The Forgetting Curve and How Virtual Reality Can Fix It

The Forgetting Curve and How VR Can Fix It

Learn about the forgetting curve and how VR training can fix it in your company, organization and within your team. In this interview with David Cleverdon, CTO of 360immersive learn how VR can create a safer workplace by increasing retention and keep the learner from losing 80% of the information within the first week.

Enjoy the video and read along with the exact transcript below:

JennyQ (Host & CMO 360immersive):

– Hey David, thank you so much for joining me today, I’m super excited to talk to you about some of the things that you’re learning about adult learners. And I wanna know why are we spending more on training, yet fatality rates in numerous industry sectors are going up?

David Cleverdon (Founder & CTO 360immersive):

– You know Jenny, that’s a great question. And I was actually reading a report just a few days ago that as Americans we spend over $83 billion in 2019 on training. If you think about that, that’s $83 billion, and yet I also read another report that workplace injuries and especially fatality rates in select industries are actually on the rise. So we’re spending more money, and yet we’re not getting anything out of it. In fact, if you look at those industry sectors, for instance, transportation accidents, violence and injuries caused by people or animals, this is kinda how OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks it down, slips, trips, and falls, all of these things are going up. And you gotta ask yourself, so we’re spending a lotta money, we’re excited about it, we’re doing the right thing as far as budget, but what’s happening, what’s going on? And from our standpoint, it’s because we’re looking at trends in the industry that I’m going to call two things, check the box and one and done.

– [Jenny] Right.

– [David] So check the box, if you think about it, we’re all about let’s get the training done so we can check that box. We don’t really look at are people learning, are people engaged, are people retaining that information, which ultimately makes them safe.

– Right, so that leads me to wonder why is it so difficult for us to retain the information that could literally save our lives?

– Well, frankly there’s scientific research that gives you that information. And I’m gonna actually deal with a gentleman that was a German psychologist by Hermann Ebbinghaus. And he basically looked at the ability for people to retain information, and to then over time. So if we go into a training course, let’s say it’s a two-hour course on a given topic, how much do we actually learn at that point in time? And that’s 100% let’s say. Immediately after you take the course, you’re given a test or you’re asked some questions. And then four hours later and a day later and a week later, and maybe three months later, and it statistically goes down, that 100% goes down to about 20% within that first week.

– Wow.

– So if that information is so important to keeping you safe on the job, to doing a good job within your work environment, we have a problem. And we can’t just throw money at it. We can’t just say okay we’re going to check the box, we’re going to be one and we’re going to be done because of the fact that obviously it’s not working. So what do we do? And you know, it’s got a name, this whole body of scientific research it’s called the forgetting curve.

– [Jenny] Okay so it’s actually documented that there is a curve with a downward slope on how long we retain information.

– And it looks like the worst ski slope you’ve ever seen.

– [Jenny] What can trainers do to reduce the effects of the forgetting curve?

– Great question. And if you think about it, what is the one thing that helps us, I’m gonna use an example of a quarterback. Does a coach take a brand new quarterback, new team, and go out and they’re gonna play that first game, and they’ve never gone out and practiced? Of course not. We wouldn’t do that. But we almost treat training like that. We take the information, we go through a given course on a given topic, and we check that box. It’s like going through, taking that quarterback, and they go out on the practice field one time with that playbook that’s got 30 or 40 different plays and say okay you’re done, let’s go play that big game. And guess what? Do you think they’re going to win? The answer’s no.

– Nope.

– So let’s, what we need to do, is we need to treat training as a continuum.

– Okay makes sense.

– Basically build a strategy and a lot of it comes back to micro-learning simulations or sessions, but build a strategy that you take that traditional body of content, and you impart it. Somebody sits through the four hour PowerPoint, they go through the online course, however, it might be deployed. But then you build a strategy that can help them, either from a pre-test or pre-course standpoint or from a post-refresher, so that you’re re-engaging that information that they’ve learned. And it’s not that you have to portray the whole course. That’s where for instance, VR safety training, and the modules that allow you to go in and simulate a given body of content and the lessons learned within maybe two to five minutes, it allows you to reengage that learning. And so strategically you do that over a period of time and that reinforces the information. It builds muscle memory, I’m going to use a sports term, it’s so true. So that somebody instead of losing 80% of the information within the first week, suddenly you’re starting to retain that information and you have a safer workplace.

– Well yes, that makes so much sense that if you’re actually retaining it, that you can then execute it. If you lose the information, how can you even act on it right?

– That’s right.

– And so I’ve heard the phrase train to retain. And I’m curious what you see are the key components that would allow somebody to create a training that actually increases retention?

– Well it actually mean and can mean two things. Train to retain can be, statistically, employees are looking for organizations that invest in them. And if you do invest in employees, you’re going to retain them because as we all know, onboarding and initial training are hugely expensive. So if you basically engage them and say I’m going to invest in your career, especially here within my organization, skillsets that are important, safety issues that are important to this organization, and also to you as an employee. They have a 94% chance of actually staying with you longer. That actually came in from a LinkedIn report that I was just going through. The other train to retain meaning is literally that. We should train to retain, not train to check the box. We should work on our training to engage learners so that they retain the information and create strategies and campaigns so that that information is not only retained, act upon, engaged, they’ll be safer.

– So one of the things that we talk about in the training industry is the cone of experience, and how that really plays into all training. How does that play into this specific discussion?

– If you think about it, when you’re dealing with the forgetting curve, that all is about retention. But a whole nother component is how do people learn? And how do they engage with media? And media can be books, it can be videos, pictures, PowerPoint, or simulations, and then actually doing it themselves. And the cone of experience basically breaks it down by how much you typically retain for an average learner, based on the type of media. So if we look at the cone of experience for instance, if somebody’s reading in the old days and where I learned most of my information was they give you a three-inch-thick manual, and you grind through it. But guess what? The retention is only about 10%. So then maybe you take that same body of content and you put somebody up in front of you, so they’re just literally talking to you about it. Well you get a little better retention but you’re still only holding about 20% of that. And this is at the point that you’re actually learning. So that forgetting curve then takes that 10 or 20% and drops it down even further. So they work hand in hand, and there’s something very much so, should be paid attention to. I’m gonna quickly step through some of the things, for instance, visual images or watching videos. Basically you retain 30%. Now we get into the exciting part where you’re actually watching a demonstration, you’re watching a hands-on workshop, you’re doing simulation lessons from a collaborative standpoint, suddenly you’re up to 50 or 70%. And then actually doing the real thing, and this is where VR simulations step in is because they actually engage your brain in much the same way that you’re doing the real thing. And yet, you can do it simply, you can do it easily, and you can do it because of digital technology, you can do it over and over again. And coming back to that mental muscle memory, we can build up that muscle memory to mitigate it the forgetting curve, and actually increase our retention and increase our safety. So that cone of experience is extremely important to how you portray and build that strategy, help mitigate the problems with the forgetting curve, people forgetting the content.

– Wow, so powerful, such good information. So if you could summarize everything with just a simple statement on how we can incorporate what you’re talking about with the forgetting curve and the cone of experience, what would it be?

– Here’s the thing, we have tools available to us today and we need to look, we need to step outta the box. We need to step outta the box and innovate when it comes to training because we’re spending more and more money, and we’re not achieving the results. And yet, if we do take that step, then we will achieve a safer workplace. We will actually start to drive down fatalities and injury rates down potentially to zero, and that’s where we all wanna go. So I would urge anybody to take a look at stepping out of their traditional way of doing things, and just look at it. And I guarantee you, you will achieve some results. And frankly, if you’re looking for more information, check the link below. Because we can set up a conversation, we can talk a little bit more about VR safety training modules, and how they work within the discussion that we talked about today. But check that link. I think that you’ll find the information will be well worth your time.

– Perfect. David, thank you so much. Really great information. We’ll talk again soon.

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