Do you remember those long nights before an exam, sat up with a text book and several cans of Redbull, trying to ‘cram’ as much information as you possibly could, knowing that it wasn’t going to stick past tomorrow? Similarly, how many of us have spent a day or two away from our jobs attending a work training course, listening intently the whole time, only to come to the stark realisation several days later, that we’ve forgotten everything.
Whilst this ‘cramming’ technique may have got us through our exams successfully, it’s clear it’s not an effective learning method for long term knowledge retention. Typical corporate training techniques essentially use the same method; lots of information is downloaded at once, leading to ineffective knowledge retention, meaning companies are investing time and money on training with little to no return.
But forgetting is part of life. So how can we overcome this? Well, the short answer is a learning technique known as Spaced Repetition. This technique was discovered in the late 1800’s, by a German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus. He performed memory experiments on himself, by memorising lists of meaningless syllables and testing himself periodically to see how many he remembered. The result of the experiments was Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve. He discovered that his memory decayed very quickly at first – just as it does when we cram for exams – once the exam has passed, we may only remember a handful of the points we learnt.
Critically, Ebbinghaus also found that the rate at which he forgot could be slowed down by repeating the learning at intervals. This is the basis for spaced repetition – repeating information at set intervals over time allows us to overcome the forgetting curve.
But that’s not all. In order not to forget, the intervals at which we repeat a learn must be timed, precisely as we’re about to forget. If the repetition is timed correctly, the brain has to work to recall that memory, strengthening it like a muscle. Have you ever tried to remember someone’s name who you’ve just met by repeating it to yourself ten times? Chances are this worked for a short time, but if you then tried to recall their name the next day you would realise you’d forgotten. This is because when you performed the repetition, their name was already front of mind, so no work was done recalling it. For the repetition to be effective, it has to be very precisely spaced.
Spaced repetition is not a new way of learning, it’s been used by medical students and language students for many years. However, it is only in the last few years, that companies are starting to realise its value in the workplace. Employees want knowledge at their fingertips and want their learning to fit with their busy work lives. Employers, more than ever, need learning to be engaging for all generations, easy to access, and above all, to be a solid return on investment.
MemoryBox does all of this, and more. It combines the science behind effective learning along with gamification elements to make learning fun, and to make learners want to revisit the app regularly. With employees completing just 2 minutes of learning each day, not only does it offer huge learning efficiencies and a guaranteed improvement in performance, MemoryBox fits with the modern workplace and the need to learn on-the-go, in bite-sized chunks, meaning less time out of work for employees. It engages the workforce by allowing them to play peer-to-peer. And, in a hugely competitive world where customer experience can make or break a business, MemoryBox means greater knowledge retention and an improved ability for employees to deliver that unforgettable customer experience, whatever that may be.
More information is available from the website at www.peopleunboxed.co.uk/learning-technology.
PeopleUnboxed is taking part in the upcoming Learning Technologies 2019 Conference and Exibition at ExCeL, London, 13-14 February 2019.