Monday, May 21, 2018

4 Ways Beacons Can Change Microlearning for the Better - Tip #185

When employees come to work, there is only one key role they have to play - whether they know it or not - and that is to fix, solve and improve work issues. And, because they want rapid and almost instantaneous answers and solutions, microlearning not only has to be low effort, fast and easy but also rich in context and ready to use or immediately applicable.

One technology that has a lot of promise at accelerating these goals and principles is Beacon-Based Learning Solutions.

Here’s How It Works:

Image 1. Beacon-Based Learning Solutions - Overview Flow
Click here for the enlarged view.

Impacts on Microlearning

Clark Quinn believes technology can work with us. He calls this concept Intelligence Augmentation. There are plenty of ways we can implement beacons and, if we do so successfully, the technology could revolutionize contextual computing and make learning more natural for employees.

In Microlearning, here are the ways beacons will make an impact:

1. Deliver just-in-time location/context-specific information.
Beacons can reduce the time learners spend on searching for answers, especially those related to a specific workstation. For instance, when a brand new office equipment comes in, a beacon near it can pull up product information or user manuals. It can also alert workers about urgent issues in relation to equipment, parts or processes. This is similar to the Learning Zones put up in one school or this United Nations Mine Action Service exhibit.

2. Customize the learning experience.
We can use Beacon’s ability to track learning to learn more about the workers' and learners' progress in using the answers and solutions to solve issues at work. This helps get a quick snapshot of what they are using, applying and needing more answers and solutions.

3. Provide big-picture data.
Beacons can have significant implications for trainers, HR and managers. For instance, they can now see trends and patterns from collected data, like how much time per day a worker spends on learning, which courses are most popular and what problems need urgent solutions.

4. Possibility of lowering content development costs.
Instead of installing an app, learners could be issued inexpensive plastic beacons that would trigger low-cost smart devices at limited learning stations. This would also ease the learners’ worry of receiving too many push notifications on their phones.

Is This the Future of Microlearning?

What do you think of beacon technology as it applies to microlearning? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.


Tip #124 - Are Instructional Designers Incapable of Microlearning Design?
Clark Quinn. Intelligence Augmentation and Learning and Development. Litmos, July 18, 2017
Paul Hamilton. iBeacon Technology in Education Demonstration. February 19, 2014
IPG Media Lab. UN Exhibit Uses BLE to Demonstrate The Danger of Landmines. April 4, 2014
Clark Quinn. Bringing About Better E-Learning. Association for Talent Development, February 16, 2017
Pamela Hogle. Beacons: A Shiny New Tool for Delivering Context-Specific Content. Learning Solutions Magazine, December 29, 2016

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"


  1. Dr. Ray, I love how you think! We have a beacon project in development for our OttoLearn adaptive microlearning platform, for exactly the reasons you've described.

  2. Dan, Thanks. That's wonderful. It will be exciting for people to see the capability. All the best, Ray


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