This month, thousands of school students received exam results. Most will have studied hard and memorised huge amounts of information for the exams; but how much will they remember in future? How much do they remember even now? The 'Forgetting Curve' theory suggests that information is lost over time if there's no attempt to retain it. In fact, it predicts that we will forget up to half of new information learned in a matter of days or week, unless it is reviewed and revised.
While there are criticisms of the Forgetting Curve (we may remember more in certain situations, for example) we know from our own experience that the overall hypothesis is sound - a lot of what we're taught is retained only long enough to pass the exam or carry out a specific task.
Traditional approaches to learning transfer and retention
Traditionally in eLearning, we've tried to combat this with a combination of learning devices like:
- Repeating and reinforcing key terms and concepts with examples and questions
- Providing 'print out and keep' takeaways of key points
- Suggesting follow-up activities, such as discussions with a manager or joining a webinar
All of these are valid and useful techniques, but does the digital revolution provide us with a more options? The answer, thankfully, is yes.
Curated briefings to aide learning retention and learning transfer
Here's how it works:
1. First create a briefing i.e. a collection of articles from around the web on any topic, filtered based on a set of rules
2. Post the briefing somewhere where it can be accessed e.g. LMS, learning platform or even within a module
3. Learners are then automatically updated with trending topics or latest news on the subject in question
Good use of the rules and filters would surely be key to ensuing that the information provided to learners is relevant and from a reliable source. To this end, the tool allows you to specifically include or exclude particular sites and key terms. So if you were creating a briefing for executives on time management, for example, you could exclude words like 'parent' and limit the search to certain top business sites.
Here's an example that I use for my own learning - you can see the topics I keep up with listed:
Who could curated briefings help?
Briefings have to potential to be a great option for self-motivated and 'always online' workers who will sift through the headlines, extract what's useful for them and dismiss the rest. Ideally, they are good at managing their time and prioritising tasks and information. For those people, briefings can provide reminders and introduce new developments, giving them the opportunity to stay informed and up-to-date.
It's a less attractive option, I would argue, for learners who feel overwhelmed by too much information. Learners with more limited language or IT skills might struggle to cope with a daily 'deluge' of information. Information overload, as explained on Wikipedia, can lead to "information anxiety," which is the gap between the information we understand and the information that we think that we must understand. This could also be true of new hires, eager to please and keen to impress, but who are already processing a lot of new information in their first few months on the job.
There is also the question of how many briefings a learner will tolerate. As the years go on and the learner studies more and more courses, the number of briefings appearing in the in-box will also increase. This could be avoided by having the briefing within the learning module, but I think this dilutes its effectiveness. The main point and benefit of a briefing, as I see it, is to continue the learning beyond the course and into everyday life.
The most exciting potential for briefings, I believe, is for dynamic subjects where terminology and even laws are changing all the time. Take, for example, the subject of Inclusion and Diversity. This is a hot topic for many companies but it's also an area that is always evolving. A briefing could be an invaluable tool for a busy HR professional who needs more than a one-off or occasional training intervention to keep abreast of developments.
So the point is - get curating smartly and wisely!
Whatever the potential negatives, I think they are far out-weighted by the potential positives. While many things have moved on in eLearning since I started as an ID nearly 20 years ago, learning beyond the course and transferral into everyday life have always been difficult nuts to crack, given our remoteness from the learner.
What next - do you need a briefing on eLearning or learning technology?
At Logicearth we are embracing the digital learning revolution. Improving how your staff learn, making your training more effective and making sure your talent pipeline is well stocked has never been more important. We have some free learning resources here and you can see a demo of our digital content here.
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