7 Digital Learning Assets That Fit In The Learning Pyramid

7 Digital Learning Assets That Fit In The Learning Pyramid
Summary: Looking to raise the engagement and retention of training? Here are 7 digital learning assets that help in enhancing retention levels.

Learning Pyramid: 7 Digital Learning Assets To Increase Knowledge Retention

English Novelist Edward Morgan Forster once said, “Unless we remember, we cannot understand.” For instance, with patients’ lives at stake, it is imperative for healthcare professionals to remember the learning content and apply it on the job, be it a medical procedure or compliance topics such as HIPPA regulations.

Similarly, it is essential to help your employees remember the training content for them to perform well, producing a win-win situation for both employees and your organization. There are various studies that prove that varying the training methods helps improve the retention and recall of information, consequently enhancing the learning experience. One widely used model is the “Learning Pyramid,” also called the “cone of learning”.

The levels in the learning pyramid are:

  1. Lecture
  2. Reading
  3. Audio-Visual
  4. Demonstration
  5. Group discussions
  6. Practice
  7. Teaching others

Check the levels with their average retention rates [1]. While the four methods at the top are passive, the bottom three are where learners actively engage with the learning content. Although conventional methods account for retention levels, leveraging digital learning assets will surely help in ensuring your training is more engaging and effective. These assets can be standalone or as part of blended learning. What are these assets?

Passive Learning (First Four Levels)

Since the first four levels do not include learner participation, they are passive; however, they still continue to be widely used. Here’s how digital assets can be used in these levels.

1. Virtual Classroom

The Learning Pyramid suggests that “Lecture” is the most ineffective way of learning dissemination and retention of knowledge is at only 5%. Learners merely have to sit back and listen to the information the instructor shares. Why not give it a technological spin with a virtual classroom?

Virtual classrooms happen through video conferencing applications that allow multiple learners to connect at the same time, via the Internet. Learners can interact, view, and discuss the presentation with the instructor as well as other participants. Additionally, they can engage with the learning resources while working in a group task.

Leveraging virtual classroom also makes much business sense when you have employees spread over different regions. You save your precious training dollars spent in arranging for their travel, accommodation, and not to forget, time. Additionally, your organization can record these virtual presentations and provide to learners for reference.

2. eBooks/PDFs

Slightly more effective than lectures, reading still fails to ring-in long-term retention with just 10% on the learning pyramid. eBooks and PDFs are the two of the many digital learning assets that make learning hassle-free without compromising on the engagement quotient. How?

eBooks and PDFs are easy to disseminate, easy to read, with the added features of highlights and notes for important points. And in case you’re wondering this still makes them passive learning methods, here’s some news. You have the option of customizing these assets to incorporate various interactivities and embed links to additional learning resources.

3. Podcasts

According to the Learning Pyramid, audio-visual learning results in 20% retention of the information learned. With technological advancements, audio-visual learning methods have evolved. While videos in eLearning are the medium of the moment, podcasts are gradually making their mark in the digital learning sphere.

Podcasts that are based on conferences and seminars become an excellent way to share with your learners. This helps in creating an authentic learning environment – something we all seek in digital learning.

Additionally, podcasts can also be the recording of live training lectures, including the question and answer session. Going through a podcast after a live session fosters reinforcement and better retention.

4. ‘Watch’ Videos

While podcast is an auditory medium, video is a complete audio-visual learning method that can cater to the Demonstration level in the Learning Pyramid. This method tends to offer less ambiguity than other passive methods of learning, thereby resulting in fewer errors on the job and greater understanding. What if we say you can still do the same without having to go through the physical process?

Watch-only videos are trending, considering their capability to fulfill multiple training needs such as product training, sales training, and software training to name a few. To raise the engagement bar and enhance retention, these videos can be short nuggets, animated, or even incorporate real-life visuals. Not to forget, they are extremely easy to share, essential when you have employees scattered across different regions. It’s high time you make use of this digital learning asset, in case you haven’t.

Active Learning (Bottom Three Levels)

While technology has made it possible to turn passive methods into active, the bottom three learning methods of the Learning Pyramid overtly state higher retention since the beginning. However, over time, the methods have become smarter and more sophisticated, enhancing retention levels. Let’s see how.

5. Social And Collaborative Learning

Discussion is a form of collaborative and social learning which vouches for high retention of information. Needless to say, it is an active learning method that leads to higher retention levels. Discussion groups are created with the intention of stimulating learners’ thinking. How is this done in online learning?

In the digital learning environment, this is done via real-time chatting, message boards, or instant messaging. Additionally, you can create a group in the learning portal and encourage learners to participate in discussions.

Apart from enhanced retention, engaging in a shared activity provides learners the opportunity to learn a variety of skills such as teambuilding. The ease of content sharing also generates a more robust learning culture in the organization.

6. Simulations

“Practice by doing or experiencing” is considered one of the most effective learning methods that result in higher retention of information. This method encourages learners to do what they learn and put it to practice, promoting deeper understanding and moving what is learned from short-term to long-term retention. Is it possible online?

Sure, it is! In eLearning, simulations provide learners the opportunity to experiment and learn from their mistakes in a completely risk-free environment. Simulations are widely used for software or process training, where learners can learn about the steps or the features. In a nutshell, simulations in eLearning use different scenarios in a simulated environment to prepare learners for real-life situations.

7. User Generated Content

The key to master a subject is by teaching others. If learners are able to accurately teach a subject to others, they will have strong grip of the concepts, and consequently superior retention and recall. According to the Learning Pyramid model, learners are able to retain about 90% of what they're able to teach to others.

Although collaborative learning can be a way to teach others, it is more informal. User generated content is created by learners themselves and can be used to support formal as well as informal learning. UGC can be in the form of podcasts, videos, infographics, and more. How is it different from other methods?

When learners are encouraged to create their own content and share, they feel trusted with the responsibility of teaching others. For instance, a fellow sales employee can make a short video of how to tackle a specific situation during a client meeting and share it with his team. It helps others relate better with the content when it comes straight from a learner with their work profile, thereby enhancing more retention and recall.

To maximize the effectiveness of your training, it’s important to analyze what method your learners would prefer most. It is a good idea of go for blended learning, and use this these digital assets in the blend.


[1] Learning Pyramid Average Retention Rate National Training Laboratories Bethel, Maine