While psychology does play a major part in effective eLearning design, there are a few myths we’ve seen floating around that we think should be debunked. And since psychology is such a major part of learning any subject, it’s important to know fact vs. fiction.

In this post, we’ll take a hard look at some of the common eLearning psychology myths to find the truth behind the fallacies.

eLearning Psychology Myth #1: Memory Capacity is Infinite.

It is true that the human brain can store an overwhelming amount of information.

Scientific American compares the brain’s capacity to a digital video recorder in a television with 2.5 petabytes, which would be enough to store three million hours of TV shows. Translation: You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.

However, memory does have a capacity limit. Some data shows that the brain can store no more than 300,000 facts. And this is just looking at memory from a lifetime standpoint. We’ve talked before about Cognitive Load and how too much information at one time overtaxes short-term memory and gets in the way of learning.

Reality: Memory can reach capacity—so don’t dump too much information on your learners at once.

eLearning Psychology Myth #2: Encoding Doesn’t Improve Recall.

Another myth is that encoding is not an effective tool for improving a learner’s memory.

What is it? Encoding is the first step in creating a new memory in which a learner converts a piece of data into an existing construct for storage. Think of it like filing a card in a drawer.

The myth lies in the validity of this claim. Studies have proven that encoding does, in fact, improve memory and recall because memory is associative in nature—meaning that properly “filed” pieces of data are more easily recalled because they relate to a larger schema within one’s memory.

Reality: Encoding information makes it easier to remember.

eLearning Psychology Myth #3: Different Learning Styles Impact Training Effectiveness.

We’ve all heard about “visual learners” and “auditory learners” who have a tendency to learn more effectively when training is delivered in their desired sensory format. But new neuroscience research shows that all students (young and old) learn in fundamentally similar ways.

The truth is that learning happens through a variety of sensory factors and within many different parts of the brain.

Reality: The brain works on an interconnected network, which is not limited by specific sensory styles.

eLearning Psychology Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

These three psychology myths have been shaping eLearning for years—but when we understand the truth behind them, we can begin to create courses that are more effective, efficient, and helpful to learners.

Remember: Memory is limited, encoding does help improve memory, and different “learning styles” are not as critical as often suggested.