Spaced Studying: A Neuroscience-Primarily based Method
Promote knowledge retention through spatial learning
For a long time, educators have explored methods of increasing retention in order to maximize learning outcomes. One of the most important findings of the researchers in this regard is the distance effect. A German psychologist and quantitative memory researcher, Hermann Ebbinghaus, was the first to demonstrate the distance effect. In his opinion, repeating instructions at regular intervals can maximize retention. Educators call it the distance effect, as learners are given instructions at regular intervals.
How is Spaced Learning designed?
Let’s find out how to design spatial learning. With spaced learning, the learning material is divided into smaller modules. The learners take the modules at a certain point in time.
The learners then take the modules again after a defined period of time, for example a week. The learners then take the modules again, but this time after a longer period of time, say two weeks. The learners then take the modules again after a defined period of time, for example three weeks.
This is repeated until the learner has mastered the concept. The number of repetitions and the intervals between repetitions are determined by the learning designers based on various factors such as complexity, learner profile, required level of mastery, etc.
Why is spatial learning effective?
To understand why spatial learning is effective in ensuring retention, we need to understand how human memory works. Everything we learn is stored in short-term working memory.
What has been learned is only retained if it is transferred to long-term memory. However, unlike computer memory, human memory is not permanent. So as humans, we tend to forget things that we haven’t remembered for a long time. This is known as the forgetting curve.
The forgetting curve is nothing more than how much we forget over time when our brains don’t repeat the same activity. Suppose you learn five words of a new language today. If the person doesn’t use the words in any way for the next two weeks, they can only remember two out of five words. Spaced learning takes this forgetting curve into account and repeats the learning module before the learners completely forget about learning. This reinforcement makes the brain work hard to remember the first instance learning. The more the brain works, the better it gets.
In this way, the memory is also transferred to long-term memory. As learners repeat over and over again, the brain becomes more and more efficient at remembering what has been learned. In layman’s terms, we call this “Practice makes people perfect”.
How to integrate Spaced Learning Design into eLearning Design
Spaced learning design is essentially a content design and delivery strategy that takes the spaced learning concept into account. Here are some of the basics of Spaced eLearning design:
- Short and frequent modules: Plan for shorter modules instead of a single longer module
- Frequent review modules: Create review modules that the learners should take over a defined but longer period of time; Assess learner retention and progress
- All new modules start with a summary of older modules
- Link new concepts with older concepts
- Create a summary and checklist to reinforce the situation
Benefits of eLearning in designing and delivering spaced learning
Everyone has a different curve of forgetting. Therefore, one should personalize the frequency of lessons to meet the optimal speed and learning needs. Since eLearning modules are self-controlled and can be made available at any time via learning management systems, individual needs can be effectively addressed. This is not possible with traditional classroom-based delivery.
Challenges and disadvantages
Spaced learning requires a long-term and committed commitment to the learning program. Many learners find it difficult to commit to long periods of study. In addition, there are situations in which learners have to apply what they have learned within a short period of time. Spaced learning design is not recommended in such scenarios.
And above all, Spaced Learning Design requires in-depth knowledge and skills from learning designers in order to define the effective frequency and load. If the frequency is too high or too low, learning becomes ineffective.
Spaced learning design is one of the best learning design methods to maximize the preservation of knowledge. When properly designed, it can ensure long-term learning and mastery of concepts.
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