still sound vague to you. But by comparing it with lessons and courses, you will have a better idea of what exactly they are.

Nuggets

  • Duration: Typically <5 minutes/ nugget
  • Form: Usually videos or animations, but sometimes may also be any content that takes <5-min to finish.
  • e.g. 5-minute animation on 'DNA vs RNA'
  • e.g. 5-minute short video on 'Application of differentiation'
  • e.g. a few short articles on 'What is free-falling?'

Lessons

  • Duration: Typically 30-75 minutes/ lesson
  • Form: Formal lecture; Socratic lecture; semi-formal lecture (most common); lecture discussion; interactive lecture. Lessons are usually directly followed by an assessment.
  • e.g. 1-hour formal lecture on the topic 'Sources of electromagnetic wave'
  • e.g. 45-minute Socratic lecture on 'how to write a pros & cons essay'

Courses

  • Duration: Typically last for one academic term/ semester, usually >3 months
  • Form: Made up of multiple sections, each containing lessons. Courses usually include assessments to check learners' understanding after lessons.
  • e.g. Music course on 'electronic music production'
  • e.g. Architecture course on 'construction management'

Why do learning nuggets taste better than lessons?

1. Holding Your Learners’ Attention

It’s hard to get your students to focus for the entire lesson especially when the attention spans of people are in fact getting shorter. In this age of digital communication, learners are easily distracted by any updates on their smartphones and it's hard to get them focus on learning for a long period of time. That's why, these learning nuggets, usually short videos or animations used in eLearning, take into account the attention spans of modern learners and provide them with the most precise learning material.

2. Providing the Sense of Achievement

Your students will definitely love checking items off their to-do list as it comes with a little spark of achievement. Especially when these nuggets are so short in length, students are more likely to get more items on their lists but as well get more motivation from easily getting a 'tick' on their to-do list. Even without us realising it, completing an item from a to-do list triggers the reward system in our brains. Students too, will feel good about what they've achieved and will want to take a step closer to their goals. The other way round, conducting lessons in larger chunks of anything from 30 minutes to several hours is a sure-fire way to demotivate learners.

3. Increasing Learner Engagement

The shorter and more succinct the nuggets are, the more likely students are to complete their assigned course on eLearning platform. If students are given a task that takes them more than 30 minutes to get done, chances are, they will procrastinate until the very last minute before they really start. With smaller chunks of learning, students might even take the initiative to continue their search for extra information in relevance to the nuggets. It's similar to how we easily get addicted to watching short videos on youtube.