Successfully delivering traditional organizational training during a SaaS implementation is a massive undertaking. First you have to find trainers, then you need to purchase or create training materials, and on top of that, lining up schedules can be a complete nightmare. Not to mention the time it takes away from employee productivity by sitting through the hours training only to realize a month later that most of what was taught isn’t remembered.
This phenomenon of forgetting information that has been presented is common, simply for the reason that not everyone learns or retains knowledge the same way. Most people don’t retain information when it is presented in one session, crammed in with a lot of other information, and never revisited. Studies, such as Hermann Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, have shown that there is a steep decline in retention within 20 minutes after the material is introduced, and in most cases, 50% of that information isn’t retained after the first hour.
So how do you beat the forgetting curve and maximize learning and retention in your organization? Keep reading to find out.
What is the forgetting curve?
Ebbinghaus, a 19th century German pioneer of psychology, developed the forgetting curve after testing his memory over varying periods of time. The forgetting curve utilizes a formula to indicate the rate we forget information after it is learned. This formula revealed that the most abrupt memory decline happened within the first twenty minutes and was significant within the first hour, leveling off after a day. From his experiments, he deduced that once information is initially introduced to your brain, retention rates decline quickly if the information isn’t repeated.
In the context of training, the forgetting curve indicates that learners will forget, on average, 90% of what they have learned after one month. So that required training course detailing the entire process of purchasing and receiving goods that your employees took six months ago probably won’t be of much use if they haven’t had to actually use the information since taking the course. Maybe they’ve been able to remember one concept introduced in the course, say, submitting purchase requisitions, because this is an action they regularly complete in their day-to-day jobs. But what if one employee needs to submit a purchase order for approval, but can’t remember the steps to this process because they haven’t revisited this concept since the training?
This is where learning methods based on the forgetting curve, such as spaced repetition and microlearning, come into play.
Combatting the forgetting curve with spaced repetition
Ebbinghaus’ studies indicated that the extreme drop in memory can be reduced if the information is regularly repeated. This basis is seen in the spaced repetition, or spaced interval, learning method, which describes how learning is more effective if it is spaced out over a period of time. This type of learning emphasizes the need to introduce small portions of content over several days or weeks, then reintroducing that content at regular intervals.
Spaced repetition meets your organization’s training needs by reducing the information loss that occurs with one-time learning. Spaced repetition learning can be seen in digital training platforms, where students first read a document detailing a process or workflow, then are able to practice that process step by step in a simulated environment. This allows the learner to review and reinforce the information before having a chance to forget it.
Combatting the forgetting curve with microlearning
Microlearning emphasizes the importance of introducing small units of content to learners, allowing them to quickly and easily complete one lesson before continuing to another one. Ebbinghaus’ studies revealed that remembering information is easier when it is built upon concepts the learner already knows. It may be easier for your learners to utilize spaced repetition if the units they are returning to are small and self-contained. For instance, your learners may have a better chance of remembering information if their training only consisted of one step of the purchasing process that was assigned to them at regular intervals. So, if they needed a refresher on submitting a purchase order for approval, they could just revisit the purchase order module. If they revisited the purchase order course closer to the date that they would have to be performing the action, it’s likely that the information recall would be greater.
Combatting the forgetting curve with customized, interactive training
Another way to combat the forgetting curve is to ensure that the training your learners receive is relevant to them and their specific job roles. Training that is customized for your organization and learners will always be more impactful than out of the box, standard content. Because our brains have a limited memory capacity, naturally, we tend to more easily remember information that is regularly used, discarding the rest.
In addition to relevant information, learners also are able to retain information that is presented to them in an interactive way. People learn more quickly when they are actively involved in their learning. Providing your learners with opportunities to interact with their content by means of simulated walkthroughs or practice tutorials helps to ensure that the information they are receiving and repeating is remembered.
As you can see, many of the methods for retaining information aren’t adequately addressed with traditional learning methods. Lengthy classroom training sessions, where learners are taught multiple concepts at once, don’t provide the opportunity for heightened retention rates like most students need.
Newer methods of training, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs) and digital training, can help your organization reduce the forgetting curve’s impact. Digital training offers short modules that can be taken at the learners’ individual pace, rather than overloading their brains with tons of information all at once. Interactive training, such as guided tutorials or in-application support, allow learners to learn by doing.
Combatting the forgetting curve with Maverick
Maverick’s dual training platforms, ENGAGE Learn and ENGAGE Live, can help your users combat the forgetting curve by emphasizing repetition, customization, and interaction. ENGAGE Learn is an on-demand, interactive, digital training platform that gives all user types the ability to learn about system functionality and practice business processes in a simulated environment before entering the live system. ENGAGE Live, Maverick’s digital adoption platform, offers real-time guidance within your organization’s environment to increase efficiency, improve data quality and integrity, and bolster digital adoption.
Your organization can increase knowledge retention by leveraging ENGAGE Learn, which offers learners the opportunity to reinforce concepts in various formats. Learners can begin by reading a topic document on a specific process, before moving on to practicing walk-through tutorials of various steps of the process, allowing them to familiarize themselves with one step before moving on to the next one. By not focusing on one-time learning, ENGAGE Learn improves retention rates as learners can go back and practice tutorials as many times as they feel is necessary before going into the live system.
Maverick’s training also attempts to combat the forgetting curve by offering customized training content that is more relevant to your learners. Maverick can work alongside your organization to develop custom tutorials using your environment. That way, when learners are taking the training, it will look and feel like their live environment and will follow your organization’s specific business processes exactly.
In addition to custom training tutorials, Maverick also offers customized learning paths, consisting of relevant topic documents and walk-through tutorials for one specific business process or catered to one specific job role. Maverick realizes that corporate training needs to be relevant to each learner in order for them to improve their information recall. With custom learning paths, you can ensure that your learners are only being assigned training that is relevant to their job role.
Digital training sets the foundation for process proficiency and information retention once learners start using the live application. However, ENGAGE Live accelerates adoption of the technology within learners’ day-to-day workflow by providing real-time support within the application. Once live in the system, if learners are struggling to recall where to begin a process, or if they have successfully started the process but get lost in the middle of it, Maverick’s ENGAGE Live can provide contextual, in-application guidance at the learner’s point of need. Our in-application tool can guide learners step-by-step through complex business processes without navigating away from the application.
As stated earlier in the blog, we realize that not every learner will retain or forget information in the same manner. But Ebbinghaus’ solutions to combatting the forgetting curve are still relevant when trying to ensure that your training will be useful for your learners.
If you want to learn more about how your teams can get the most out of their training content, click the button below and let us show you how it works.