The popular Forgetting Curve by Hermann Ebbinghaus shows how much information the human brain retains in its memory. According to the curve, retention levels drop drastically, as time increases. Learners forget roughly 90% of what they have learned in a span of just 72 hours.

This is not the only problem. Human attention levels are decreasing rapidly. The probability of the human brain to retain any kind of information it consumes is slim pickings! Even if the employees take training programs, how will organizations ensure that they retain the concepts and also apply it on the field? Especially when the average attention span of a human being has fallen to as low as eight seconds.

The solution lies in offering spaced learning. Spaced learning refers to the process where the same information is delivered to learners across different time intervals. Depending on the complexity of the subject matter, the refreshers are repeatedly delivered to the learners. Such kind of training consists of short and crisp lessons and is much more distributed.

Spaced learning helps make learning more effective as it ensures proper retention of information. Critical information can be delivered to learners on their mobile devices in different ways, according to the pace and convenience of the learners and the stage they are at. Pushing out relevant content in different formats over a carefully planned period of time, makes sure that the concepts are retained for longer.  

There have been several studies to prove the efficiency of spaced learning. Kristine Bloom and Thomas Shuell were the two scientists who studied this concept. In their experiment, they taught 20 new vocabulary words to two groups of students. One group focused on learning in one continuous 30-minute session and the other group spent time learning in 10 minute sessions over three consecutive days. They took a test four days after the lessons and found that the group that learned in shorter training sessions over 3 days was able to remember 15 words correctly, as opposed to the group with only one session remembered only 11.

The concept of spaced repetition works because it does not let the learner lose grasp over the concepts being taught. Spaced repetition does not treat training as a one-time event with no follow ups. It makes learners consume the same information several times during the training program, and even after it. Such a system works best when the process is personalized for each learner. This ensures that the areas where the knowledge gap is the largest is refreshed the maximum number of times. These repetitions can be made even more effective by delivering them in rich media formats such as text, graphics, video or audio and in a mobile device of one’s choice.

Spaced learning can be deployed effectively by taking care of the following:

1. Use bite sized content for information

Information is easier to retain if it is delivered in short, more digestible chunks. The refreshers deployed in spaced repetition consists of engaging chunks of crisp content such as quizzes and visual documents. Providing such doses of microlearning that focuses on elements of the same concept can help learners solidify that information in their memory.

2. Ensure breaks are non-subject related

Spaced repetition involves a lot of breaks in between the delivery of crisp content. Make sure these intervals do not require learners to participate in anything that talks about the same subject matter. Instead, these breaks involves fun activities like games or discussions around other topics.

3. Assess knowledge for higher retention

Learner’s knowledge can be assessed through questions tied to granular learning objectives, which is focused on a specific nugget of content. This appeals to learners as they are not forced to consume large amounts of content that may or may not apply to their role or area of interest. Measuring knowledge such basis can help identify knowledge gaps efficiently. Content can be adjusted on the basis of the need of the learners to help them catch up with their peers and build expertise around key areas.

Using spaced repetition as a way for delivering training can keep learners engaged and also reduce the total time spent in the learning environment. Learners can be made aware of what they have learnt from time to time in interesting formats. Breaking down content into such multiple activities increases total learning time without making the learner feel captivated.

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