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How To Improve Memory Retention In Online Training


Are your employees really absorbing the information? Or is the forgetting curve putting a strain on workplace productivity and company profits? In this article, I’ll share 9 sure-fire ways to improve memory retention in your online training program.

Employees have a lot on their minds; work responsibilities to consider, as well as personal obligations that require a great deal of time and energy. This leaves minimal space in their minds and schedules for online training pursuits. However, the success of your learning campaign hinges on their ability to retain and recall the information. Here are 9 highly effective ways to improve memory retention in online training.

1. Use Branching Scenarios To Facilitate Mistake-Driven Learning

Mistakes can be valuable teachers. One of the best ways to facilitate mistake-driven learning is using branching scenarios to impart experience. These scenarios involve various decision-making paths that result in repercussions. Employees are able to try out different approaches and evaluate their own performance. Thus, they can learn from their mistakes and see where each action or behaviour leads them. Mistakes also serve another important purpose, which is to make the online training experience more memorable. Errors and the knowledge we gain from them stands out in our minds. As such, the information is more likely to stick.

2. Put Knowledge Into Practice With Online Training Simulations

Online training simulations feature realistic tools, obstacles, and characters. Employees must apply what they’ve learned to achieve the desired outcome. This is a form of active recall, as they have to use pre-existing mental schema to navigate the situation, thereby reinforcing key concepts and building new mental pathways in the process. Online training simulations can be used for a variety of online training tasks. For example, tech troubleshooting, customer service complaints, or even complicated compliance issues that may result in costly citations.

3. Create Topic-Centered Infographics

Infographics pair images with text to improve knowledge retention and comprehension. They may also include charts, graphs, and other visuals that support the subject matter. Infographics can be used to highlight statistical data, guide employees through a task, or even explore the company’s history. For best results, focus on a specific topic or task for each infographic, and center on 5 or 6 key points instead of covering every idea or concept. There’s always the option to create additional infographics, that feature related sub-topics or trends. Remember, bite-sized is best.

4. Incorporate A “Moment Of Need” Online Training Repository

That brings us to the next tip, which is to incorporate a “just in time” online training library. This features microlearning online training resources that are easy to digest and remember. Employees can access support tools based on their needs, goals, and skill gaps. Best of all, they can expand their knowledge whenever it’s most convenient, whether that’s on the sales floor, before a client meeting, or during the morning commute. “Moment of need” online training repositories aid in memory retention by breaking the online training content into consumable pieces, instead of barraging your employees with large quantities of information.

5. Provide Immediate eLearning Feedback And Recommendations

Employees may not know that they are performing the task incorrectly οr that they lack important compliance knowledge. This is why feedback is of the utmost importance, along with recommendations to help them continually improve. Include personalized feedback after each online training activity, assessment, or module to draw attention to areas for improvement. This also ties into mistake-driven learning, as employees are likely to remember the information if it’s tied to a notable event. In this case, the event would be discovering a performance, knowledge, or skill gap during the online training course.

6. Reinforce And Refresh Knowledge With Diverse Online Training Materials

People have diverse learning needs and preferences. Thus, it makes perfect sense that they require diverse online training materials to meet their needs. For example, some corporate learners may benefit from online training presentations and videos, since they remember information more effectively if it appeals to their visual sensibilities. Others absorb and retain the information when it’s in a podcast or audio narration. The key is to reinforce their knowledge periodically and refresh their memory with their online training tools of-choice.

7. Offer Social Learning Opportunities

Engaging in social interactions improves knowledge retention and broadens a learner’s understanding of the topic. They get to see things from a different perspective, which leads to more profound online training experiences. Employees are also able to challenge their own opinions and assumptions. Social media groups, forums, online group collaboration projects, and corporate eLearning blogs are just some of the ways you can integrate social interactivity. You also have the ability to host webinars and other live events to improve retention rates.

8. Create A Positive Online Training Environment

The human mind remembers positive experiences. It also retains information that is collected during these online training experiences. As such, uplifting and inspirational online training environments promote memory retention. For example, humorous stories and motivational characters stick with us long after we complete an online training course. A thriving corporate eLearning culture and an active online learning community are also essential components for a positive online training environment. Employees must have all the support they need to overcome obstacles.

9. Begin And End With A Recap

Start the online training activity or module with a general overview of what’s to come, then end it with a summary that features the core ideas. Ideally, these recaps should be in the form of bullet lists or brief guides to prevent cognitive overload. Employees are also able to use these summaries as knowledge refreshers and “moment of need” online training resources. You can also encourage corporate learners to put their active recall skills into action by creating their own recaps.

These memory retention tips and techniques can improve corporate eLearning ROI and enhance the benefits of your online training program. As a result, employees are more satisfied in the workplace and have all the skills they need to take care of business. Just make sure you get their feedback frequently to make your online training even more memorable.

There is a lot you can do to improve memory retention, but at the same time you shouldn’t forget about the cognitive limitations of adult learners. Read the article Cognitive Limitations Of Adult Learners In eLearning: 6 Factors To Consider to discover the 6 factors that determine the cognitive limitations of adult learners, so that you can increase knowledge retention and prevent cognitive overwhelm.

About Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA, and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.

eLearning Blogger | EduTechpreneur | eLearning Analyst | Speaker | Social Media Addict

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