Nanolearning: origins, benefits and endless possibilities


Unlocking knowledge, one nanolesson at a time

Learning is a natural process exhibited by almost all living organisms. Research now shows that even plants are capable of learning. This is what a study conducted by Monica Gagliano and her team on the sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) indicates. But the art of encouraging human beings to learn has become a complicated business. Gone are the days when you could keep learners engaged in long speeches with barely a diagram in sight. The main villain in this scenario is our diminishing attention span.

Always Keep Your Eyes Wandering: Addressing Diminished Attention Span with Nanolearning

According to a study by Microsoft in 2015, the average attention span of an individual has been reduced to around 8 seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish. This diminished attention span can be attributed to several modern reasons, including the widespread use of technology. We live in a world of distractions where we check our phones every 12 minutes! The diminishing attention span of human beings has significant implications for society. This can make it more difficult to learn and remember information, which can have negative effects on education and job performance. This is exactly what nanolearning helps to avoid.

Group Me Into Nanobites: The Origins and Benefits of Nanolearning

Nanolearning refers to the breakdown of complex learning topics into small chunks of information that can be quickly and easily consumed by learners. It is based on the idea that people learn best when they are able to interact with information in short bursts, rather than trying to absorb large amounts of material in one go.


Clive Shepherd, a learning and development consultant, coined the term nanolearning. He first used the term in a blog he wrote in 2005. He used it to describe learning that involves delivering content in short, focused bursts. Although he deserves credit for coining the term, this method of breaking down complex topics into smaller pieces of information has long been prevalent in the education sector, particularly in language learning. Using flashcards is a great example of this.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2017 concluded that participants who received nanolearning interventions had better knowledge retention and transfer than those who received traditional long-term training, ultimately leading to better results and to better performance. Another research along the same lines is that published in the International Journal of Engineering Education, which found that nanolearning materials were effective in improving engineering students’ performance in exams. The researchers attributed this to the material being more focused and focused, which helped students retain the information better.


One of the main advantages of nanolearning is its personalization. Courses can be designed with content in multiple formats like videos, podcasts, and even quizzes, making learning highly engaging. Nanolearning can be designed considering various factors such as target audience, content and objectives. This approach ensures accessibility and engagement for different age groups, while also providing a continuous stream of engaging content.

Nanolearning helps professionals perfect new skills because it promotes continuous learning by encouraging learners to interact with content regularly. For example, Microsoft offers a program called “Office Shorts” that provides short videos (less than 2 minutes) to teach employees how to use different features of Microsoft Office. The American Heart Association has a program called “Life is Why” that features short animated videos to teach health professionals about heart disease and stroke. LinkedIn Learning offers a library of short video courses on topics like leadership, communication, and data analysis.

the possibilities are limitless

Today’s instructional designers have the advantage of being able to use tools that allow you to package learning into personalized learning paths while keeping the learner engaged with gamification. Courses based on nanolearning principles can be made more engaging through anecdotal storytelling. This makes learning experiential and helps move the needle when you want to drive behavioral changes in your audience.

As new developments arise in the technology sector, such as the refinement of augmented and virtual reality as well as the increase in the overall use of wearable devices like mobile phones and smart watches, the concept of nanolearning is likely to revolutionize the learning industry by creating knowledge of all kinds. more accessible and engaging for all age groups.

E-book release: Clearly Blue Digital

Clearly digital blue

Clearly Blue is a content design studio specializing in creating engaging technology and management eLearning courses. Whether it’s video-based e-learning, app-based microlearning, or materials for blended learning, Clearly Blue is the provider of choice.


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