Training Retention: 4 Ways to Make Your eLearning Stick

June 13, 2013 | Brendan Cournoyer
Training Retention: 4 Ways to Make Your eLearning Stick

improve-training-retention-elearningAre you doing enough to increase your team’s training retention?

When it comes to training, most organizations have pretty straightforward goals: increase value and reduce costs. That’s a big reason why so many companies have incorporated eLearning into their strategies – and why on-demand video has become a preferred format for online training content.

Studies show that audiences retain information at a much higher rate when they can see and hear it. In fact, Forrester Research reports that when it comes to training retention, one minute of video is equal to about 1.8 million written words (or roughly one-quarter of a George R.R. Martin novel).

But while video content can do wonders for training retention, there are still other things you can do to make your eLearning even more effective. Here are just a few simple ideas to consider.

#1. Make it interactive. It’s not enough to just share your training content with learners. To truly improve retention, learners need to engage. This is especially important with on-demand learning that audiences consume on their own.

One of the simplest ways to increase engagement is to give learners elements to interact with, like quiz questions, surveys or live polls. Questions can even be added to video content for audiences to respond to from directly within the player, creating a powerful combination of visuals, audio and interactivity.

#2. Check in frequently. While quizzing learners at the end of a session can be an effective way to boost training retention, it can also be a good idea to sprinkle in questions throughout the material – especially for longer videos.

In a recent report on interactive learning, Julie Patrick of JP Learning Associates advises instructional designers to “check in” continuously with learners by including an interactive element every two minutes. This will ensure that your audiences are constantly working to retain what they’ve learned so they are less likely to forget critical info later in their training.

#3. Focus on smaller portions. Learning is kind of like drinking alcohol – a little at a time can be fun, but too much at once can cause you to have a bad experience, forget important details and accidentally hit on your friend’s girlfriend (OK, maybe not that last part). The point is, when it comes to training retention, less can often be more.

“Learning is best when it is able to be received in portions,” writes Justin Ferriman in a post for LearnDash. “Creating a ‘ritual of learning’ conditions people to become more receptive to the content.  So if you have a lot of eLearning content to deliver, consider breaking it up into standalone modules delivered at various time points.”

#4.Make it easy to find. Have you ever heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect”? You should have – I mean, it’s like insanely common. Everyone’s heard it. It’s also true.

From an eLearning perspective, the key here is access.The fact is, people forget new information pretty quickly, and it sometimes takes a degree of repetition to make it stick. The easier it is for them to find and access your training content, the better that training will be.

For his Plan B blog, Donald Clark explains that “the real solution, to this massive problem of forgetfulness, is spaced practice… the regular rehearsal and practice of the knowledge/skill over a period of time…. If we get this right, increases on the productivity of learning can be enormous. We are not talking small increase in knowledge and retention but increases of 200-700%.”

700%?? Now that’s one serious spike in retention!

Of course, these are just a few ideas for more effective eLearning. Do you have a tip of your own for boosting training retention? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

For more eLearning ideas and best practices, check out the resources below:

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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