You want to build a fantastic eLearning course that helps your learners become well-trained employees, right? Right.
In order to do that, you need to be sure the material you’re teaching is memorable. Literally—it needs to be committed to a learner’s memory.
So how can you create courses that your learners remember? Let’s look at the different types of memory and how you can design your course for each of them.
Working Memory and eLearning
Short-term memory (or working memory) has a limited storage capacity of about three to seven pieces of information. Add to this the fact that working memory has a limited lifetime (about 30 seconds) and you’ll realize the challenge presented here.
Keeping working memory in mind, your eLearning courses should do the following:
–Limit information displayed per screen. It can be tempting to pack a ton of content onto a single screen, but remember—it won’t stick with your reader.
–Minimize distractions. Too many graphics will clutter your course, while overlaying music and sound effects can be noisy interruptions.
–Combine text with images. Themes and lessons become more easily understood and remembered when they are aided by visual cues.
Long-term Memory and eLearning
Think of long-term memory as a filing cabinet. When you commit something to your long-term memory, it gets filed away (and can be accessed later.) Once the information is firmly lodged in long-term memory, the brain hard-wires this connection through neurons and synapses.
While information may be stored away, the ability for learners to retrieve that information doesn’t happen automatically. This happens by connecting new concepts to things the learner is already familiar with. Relevancy and a connection to something accustomed to are the keys to truly learning something new.
In order to get your learners to file things away, you’ll need to:
-Present the lesson in a meaningful way, such as a story or scenario
-Repeat lessons in a variety of ways so that the message sticks
-Let learners get hands-on with experimentation
-Quiz learners to test their knowledge retention
There are two types of memory: recall and recognition. Recall requires the learner to use their full mental capacity, while recognition takes less effort.
You can use recognition throughout your eLearning course by using visual elements that complement the concepts you’re trying to teach.
Here’s an example: Instead using text that says ‘Next’ for navigation, use simple directional arrows that make sense for course navigation. This means less clutter and simple directional cues that get the job done without further taxing your student.
Be Mindful of Cognitive Load
When working memory gets overloaded, you run into a problem. This is called Cognitive Load—and it means that too much information leads to poor recall later on. Our working memory has a limited capacity, so we have to be mindful of that while creating eLearning courses. You can do that by:
-Chunking data into smaller, more bite-sized pieces
-Using real-world scenarios and work situations
-Call on existing knowledge instead of starting from scratch
Great eLearning is Memorable
Tailoring your eLearning course so that it speaks to the various kinds of memory helps ensure learners will be able to recall information down the road when they need it most.
Just remember: Memorable courses don’t overload.