The Jaw-Dropping Facts About Elearning Knowledge Retention

The Jaw-Dropping Facts About Elearning Knowledge Retention

If not put into practice immediately, even the best quality training can fail. This isn’t a criticism of the training but rather a testament to the way that the human brain retains knowledge and puts it into action. If not applied immediately, on average:

  • 25% of training knowledge is lost within hours

  • 50% of training knowledge is lost within 48 hours

  • 75% of training knowledge is lost within days

  • 90% of training knowledge is lost within 16 days


In addition to the bruise to my own ego because I thought that any knowledge that went into my brain was there for good (I’m really good at Trivial Pursuit, by the way), there was also the revelation that there needs to be something in place in order to counter this. As much as I like to think that I’m the smartest person in the room, this idea is not a new one and is crucial any online training solutions.

Interval Reinforcement

Interval reinforcement is a process of revisiting information at set intervals (15, 30, or 60 days, for instance) in order to solidify the knowledge gained in a prior learning session. In the case of a blended learning program, the sessions can be directed by the instructor via in-person coaching or remote method like video calls or email.

To put it into perspective, this is not unlike an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where Chef Gordon Ramsay returns to a restaurant that he has tried to turn around after a few weeks or a month to see if the practices that he has tried to impart has been retained. There’s a lot less yelling and swearing in interval reinforcement though.

From the perspective of the organization, there’s the reassurance that their workforce is not just trained by simply passing the training session but also can apply their lessons immediately. Not only does this increase the ability for the employee to do their job safely and efficiently (a very good thing) but also reduces the potential liability to the organization (also a very good thing).

Putting Rubber To The Road

So how do you make interval reinforcement and easier and more automated process? Fortunately the pieces are already in place for you to do so through your online training software.

In addition to being the delivery mechanism for your online training courses, your learning management system (LMS) will be able to send out email notifications. You may be using this already to send out notices of new training courses offered or to remind employees that they need to upgrade an important certification. These notifications inform any employees of a follow up online test that can be taken at scheduled intervals. The follow up test don’t necessarily need to be as robust as the original course that they have taken but are used for knowledge reinforcement.

The results of each subsequent knowledge check can be easily tracked through the LMS. The LMS will also flag any employees who haven’t completed their latest check. Additionally, any questions that an employee has regarding the online training can be addressed at that time.

Wrapping Up

Employees are human after all and unless they’re some sort of superhuman that doesn’t lose any knowledge that goes in (this could lead to larger problems like world domination), it’s best to take the proactive approach and have scheduled knowledge checks to keep them thinking. It’s good for you, it’s for the workforce, and it’s good for the organization.

The best online training can fail if knowledge retention isn’t consisdered. There are other ways that a training program can fall flat on its face. To find out what these are and what you can do about it, download our free ebook How To Avoid Elearning Failures.

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