How to Get the Most Out of Your E-Learning Programme

Did you know that when presented with new information, we will forget half of it within a day?

This is according to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, which theorises that people’s ability to recall facts decreases rapidly if there is no attempt to retain them. The effect begins almost immediately, and within a week we will have forgotten almost everything that we learned.

You can probably attest to this anecdotally, but it also presents major issues in the workplace – particularly when it comes to staff awareness training.

Research presented at the USENIX SOUPS security conference in 2020 supports the theory, although it was slightly more optimistic. It found that employees will recall cyber security staff awareness guidance for four months before their knowledge begins to fade.

That’s an improvement over half a day, but it demonstrates that staff awareness training isn’t infallible. It’s not simply a case of sitting your employees down on a training course and considering it ‘job done’.

You must instead look for ways to improve knowledge retention and make the most from your investment in online training. Fortunately, the creator of the forgetting curve, Hermann Ebbinghaus, explained that when training courses are done correctly, they can improve learners’ retention levels.

Here are some proven ways that you can bolster your e-learning programme.

Make learning more meaningful

One way to improve our ability to remember information is by making the learning material more meaningful and easier to understand.

It’s essential that staff awareness training emphasises the real-world consequences of the lessons they are delivering. Ideally, examples should be used to make the lessons clearer.

Take information security staff awareness for instance. Training courses should demonstrate what happens if employees fail to follow guidance.

The 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 82% of security incidents last year had a human element. This includes errors such as falling for phishing scams, misconfiguring databases and emailing information to the wrong recipient.

Training courses should highlight this fact, explaining the mistakes that employees might make the consequences they can have.

Incorporate interactive learning

Another way to improve memory retention, Ebbinghaus said, is with active recall. This is a method of learning where individuals test themselves after studying new material.

It gives organisations the ability to demonstrate that employees were paying attention to the training material and provides a small reward for those who perform well.

One of the most common examples of interactive learning is gamification. This is a learning tool that uses behavioural motivators taken from games, such as rewards, competition and loss aversion.

Gamification can be incorporated into learning in several ways. For example, you could have a quiz with a leader board showing how everyone in the organisation or each department performed.

Competition is a scientifically proven method to improve motivation. Winning a contest – or even performing beyond one’s expectations – activates the reward centres in our brains and produces a rush of dopamine.

Dopamine is mostly known to improve our mood, but it also improves our attention, motivation and memory.

Repeat training at regular intervals

The most effective way to retain information is by repeating the training course at regular intervals. Ebbinghaus states that information is easier to recall when it’s built upon things that you already know.

Although employees might presume that retaking a course will result in diminished improvements (i.e. they’ve covered this topic already, so what else is there to learn?), the Ebbinghaus curve demonstrates that the opposite is true.

Repeated staff awareness training enables you to strengthen knowledge through repetition, embedding information and turning good practice into habitual behaviour.

The research presented at the USENIX SOUPS security conference suggests that organisations should ideally repeat staff awareness training every six months.

Personalise training courses

Your training courses will be more effective if learners feel that the content has been tailored to their needs and preferences.

You can do this by including settings that enable learners to customise aspects of the learning environment. This gives them a sense of control and can support interactive learning elements that have been incorporated.

For example, an effective training courses will not only require users to enter their names but use that information in practical ways. You can address the person by name within the content, with personalised emails, tasks and tests.

You can also give users the ability to create an avatar of themselves, which can appear during the module. This is not as technically complicated as it might seem but may well impress learners and helps them feel engaged with the lesson.

Find the right e-learning course for you

GRC eLearning offers more than a dozen online training courses across a range of topics, including information securityransomware prevention and social media staff awareness.

No matter what you are looking to study or educate your employees on, we are here to help.

Our e-learning courses are designed by experts and have received an NPS rating of +68.

The courses can be embedded into your staff awareness campaigns, whether that’s on your network or hosted on our servers. Plus, you can customise the training courses with your corporate identity, giving employees an authentic experience while reinforcing your brand.

With courses starting from £7 per user per year, you can get started today.