Microlearning with Educational Games Help Kids Thrive!

Microlearning with Educational Games Help Kids Thrive!

Written by Patty Pearcy, President & CEO of SimplyFun

Learning forums, whether they are in person or online, business related, project, or purely academic are embracing microlearning strategies to enhance the learning experience. The reason for this focus on microlearning is because in today’s technology driven age, attention spans are getting shorter, and computer related fatigue is growing…particularly post COVID.

Technology plays a big role in making our life easier by putting knowledge at our fingertips. Think for a moment about the changes in our behavior patterns with sites like wikiHow. Who needs to get schooled in how to fix or install stuff? And what product have you purchased recently that still comes with a printed owner’s manual; certainly, none in this decade.

The reality is that all the information you need is available with just a touch and can be delivered in a bite size chunk to meet your specific challenge or question. In some ways that is great as the brain can only absorb about five new pieces of information at a time, and having all this stuff handy certainly frees up some brain capacity. In essence, it’s another form of e-learning but with no expectation of retention. And that’s great for some things, but in the end, we still have many things we need to learn and retain to make sense of our complex world, to problem solve and to deal with the challenges life throws our way.

So how do we continue to promote the benefits of learning while engaging today’s GenZ and the brand new GenAlpha audiences on their own playing field? The answer is to deliver academic content in a manner that engages and feels relevant. Enter microlearning methods.


What is Microlearning?

Two kids playing division math game, Acorn Paws by SimplyFun-Microlearning and Educational Gamesicrolearning and Educational Games

The roots of microlearning originated in e-learning where researchers noticed higher performance when content and onscreen time were broken up into smaller chunks. Bite sized pieces of topic specific information delivered quickly helped reduce fatigue while increasing retention in e-learning training platforms in the business world. Research on microlearning results has since shown that short learning content drives 20% more information retention than traditional long-form delivery.

Best practices in microlearning mandate a short time frame, no more than 15 minutes, which can be delivered in an individual or group environment. Microlearning focuses on specific content. Think of it as a page rather than a full chapter. It’s a burst of narrowly focused information delivered on small plates that can stack on each other to deliver larger concepts over time. Note that this is not a ‘one and done’ strategy; the micro modules should be purposefully structured to be repeated, as it may take up to 5 interactions/viewings before someone has full retention of the content.

Microlearning methods can be utilized online or in person but should include images, videos or audio, and/or manipulatives (not just bullet points) to enhance the learning experience. After all, we now live in a very visual3D world, and young learners want to gain knowledge within that environment. Modules can also include prompts to increase engagement including gamification.In the end, the desired outcome is for the microlearning module to teach specific content to achieve a specific objective or to solve a specific challenge in a very short-time frame. Plus, as a microlearning best practice, having a quick touch point at the end of a module to monitor retention helps keep learners on track with their academic growth.


Microlearning for Educators - Trends and Statistics

Homeschool mother playing fraction math game, Vinculum by SimplyFun-Microlearning and Educational Games

While Microlearning began as a digital concept used in professional training, there is a case to be made for its applicability in all types of learning. That’s because the benefits better address the needs of today’s students and educators. Microlearning is faster to create and deliver, which makes it more affordable to produce with less effort per instance. Think about the effort it takes to create a one-hour lecture versus a 10-minute bullet point presentation! Teachers can spend more time working with students than prepping for delivery. Microlearning is also flexible and can be dropped into small time slots giving both the student and the teacher more freedom in the timing of delivery.

But the most compelling reasons to consider microlearning are the microlearning statistics on results. The average retention rate of a microlearning course is 70 to 90% versus an average rate of 15% for traditional learning methods. It’s also more likely that the student will complete the microlearning module, in fact the probability is more than 5 times as often.

We know from many studies that kids’ attention span is short, on average between 2 to 3 minutes per year of age. That translates to about 10 to 15 minutes for a kindergartener. It should be noted that many of the studies documenting this were pre-COVID and early indications post COVID are that the attention spans have declined even further. Teachers post-COVID report an increase in daydreaming in class and the need to carve in person lessons down into even smaller pieces to keep attention and interest, essentially moving to a non-digital version of microlearning.

And for the generations currently in their academic years, it’s just a more enjoyable experience that better fits with our more chaotic lifestyles. And who doesn’t want a set of ‘happy and willing’ to learn students in their classroom! Even outside of the classroom, microlearning in the digital space can be helpful at home to make homework less overwhelming while allowing the student to work at their own pace repeating the content as needed to master the topic.


How Games Support Microlearning

Two children playing addition and subtraction math game, Math Room by SimplyFun-Microlearning and Educational Games

Microlearning trends are now embracing its integration with activity-based learning. This blended learning method brings together academic content and interactive use of that content in tandem. Board games targeted at specific content paired with the concepts presented in class can put those concepts directly into use. Play is after all one of the three ways we learn along with instruction and experience. So combining play with instruction increases the overall impact even in a microlearning environment. As an example, an instruction module on fractions could be paired with a game like Vinculum that uses equivalent fractions. Ten minutes or so of instruction followed by 10 minutes of play to put the lessons to use is a great example of the potential for games in microlearning in the classroom. It’s also a quick way to gauge the success of the lesson as successful microlearning programs also include testing touchpoints that happen more frequently than a big test at the end of say the macro module or term. It’s another microlearning best practice to monitor success as you go.


Microlearning at Home with Games

Two teens playing geometry math game, Shape Whiz by SimplyFun-Microlearning and Educational Games

But microlearning isn’t just for the classroom. Families can use it as well by giving classroom learning a hand with a little family playtime on specific topics. As noted above, look ahead to what topics your kiddo will be experiencing during the academic year and get your game closet put together as part of your back-to-school planning. Be ready to create your own microlearning moments at home with games that both support the specific topic but also play quickly. That way you don’t need to ‘carve out time to play’ but can drop a little play in as kiddos are finishing up their homework. A little play might actually bring some life to those topics by allowing them to put what they’ve learned to use!


Game Suggestions for Microlearning Tools

Quick-thinking matching game, Corner Center Match

Create your own ‘microlearning environment at home!’ Here is a list of games, each built for a specific purpose, which play in about 10 to 15 minutes.


Top the Stack - Measurement Game

Test your measurement knowledge while racing your opponents quickly yet carefully as you all build stacks from the smallest to the largest measurement at the same time.

  • Skills Focus: volume, length, metric.
  • 2-4 players • 10 min • 7 & up


Vinculum - Fractions Game

Learn how to reduce and expand fractions to recognize equivalent fractions in this fast-paced math race. Get the most fraction tiles to win!

  • Microlearning Equivalent Fractions
  • 2-6 players • 15 min • 8 & up


Math Room - Addition and Subtraction Game

Think fast and solve the addition and subtraction problems on your key to close the windows before someone puts you out of business.

  • Microlearning quick math for plus and minus numbers (1 to 10)
  • 2-4 players • 15-20 min • 5 & up


Acorn Paws - Division Math Game

Players select cards from their hand trying to receive the most acorns from the day's collection.

  • Microlearning Division Math Concepts
  • 2-4 players • 15 min • 7 & up


Watch My Wings - Matching Game

Spin to see what kind of match to make - a color or shape or both. Everyone at the same time searches the butterfly field to collect as many matching butterflies as they can, so act fast.

  • Microlearning preschool matching and visual acuity
  • 2-5 players • 10 min • 4 & up


Is or Isn’t - Synonyms and Antonyms Game

Players take turns rolling the die and moving their pawns around the gameboard. When they land on a word card space, all players look to identify the matching synonym or antonym on their bingo boards and cover that square with a token.

  • Microlearning synonyms and antonyms
  • 2-5 players • 15 min • 6 & up


Shape Whiz - Geometry Game

Race your opponent to find the shape that fits the geometry clue. Everyone must agree the shape is a match or flip the card to check the facts. So fun, you won't even realize you're learning all about geometry.

  • Microlearning geometry
  • 2-4 players • 15 min • 10 & up


Rooby’s ABC’s - Alphabet Game

Players take turns drawing one of the 26 letter tokens from the bag, they then place them on the alphabet boards with the matching letter. Complete a alphabet board, and collect a Rooby token!

  • Microlearning letters of the alphabet
  • 1-4 players • 10 min • 3 & up


Corner Center Match - Quick-Thinking Matching Game

Play cards with a corner that matches the center of the target card. The most recent card becomes the new target, and the first person to run out of cards wins!

  • Microlearning to match colors and shapes quickly
  • 2-6 players • 10 min • 7 & up


Color Huey and the Four Seasons - Colors and Early Reading Game

Players place color tokens on their Huey boards, or give them to another player if they can't place them. The first player to completely fill their Huey board wins!

  • Microlearning colors and early reading
  • 2-5 players • 10 min • 3 & up


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