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Tackle the Forgetting Curve with Blended Learning

The idea, “Knowledge is Power” implies that knowledge is an artefact and access to it, is the key. So, is mere gain of knowledge or having access to it, is sufficient for retention and application? The answer is no. Scientifically speaking, humans forget things known or learned.

According to a German Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, when you learn something, the information disappears at an exponential rate initially, i.e., you lose most of it in the first few days, after which the rate of loss gradually decreases. He found that retention is hundred percent at the time of learning, but drops rapidly to forty percent within the first few days. Ebbinghaus also discovered that, repetition of the learning led to slower loss of information, increasing retention.

Why do we forget? It could be due to several reasons, that include:

Retrieval failure:

When memory begins to fade and disappear if information is not rehearsed or retrieved.


When information to be learned is very similar something learned before.

Failure to store:

When the information to be learned is not encoded in long-term memory, we are likely to forget it.

Motivated forgetting:

Memories of traumatic or painful experiences are consciously not remembered or repeated.

We tend to forget things as time passes, especially, if no efforts are made to recall the information.

What Impacts Our Level of Retention?

The factor that impacts our level of retention is repetition. Repetition means reviewing something regularly or frequently so that it sticks to memory. Reviewing at regular intervals embeds information in one’s memory, which makes retention easy.

Mixing ILT and online training, gives immense scope for repetition of a specific topic or course. Also, it facilitates retention by delivering learning in an appropriate format that compliments the learning outcomes of a course. So taking the best traits of both ILT & online training will enable learners to get more engaged with the course, while improving retention for application. This approach is blended learning.

How Can We Fight the Forgetting Curve Using Blended Learning?

Blended learning is not just an effective approach to train geographically dispersed workforce but is much more than that. Blended learning offers a continual supply of training material that enables learning in spaced intervals, making the learner retain better for application on the job.

It removes monotony from the learning process by letting the learner juggle between different modes for learning. Blended learning validates the worth of repetition as a way to increase retention; let us see how.

Reinforce learning regularly

Ebbinghaus discovered that information is easier to recall when it’s built upon things you already know. Engaging learners in an instructor-led pre-course before the actual online training program, reinforces the training, reducing the rate of decline.

Blended learning is a powerful way to integrate conventional ILT with online training as it combats diminishing attention spans and affectedly increases retention rates. Learning can be propelled using learning nuggets at pre-defined intervals, to enhance reinforcement.

Blended learning approach also provides trainers the opportunity to ascertain whether or not remedial intervention is required by the learners, using assessments.

Clarify learning

It is often difficult for learners to absorb information in the first place; if a new concept is taught or conveyed, it is easier to forget. It is more workable if the learners are taught a concept in an ILT and then given access to reference material, online. Learners can increase retention as they will be able to reinforce their learning.

A blended learning approach gives more flexibility to learners on what, how, and where they want to learn. It also gives them control over their learning. A blended learning approach allows learners to use multiple media resources in the course such as audio, video, and face-to face training.

This makes retention easier as it appeals to learners with different learning styles. Learning can be further clarified by providing performance support and job-aids to reinforce information. Repeated reinforcement increases retention for application.

Make the training more relevant

Delivering each learning module through the most suitable format aids better learning, and thereby retention. For example, introduction about new software implementation can be given through an instructor-led training; online simulations can be used to train employees on how the new software is to be used.

This way, the learning objectives specific to instructor-led training as well as online simulations are achieved efficiently, while maintaining relevancy for the learner.

Apart from these, blended learning has the potential to promote collaborative learning, not only in the classroom or online training sessions, but also through online discussion forums. These discussion forums can be visited whenever it’s convenient for the learners. This is how blended learning can be leveraged to improve retention to tackle the forgetting curve of learners.

Blended Learning: A Guide to Boost Employee Performance