They say that knowledge is power, but it’s only powerful if your learners are able to effectively retain and recall the information when the need arises. In this article, I’ll share 7 techniques to enhance knowledge retention techniques you can take into account in your next eLearning course design.
Applying Knowledge Retention Techniques In eLearning
Stress, distractions, and age-related memory decline are just some of the issues that can prevent adult learners from absorbing knowledge. As a result, they are unable to truly benefit from the eLearning experience, given that they cannot effective retain the information for later use. This takes every ounce of value out of your eLearning course, and keeps you from achieving your goals and objectives. Fortunately, there are 7 knowledge retention techniques that can help your online learners retain and recall important information in the long run.
1. Create a blog or website
Creating a blog or website post prompts your learners to review and recap the information they’ve already learned. Thus, they have yet another opportunity to assimilate it and commit the key takeaways to their long-term memory. It also has another benefit, however, as they are forced to summarize the information and put it into their own words, which further deepens their comprehension of the topic. Give them detailed guidelines on what online platforms they should use, which topics they are allowed to cover, and if they are required to work alone or in groups. That way everyone is on the same page and your learners can focus on creating their blogs.
2. Refresher eLearning assessments
Refresher quizzes or exams are spaced learning activities that give learners time to absorb and retain the information before taking the next eLearning assessment. It relies heavily on repetition, but also reduces some of the strain placed on their short-term and working memory. Offer them a weekly or bi-weekly eLearning assessment that allows them to gauge their own progress and review the eLearning content on a regular basis. This approach has a secondary benefit, as well, given that online learners can identify performance or knowledge gaps and keep track of them as they move forward.
3. Chart it!
Charts, graphs, infographics, and mind maps are just some of the mental aids you can use to improve knowledge retention. Instead of having to remember text-based eLearning content, online learners have the ability to get a visual representation of the data. They can also see the relationships between connected concepts, so that they can associate new information with ideas they’ve already committed to memory. Just make sure that your visual representations don’t include too much data, or else you run the risk of triggering cognitive overload.
4. Pair it with a picture
Humans absorb information much more effectively when it’s in the form of a picture, graphic, or cartoon. For this reason, it’s wise to pair your text-based eLearning content with images that make it memorable and interactive. This is particularly true if the images are thought provoking or unexpected. To improve knowledge retention, include a variety of relevant images that support your written eLearning content and form a visual connection in your learner’s mind. Just make certain that the images you choose don’t cross the line from being compelling to offending members of your audience. Research your target audience beforehand to determine what is culturally appropriate. It’s perfectly fine to integrate some humor, as long as it’s in good taste.
5. Gamify your eLearning content
Serious games offer bursts of information in a short span of time. More importantly, they make eLearning fun and entertaining. Online learners have the opportunity to absorb the necessary subject matter, and sometimes aren’t even aware that this is taking place. Then they are able to move onto the next eLearning activity once they’ve assimilated and reflected upon the information. You can take this a step further by gamifying your entire eLearning course. By doing so, learners are not able to progress to the next level until they successfully complete the eLearning activities, tasks, or online assessments. They also have the chance to earn badges, points, or move up the leaderboard. All of this helps to prevent cognitive overload, as it is inherently designed to provide bite-sized knowledge spread out over time.
6. Add pops of color
Color has the power to create an emotional connection and trigger our mental processes. For example, the color blue typically calms us, while red immediately makes us think of urgency or danger. We can harness this power by adding pops of color to our eLearning courses in order to stimulate the brain and evoke the appropriate emotional response. It’s a proven fact that information we link to a positive emotional experience is more likely to be remembered. Think about the feelings you are trying to create when choosing your color scheme, and draw attention to the key takeaways with bold, vibrant colors that catch the eye.
7. Put it into practice
Repetition is one of the most effective knowledge retention techniques. If your learners review eLearning content on a regular basis and actually put it into practice, such as by using skills or information to complete a simulation, they are more likely to remember the main concepts. This is primarily due to the fact that they’re actually applying what they’ve learned and tying it to preexisting knowledge. For example, if they are trying to master a task, encourage them to perform the process step-by-step, paying close attention to all of the skills and sub-tasks involved. Ask them to take a break to absorb the knowledge, then repeat the process once they’re ready.
Committing information to long-term memory is the ultimate goal of every eLearning experience. These knowledge retention techniques can help your learners achieve their goals by locking the information away in their mental schema. By doing so, they can apply it in every aspect of their lives and reach their true potential.
Working memory is vital to knowledge absorption and retention. Read the article Enhancing Working Memory: 6 Strategies for eLearning Professionals to discover useful strategies to enhance working memory and improve its capacity.