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Why settle for 20% learning retention? Modern experiences drive active learning.

Would you invest in a product or service if you knew it had a -80% return on investment? (That’s right: a negative 80% ROI.)

It’s hard to imagine any organizational leader who would be on board with that terrible rate of return. And yet, that’s exactly where many corporations find themselves today when they haven’t invested in a modern learning environment for employees.

Why traditional learning is often forgotten

Formal learning events, such as in-person classes or online courses, rarely qualify as “modern learning” because there’s no opportunity to use the information right after learning it. Instead, employees are expected to memorize what they’ve read or been told and then apply the knowledge in the workplace at a later date.

And therein lies the source of the problem. To make new knowledge stick, employees need impactful learning moments that immediately reinforce information through action.

The basis for this argument goes back to the 19th century when German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus made a fascinating discovery: humans forget newly-memorized information at alarming rates. Referred to as the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, his diagram shows a rapidly downward-sloping curve to illustrate the staggering speed at which memory loss occurs.

  • Retention is around 100% for immediate recall.
  • However, within 20 minutes, 42% of newly-learned information cannot be remembered.
  • After one day, 67% is forgotten.
  • One month later, 79% is gone.

These outcomes demonstrate why organizations are wasting time, resources, and money on static classes and online courses if there’s even a 20-minute gap between learning and applying the new knowledge. Memorization as a training technique is not only ineffective, but it also leaves learners feeling frustrated and under-prepared and increases the likelihood of errors being made on the job.

Modern learning is active learning

Ebbinghaus isn’t the only one with statistics to prove his point. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) demonstrate that traditional learning systems fare poorly with a -57 score, whereas modern learning tools like Inkling shine with a +32 NPS. As these numbers indicate, any organization that wants to create a high-performance environment must deliver modern learning to employees.

Modern learning means information is always on-demand and accessible on any device, and learning in the flow of work is considered the norm. Employees can find answers quickly, interact with media-rich learning, and then put what they learned into action immediately on the job. This active learning, on the job, means learners actually retain what they learn and they are more capable of high performance.

Modern learning makes employees feel like learning is a natural part of the work day rather than a separate activity. Think of it as continuous learning made simple that employees won’t quickly forget.

Ready to continue learning? Check out our Bring Learning to Work eBook or watch the on-demand Inkling and Brandon Hall webinar.

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