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How to use course templates to beat the forgetting curve

Long-term retention of learning is hard to achieve through one-off learning events/courses. That’s because, all too often, we forget what we learnt soon right after the course ends. This blogpost explains how you can utilize different course templates to beat the forgetting curve.

 Forgetting Curve

The forgetting curve:

In 1885, psychologist and pioneering memory researcher Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that human beings forget 90% of what we have learned within hours of learning it. Later research has confirmed that this is simply the way our brain is wired. 

In today’s highly specialized learning world, people often ask why they need to remember and recall information when it can be digitally retrieved whenever they need it. Not every work situation is conducive to performance support, though. We need something more that works in conjunction with “just-in-time” learning aids. 

For instance, would you prefer to fly with a pilot who continually refers to a manual to learn on the job how to fly, or with someone who has practiced flying to perfection and refers to a guide only when he or she needs additional information? Some jobs require lengthy practice, and fundamental information must to be memorized to make sure the basics are in place. 

There’s only one way to beat the forgetting curve: repetition. That means providing opportunities for your learners to repeat information so there is a lasting cognitive effect and they retain more. It’s a good idea to provide repetition in different forms too. Don't just repeat but choose to re-introduce the information in different formats: a course, scenario, quiz, video etc. 

 

Start with blended learning

Say you conduct a day-long classroom training session on the core mechanics of a complex product. How can you ensure that your learners remember the fundamentals after the training is over?

Assessments are a good way of measuring knowledge or proficiency in a subject. However, learners remember even more when they take part in follow-up or practice sessions that enable them to apply their knowledge directly. Repetitive practice familiarizes learners with the information and enables them to perform well on the job. This mixture is known as blended learning. 

Use e-learning tools to create practice sessions for learners to take part in at their convenience. This creates the perfect blended learning experience that learning and development (L&D) teams aspire toward. 

 

How can SMEs incorporate repetition into their e-learning courses? 

Make sure your course is not just a huge, single-serving chunk of knowledge. Build small parts that contain repetition that you can offer over time. 

When creating your course, identify assessment/activity questions that allow learners to process and reflect on the information repeatedly. Easygenerator offers a variety of question types. Choose question types that allow learners put their new knowledge into practice while also receiving feedback.

 

How do you space learning? 

Repetition promotes quicker memory recall and helps with short-term information retention. What about long-term memory? The solution is “spaced repetition”: allowing some time to pass between learning episodes. 

Spaced Repetition

Usually, the repetition follows a one-off course or program. You create a course and then create follow-up learning events as assessments or supplementary courses to reinforce the original information. 

Easygenerator takes a user-centered approach, offering multiple course templates to aid your learners. These templates allow you to present the same information in slightly different ways. You can create the core content in one template and then create a follow-up course in another. As Easygenerator is a cloud-based, collaborative authoring tool, you or your colleagues can simply log in and share the follow-up learning content with learners once the right amount of time has passed.

 E-learning templates 

Remember: repetitions are good, but spaced repetitions are even better. 

Reference:

http://willthalheimer.typepad.com/files/spacing_learning_over_time_2006.pdf

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Read the next article as part of the elearning best practises blog series: "E-learning design: bite size is the right size".