You want your trainees to remember what your training course taught them, right?

That’s kind of the main objective for any eLearning course—to get participants to retain information and then use what they’ve learned in their roles at work.

But research tells us that people generally forget about 50% of what they learn after one hour, and 90% after 31 days. Ouch.

So what can you do to make eLearning stick? Here are a few helpful tips.

Tell Them Why

When companies mandate training for employees without explaining why it’s important, trainees aren’t all that compelled to remember what they’re learning.

Why? Because our brains are programmed to automatically discard information we don’t deem as important. Think about how easy it is to forget what you ate for lunch five days ago. When a learner hasn’t been told what the training will help him/her do or how it specifically relates to an overall objective, often times they’re just going through the motions. It’s another item on their to-do list—nothing major.

If you want to make eLearning stick, do a pre-training session in which you discuss how the training will impact day-to-day roles at work and why it’s so important to leadership (and even more so to the employees themselves) that the training is completed thoughtfully.

Use Sticky Phrases

The text and audio within your course can be as dull or as interesting as you make them—but Joanna Wiebe, a professional copywriter, tells us that sticky phrases help hold a listener’s attention.

So what are sticky phrases? They include interesting analogies, non-offensive slang words, and words that make the brain pause (like words that include texture).

Here’s an example: Rather than writing, “You can proceed to the assessment by clicking the next button” you could write, “Ready to test yourself? Click the notebook and prove that you can help Johnny document all the violations in the workplace.”

Bottom line: Interesting text and audio make the course feel more personal and interesting for the participant.

Tell a Story

Storytelling is a great way to make eLearning stick because it helps learners associate concepts with memorable characters, lessons, and themes.

We use storytelling in our eLearning courses so that learners can see how what they’re learning can actually be applied at work. In the HIPPA compliance course we created, learners see modules in which people are completing real-life work tasks so they can relate to those individuals.

It’s one thing to just present facts and processes, but when you build them into a story, it becomes easier to recall how the data related to part of a larger storyline.

Connect the New to the Old

New information is foreign to learners, so possibly the most important aspect of them learning and remembering the new material is to connect it to things they already know. If they can’t put what you’re telling them into context, they probably won’t understand it, and they definitely won’t remember it.

Think of this like directions on a map. If you tell a lost driver to reach his destination by taking a right, then a left, then another left, then a right, but he’s not familiar with the area, those lefts and rights end up being easily confused. He can’t recognize landmarks or picture the map as an overhead view. He spends another hour driving around in circles.

In the same way, foreign information presented to learners without context means you’re throwing out left and rights without a map for learners to refer back to.

How to Make eLearning Stick: Design for Motivators

Adults are compelled to learn for different reasons—they want to build off of their existing knowledge and make connections via relatable situations.

If you really want to make eLearning stick, design with them in mind.

Remember: Tell them why, use interesting phrases, relate information to their existing knowledge, and tie lessons into a larger story.