Memories are often unstable, they decay as soon as they form. We cannot count memories since more than half what we experience become inaccessible to the brain within an hour. Therefore, it becomes imperative for us to continuously review every piece of new information that we process.
Neuroscience has proved that memories gradually get weaker and decay with time. However, the “decay” can be considerably lessened if the information is reviewed from time to time. The ideal time to review is when one is about to forget that information.
Types of memories
Before that, one needs to differentiate the types of memories that we often use in our lives. Every experience is stored as memory, however, how long we retain these memories is determined by the type of memory.
This is a memory that is formed when information is first picked up through any of our five senses. This is the first and most immediate form of memory that is recorded. However, the brain holds it not more than a few seconds.
Short-term or working memory
Short-term or “working memory” stores information for a limited duration before either decaying or transferring it to long-term memory. This is the most important stage of memory formation since you have the most control over the information and how it is processed by the brain.
This memory is used for storing, managing, and retrieving information whenever required. Long-term memories are complex as they store different types of information – life experiences, languages, procedures, etc.
- Explicit memory: This memory is also called declarative memory that stores conscious thoughts and is what most people have in mind when they think of something.
- Implicit memory: This memory does not store conscious thought and rather stores what one remembers by rote.
- Autobiographical memory: This memory stores our life experiences or situations that we cherish.
Forgetting curve and spacing
When attempting to improve memory, the focus is more often on the input of new information than retaining existing data. As a result, while processing new information, the old is forgotten. This is called the forgetting curve, in which information is lost exponentially after initial input. The solution is to reinforce existing information using spaced repetition.
How to remember e-learning content via the memory curve
You can apply some of these memorization techniques to help learners remember eLearning content for longer periods:
- Repeat the content
To create memorable content that is retained by the brain, you need to repeat the information repeatedly. For example, you can use keywords to repeat the eLearning objectives and goals using keywords as often as possible. You also need to summarize the content at the end of each topic to ensure the information ends up in the long-term memory of the learner.
- Use multiple ways to present content
Repetition is a great way to help learners internalize and recall information when it is required. But the effectiveness of this technique depends largely on the format in which the information is delivered. The information can be provided as a scenario in a lesson, story, audio format, or multimedia in the next lesson.
- Provide relevance and meaning
A great strategy to help learners remember the content is to provide a new piece of content that is related to existing information. Information can be transferred from short-term to long-term memory when it is meaningful.
- Ensure an emotional connect
You can improve retention and recall of information if learners can relate it to their personal experience or an emotion. One method is to include relatable stories in the eLearning courses which will help the learner to co-relate facts with their personal experience.
- Use scenarios and simulations
The use of scenarios and simulations will help learners connect between the stored information in their long-term memory and how this can be applied in real-life situations.
- Bite-sized content
Breaking the content into smaller, bite-sized lessons will help the learners to absorb and assimilate the information gradually. This is much more effective than presenting all the information at once.
- Prompt the retrieval of previous knowledge
You can reduce the chances of memory decay by encouraging the retrieval of information from the long-term memory of learners. In eLearning courses, activities and assessments are used for this purpose.
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