As we cautiously move towards a new ‘normal’ way of working, what habits and behaviours do you want to see in your employees? Whether these are new skills that need to be learned or existing skills that need to be refreshed, embedding them for the long-term must be a focus.

It has long been accepted that achieving consistent behavioural change, that generates a genuine return on investment, is the holy grail of learning and development. This hasn’t got any easier with the connectivity challenges associated with dispersed workforces.

But why is behavioural change such a challenge? Organisations certainly experiment with various learning designs and delivery channels, but far too often with little, or only short-lived success - the problem being people forget.

The secret lies almost exclusively in the embedding of any learning. Landing the message effectively in any classroom or online course should be a given, but how do you then make sure it is retained and built upon, so that the knowledge is instantly recalled and the desired behaviours that follow becoming second nature?

The answer? Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Permanent behavioural change is the same as forming a habit.

Stay ahead of the curve

Spaced repetition isn’t a new way of learning; in fact, as a learning psychology it’s largely attributed to Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist who pioneered investigations into memory in 1885. To do so, he performed a series of memory experiments on himself, memorising lists of meaningless syllables and testing himself periodically to see how many he remembered.

The result of the experiments was Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve. He discovered that his memory decayed very quickly at first.

Critically, he also found that the rate at which he forgot could be slowed down by repeating the learning at intervals. This is the basis for spaced repetition – repeating information at set intervals over time allows us to overcome the forgetting curve.

Spaced Repetition has been used by medical students and language students for many years – it’s a vital feature of apps such as Duolingo and Anki, for example. The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve and spaced repetition are core principals in the learning toolbox and, in recent times, have been increasingly embraced in institutional training.

Now, with the increased demand from learners for bite-sized microlearning, coupled with technology at our fingertips, spaced repetition is finally making waves in the corporate world. Add to the mix, a global pandemic that has seen organisations thrown into hybrid working and workforces dispersed like never before, and the need for accessible learning, anywhere, anytime has rocketed.

Mobile learning

While technology continues to progress at an unrelenting rate, our brains remain prehistoric and we can only remember five to seven pieces of new information at a time. We start to forget that information as soon as we’ve learned it, so this principle – which is scientifically proven to overcome the forgetting curve – is as relevant today as it was two centuries ago.

With the rate of change and the amount of noise being ramped up ten-fold in the last year thanks to COVID-19, organisations are seeing new opportunities to use this simple mobile learning platform to facilitate fast communication out to dispersed workforces in support of change management initiatives.

If this isn’t enough to convince organisations to adopt such practices, spaced repetition apps offer several other benefits that modern day learners have come to expect, such as multi-device access, bite-sized learning on-the-go and gamification. All of these contribute to the reason why spaced repetition learners consciously choose to learn despite no mandatory completion – truly embracing the pull-not-push approach.

Our solution

MemoryBox is an intuitive, gamified spaced repetition app that has learners addicted, actively taking accountability for their learning, and engaging in cross-company leaderboards. The app is having a real proven impact in organisations - users have demonstrated a 33% increase in knowledge retention, with 96% of users feeling their knowledge has increased and 74% believing it directly helps them in their role. Plus, it matches up to today’s fast pace of change with organisations being able to upload and push out changes to products and procedures within hours. Not only is it great for L&D, but it’s re-connecting teams that are remote or in hybrid working arrangements, and it’s bringing some much-needed fun and light relief.

"Completely and utterly changed everything"

“MemoryBox has completely and utterly changed everything for new staff and seasonal temps because it helps the product information sink in much faster than previously” says one client. “It has increased confidence, enabling them to talk passionately about products and gaining instant buy-in from customers who recognise the member of staff knows what they’re talking about.”

Apps like MemoryBox aren’t the future of learning – they’re the present. And organisations are rapidly embracing this game-changing learning trend to truly embed learning, achieve tangible changes in learner behaviour and deliver a genuine return on investment.

The holy grail of L&D? Maybe so, either way it’s clear it is possible to learn...not to forget.

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