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How to increase knowledge retention to provide effective learning

Knowledge retention

Learning is a must. It has always been, but corporations are getting more and more aware of this fact, in their struggle to keep up with the informational boom and with the high necessity of up-to-date professional skills.

So what do you do to face this learning need? Provide your teams with valuable corporate training programs. Alright, it sounds like the problem has been solved. But to be honest, it's not that simple. Why? Because offering training programs does not give you the assurance that the information provided sticks with people and that it eventually turns into practical knowledge, applicable to their day-to-day responsibilities.

Let's see how this fact looks with numbers. "People will forget 40% of what they learned within a day of learning it", they say. Well, that's an alarming percentage, as the process of forgetting information extends to a long-term period, so if one forgets 40% after one day, how much knowledge is actually retained and made productive on long-term? According to statistics, not that much.

Good news? This can be improved through a series of tools because individuals are not the same, they do not retain information at the same pace and with the same methods, so the training delivery methods should be adapted to them. This would turn corporate trainings into learning experiences with lasting impact, making people change behaviours in terms of assimilating information in the long term and ensuring that something is not only learned, but it leads to knowledge retention.

And what's this knowledge retention? A process in which new information is transferred from short term to long-term memory, making knowledge stick. It sounds like a learning goals, doesn't it? Well, let's see how to check it.

Active engagement

Make sure that learner is part of the system, the one who keeps the wheels spinning, not a passive recipient of some knowledge that goes away faster than it comes. Because, otherwise, you'll never get the knowledge retention you want from your employees.

How to do this? Through active engagement. It's important to provide the employees with valuable information, but it's even more important to teach them how to internalise it and to turn it into a business asset. And even a personal one, because knowledge is highly connected with development, both personal and professional.

So, encourage the learners to put the concepts into practice, to see how they could apply it to solve the professional issues they might encounter. Give them the chance to offer feedback on the learning process, on the trainers' methods and on the usefulness of the learning resources. Ask them what they need to learn and adapt the training needs to them. To make sure that knowledge retention is an outcome.

Create interactive learning activities for them, such as branching scenarios and simulations which provide them with a context both for applying the theoretical concepts and for actually understanding how they could employ them in their jobs. Learning, by definition, teaches people, but what also teaches them is the chance to make mistakes in a risk-free environment, as a virtual space.

Another way in which you can actively engage them is through storytelling. You'd be surprised, but people are so caught up in this business environment, that they crave for the old-time stories. So, give them what they want. What do I mean by storytelling? Particular narratives with situations and characters that your employees can relate to.

A plot to which they are familiar, characters that seem to be built after them and their colleagues and business issues that are so similar to their own that they might have the impulse of saying "that's me you're talking about." Knowledge retention is more attainable when people actually engage with the information. And relate to it.

Make them identify with the characters and the situations and they'll understand that if the information delivered apply so well to the story, then they might apply as well to their real-life correspondents. For example, as you can see above, we, at Knolyx, see our learning passion in terms of a story. We're pretty sure that you have a good one to tell too.


A big issue it the checking knowledge retention goal is that the information is represented by the struggle of having too much information to retain. When it's too much in a short time, it's hard to process. Moreover, when you plan a training process, you have some clear learning objectives in mind, don't you? So try to fulfil them one by one, with the most suitable information, to ensure knowledge retention.

Micro-learning is a solution because it starts from bite-sized learning objectives and it provides the learners with bite-sized pieces of information. It is the right solution when it comes to short attention span and when you want engaging methods of training delivery, which are flexible, faster to deliver and improve knowledge retention.

Learning paths and analytics

We've talked about the planning part, the actual delivery of the information, what now? The analytics part. You should deliver information through a channel that allows you to be in full control of the learning progress in order to see how effective the learning module has been. Design learning paths for your teams and see how much time they spend on the courses, how they deal with the evaluation part and adapt the next modules based on the insights you've got. Knowledge retention comes from all of these.

Some (final) thoughts

Active engagement, micro-learning and an in-depth overview of the learning progress should be your partners in delivering knowledge if you want it to stick with your learners. Magic tricks for knowledge retention.

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