August 29, 2018
Chunking might sound like an unrefined term to associate with the art of learning, but you’d better pay attention to it because it’s one of the most effective forms of eLearning and instructional design available. If you’re in the business of trying to impart information to an audience, especially if it’s an expensively-assembled corporate training audience or a separated-by-distance, disparate audience, then you need your lessons to be as effective as possible: you should consider a chunking strategy.
Chunking memory strategy refers to the process of separating large, or relatively-large, pieces of information. Your working memory can only retain three-or-four pieces of information at once. As such, it’s far more effective to break down information into (at most) three-or-four parts in order for it to be better remembered and more-easily transferred into long-term memory. Instructional designers will need an effective chunking strategy in order to achieve this.
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Chunking is a learning strategy that breaks long strands of information into bite-sized chunks. This makes the information easier to process as it lessens the cognitive load on the learner. It works by making more efficient use of the brain’s capacity for short-term memory by grouping information, such as lists or processes, into a logical order. This information can be organized by type, theme, size, or any metric that makes sense. The resulting chunks are easier to commit to memory than a longer uninterrupted string of information.
What if we do this…
Have a go at reading this sentence and see if you can easily understand it.
Now, let’s learn the first ten characters of Pi…
Did your brain just shut down a little bit?
How about now?
3.141 592 653
That’s easier isn’t it? And the same principal goes for phone numbers: it’s hard learning, what might be, 12 separate digits but if you break them down into three-or-four chunks it becomes much easier. [Note: of course, we don’t need to remember phone numbers so much these days – our smartphones do the hard work for us. While this has deprived our brains of the regular, recall-based workout that dumb-phones used to provide, it has brought with it other learning benefits which we’ll address below.]
Music lessons provide a great example of chunking but the strategy changes a little. Instead of learning the piece in chunks before putting them together, it’s important that teachers first play the entire piece so that the students have context for what they’re about to learn. That way when they have mastered all of the different chunks (or, in music terms, phrases) they can easily stitch them together in their minds.
Context and breaking subject matter up into chunks is particularly important when dealing with more-complex situations. As Sprouts puts it, if you need to learn about the trade relationship between India and China, it would first be worth learning separately about India, China and also trade in order to gain an overarching context before developing a chunking strategy. There’s a great video on the subject below…
And now back to the mobile phone. What it has deprived us of our daily phone number recall workout, it has more than made up for in portable power that can be harnessed for learning. While electronic devices have made elearning a revolutionary discipline – teaching people by using electronic means and without having to be in the same place at the same time – mobile learning has taken everything to the next level.
Being able to access microlessons and learn in bitesize pieces all on a highly-mobile, ubiquitous technology, means that instructional designers can create easy-to-absorb microlearning courses and distribute them (across the planet if needs be) easily to an audience or workforce. This is of particular importance to HR managers who need to train workers in the latest and most important policies and work techniques. The same goes for instructors training retail staff how to do their jobs at a fundamental level.
If the latter rings any bells, they you need a Learning Management System (LMS). This will provide the tools for creating courses for your employees and workers to complete. If you want to use the latest and greatest learning technology, then you should use a Mobile LMS which is optimized for making courseware and distributing micro lessons to a work force.
If you’re interested in trying a mobile LMS for free, get in touch at email@example.com. You can also try EdApp’s Mobile LMS and authoring tool for free by signing up here or in the box below. [wpipa id=”815″]
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Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.