Spaced Repetition: Learn. Refresh. Repeat...Via Mobile!

Spaced Repetition: Learn. Refresh. Repeat...Via Mobile!
Summary: Reinforcing learning via spaced repetition with follow-ups, reinforcement, or measurement, is critical after a training program. Mobile learning provides an excellent opportunity to do this.

Following A Spaced Repetition –Based Mobile Learning Approach

Let us see why mobile learning may be an excellent opportunity to reinforce learning via spaced repetition.

Employees must constantly be on their toes (read: “Learn new skills”) thanks to the constant changes in today’s work environment and an upward calibration of customer expectations. Continuous learning and enhancing of employee knowledge (leading to increased productivity) is a must-have in today’s fast moving, changing world. Organizations of every shape and size are spending significant amounts on training: In 2015 alone, spends on training activities (including insourced and outsourced spend) reached a whopping $355 billion, according to various estimates; a healthy 10.4% growth over the previous year. However, a survey by the ROI Institute found that while 96% of CEOs want Learning and Development to be connected to business impact data, only 8% actually have access to this type of information. In addition, three quarters of CEOs (74%) want return on investment (ROI) data related to Learning and Development, but only 4% are provided with this information.

Traditional training sessions, while useful, are increasingly struggling to justify ROI in today's workplace. A major factor that’s playing a role is the lack of follow-up, reinforcement, or measurement leading to much of what was taught during training being forgotten, and therefore, wasted.

In times of uncertainty that is characteristic of the current environment, managers can no longer continue to operate like training budgets are endless.

According to McKinsey research:

“Only 50% of organizations even bother to keep track of participants’ feedback about training programs. Worse, only 30% use any other kind of metric. What this means, of course, is that many companies essentially measure the effectiveness of training by asking the participants if they liked it. Besides the risk of encouraging 'edutainment' over substance, the problem with this approach is that it penalizes programs that push people outside their comfort zones. What’s more, it leaves HR departments and other developers of training programs flying blind about their impact”.

When there is no follow up and monitoring, there is no follow-on impact of the training investment. Money and time go down the drain.

Reinforcing learning via spaced repetition is critical; but why can mLearning provide an excellent opportunity to do this?

Spaced Repetition And Mobile Learning

Let’s take the example of a new product launch. It’s a common scenario across industries where an organization needs to train a distributed support and sales staff on product features, competitive differentiation, etc. Typically, employees from different regional offices may attend a training workshop. After the initial training they return to their jobs. It is highly unlikely everything an employee needs to know can be absorbed at a single training program and be called upon for use at the right time.

Now, unless follow-ups are embedded into the training loop to ensure trainees understand concepts, what the customer “pitch” is to different customers (for e.g. a male / female customer, older / younger customer etc.), and so on, optimal ROI is nowhere close to being achieved.

Spaced repetition is therefore critical whereby quizzes and learning is repeated periodically so employees know what they should, and perhaps equally important, understand those aspects that they don’t know and therefore need to learn.

Mobile phones / apps have emerged as key to do this. In a world used to WhatsApp and YouTube, there is scope for an equivalent model for continuous, bite-sized learning with quizzes and interaction capabilities. This can enable the following:

  1. Easy follow-ups.
    After a course or training workshop, trainers can follow-up with additional resources, explanations and encourage questions and discussion.
  2. Reinforcing key concepts.
    This is so trainees do not forget the essence of what they learnt.
  3. Putting learning into action.
    This can be done via case studies, relevant practical applications which employees can relate to and practice themselves. This is where the rubber meets the road and employees have a chance to apply what they have learnt to best use.
  4. Spaced repetition.
    As mentioned earlier, this is via quiz questions that may be repeated on a periodic basis until the information is absorbed.

Interval-based learning can help employees achieve a heightened level of knowledge and become more confident and productive thereby impacting the organization’s bottom-line. Learning that’s delivered on a mobile provides an incredibly powerful method to improve learning outcomes and is something that organizations are embracing with increasing frequency all over the world.