Well designed training programs that employ effective learning strategies make your training successful. Here are two learning strategies you should be using.
Active learning is any process where learners think about and interact with the information being taught. Some interactive exercises involve a single task. Categorization exercises, ranking exercises, and interactive diagrams that learners actively engage with are all examples. Because acquisition and consolidation of surface learning involves repeating and rehearsing acquired information, these types of active learning exercises are excellent tools at the surface learning stage.
Active learning exercises are effective for deep learning, too. Deep learning strategies involve self-questioning, self-verbalization of steps in a problem, peer tutoring, and collaborative learning. Facilitate deep learning by blending a number of these higher level learning strategies in an active learning exercise.
Active learning exercises consolidate acquired knowledge through active processing and rehearsing in a way that is more engaging than simpler learning strategies like note-taking, summarization, or traditional end-of-lesson quizzes. And, active learning exercises stimulate learners to evaluate, analyze, and interpret information. This leads to deep learning – connecting the information to a bigger framework.
Use active learning exercises at both learning stages break up otherwise monotonous tasks and foster an engaging and thought-provoking learning experience. Learners in active learning-based courses reported higher levels of satisfaction than those taking traditional format courses (6). And, studies also point to higher information retention rates for learners involved in active format learning environments (7).
Spacing is perhaps the most effective of learning strategies. The human brain can only take in a certain amount of information at one time, with current research pointing to somewhere between four and seven items. When that threshold is reached, acquired information must be consolidated into long term memory. If too much information is delivered at one time, consolidation becomes much more difficult and requires more time, which defeats the purpose of microlearning. Effective microlearning course design utilizes spacing as a learning strategy to improve learner results.
Spacing information accomplishes two things:
- It ensures that learners aren’t overloaded with too much new information at one time, allowing them to effectively consolidate new information from short-term to long-term memory.
- It builds long-term memory storage and retrieval strength by calling back to previously consolidated information.
While micro lessons should only teach one task or concept, some tasks or concepts will have multiple steps. Look for logical places to break up these micro lessons into smaller components. When that isn’t possible, be sure to use spacing within the lesson.
Let’s say a micro lesson covers a process that has 10 steps that need to be taught in one lesson. Break those 10 steps up and cover the first half, followed by a reinforcement exercise to consolidate those steps. Then, continue with the remaining steps, and follow that up with another reinforcement exercise for the second group of steps. Finally, present a final reinforcement exercise which accounts for all 10 steps in the process. This allows learners to successfully acquire new material in short term memory and consolidate it into long term memory.
Remember, consolidation of information takes two forms: storage strength and information retrieval strength. Spacing previously learned material over time and calling back to it through review and assessment helps with information retrieval strength and strengthens the information in their long term memory. This means that micro lessons don’t stop when the last of the new material is delivered to learners. Follow up reinforcement exercises should continue to be delivered over a period of days or even weeks, depending on the scope of the overall material.