Making Learning Memorable


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From Linda Warren's E-Learning Symposium 2011 Austin presentation:

When we design training we need to think about what is meaningful to our intended audience and design a learning experience that meets their needs. Marketing concepts, motivational factors, knowledge of learning strategies, and adult learning principles can be combined to create remarkable E-Learning. In this session we’ll look at examples of online training and participate in exercises to analyze what makes learning memorable.

Session will focus on:

• Effective marketing principles from Made to Stick
• Learning principles from Telling Ain’t Training and Malcom Knowles
• Motivation principles from Maslow
• Learning strategies

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  • There is a story you may have heard before. It goes like this … A man was on a business trip. At the end of the day he was relaxing at the hotel bar. An attractive young woman bought him a drink. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a bathtub filled with ice. There is a cell phone on the rim of the bathtub and a note letting him know a kidney has been removed and he should call 9-1-1 right away. How many of you have heard this story? What makes this story memorable? It is scary. It is kind of outrageous. It is unusual. It’s a story. There are some things we remember, like this urban legend and other things we forget. Often we forget some of the things we want to remember.
  • In this session we’ll look at: Memory and how the brain functions Strategies to make learning memorable Methods to get and hold a learner’s attention Memory aids You have a note sheet. Throughout this session you can use it to make a list of techniques you want to use to make learning memorable. At the end of this session, there is a short test. It’s not going to be hard, but we’re interested in seeing what is memorable to you. I know people don’t like tests, so we’ve got a little prize as a reward for people who do well on the test.
  • Hermann Ebbinghaus, born in 1850, is famous for uncovering one of the most depressing facts in all of education: People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in class within 30 days. Source: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School By John Medina
  • The majority of forgetting occurs within the first few hours after class.
  • This is a graphic representation of typical learning. Formal training, represented by blue squares, takes place in a concentrated period of time. The dashed line represents the end of training. Learners quickly forget what they learned. There is a limit to the amount of information you can store in short-term memory at any given time. Once short-term memory is full (with perhaps seven pieces of information), it becomes overloaded and can’t hold anything else. If you try to cram more information into short-term memory, it will cause confusion.
  • When learning events are spaced out over time, your brain has more opportunity to process information and retain more of what you learned. WBT is ideal for spaced repetition because learners are not tied to an instructor’s schedule or location.
  • Learning can continue to increase after formal training ends if you provide ongoing support. Forgetting after a learning event can be avoided by using follow-up strategies such as mentoring or coaching or providing job aids or building feedback into computer applications. Remembering is enhanced when the learner begins applying knowledge on the job right away. It’s that use it or lose it idea. If you don’t use what you learn, you’ll forget it.
  • You can space learning by breaking content into small chunks. In Brain Rules, John Medina (a developmental molecular biologist) talks about the mind wandering every ten minutes. When he lectures, he needs a “hook” to regain attention in that time period. I think ten minutes is a good target for an online lesson. It limits the number of concepts that can be presented and is short enough that you should be able to hold the learner’s attention.
  • Ebbinghaus’ research proved some memories last only a few minutes while other memories can last a lifetime. He showed that a person could increase retention simply by repeating information at timed intervals. Repetition moves information from short-term memory to long-term memory. In training we often present information, have the learner apply it in a practice exercise, and then test comprehension in an assessment at the end of a lesson.
  • If I ask you to study a string of letters, you might repeat the letters in your head to remember them.
  • Write the letters you remember on the first line under “Repeat to Remember” on you note sheet.
  • Now record the number of letters you got correct.
  • For a specified subject, a subject matter expert organizes information in a meaningful way. In this case the letters are all abbreviations for things related to HIV. However, to the learner, the letters don’t have meaning and are therefore difficult to remember. Logical association provides meaning and makes learning memorable.
  • Words presented in a logically organized structure are remembered better than unorganized concepts. Recall is often 40 percent better.
  • Image is NOT a hyperlink. Step-by-step instructions provide a logical structure to organize information.
  • Step-by-step instructions are used to teach everything from cooking to making bombs. This story was reported in the news on Saturday. A British spy agency hacked into a terrorist organization’s online magazine and replaced step-by-step instructions for bomb making with step-by-step instructions for making cupcakes.
  • Image is a hyperlink. Timelines are another mechanism to create logical associations and organize information. A timeline says events happen in chronological order. This is what happened first and it was followed by these other things. When you put a timeline in web-based training, you can give learners a degree of control and let them move around the timeline to view whatever interests them.
  • We just covered some strategies for making learning memorable. Now were going to get back to how our brains function. Our brains must encode the information we perceive. The way information is encoded in the brain is like a blender running with the lid off. Information perceived by various senses (such as vision and hearing) is sent to different parts of the brain. Components of a concept are stored independently, separate from the whole idea. We rely on regions of the brain known as association cortices to merge information from our various senses and make sense out of the different types of stimuli we perceive. Source: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School By John Medina
  • Encoding is the transformation of external stimuli into electrical impulses. For instance, when you encode visual information, your brain changes light waves into electrical impulses the brain can understand. From a brain function perspective, the quality of encoding (the richness of the information) is the best predictor of learning success. The more a learner focuses on the meaning of information, the more elaborately the encoding is processed. Source: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School By John Medina
  • Elaboration (or encoding with meaning) creates “handles” (or cues) for retrieving information. The more handles you create when information is first processed, the easier it will be to retrieve the information in the future.
  • We know information is remembered best when it is elaborate, meaningful, and in context. Elaboration can include multisensory input such as the use of narration with visuals. Using relevant, real world examples is a way to make learning meaningful. Context provides multiple cues (handles) for retrieving information. When the training environment is similar to the work environment, recall is improved. Explain experiment in Brain Rules where people were taught when they were standing in water. Learners were divided into two groups for testing. Those who were tested while standing in water had better recall than those who were not standing in water when they were tested.
  • Image is a hyperlink. Click the Chapters tab; then navigate down to Micropipettor: Loading the Tip I just mentioned that elaboration or multisensory input enhances learning. We looked at this training before because step-by-step instructions provide a logical structure to organize information. It also is a good example of multisensory input. Audio, visual, and text communicate the message. Use of multiple sensory channels provides multiple hooks or cues for retrieving steps in this procedure. Source: Bioed Online
  • Image is a hyperlink. Type “live longer” in the text box. To demonstrate how information is meaningful and relevant in web-based training you can ask the learner how information can be applied on the job. Asking “application-type” questions requires the learner to really think about the topic and that makes the learning meaningful. When you ask a question you can provide instant feedback, which also makes the learning more effective.
  • Image is a hyperlink. Storytelling is an effective method to provide meaningful details and context. Details of the story provide elaboration. This is an example of storytelling as an introduction to clinician training on reducing the transmission of HIV from mother to child at birth. Telling a true story makes the issue very real for the learner. After showing the case study: Storytelling is an also an effective strategy for grabbing attention at the beginning of training. In Brain Rules, John Medina says introductions are everything. He says “If you are trying to get information across to someone, your ability to create a compelling introduction may be the most important single factor in the later success of your mission.”
  • Asking questions is a good strategy for making learning memorable. Let’s say you are creating a lesson on light and refraction. Rainbows are an interesting aspect of refraction so let’s say you start out with a question.
  • This slide is for display to the audience to show them how they will vote on your polls in your presentation. You can remove this slide if you like or if the audience is already comfortable with texting and/or voting with Poll Everywhere. Sample Oral Instructions: Ladies and gentlemen , throughout today’s meeting we’re going to engage in some audience polling to find out what you’re thinking, what you’re up to and what you know. Now I’m going to ask for your opinion. We’re going to use your phones to do some audience voting just like on American Idol. So please take out your cell phones, but remember to leave them on silent. You can participate by sending a text message. This is a just standard rate text message, so it may be free for you, or up to twenty cents on some carriers if you do not have a text messaging plan. The service we are using is serious about privacy. I cannot see your phone numbers, and you’ll never receive follow-up text messages outside this presentation. There’s only one thing worse than email spam – and that’s text message spam because you have to pay to receive it!
  • Poll: What shape is a rainbow? Press F5 or use the tool bar to enter presentation mode in order to see the poll. In an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser:
  • When you are standing on the ground, you only see a portion of a rainbow. The horizon and your environment prevent you from seeing the entire rainbow. If you are in a plane at 30,000 feet and conditions are right for seeing a rainbow, you can see the entire circle. If you start a lesson with a question that creates curiosity or demonstrates a knowledge gap, you are more likely to catch the attention of your audience. Catching their attention immediately is important. Public speaking professionals say you win or lose the battle to hold your audience in the first 30 seconds of a presentation. To catch attention you can tell a relevant story, demonstrate something that is a surprise, or create curiosity by demonstrating a knowledge gap.
  • The last thing I want to mention is how effective visuals can be. You may be familiar with Richard Mayer’s research that compared learning in three situations: through hearing alone, visuals alone, and with hearing and visuals combined. People who receive information orally and visually always score better on tests. Tests performed years ago showed that people who were shown 2,500 pictures for 10 seconds each could recall the images with 90 percent accuracy several days after exposure. Accuracy rates were about 63 percent a year later. Vision is our most powerful sense and is instrumental in memorable learning.
  • Here’s a situation where you want to help someone get from your office to the library. You might tell them verbally or you could provide written instructions. If you got these directions, how easily could you describe where the library is in relation to the office? Do you know where the library is in relation to the train tracks?
  • Now compare your understanding of the directions. Do you understand where the library is in relation to the office? Do you know where the library is in relation to the train tracks?
  • In the last few slides we’re going to look at some memory aids – things you can do to make it easier to remember knowledge and facts. Let’s take a look at something we’ve all seen thousands of times – a penny.
  • Which way does Lincoln face on a penny? If this is a concept you want learners to remember, you can make that easier by using a memory aid. In this case you can use a clever phrase, “Lincoln always did right by the people. He left the other presidents behind.” Poll: Which way does Lincoln face on a penny? Press F5 or use the tool bar to enter presentation mode in order to see the poll. In an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser: If you like, you can use this slide as a template for your own voting slides. You might use a slide like this if you feel your audience would benefit from the picture showing a text message on a phone.
  • HOMES is an acronym for the Great Lakes.
  • Acrostics Mary’s Violet Eyes Make Johnny Stay Up Nights.
  • Rhymes Thirty days has September, April, June, and November …
  • Now it’s time to take a short quiz and see how much you remember about making learning memorable.
  • Poll: How many questions did you get right? Press F5 or use the tool bar to enter presentation mode in order to see the poll. In an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser: If you like, you can use this slide as a template for your own voting slides. You might use a slide like this if you feel your audience would benefit from the picture showing a text message on a phone.
  • I want you to think about what enabled you to remember information that was presented here. Was it the fact that you were told there was going to be a quiz and you felt you would be held accountable for learning? Was it to get a reward? Were you intrinsically motivated because you thought you could learn something that you could use at work? There is no single strategy that makes learning memorable. I think of it as an art and a science. The science is understanding how the brain works and using strategies to facilitate retention. The art is understanding your audience – what matters to them. You need a strong introduction to gain attention; then you need to use a variety of strategies to help your learners encode information in a way that is meaningful and will allow them to retrieve knowledge when they need it.
  • Making Learning Memorable

    1. 1. Make LearningMemorable Linda Warren Instructional Designer
    2. 2. Overview Memory and how the brain functions Strategies to make learning memorable Methods to gain attention Memory aids
    3. 3. People forget 90 percent of what they learn in class within 30 days
    4. 4. They forget most ofwhat they learnedwithin thefirst few hours
    5. 5. Learning and forgetting
    6. 6. Space learning over time
    7. 7. Provide follow-up support
    8. 8. Break content intosmall chunks
    9. 9. Repeat toremember
    10. 10. CD CNI HRN AHI V
    11. 11. How many letters do you remember?
    12. 12. CD CNI HRN AHI V
    13. 13. Createlogical associations SME CDC NIH RNA HIVLearner CDCNIHRNAHIV
    14. 14. How many lettersdo you remember now?
    15. 15. CDC NIH RNA HIV
    16. 16. Step-by-step instructions create organized structure
    17. 17. Source: Austin American-Statesman, June 4, 2011
    18. 18. Timelines create organized structure
    19. 19. Encoding islike a blenderrunning withthe lid off
    20. 20. Encoding is thebest predictorof learningsuccess
    21. 21. Elaborationcreate “handles”to facilitateretrieval
    22. 22. Explanations should be elaborate meaningful in context
    23. 23. Use multisensory input
    24. 24. Demonstrate how informationcan be applied on the job Provide instant feedback
    25. 25. Use storytelling to providemeaningful details and context
    26. 26. Ask questions
    27. 27. How To Vote via Texting EX A MP LE 1. Standard texting rates only (worst case US $0.20)TIPS 2. We have no access to your phone number 3. Capitalization doesn’t matter, but spaces and spelling do
    28. 28. Use visuals
    29. 29. Directionsfrom the office to the library3. Turn right on Maple.4. Take a right on Washington.5. Go over the train tracks.6. Go three-fourths of the way around the traffic circle and turn right on Erie.7. Turn left on Greenbriar.
    30. 30. Directionsfrom the office to the library
    31. 31. Clever phrases/keywords
    32. 32. Acronyms
    33. 33. Acrostics
    34. 34. Rhymes
    35. 35. Answers 1. 90 percent is forgotten in 30 days 2. CDC NIH RNA HIV 3. Group tested in water 4. Shape of a rainbow is a circle 5. Vision is the most powerful sense 6. Lincoln faces right 7. Acronym for the Great Lakes is HOMES
    36. 36. What makes learning memorable? RepetitionLogical associations Relevance Meaningfulness Testing Multisensory input StorytellingSpaced learning Context Feedback Elaboration Small learning units Visuals Curiosity Details Questions Surprise Memory aids
    37. 37. Great Voyages: ILT to WBTMicroAssist Learn@Lunch series • Best Practices in WBT • The Web as a Medium • Reading and Writing on the Web • Visual Design • Usability and Accessibility Contact: Heather Poggi-Mannis 512.794.8440
    38. 38.