Friday, June 15, 2007

Microcontent is Everywhere

Leene 2006 Microcontent is Everywhere

MicroContent are self-contained indivisible structured pieces of content, which have a single focus and a unique address for (re-)findability” (p. 25).

He suggests there are five common characteristics of a unit of microcontent—focus, structure, self-contained, indivisible, and addressability.

Focus refers to the idea that the content focuses on a single thing, a single idea, a single topic. He gives the examples of a blog post on one topic, a review of a single book, a music track, etc.

(I don’t think this works very well. Is a book on microlearning a document that focuses on one topic? And is a review of two related books in the same article disqualify it as a piece of microcontent? He is trying to provide a definition of “small” but this is very difficult, because small depends on the context. A book is small in the context of a library, but it is large compared to a paragraph.

Structure is an interesting idea. This is an attempt at specifying the appropriate metadata that should accompany microcontent. He lists the following basic elements for a structure:



Tags (keywords)


Creation date/time

Change date/time


I also have some trouble with notions of self-contained and indivisible. These are interesting ideas, but they depend a lot on context.

For teaching and learning I am still troubled by the lack of any information or metadata that captures the information needed for learning—level of difficulty, reading level, etc.

I also wonder how we construct the “difficulty” or “complexity” path through information. This is what teaching is about. I still think the part we haven’t done is to add the metadata about learning to our content.

In this article I am most disappointed in the discussion of microcontent types. The “types” seem to be based on information technology formats, eg., text used in blog posts is different than text used in a recipe because they have different data formats. This leads to an infinite number of types of microcontent formats. Maybe this is okay, but I am not sure.

This also causes me to wonder about a format for “learning content.” This is roughly what people were trying to do with “learning objects” but again we got stuck in the technical specification that had little to do with the context of learning.

Again I find myself wondering if what is wrong with our efforts in this area is that we still don’t have the right metadata descriptions attached to text, images, etc.

I also find myself asking whether we need to develop a "learning content" standard? Is that what people were trying to do with learning objects?

Maybe the problem with learning objects is that we don't have the right metadata description attached to text, images, etc.

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