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Arun Rajamani

Arun Rajamani is the country head and general manager at Pluralsight India Pvt. Ltd. Arun’s deep expertise lies in emerging markets, enterprise business models and incubating new operating models.

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Byte-Off Only What You Can Learn

“When Pluralsight conducted a survey among developers across India at the start of 2017 and asked them about developments that will have an impact on their learning in the next two years…93 percent said byte-sized learning or shorter learning sessions.”


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Sriya, a software developer sits at her desktop workstation on the 3rd floor of a high rise in Bengaluru that houses one of the city’s over 1000 tech companies. She has multiple windows open – a terminal window for writing code, a browser window, where she toggles between following the news, going through her social media ‘wall’, watching videos and browsing through e-commerce catalogues. She has an e-mail application and a chat application to collaborate with her co-workers. She frequently checks her phone where an equally myriad bunch of apps vie for her attention. Sriya operates in an environment of information noise.

If Sriya wanted to acquire a new tech skill, it is more than likely that she would add another window or application to the existing set for learning and toggle to it when she has the time. This is a modern-day developer. Modern-day learning must evolve to cater to her.

For far too long in India, learning has been following a monolithic model – a teacher addressing multiple students. This model has carried on from the ages in schools and universities and has penetrated corporate learning. When you pull a professional like Sriya out of her workstation and into a class room, you are taking a fish out of water. Because in the era of information noise, what has evolved is the learning style. In fact, there isn’t just one. For instance, Sugatra Mitra, Professor of Education Technology at MIT feels that, knowing something is an obsolete idea. You don’t actually need to know anything. You can find out at the point when you need to know it.

What Mitra is referring to is just-in-time learning powered by byte-sized learning. Today we have just-in-time learners, who like to refer to content while doing their work, learn and go back to applying it. Just-in-time learning is powered by byte-sized where concepts and sub-concepts are delivered in byte-sized chunks, the way content is delivered on a social media video or a television ad or a WhatsApp message.

When Pluralsight conducted a survey among developers across India at the start of 2017 and asked them about developments that will have an impact on their learning in the next two years, 94 percent said personalization of content and learning experience and 93 percent said byte-sized learning or shorter learning sessions. Byte-sized learning is delivering learning in modularized (byte-sized) chunks.

Based on our analysis of learner behavioural data, there are further nuances in learning styles. A Focused learner does minimal video skipping when she goes through a module. A Browser views the module for a while, loses focus and comes back. A Re-player plays a module repeatedly until she has mastered the subject.

The idea revolves around changing pedagogical structures to become crisp and granular. Every concept needs to be broken down into short modules of content that could be as small as 1 minute in length. To make byte-sized learning a reality, one must infuse technology into learning – online learning. Online learning helps assess learning styles and learning preferences and can create hyper-personalized learning experiences. Based on analysis of our 4 million plus learners Online learning can leverage technology to break down long courses into byte-sized modules of one to two minutes that can be played in sequence or zoomed in on based on the learner’s preference at the time. With technology, even modules can be made searchable by the learner so that they can zoom in on learning a piece of technology.

In an age of shrinking attention spans, the learning industry in the corporate world must embrace byte-sized learning and leverage it to encourage more just-in-time learning to cater to the varying learning styles of millions of technology professionals like Sriya.

Hariraj Vijayakumar cofounder of Designs in Change and former global head of learning at Cognizant says, “Byte-sized learning is a vital ingredient in the learning toolkit of the modern learner. However, delivering byte-sized learning without leveraging technology, rich media and sophisticated instructional design, is akin to racing a Formula One car on regular car tires. The tires would blow up within the first few seconds and everyone are left wondering what the hype of the race car was all about!”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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