Technology is advancing at a rate never seen before, extending into virtually every industry.
That means employees need to be more skilled, and to learn more quickly to keep up with the pace of automation. But while the technology around them is evolving rapidly, the training methods have remained the same.
The problem with the traditional LMS
Most online teaching software is based on the LMS, or learning management system. An LMS allows instructors to create online courses for corporate training, in much the same way as a professor builds a lecture based on a series of slides. The problem with that model, however, is that it's not really about learning—actually, a traditional LMS has more in common with a CMS, or content management system. There's nothing built in that helps the user actually learn and remember the information.
On top of this, most traditional modes of study are ineffective at building long-term retention. Cramming for a test might help you get a passing grade, but that information will fade from your memory quickly unless you review it. Also, extended study sessions and re-reading are not effective in terms of strengthening memories.
So, what works?
Data-backed study habits
At Cerego, we have recorded over a billion (yes, with a 'b') learner interactions on our platform, giving us a tremendous amount of data about how people learn. Here's what it shows:
- The first key is retrieval practice, also known as the 'testing effect.' Retrieval practice is the act of having to recall the memory, usually in the form of a quiz. Interestingly, pushing yourself to retrieve the information actually strengthens the memory even if you get the answer wrong.
- The second key to studying in a way that will help you actually remember the information is distributed learning — that is, multiple learning sessions spaced out over time. It's not all that different a concept from what is commonly known about exercise: We know that doing one, three-hour workout isn't going to make you as fit as six thirty-minute workouts over the course of a week.
- The final key is timing your reviews according to the rate at which you are forgetting the information. As it turns out, there is an optimal time to review information to strengthen your memory—that time is just as the memory is beginning to fade, but not impossible to recall (a concept called desirable difficulty). That optimal time varies by person, and even by subject for each person. But nailing that timing is vital to creating the stable, long-term memories that become foundational knowledge.
This last key might sound simple, but it's the most difficult part for most people to accomplish—and that's where the Cerego adaptive learning platform can be a tremendous help.
When an instructor creates a course in Cerego, the platform analyzes the content and helps build follow up materials by suggesting questions or quiz items using artificial intelligence. When learners engage with Cerego courses, they go through a learning session and perform their first review, answering questions along the way.
The platform can then determine the learner's aptitude for the material and automatically target the best possible time to review the information for each individual, through a combination of machine learning and over 100 years of cognitive science research (like Ebbinghaus' famous forgetting curve). What that means for your training program is that not only can the platform perform the functions of a traditional LMS, but also it helps every learner remember what they have studied, by scaling a personalized learning experience.
It also means that, unlike with an LMS, instructors can check in on performance in real time, using Cerego's analytics dashboards to get an instant picture of how each learner is progressing.
But it doesn't stop there — we're not just able to tell you progress, we're able to tell you exactly what each person knows, how well, and how long they'll know it for (all of which an LMS leaves you blind to).
While the traditional LMS was the first step in online learning, it's more about content management than it is about learning. Employees need more skills now in a world where automation is affecting nearly every industry, but we're not effectively applying that same technology to learning.
The keys to good study habits are distributed learning (sometimes called spaced repetition), retrieval practice (sometimes called the 'testing effect'), and timing. While the first two keys are fairly easy to accomplish on our own, getting the timing right for reviews is very difficult, especially when you are managing multiple subjects—not to mention having a life.
Cerego is the best answer to all of the above, with built-in tools that put the 'learning' back into LMS, and help create stable, lasting memories that become foundational knowledge. Having foundational knowledge means you'll be able to recall the information when you need it, and think creatively and analytically—the two skills projected to be most in demand in a future driven by automation.