Homeschooling Logo

eLearning Is Useful For Shrinking Consideration Spans

September 3, 2020
Homeschooling Blogs

How Online Learning Helps You Get Focus

Attention span is shrinking, a fact that no doubt everyone knows and that is engraved even further on our minds with headlines like "You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish". The idea that our attention spans are shortening is often viewed as a detrimental change in the way people learn. But what do we have to fear? Are the attention spans actually getting smaller? And if so, how can we ever expect to learn and retain meaningful information?

Is the human attention span really shrinking?

A 2015 Microsoft study found that since the mobile revolution began around 2000, the average attention span has dropped from around 12 seconds to eight seconds. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The increasing ubiquity of the internet and the social dependence on mobile devices mean we get information quickly and constantly. It is even more important that we receive information quickly and constantly.

We have the ability to send and receive text messages within seconds. Latest news are sent directly to our cell phones. We can live stream, video chat, or just call anyone anytime. However, a smaller attention span does not mean that we have a worse attention span. While the amount of time we concentrate is less, this is just a side effect of our development. People don't focus on one thing for a long time because they don't need extra time. In fact, one of the most important by-products is that modern humans' ability to multitask is far better than that of our ancestors.

Adaptation Vs. rehabilitation

To make a comparison with another human evolution, let's consider wisdom teeth. Humans evolved beyond the need to use their wisdom teeth over 10,000 years ago. Because of this, we have learned to adapt and develop ways to care for or remove our wisdom teeth.

Now imagine if your dentist starts thinking about how to use your wisdom teeth exclusively while ignoring the rest. When your mouth has evolved to properly and efficiently chew your food, why should you find ways to use your wisdom teeth?

It's not about how we can fix shrinking attention spans, but how we can change the way information is shared and received.

Modern man is constantly inundated with information from multiple channels and devices. This can be overwhelming, but one benefit of advancing technology is that we are now able to be very selective about the information we ingest. This is why we may find it difficult to concentrate during a long business meeting but can easily watch a TV series for several hours.

We have the luxury of choosing what to focus our attention on, which means that more than ever we must spend time changing the way we communicate important information.

4 reasons why eLearning is the solution for shorter attention spans

Boston Digital reports that video is the most effective [1] channel for driving engagement and creating memorable experiences. Viewers retain 95% of a message when communicated in a video compared to 10% when read into text. Visual content in customizable time formats will lead to the increasing use of eLearning in education and training. Why is eLearning so effective for short attention spans? There are 4 main reasons online learning is useful as human consciousness develops:

1. Microlearning

Microlearning is a learning method in which information is presented in "bite-sized" segments. Most micro-learning modules present learning objectives in sections of 2 to 10 minutes. Microlearning can take many forms, from short and simple texts to videos and audio clips.

Although many online learning platforms present information in longer formats, such as: For example, a one-hour webinar, the versatility of the Internet [2] allows users to break down any digital format into smaller pieces.

2. Focused topics

A shorter attention span means people are more selective about how to spend their focus. The internet is saturated with information, from basic general topics to niche topics. The abundance of information is shockingly helpful to our developing attention spans. The more options we are offered, the more we can choose which information to focus on.

3. Flexibility

Materials on the internet generally stay on the internet. This offers a level of flexibility [3] for learners who cannot provide face-to-face seminars. With eLearning, users can create their own schedule and learn at their own pace. Creating a custom learning plan is an opportunity to sit down at a time and place that is optimal for each learner.

4. Personalization

In a traditional teacher-student learning environment, the student has little control over the topic being discussed and the way information is presented. Online learning enables learners to choose specific subjects and formats for study. The ability to personalize learning enables people to take action with their own education. Learners can access specific content, learn it in real time and put it into practice immediately.

The central theses

Where do we go from here?

  • The human attention span is shrinking, but it's just a by-product of evolution.
  • The modern learner expects to absorb information quickly and in shorter formats than before.
  • eLearning is very flexible and offers a level of personalization that conventional forms of education cannot offer.

There has to be a change in society when it comes to the exchange of information. Instead of trying to reverse the shrinking attention span, try to adapt to our new and evolving way of learning.


[1] The shrinking attention span and what it means for marketers

[2] Microlearning and Online Video Teaching: 8 Trends To Expect


Related Posts