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7 creative ways to incorporate memory recall into your e-learning course design

Will learners forget the key takeaways as soon as they click away?  We discuss 7 creative ways to incorporate memory recall into your e-learning course design and improve knowledge retention.

Typically, people enrol for e-learning courses to learn and acquire skills necessary for their daily lives.  However, there are a variety of obstacles that stand in the way, such as external distractions and lack of mental focus.  Even the limits of human memory can be problematic.  Memory recall is the process of retrieving past information that has been stored in the mental schema.  For online learners to get what they need from your e-learning course, recall is essential.  Thankfully, you can facilitate the process using various techniques.  Let’s take a look at some creative ways to incorporate memory recall and improve your e-learning course design.

Interleaving refers to mixing up information.  According to psychologists and neuroscientists, it is one of the most effective ways to strengthen memory recall.  When developing an e-learning course, mix-up the information without creating confusion.  For example, the first e-learning module covers the first sub-topic.  The second explores a new, related idea, but also features some memory refreshers from the first e-learning module.  Another way is to develop online assessments that focus on the current topic but feature a handful of questions that cover previous concepts.  This way, students will jog their memory every time they see familiar concepts and improve retention.  Ensure that you creatively interrelate these concepts to avoid confusing online learners.  Mixing up concepts allows students to practice different skills as they polish the ones they have previously acquired.

2. Space it out

Essentially, spacing refers to repetition.  Repetition is a very important aspect of learning as it aids short-term memory.  Instead of forcing online learners to memorise all the information at once, make sure that you repeat the key information throughout the e-learning course.  Remember that timing is a very crucial factor in spaced repetition.  You should keep increasing the amount of time between repetitions to prevent the practice from becoming monotonous.  Widening the time intervals between spaced repetitions also increases the difficulty and makes our brains work hard to remember.  Thereby, knowledge retention and memory recall are improved.  For example, you can create mini quizzes for each topic and space them out throughout the eLearning course.

3. Assess online learners to trigger active memory recall

Incorporate questions into the e-learning course design that encourage online learners to retrieve past information from their memory banks.  They also draw learners’ attention to the topics which need more practice than others.  Contrary to popular belief, questions aren’t meant to test knowledge.  They are meant to increase learning and retention, as online learners must try to recall what they have learned and assign meaning to the new information.  In addition, questions increase the difficulty level and slow down reading activity, which prevents knowledge “cramming”.

Go a step further and elaborate on the topic to improve learner comprehension and recall.  Instead of just stating facts, give real-life examples that online learners can relate to.  Examples will help learners make sense of the concepts and tie it into their own lives.  They can use straightforward case studies, or you can opt to provide stories that will stimulate critical thinking.  Branching scenarios, for example, provoke online learners to use their problem-solving skills.  On top of that, they create an emotional connection with the online learner, which triggers memory recall.

5. Break it down

Chunking information reduces information overload.  It involves reducing information to small components so that it’s easier to absorb.  Develop micro online training activities that online learners can complete when it’s most convenient, and when they’re mentally prepared.  For example, once they’ve already completed the related e-learning modules and fully understand the topic.  Dividing information in small bits reduces cognitive overload and aids knowledge retention.  It also gives online learners the opportunity to practice forgotten information so that they can cement it in their long-term memory.

6. Sum it up with infographics

End each e-learning activity or module with an infographic that highlights the main takeaways.  Infographics cater to different learning preferences and break the topic into easily digestible parts for better memory recall.  Which means that online learners can use them to reinforce knowledge and refresh their memory.  Include images, charts, and other visuals to improve their understanding, as well as text explanations and stats that offer more details.  There are several infographic templates available online, and your authoring tool may have some in its online repository.  Don’t forget to include your branding in case the infographic goes viral, and to ensure it meshes with the rest of your e-learning course design.

Putting information into your own words requires in-depth knowledge of the topic.  You need to know all the takeaways in order, to sum up the subject matter and teach it to someone else.  For this reason, you can encourage online learners to create their own online training content and share it with peers to incorporate and improve memory recall.  Set some guidelines so they know what’s expected of them and which tools are available.  Then invite them to develop online presentations, videos, and other online training resources that focus on the chosen topic.  Their peers can then provide feedback to help them identify areas for improvement.  For example, the learner-generated online task tutorial lacks a crucial step in the process.  Or the presentation features facts that are inaccurate.

Make memory recall a priority

These 7 tips can help you incorporate memory recall into your e-learning course design and beat the forgetting curve.  This ensures that online learners not only pass examinations but also attain all the necessary skills.  Instead of merely going through the motions, they soak up the knowledge they need to achieve their goals.  Just keep in mind that memory is a tricky thing.  You must constantly refresh and reinforce ideas to make them stick.

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