Retention. It’s one element of learning the teacher cannot control. Educators from to grade school through technical training programs and universities use well-known tools to help the learning process along, such as lecture, repetition, reading, demonstration, and practice. Each technique has varying effects on retention, though all are essential.
The big question is how to create and store the teaching experience so it can be replicated and spread widely. With e-Learning and use of the virtual space gaining in use and cachet, online teaching is gaining wide appeal. We’ll examine how a flipped* online video lesson can improve message retention and broaden the reach of an educator.
* The flipped lesson is one where all of the material is pre-recorded and developed for an online audience instead of originally produced as a live event.
Multiple Methods and Varied Retention
Lecturing is usually the first part of the teaching process. Good lectures often introduce the material, then cover the material, and then review the material. This is because most people need to hear something multiple times before they are able to recall it accurately. This is why repetition is considered one of the most basic learning techniques (It’s also an effective sales practice, by the way).
Yet, no matter how well-designed a lesson is, or how lyrically the lecturer’s voice discusses a concept, there’s no guarantee the listener will retain much more than a few details. Lectures are also losing their effectiveness in the era of online learning. Though a flipped lesson allows a listener to repeat a section, learning effectiveness is still proportional to the work put in, so we go to the next step.
Another basic learning practice is reading, which is why we write things down, like the concepts and ideas found in textbooks (or in an updated learning model, iPads). Print is perfect for long-term reference, replication, and recall, making the written word an important building block in the learning process. Unlike a lecture, it is up to the learner to decide how much repetition is needed, which determines how well or how poorly each reader will retain the information.
Print falls short of sending as complete a message as a lecture, because a speaker’s verbal cues and inflections carry much of a message’s full meaning. However, in a flipped online lesson, the text is stored and used for online searching, and the work of reading more than makes up for the shortfall, but the next method improves retention even more.
One thing we know about message retention is that it works best not through lecture or reading, but when people are shown. This is true whether we are showing someone how to perform a medical procedure, make pastries, upload photos to a website, drive a car, or develop a software application. If your lesson relies on the response and participation of the hearer, it is better to show them your subject matter rather than tell them.
In learning, graphics and video have been proven to raise retention above that of lecturing and reading. A flipped lesson can be used to illustrate advanced concepts in detail, and can support interaction between teacher and student. Yet, there are ways to raise retention even further.
Even better than an online demonstration is a series of video chapters containing portions of the subject matter, because it allows and encourages a self-paced approach. Viewers who need to replay a section can easily do so. With this level of control in the hands of those being taught, a much higher degree of retention can be achieved, over and above lecturing, reading, and demonstration.
Up to this point the process has been mostly one-way. To maximize retention, it is best to ask the viewer to demonstrate command of the material through testing and feedback. In a flipped lesson, the test forms are built in advance and set up to work without a hitch. This next step helps viewers retain the material and lets the teacher know how well the lesson plan is working.
To truly approach interactivity with online video demonstrations, it’s best to include forms that invite feedback. Imagine if, at the end of each video segment, a poll or survey collects data to show retention, helping to enhance the learning experience and improve the educational process. This kind of real-time information gathering, like any kind of immediate feedback, is the best way to validate the effectiveness of the lesson and materials.
How it All Comes Together
The online environment is often impersonal, distracting, and casual. In other words, there are a lot of downsides to using the Internet as a classroom. Yet, many successful universities, organizations and businesses have taught people advanced concepts using online tools that are specialized for the purpose. Most of these tools support one or a few techniques very well, but fall short in others.
- Published documents with text and graphics store information but do not demonstrate concepts well.
- Internet video is linear and one-directional, offering little chance for self-pacing or providing feedback.
- Chat rooms and can become threaded discussions without one-way control enforced by the teacher.
- Websites can deliver a lesson and collect feedback but there is little chance for informative interaction without extensive design efforts.
The flipped online lesson solves a lot of these shortcomings by adopting the best attributes of each method, establishing consistency, disseminating the content as widely as possible, and being flexible enough to adapt to the learning behavior of each student. Instead of presenting the material live many times, it only needs to be performed once, opening the floodgates to more students in more places and bringing more value to the organization.
No single online learning tool is engaging enough to raise retention by itself, and must be supplemented with other methods. The bottom line is to develop flipped online courses that rely on text, voice, images, video demonstrations, self-paced materials, and real-time feedback in order to raise retention through the roof.
KnowledgeVision’s KV Studio is an online video editing solution that combines video, presentations, websites, published text, self-led chapters, and forms that allow feedback such as polls, surveys and contact info. You can see a demonstration of KV Studio on our website.
Beyond the learning environment, if you’re in business, and it doesn’t matter exactly what kind of business, your audience will get your message best through these techniques as well. You might be making auto parts, delivering groceries, filing paperwork, or offering a software tool. Your audience will remember you best if you use these practices.
This is cross-posted from the KnowledgeVision Blog.