Underlying any training program is the ultimate goal to engage learners and convey information that will be stored in memory for future application. Without retention, training is essentially worthless, which can be problematic as the human memory has limited storage capacity and the brain is hardwired to forget things over time.
As many organizations transition to a virtual training platform, it’s essential that these trainings are designed for retention. It’s possible that programs could look different as technology evolves, however there are a few key ingredients in order to truly train for retention.
1. High Quality Content
Perhaps the most important step is to create content that conveys the learning objectives in an engaging manner. While this is important in any program, it’s particularly relevant for virtual training since you have the ability to utilize multimedia content which can increase engagement, but you’re also missing a natural classroom discussion. For this reason you must integrate a discussion component, as long-term retention is increased when participants are able to discuss topics with one another and their instructors. Content should be created by subject matter experts who can accurately convey the information or task at hand. You must integrate a discussion component as well, as long-term retention is increased when participants are able to discuss topics with one another and their instructors.
2. Optimized Systems
One major benefit of virtual training is that the instructor has the ability and flexibility to assess the knowledge base of participants and cater the content to best serve them in real-time, enhancing learning outcomes. Once this target information is established and the instructor understands what is needed, training procedures should ideally be optimized to match. For example, if the training is on cognitive skills, such as research or strategic planning, then you should use training procedures optimized for the cognitive skills learning system. Learning in this system is mediated by the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobes. Understanding which learning system to utilize is essential for increasing retention.
3. Efficient Retraining
While you may not think of retraining as part of the initial design and implementation of a virtual program, it’s important to consider from the start. Periodic testing and evaluation will determine how much learners are retaining the knowledge, which will in turn will help you refine the ongoing training and develop any necessary retraining. Remember, our brains are wired to forget information over time, which means it’s inevitable that learners likely won’t remember 100% of the knowledge acquired. The goal is to efficiently reduce the probability of forgetting, which retraining multiple times supports since it stimulates long-term memory storage. Virtual programs are ideal for retraining and testing, as they are cost effective, can be done from anywhere and require little to no effort on the instructor’s part with potential artificial intelligence and machine learning functions.
Every training program should be developed with long term learning retention in mind, and as more and more organizations transition to virtual platforms it’s even more essential to consider these elements. With increased retention comes more engaged employees and improved performance, and by utilizing these three steps you can do so in a faster, more effective manner.
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