February 20th, 2019
    Digital Learning

3 Ways To Make Your Training More Memorable

Chris Gaborit 3 min read

Recent work in the science of learning has now proven Hermann Ebbinghaus century-old research in learning memory.

In the 19th century, Ebbinghaus famously experimented on himself, trying to remember a list of nonsense syllables. Following this, he tested himself periodically, to see how many of he remembered at various points in time. He quickly discovered that his memory had decayed rapidly. Within a month, almost 80% of the learned content had been lost. But the most significant realisation was that most of the loss came in the first few minutes.

Charting his results, he developed a formula for how long items remain in our memory. The graph is called the Forgetting Curve, and it illustrates that when you first learn something, the new information disappears at an exponential rate. In fact, it shows you lose most of it in the first couple of days, after which the rate of loss subsides.

The Forgetting Curve exposes that learners will forget an average of 90% of what they have learned within the first month.

Consider this in a training context. The Forgetting Curve exposes that learners will forget an average of 90% of what they have learned within the first month.

This is not good news for learning retention following a typical face-to-face training program that have no follow-up. Within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information.

The curve lays bare that within 24 hours approximately 70% of new information will be forgotten, and within a week, an average of 80% will be lost.

While there is a place for these types of events in a blended learning offering, there is a better way to design the learning campaign to help optimise learning retention.

Ways to improve learning retention

The strength of the Memory

People can recall stronger memories for a more extended period than weaker ones. In learning design, aim to make the learning content highly relevant to each learner. To make it even more efficient, try to weave the new knowledge into something your learners already proficiently practice.

Prompt learners to create their own mental links, so their knowledge is embedded in their unique experiences, helping new data move from short-term to long-term memory. Learning is multi-sensory so don’t solely rely on listening or reading – even sense of smell can help us make connections to past knowledge.

Reinforce and repeat the training regularly

With the latest research in the neuroscience of learning, scientists have discovered that information is more accessible to recall when it’s built upon things you already know. Every time you reinforce the training, the rate of decline reduces. Learning practitioners should phase various training interventions as part of an overall learning campaign to maximise the benefit of active recall.

Reflecting back to our face-to-face training event, consider developing some short micro courses. Include the key information that was critical to business success and distribute this at regular intervals during the following month.

Build in a couple of quizzes that become progressively more difficult, as this will draw on the need to recall helping the new knowledge move into long-term memory.

Make it interactive

Design your online micro courses with simple game-like tasks so learners have an opportunity to interact. Adding elements of gameplay can make learning fun, inciting emotion that is proven through neuroscience to improve the retention of the newly acquired knowledge.

At The Learning Factor, we simplify the business of learning. We craft exceptional training solutions that solve critical business challenges across all touchpoints, screens, and devices.

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