Learning Retention In An Online Environment

Improve Learning Retention With Online Learning
Summary: If your learners don't manage to retain knowledge, you put the effectiveness of your training program at risk. Fortunately, you can improve learning retention with interactivity. Learn about how eLearning can help you pave the way for a meaningful and memorable training experience.

3 Ways To Enhance Retention With eLearning

If you launch training in your company, there is so much on your plate. Sometimes it seems if you get approval from higher management, establish great communication with Subject Matter Experts, and create courses jam-packed with information, that you’ll finally make it through. But that is a very erroneous assumption. In fact, training can make a real difference for your business only if your learners acquire new knowledge properly and remember it long enough. And that’s when learning retention comes into play.

What Is Learning Retention?

Learning retention basically stands for how long you can keep information in your memory to put it into action over time. This term comes from brain studies and cognitive psychology and relates to memory. However, what learning retention implies is more like a phase when a person can recall and implement new knowledge. The stronger the newly established connections are in your brain, the longer the learning retention will be.

So, Why Worry About Learning Retention?

The tricky thing with learning retention is that it doesn’t just happen. Moreover, it doesn’t last forever. Since we are all learners at some point, we are faced with new information every day. But the news that studies bring us isn’t encouraging: we forget up to 70% of what we learned the other day. Our brains don’t transfer this knowledge into long-term memory, and it simply vanishes.

Have you ever crammed for exams in high school or college? Stuffing your brain with loads of facts and concepts the night before was helpful to finish strong that semester. But from a long-term perspective, you probably remembered little to nothing. For corporate training, that’s certainly not an option. Rote memory of meaningless content yields no results and will be a waste of time and money.

To increase learning retention, it is ultimately important for students to apply what they learned as soon as possible. Luckily, with online training, you can create opportunities for employees to exercise their knowledge with no risk, extra money, or time spent. Next, we’ll look at how this is done.

Your Key To Learning Retention: Interactivity

According to the Cone of Learning model developed by the National Training Laboratory, active learning, in which students are deeply engaged in the process and interact with the material in various ways, is most effective for retention. So, first and foremost, you should add this kind of interactivity to your training content and make it fun for learners.

Interactive online courses will make knowledge really "sticky" and embed it smoothly for daily practice. Learners will be able to reflect on training content, play with it more, test themselves, and assimilate information successfully. Below, you’ll find out about 3 surefire ways to add interactivity to your course and thus greatly improve learning retention.

The 3 Ways To Enhance Retention With Online Learning

1. Diversify Your Course Content

Monotonous courses are not able to engage learners and ignite their thinking. In the structure of every course, you should include various training modules to diversify your learners’ experience and walk them through all levels of knowledge acquisition.

Some helpful practices for this stage involve:

  • An open-ended/essay question after each module. Prompt learners to take such formative assessments throughout the course and share their understanding of a topic. Learners can reflect on new knowledge, make up their minds, and express their thoughts. This way new knowledge becomes "theirs."
  • Using the spaced repetition method and reminding the learners of what you’ve just covered. For example, add this overview to the beginning of every module and summarize key takeaways at the end of it. This way, you’ll stimulate learners to recall information at equal intervals and memorize it.
  • Microlearning. If you drip-feed learners with new complex information, there is a greater chance that they will acquire and retain it better. Contrary to cramming, you don’t force-feed a wealth of information all at once, but make information stick in small, yet complete portions. Micro-courses are also convenient if you need to brush up on a particular topic.

2. Test Knowledge With Quizzes

To further improve learning retention, you should link theory with practice. The acknowledged and fun way to do this is through interactive quizzes.

Online quizzes are like mini-games that prompt your learners to establish the right consequences, match definitions, drag and drop related objects, and more. In other words, taking quizzes makes us connect the dots better and make stronger associations.

If you create courses with iSpring Suite Max, your quizzes can be really imaginative and engaging. Quizzes made with iSpring Suite Max help learners consolidate their knowledge on any given topic. For example, here is a quiz that assesses the knowledge of merchandising rules:

This tool provides you with 14 different quiz templates that you can customize with images, audio, video, backgrounds, and characters. Multimedia enhances the retention process because it ignites visual or auditory imagery and captivates a learner’s mind. The sense of touch also enhances the memory process. And with iSpring Suite Max, it doesn’t matter what type of device a learner uses to take quizzes. They can even learn on mobile devices and literally have new knowledge at their fingertips.

Quizzes enable the learner to not only test their knowledge, but also to have an exciting learning experience. If you want to make it more real, you can invite learners to apply knowledge in simulated situations.

3. Practice With Real-Life Scenarios

Dialogue sims are real-life scenarios like customer interaction, business negotiation, and interviewing that imitate a conversation. You can use dialogue sims to train employees on communication skills or assess their knowledge of certain procedures.

For example, you can drastically improve your compliance training with a fire safety course that will contain a firefighter character. You thus incorporate the elements of storytelling into your training. This will bring more context and vibrancy to such a serious topic and help the learner memorize the critically important rules better.

Also, real-life scenarios empower your employees to learn from mistakes—and they are one of the best teachers, right? Fortunately, now your learners can practice in this risk-free online environment. They’ll remember how to do things right for a long time, but their mistakes won’t cost you anything.


Creating online courses, quizzes, and dialogue sims won’t take much effort but will lead to greater learning retention. These and other eLearning materials are fairly easy to make with a proper authoring tool. Keep exploring the eLearning world with us and see how it can change your corporate training for the better!

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