What is Content Chunking?

BlockThe lecture has been the mainstay of education for centuries. However, with the advent of online education, many educators are choosing to “chunk” the content instead of teaching it through the means of lengthy presentations.

In 1956, George A. Miller, a renowned Harvard psychologist, published his magnum opus, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. In this work, he posited that the average short term memory can store up to about nine pieces of information at one time. This concept developed into “chunking.”

Chunking a lecture is not a foreign idea. It happens on a daily basis in traditional classrooms when professors pause for questions or comments. The goal is to teach in short segments which will allow students to process and learn.

Follow these tips to effectively chunk your online “lectures.”

  1. Short and sweet. Each video clip should average between 4 and 7 minutes. This length is long enough to effectively communicate a certain point, but short enough to keep students’ attention.
  2. Quiz your students. Check to ensure that no student is lost. Most learning platforms provide the capability to create instant feedback quizzes. If a student performs poorly on the quiz, he will know to either the review the material or ask for help.
  3. Write a Response. Allow your students to either privately email the professor with their thoughts on a video clip, or open it in a discussion board to the class.
  4. Ask for their thoughts. Open a forum which requires a discussion – not repeating back what was said or asking them to validate the professor’s opinions, but ask them to think, to do something with the information they learned.
  5. Summarize.
  6. Ask students to relate it to something else that they learned.
  7. Assign many, smaller assignments instead of one large one.


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