More and more businesses are starting to see the benefits of providing in-house training for their staff. The great news is that there are some excellent online tools that allow employers to develop focused learning opportunities at a very competitive cost.
While building modules for your staff to improve their knowledge and skills base is important, so is picking the right way to learn. It needs to be meaningful and it needs to be easy to access. Breaking down learning opportunities into smaller sections that can be quickly digested has a lot of advantages.
Spaced repetition is an evidence-based approach to learning that has been shown to deliver an exceptional return on investment for businesses of all sizes when it comes to training and education. It works well if you have small chunks of information that staff need to learn and can be easily implemented so that individuals can dip in and out of lessons depending on their circumstances.
There are several benefits to using software based on spaced learning:
- It’s convenient and easy to set up.
- It allows you to personalise training both for your organisation and for different employees.
- You can grow your provision over time and create job-specific skills training.
- Cloud-based approaches also allow you to monitor learning so that you know how many modules an individual has completed and how they are progressing.
At Wranx.com, we’ve spent a lot of time building the perfect microlearning environment for our customers. Training drills can take as little as two or three minutes to complete which means that employees can easily incorporate this type of learning within the working day or while they’re on the bus or train home from the office.
Here we take a closer look at what spaced repetition is, the research behind it as a learning technique and how your business can benefit from introducing our cloud-based service.
What is the Spaced Repetition Method?
Spaced repetition is a widely used memory technique that is designed to optimise the learning of important facts. You see it used widely in modern language learning apps where bite-sized lessons are delivered at various intervals and over time the recall of a particular word or phrase improves organically.
Two elements make spaced repetition a successful approach to learning. The first is that lessons are relatively short and uncomplicated. Individuals build their knowledge in short chunks and naturally learn how to combine each of these elements.
The second is how these lessons are repeated which helps improve recall over time. The more we successfully recall a fact, the longer the interval before it is presented again. The more difficulty we have with a particular fact, the more frequently it is presented. It’s this combination that helps instil new memories.
We have state-of-the-art software that can now be used for a wide variety of learning opportunities. These employ artificial intelligence to optimise spacing, sequencing and repetition so that learning can be tailored to the individual.
You might remember flashcards which were essentially the forerunner of modern spaced repetition apps. For example, if you were learning a language, you would have a word on one side of the card and its translation on the other. If you got the card right you would put it to the side as ‘learned’ and continue with words that you were not so confident with.
The difference with modern spaced repetition software is that it utilises learning AI that should, at least theoretically, reduce the time it takes to learn a particular element and make sure it is successfully ingrained in long-term memory. Another key benefit of spaced repetition for businesses is that it can be easily measured so you can see which employees have learned information and which may still be catching up.
Spaced repetition also creates a knowledge base that can be utilised across different contexts. According to some recent research:
“Retrieval practice promotes the acquisition of knowledge that can be flexibly retrieved and transferred to different contexts. The power of retrieval practice in consolidating memories has important implications for both the study of memory and its application to educational practice.”
Does Spaced Repetition Actually Work?
To understand what a powerful tool for learning spaced repetition is, we need to first take a closer look at how the brain works. We can often be lulled into the sense that the brain acts like a computer. We imagine knowledge being saved in discreet files and that all we need to work out is how to access them.
This is an oversimplification of how memory in the human brain works. Several different parts of the brain are involved in building memory and then retrieving it. Research highlights that various regions will ‘spark’ when a particular memory is recalled.
In addition to this, we are only able to retain between five and six pieces of information at any one time. That’s why spaced repetition generally focuses on a small number of things to learn in a particular session.
There is plenty of research today that points to the efficacy of spaced repetition and it’s worth taking a closer look at this.
The first important part of learning new things is forgetting. There’s a theorem called the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve that highlights how we tend to forget things over time. Usually demonstrated as a graph this shows that we have almost perfect recall just a few minutes after learning something but this begins to flatten out as time goes on. We can boost the curve again by regularly exposing ourselves to the material that needs to be learned.
Of course, most people understand that they can rarely learn a set of facts in just a few minutes and retain that information for every. The general notion of practice makes perfect is something we’re all familiar with. That’s why we’ll repeat learning a word in a different language.
What most people don’t understand is the timing of practice is also vitally important for efficient retention. Research in this area stretches back around 100 years. Back in 1925, a group of students were asked to learn Athenian Oath. The first group were given the oath only once but read it six times in a row. The second group were given the oath on separate occasions. While the immediate recall was about the same for both groups, after 4 weeks the students who used spaced repetition had significantly better recall.
There is a lot of evidence that the retrieval process of spaced learning is also an important element. You are given a series of facts or questions and answers to learn. You are then given a short test. This is a vital part of the process. Not only does this give the learning system a chance to monitor your responses but it also means that the memory is more deeply ingrained and should improve recall over time.
Spaced repetition allows us to maintain this memory curve and continue to recall certain facts. What’s more, there’s also a benefit in partially forgetting something which makes the period that passes before you relearn something so important. This is called the theory of disuse and what it means is, if we start to relearn something partially forgotten, then that strengthens the memory even more.
It’s one thing to learn different facts but that’s not all that skills training or education in the workplace is all about. Transferring knowledge and using it to explain or perform other tasks is also important. The good news is that the research to date suggests that spaced learning can help facilitate this.
Other research has shown that spaced learning can be utilised in a variety of subject areas including developing language and grammar rules, solving mathematics problems and many other types of learning. There is a range of different uses for it within the business environment whether you run a sales team or want to onboard new employees in a large corporation.
Why is Spaced Repetition Important?
Providing training can be time-consuming and expensive for businesses, particularly those that are operating on a relatively tight budget. One of the key advantages for businesses is that you can measure progress with spaced repetition methods which means you can keep track of who has learned what.
Let’s say, for example, that you run a sales team. You get your sales staff in a room and go through your new techniques or products. The session lasts for an hour. You give them a test at the end to check that they have understood. What you don’t know is how long that information stays in their memory and whether they are using it out in the field to good effect.
A much better approach is to provide them with spaced repetition learning opportunities which you can measure and monitor their progress for. Your sales staff have a quick and easy way to get that information into their heads and use it for the future to sell your products. This is backed up by the current research. Studies have shown that spaced repetition improves recall by 35 to 50% in some cases.
Key to the success of spaced repetition is that you are not passively absorbing information but are taking an active part in the learning. That makes a big difference to concentration levels when we’re trying to learn something.
The challenge that businesses have is how to present all the information they want staff to learn and build their modules in the first place.
You may for instance have short videos that teach staff different aspects of work in the office. You could show a five-minute video, give the employee a 10-minute break and then follow it up with another five-minute video. After this, you give them a test on the content to see how much they have absorbed. The big key is that the time intervals between when you first show and then repeat to the individual needs to be tailored and the best way to achieve that nowadays is through high-quality artificial intelligence.
Spaced learning is also important because it can bring all employees along the training curve at about the same speed. That saves a lot of time for employers who can check the metrics and support anyone who may be lagging or having difficulties. They can move other employees who are responding well onto other modules much quicker and be confident that the information is being retained in their memory.
Spaced learning is suitable not just for simple information but complex learning opportunities as well. It can be more difficult to break down these complex areas of your business but it is entirely possible. Once the learning materials are in place, you can back that up with other teaching solutions including tutorials and one-to-one coaching.
Another benefit of spaced learning for businesses is that you have a coherent strategy for training and keep all the learning materials in one place. The bite-sized nature of the lessons means that employees can dip in and out whenever they have a bit of time. It also saves on training costs for businesses – you don’t need to invest in in-house mass learning opportunities and break up the working day and you can repeat learning materials without having to reinvent them.
If you are trying, for example, to make sure that your staff are learning all the health and safety regulations for your business or sector, it can be difficult to present this in a way that encourages full learning. With spaced repetition, you can easily break the regulations down into smaller chunks that are easier to digest and recall.
Having a wide range of learning materials that are available online has another big advantage for businesses. It gives enthusiastic employees the chance to learn new things, and progresses their careers and means they become more productive.
Spaced Repetition App
One of the big things that have changed for businesses that want to create spaced repetition modules for their employees is the role of technology. A spaced repetition app has lots of advantages:
- It allows anyone to access the app, wherever they are in the world. An employee could log onto the learning app while they’re on the train to work, or sitting in a café waiting for an appointment to start. All they need is a long ID and password and they can access your content.
- The app can easily be downloaded onto a smartphone and can be linked to notifications to improve spaced repetition.
- Businesses can build their training provision and tailor it more closely to the needs of employees and the goals of the company itself.
- A spaced repetition app allows you to create different training opportunities for different departments. You can even add on your company onboarding so that new employees turn up on day one fully informed.
- It can also save you money on your training process by providing more effective learning opportunities for staff at all levels. It can, for instance, greatly reduce the time spent on organising in-house teaching sessions.
A spaced repetition app works for businesses of all shapes and sizes and in lots of different sectors. It’s a flexible solution that not only provides a cost-effective solution to training but is measurable which means you can track how employees are progressing.
Providing staff training can be limited for many businesses because they don’t have the budget to invest in this area. The introduction of spaced repetition learning provides a low-cost solution that can help bridge this gap and make a big difference.
Why Choose Wranx
Using Wranx for spaced repetition to ensure employee knowledge and minimize gaps in knowledge can make a big difference to your business. We’ve spent a lot of time developing the cutting-edge learning software as a service solution that businesses are looking for today.
We’ve also worked with various sectors around the world, from small businesses to large corporations, so we understand what a difference spaced repetition learning can make.
Whether you need to improve product knowledge, create a better onboarding system for new employees, improve sales training or health and safety in the workplace, our software is backed by the latest high-tech artificial intelligence.
Perhaps you want to create modules for your marketing team or your HR staff need to learn about a new operating system for the payroll. Theirs is no limit to how spaced repetition can help.
Training staff well means that they can fulfil their roles and operate more productively. Putting staff in charge of their training also means you often get better buy-in and a more knowledgeable workforce.
Businesses can spend a lot of time creating and curating new training materials with all the costs that involves. At Wranx, we don’t just provide the software but our experienced team can help you put together the perfect new modules for your business. That could mean working with existing materials you may have created or bringing something new and innovative to the table.
If you want to improve your in-house learning, click the link below to book a demonstration.