Decreasing attention spans: the Nano Learning trend

June 1, 2023

Roxanne Denman

I’m not living unless I’m multitasking. If I'm settling in for a cozy night of Netflix, my cellphone is charged and ready in case the movie gets boring. And now - whenever anything gets boring - we have our trusty dopamine device on-hand for the dull moments in life. 

My attention span ebbs and flows between screens and topics, both relating to my thoughts and feelings on the day. The dwindling levels of concentration have a direct cause - having more than one screen at our disposal at any time. We call it dual-screening, multi-screening, or my personal favorite - screen stacking.

Gone are the days when our minds had the freedom to wander - replaced by instant gratification. 

Pro: you’re never bored. Con: you’re never bored. 

The attention span dilemma  

In short, we are avoiding long-form content. Why? It just isn’t appealing enough. 

The habit of screen-swapping is widespread as it is compulsive. I speak from experience - having my mobile device with me gives me a sense of inexplicable safety - and it goes beyond the emergency numbers stored in my phone.

In the last 15 years, our attention spans have decreased rapidly - from 12 seconds 23 years ago to 8.25 seconds today. Our attention spans have reduced beyond that of a goldfish - which can focus for 0.75 seconds more than us.

Can we learn if we can’t focus? Apparently, yes, it’s called Nano Learning.

And it comes in bite-sized chunks. 

Why the Nano Learning trend is making waves 

Forget the negative connotation and face the facts - we are ever-evolving. It’s not so much that our attention spans are shorter, rather, they’ve become fragmented. Meaning that although we struggle to focus for long, we have found a way to focus on more things at once. That has to count for something, right?

Nano Learning simplifies learning and makes information retention easy by incorporating aspects like immersive interaction, targeted content, and gamification. It breaks down complex learning processes and bridges the gap between lengthy education journeys, enabling us to learn quickly and efficiently. Targeted learning prevents us from wasting time and attention on one topic. 

It’s education on a need-to-know basis. 

Wait - it sounds too good to be true - right? 

Looking back - I wonder how many things I “nano-learned” in school. Self-directed, I focused on the essentials, phased out the boring, and daydreamed often. I asked for tips from teachers and lecturers on what sections to study or ignore. 

Have I always been Nano Learning, or at least craving it? 

How education marketing and Nano Learning are linked 

If Nano Learning is all it is made out to be - it is going to change lives and alter how we reach prospects. It is going to open doors to those who seek to learn and enhance their knowledge, that were never given the opportunity. 

Education marketing relies on engaging content to capture attention. Nano Learning uses compelling storytelling, interactive visuals, and gamification to solidify interest and enhance learning retention.

We promote the ongoing pursuit of education that will enhance a prospect’s career and purpose - Nano Learning offers short bursts of study that can be integrated into busy schedules. This facilitates continuous learning, while also helping those with limited time and flexibility to complete their studies. 

Nano Learning naturally enhances personalization in learning by offering highly-focused short lessons that students can access easily. Nano Learning also meets their specific interests and requirements. Education marketers use personalization in much the same way - by combining data and analytics to understand preferences, behaviors, and learning styles, allowing us to deliver highly-customized content and experiences.

Generational marketing and Nano Learning

Nano Learning is a trend that can tie all generations together - because it makes learning accessible and convenient no matter which phase of your life you are in. It can appeal to Gen Z as much as it appeals to Gen X - because it has the power to allow students to reach their education goals, no matter where they are or how much time they have to learn. Age and location are irrelevant when you can learn from anywhere, and at an optimized pace.

Gen Z is leading the Nano Learning pack (as usual). They absorb more information from sound snippets on Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok than from expensive textbooks. They are the first demographic to grow up with smartphones - and their learning methods will be worlds apart from previous generations.

Both education marketing and Nano Learning reach students where they are - allowing us to collaborate and inspire learners to use their time on platforms and behind their screens wisely. 

What we think

If education truly is for everyone, marketers need to rethink their strategy to support methods that enable those who want to learn the opportunity to do so - propelling a more inclusive education structure. And if we look at a brief history of education, you may agree when we say the time to change the learning parameters to fit the individual has arrived.  

It’s 2023 - we need an education system that is dynamic enough to keep up with our progress. How we consume content is shifting - and we believe the shift is becoming more ethical, personalized, and educational than ever before.  

Nano Learning is here and it is making education more accessible. Do you want to fit your course between picking up the kids, cooking, or working? Us too! How about learning while you scroll on your favorite platform? Same! The opportunities are endless. 

Nano Learning is one piece of the education puzzle.  While it’s one learning trend of many, it forms part of the new and dynamic structures that are forming a major education overhaul - and we’re all for it.

Are you a marketer curious to learn about the aspects that affect our industry?

Or do you want to tap into our expertise to sharpen your tactics? Look no further than our free downloadable resources. We work hard to research our content - and offer it to you - free of charge.