Spaced Repetition and Microlearning: The Best Earning Approaches to Boost Memory

by Andy Alvin Digital Marketing Strategist

Jessica always had trouble with remembering the crucial information which reflected poorly in her grades, no matter how good college research paper topics she chose. Then there’s David who has been struggling to grasp how the complex content management system works even after going through the training modules. What’s common between these two individuals is that both have poor retention capacity.  

Situations like this aren’t uncommon both in the sphere of academics and in case of corporate training. This is why, the new-age educators are pushing for the implementation of spaced repetition and microlearning.

Now, think about it; the internet has made us more empowered than ever. With so many memes, videos, blogs and images getting uploaded every second of the day, we continuously expose ourselves to an abundance of information. However, how much of all this do we actually retain in our memory? This is where microlearning and spaced repetition come in.

Let’s elaborate further on how these approaches can be implemented in the learning process.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition utilises a memory phenomenon known as the spacing effect, which defines how our brains learn more efficiently when we indulge in a learning process over the course of time.

So if you learn and assess the same set of details over a certain period, you're highly likely to remember it, and it’ll eventually become a part of your long-term memory. This process is fostered by learning activities like quizzes of different styles and case studies, say Samsung SWOT analysis. As the memory improves, the intervals between the spaced repetitions can become longer, until the information becomes part of your long-term memory. This learning method can be applied to students or in case of corporate training as well.

Spaced repetition can be best explained with a simple example, i.e. taking care of a plant. If you fail to water your plant sufficiently enough, it will die. Again, if you provide the plant with too much water at once, it will die. However, if you water your plant regularly, with just the correct amount of water, and it will thrive and grow strong roots.


Here’s a question, what do you do if you have to move a mountain? You could try and exert yourself to move the whole mountain at once, or you could move rock after rock. Now, the second option obviously sounds good and smart.

Microlearning is similar in approach. When it’s too difficult to digest mountains of learning materials, microlearning breaks it down into nuggets and offers them to the learners at regular intervals. These short burst of details can be in any form like short videos, plain text, infographics, pictures, etc.

This kind of learning technique appeals to the learners specially students because of its flexibility. It consumes less time to learn any concept and is available to the learners on any device (phone, tablet, computer, etc.) right at the time when they need to learn. Microlearning applies to students or to employees in a corporate setup.

A Brief Background On The Phenomenon Of Spaced Repetition And Microlearning

Before delving deeper into the two approaches and their relationship, it’s vital that we learn how these two approaches came into existence. It was eminent psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus who first elaborated on the presence of two curves when it comes to learning. One is known as the learning curve, and the other one is recognised as the forgetting curve.

Ebbinghaus kept track of his memory over a period of time and plotted a graph. What the graph indicated is a negative connection between time and memory. When you learn something initially, the information disappears at an exponential rate, i.e., you lose most of the information a couple of days after learning it. This observation resulted in the phenomenon of the forgetting curve. 

The forgetting curve emphasises on the amount of information the human brain actually retains in its memory. As per the curve, the retention levels of the learners drop drastically as time passes, making the learners forget nearly 90% of what they have learned in the span of 72 hours. Considering this fact about the retention capacity of the human brain, how to ensure the successful implementation of learning?

Spaced Repetition And Microlearning: A Collaborative Approach To Learning

The spaced repetition and microlearning are intrinsically entwined because both make a great pair to deliver results. While microlearning offers short, bite-sized details that are simple for learners to retain in memory, spaced learning offers consistent and ongoing training to the learners.

The bite-sized information can be disseminated in the form of short text feeds (similar to Twitter), infographics, 5-6 minute videos or automated 5-question quizzes, all of which are easily accessible whenever the learners need these materials.

Depending on the pace and preferences of each individual learner, it’s rather convenient to employ the technologies that provide an understanding of the knowledge gaps that exist in these learners. Relevant content on areas that the learner is not very efficient, then pushed out repeatedly to ensure the learner absorbs the materials and masters them eventually.

It’s through this mechanism that the ultimate objective of training, i.e. changing values in learners can truly be achieved. The content is presented in ways that are easily digestible as well as engaging. This means it won’t be hard for learners to immerse themselves deeply in the learning material and find it valuable to their academic or professional growth.

For instance, a student having difficulty grasping a complex concept, or an employee who has just completed training on a new suite of products can access micro-learning lessons. They can quickly read through the short and intuitive content on their mobile phones anytime, anywhere. Every time they read and recollect that information, their likelihood of remembering the details increases.

Implementation Of The Spaced Repetition And Microlearning

Let’s move on to ponder over how to implement spaced repetition and microlearning in the learning process.

· Focus on a block of Information

This is the first step where we begin by implementing microlearning. You divide the complex training materials like videos, lengthy PDFs, documents etc. into the bite-sized format. Then these small nuggets of information are distributed one after the other, at regular intervals. This enables learners to absorb and digest the training content easily.

· Spaced dissemination of information

Once you split the materials into easily skimmable blocks, deliver them at regular intervals to the learners. This allows the learners to progress at their own pace, and it doesn’t overwhelm them with an overload of details at a time.

· Adopt creative repetition

Repeat, repeat, repeat. There is no better and effective way to attain efficiency than constant practice. When you send small chunks of information regularly, ensure to repeat some of the crucial information as well. This helps the learners retain and recollect that details for a long time. However, the secret here is to rehash the content without actually being repetitive. To do that - frame the same information in different formats like scenarios, games, videos, and simulations.

This allows the learners to engage with the same information while encountering different learning experiences which consolidates their knowledge.

· Incorporate assessments

While it’s essential to expose your learners to crucial information, it’s equally important to assess their knowledge in between. Ask 2-3 questions every day to catch the attention of learners. It instantly puts learners on guard and activates their mental processes.

Assessments in learning aren’t just about reviewing and gauging the learners’ understanding. It is a brilliant way of repeating learned information, recapitulating prior knowledge, and reinforcing the knowledge to build concepts.

· Establishing a connection

In addition, for learners to recollect new details in their heads, they also have to associate it with something to help retain the information in their memory. Seeing how education builds on itself, they can take the information, and connect to something they’re already studied, which is related to the new information.

In conclusion,

In this age of information, it has become an unspoken rule to keep upgrading your knowledge as a student or a professional. But simply acquiring that knowledge isn’t sufficient, you need to retain the knowledge to put it good use. This is why, educators and businesses emphasise on microlearning and spaced repetition. Following these approaches will boost your memory and help with knowledge retention. 

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About Andy Alvin Innovator   Digital Marketing Strategist

16 connections, 0 recommendations, 52 honor points.
Joined APSense since, August 12th, 2019, From New York, United States.

Created on Jan 13th 2020 04:08. Viewed 433 times.


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