How spaced repetition and microlearning help enterprise learning
Executive Summary: Spaced repetition and microlearning are two complementary approaches that can improve the efficiency of enterprise training. They have gained popularity in recent years due to improved learning outcomes they deliver. Increased employee engagement, flexibility, and convenience to learn make them obvious choices for employers. Spaced repetition involves reviewing and reinforcing new information at increasing intervals. On the other hand, microlearning delivers content in small, bite-sized chunks, such as short videos or interactive activities. Both approaches allow learners to focus on specific skills or concepts; these reduce the cognitive load of traditional training methods. In this blog, we look at how to incorporate these methodologies in any corporate training regime. We will also understand how these methodologies help employees perform better and drive revenue for their companies.
The attention time span of humans has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since 2000. What might have given credibility to this statistic is the media saturated society, as this was about when the mobile revolution began. Adults tend to binge watch for hours, while children absorbed in video games must be torn away for meals and screen breaks. These children and adults are more likely to get bored when given a mentally challenging task. When people engage in something, their attention remains as long as their interest. This inference makes learning extremely challenging and compounded, as time is limited too. This is where spaced repetition and microlearning come in handy.
Spaced repetition and microlearning to personalize enterprise training
As employees have less time to spend on learning activities at work, personalizing the learning experience is helpful. A 2019 LinkedIn workplace learning survey revealed nearly 89% of employees wanted personalized training available anywhere and anytime.
Spaced repetition example
Let’s look at an example to make the statistic more relatable. Sara, a manager at an MNC is transitioning to a new role at work. This new role requires Sara to upgrade her knowledge and take a few development courses. These courses are compulsory for her to finish, and require her to sit through long hours of pre-recorded content and lengthy assessments.
As a working mother, Sara finds it difficult to finish the courses beyond office hours. Besides, Sara is continuously shuffling through calls, texts, meetings, and screens both at work and at home. This severely affects her ability to retain information even after spending hours on the learning content.
Personalization of learning content can help Sara, and many such employees. Through personalized content, employees get trained on functional topics that can help them do their jobs better. It can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and topics are broken down into smaller chunks. The content is provided through a specific learning path that improves retention and engagement. This might be a perfect solution to Sara’s difficulties.
For example, Amazon or Netflix recommend products and content on the basis of a customer’s browsing history and interests. Similarly, organizations can provide learning content that is most suitable to their employees, and personalize it to their skill set. An added advantage of personalized learning content is easy repetition.
Repetition of content ensures it is reinforced, so learners don’t forget the information. On average, people forget 50% of any new information within the first hour and 70% of it within 24 hours. Now consider that in a digital world, employees are exposed to new information on TVs, phones, and computers multiple times throughout the day. This makes training content a shrinking proportion of daily learning, and the likelihood of employees forgetting their training is high.
This is the opposite of what training sets out to achieve. Effective training requires long-term understanding and behavior change. Spaced repetition and microlearning can help employees remember information longer. Let’s explore how and why spaced repetition and microlearning are effective, starting with the understanding of why and how we forget.
People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.
However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.
What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.
RapL is your software for that.
Is spaced repetition scientifically proven?
In the mid 1880s, German psychologist Dr. Hermann Ebbinghaus created a scientific approach to study and classify memory. In his trials, he noted that memory is inconsistent. Memory can increase, decrease, and replenish. The studies led to the concept of the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time. It explains how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it.
If we closely study the graph, it shows that repetition significantly improves retention of information. The graph suggests that learning spaced over a span of time, with spaces in between repetitions, can help learn better. This is because the learner has time to process and internalize the information, and is more likely to not forget it.
This idea of bringing back already ‘learned’ information can be helpful in enterprise training environments. Let’s find out how.
Spaced repetition schedule: How it helps learning retention?
Spaced repetition is based on the concept that learning is enhanced when knowledge is repeated after certain intervals.
Spaced repetition is best explained with simple examples, such as taking care of a plant. Stop watering the plant regularly, it will die. Give the plant too much water, again, it will die. But water the plant regularly, with the right amount of water, and it will grow strong roots and thrive.
Similarly, spaced learning exercises the brain by teaching and testing the same information more than once over an extended period. This is achieved through activities like scenarios, applied examples, case studies, reference documents, etc. The more the brain is exercised on a particular concept, the longer that concept is retained.
As an employee’s memory gets stronger with reinforcement, the intervals between repetition and recall can be increased. Eventually, the information will become part of their long-term memory. In essence, spaced repetition and microlearning can help bypass the forgetting curve to certain levels.
How to do spaced repetition?
Successful spaced repetition requires the implementation of specially designed steps.
Spaced repetition implementation requires a stepwise process. It consists of three intensive instructional periods, separated by breaks or other material relevant to the learning path. These four instruction periods present the same information, but each with a different emphasis. At RapL, we describe this sequence as ‘receive, recall, repeat, retain’.
- Receive: The first input session, the ‘receive’ phase, is a short content piece, such as a document, video or image. This phase focuses on creating an understanding of the topic.
- Recall: The second session, ‘recall’, rolls out simple scenarios or assignments for learners to recall what they have learned.
- Repeat: The next session is about repeating the information till it becomes part of the long-term memory. Learners go through the incorrect responses in the recall stage again. However, this repetition is spread over time and aims to embed the knowledge in memory.
- Retain: In the fourth session, learners apply their learnings to an assessment or task. The learner can return to the content to better understand the topic. This allows learners to practice application and repetition simultaneously.
The session is repeated multiple times, gradually increasing the time span between each session in terms of days, weeks, or months. In the example above, employees like Sara can go through learning content at a scheduled time, on receiving notification, in between meetings, or even on breaks. Now, this sounds great. But you might wonder how to use spaced repetition and microlearning in training. The answer lies in micro content.
What is meant by microlearning?
Microlearning, as the name implies, consists of intentionally short bursts of learning.
Microlearning can be easily equated to learning snacks. One of the biggest questions in our fast-paced world is how to balance the need for continuous learning and the constraint of a time crunch. Microlearning solves this problem. Information is delivered in “bite-sized” pieces that can be consumed within five and fifteen minutes. These content pieces are designed to be easily digestible. This allows easy revisit and the ability to cover a wide range of topics. From sales, marketing, production processes, and shop-floor operations, microlearning can be used in many different training scenarios.
Microlearning is presented through micro content. It can be in the form of text, images, short videos, audio, tests, quizzes, or even interactive games. The key to microlearning is that each lesson contains a single topic and is intentionally short. There is no official rule of thumb as to how long they should be, but the intention is to keep it short. However, what microlearning provides is more than just saving time. It provides the ability to focus in bursts and actually benefit from it. The objective of microlearning experience should be personalized and efficient learning.
Microlearning is quick to develop and deploy. Because it can be housed in an independent platform, it is easy to maintain. Splitting a long course into small lessons is good practice for chunking and enhancing retention. Again, the key is that each microlearning unit covers a single objective and is self-contained, providing the learner, content and practice in one sitting.
Most microlearning solutions can be divided into 5 basic building blocks:
- An authoring feature that lets you build the content.
- A content management tool that lets you organize the microlearning content you have built.
- A user management that lets you add and group users.
- A learning engine that delivers microlearning to the target learners.
- A reporting system that allows trainers to see data from learning
Most microlearning content is intended to be deployed to the user’s smartphone/tablet for anytime, anywhere learning. Microlearning’s power is ‘diversity in content‘. For example, video tutorials on better content design are excellent for training people on marketing concepts. A short eBook or quiz is great to train new factory workers on a company’s product or process. This shows that microlearning can be a successful training solution whenever and wherever you need it.
At RapL, we have worked with many industry leaders and used microlearning to improve enterprise learning within weeks. Read our inferences and solutions for microlearning at the workplace to know more.
Relationship between spaced repetition and microlearning
Both spaced repetition and microlearning have the potential to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of enterprise training programs. Both learning techniques pair well to deliver just-in-time learning to the learners. Let’s take another look at examples of employees that juggle personal and professional responsibilities.
While spaced provides consistent and ongoing training to learners, microlearning offers short bite-sized information that is easy to consume and recall. As we mentioned earlier, information can be presented in short documents, infographics or videos. Short content clubbed with scenarios ensures the learner applies the concepts to retain them well. But apart from repetition, microlearning also has the added benefit of being quick and convenient. For modern learners, microlearning is quick enough to give full attention to each lesson. This also improves their ability to recall that information later.
Benefits of spaced repetition
List of benefits of spaced learning in enterprise training
One of the key benefits of spaced repetition is its ability to improve retention and recall of information. When learners are presented with new information, they may struggle to retain it all at once, especially if the material is complex or unfamiliar. Spacing out learning sessions helps retain and recall the material in the long run. This happens because learners have the time to process and practice what they have learned. This can be particularly useful for training programs that require learners to remember and apply complex concepts or procedures over time.
Another benefit of spaced repetition is its potential to increase engagement and motivation. When learners are given the opportunity to take breaks between learning sessions, they may be more likely to stay engaged and motivated to learn. This can be especially important in enterprise training, as learners have several other responsibilities or distractions. By spacing out learning sessions, learners can stay focused and motivated to learn.
Spaced repetition offers greater flexibility for learners, as it allows them to schedule their learning sessions around their other commitments and responsibilities. Learners who are working full-time or have other obligations might find it difficult to commit to a full-time training program. Spaced learning allows learners to spread their learning over a longer period. This makes it easier for them to balance their other commitments with their training.
In addition to these benefits, spaced repetition can also help learners develop their problem-solving skills. Spaced learning gives learners the opportunity to apply what they have learned to real-world situations. Such challenges help learners develop their ability to think critically and solve problems. This can be valuable in all enterprises, where problem-solving skills are becoming more essential for success.
Finally, research has shown that spaced repetition can lead to better performance in assessments, as well as in the workplace. By helping learners retain and recall information more effectively, spaced repetition can help commit information to long-term memory. This can be especially important in enterprise training, where the goal is often to prepare learners for success in their roles.
Overall, spaced repetition is an effective approach to training in an enterprise. The benefits offered by spaced repetition can help employees stay engaged and motivated to learn, and perform better in their roles.
Spaced repetition and microlearning in enterprise training
RapL has worked with hundreds of teams and helped them train thousands of employees. Based on the work that spans dozens of industries and companies, here are some tips we have compiled on how to use spaced repetition and microlearning to improve enterprise training.
- Organize complex training into simpler topics: Take any complex topic for training and identify key building blocks. Use chunking to define simpler topics per building block. These simpler topics are chained together to drive home the depth of information for the complex area of training.
- Schedule short and routine chunks of information: Both concepts work on the concept of short and frequent study sessions for learners to recall their learnings to build knowledge retention. Small chunks of information are delivered one after another, at regular intervals. This lets learners absorb and digest the training content easily.
For instance, a simple training module can have a 5-minute video lecture with 10 scenarios to solidify the information.
- Spaced delivery and review: This helps learners progress at their own pace in their learning path, and doesn’t overwhelm them with an overload of information at a time. Do not force employees to cram entire lesson plans and countless types of training material in a single study session. Instead, use spaced learning to encourage review information at gradually increasing intervals. This pattern may look different for each employee, depending on their experience and skill set.
- Create repetition and association: Repeat, repeat, repeat. There is no better and effective road to proficiency than constant practice. When you send small bits of information regularly, make sure to repeat some old information. Learning content needs to be connected and grouped in related concepts to help learners create patterns between previously learned training material and the new learning content.
- Include assessments and real life applications: While it’s important to expose your learners to crucial information, it’s equally important to test their knowledge in between. Assessments can include games and simulations, apart from a handful of scenarios offered daily. This engages learners with the same content, while giving them different learning experiences. It is also an efficient way to repeat learned information and retrieve prior knowledge, which reinforces knowledge.
Through this blog, we have established that by delivering content in small increments, it can help make enterprise training more efficient. The spaced repetition and microlearning combination can work wonders for enterprise learning. The microlearning content is designed to reinforce knowledge over time. Through spaced repetition, learners can retain and apply new knowledge more effectively. Together, spaced repetition and microlearning can improve employee performance and employee engagement. Additionally, the flexibility and convenience offered allows learners to access training materials on their own terms. This is especially beneficial for remote or geographically dispersed teams.
Overall, the incorporation of spaced repetition and microlearning techniques into enterprise learning programs is a step into the future. This will help prepare for the evolving workforce dynamics.
At RapL, we work with fast growing companies to help train their workforces better. Our focus is on enhancing productivity through continuous learning. Log on to getrapl.com to learn more about how we can help elevate your workforce.
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1. Speak to us if you want a microlearning strategy deep-dive: Microlearning is extremely effective, if approached sensibly. Microlearning is the answer to today’s shortening attention spans and we know how to make learning successful via microlearning. Drop your context here and we shall partner with you for the rest.
2. Lap up more content: We have written some intense literature on how microlearning is the superglue between people and successful business operations. Access all of it here.
Ah, microlearning for managers – the hero of continuous learning! For those who want their teams to work…
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