Improving learning retention (or how to avoid the forgetting curve)

Improving learning retention (or how to avoid the forgetting curve)

Security Awareness   /   May 30th, 2018   /  A+ | a-

As humans we all forget things, in some cases it is no bad thing. In terms of learning and attending training at best this forgetfulness is a waste of resource, at worst it can open the door to errors and omisions that can cost dear. With a focus on information security, this forgetfulness can lead to hacks, data loss and the spread of malware.

So there are two questions: what is the source of this forgetfulness and what can be done to help minimise it?

On forgetfulness: or should we say "on memory".
In 1885 a German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus published the result of some work that quantified the results of his experiments; human beings forget things. What is more interesting is the rate at which learning is lost.

While many papers have been published research shows that, typically:

  • Within 20 minutes; 42% of the memorised information is typically forgotten
  • Within 24 hours; 67% of what was learned has been forgotten
  • After a month later only 21% of what was learned has been remembered

The implications here are profound. If you teach an individual about cybersecurity, then within a month they will have forgotten most of the information and learning imparted. This perhaps explains why hacking and data breaches are still so prevalent today.

On minimising forgetfulness:
How many if us have spending time cramming for exams the night before. While this may help the following 24 hours (for the exam itself), as a learning technique it does nothing to mitigate the longer term effects of the forgetting curve.

It should come as no shock that a once a year intensive training course is much less effective than shorter, more frequent training. More frequent, repetitive learning increases the optimum interval before the next repetition is needed (for near-perfect retention, initial repetitions may need to be made within days, but later they can be made after years).

Enter NanoLearning.

Nanolearning helps by offering users smaller, more frequent learning opportunities. Junglemap nanolearning can not only deliver the learning, but automatically track the effectiveness. It is thus possible to easily increase user awareness on any topic by frequent, small training modules.

What's more, Nanolearning can be used in conjunction with events. A public event, such as the NHS being hit with the Wanacry ransomeware attack, can be used as a cue to re-run the Ransomeware module of the Information Security course, thus reinforcing what users should be aware of.