One of the primary goals in online learning is promoting active recall in students. Summarizing subject matter into a useful context is one of the keys to information recall. ELearners should be invited to express lessons in their own words for better comprehension and retention.
Active and Passive
Two different approaches are typically used to instill learning objectives:
- Passive recall involves learners reading textual recaps or listening to summaries in the form of lectures. This serves as a reinforcement of covered material in order to promote memorization.
- Active recall links information to problems that stimulate the brain to provide answers. Focusing on the practical value of the information is a more effective way to establish it in long-term memory than passive repetition with no real-world context.
Here are some of the ways you can increase active recall in your eLearning projects.
1. Pop Quiz
The nature of quizzes and their effect on learning prompts students to concentrate harder on the questions. Questions, especially in the form of quizzes, demand answers. Just the possibility of there being a quiz motivates learners to pay more attention, which helps them to retain the information. Implementing pop quizzes leads to a basic human response that can help promote insights into the use of core concepts. The ability to not only recall but use them effectively also requires the retention of related details which indicates how attentive the student is. While multiple-choice questions are suitable for checking facts, open-ended questions are more conducive to thoughtful analysis.
- Methodical Approach
Lesson plans should also include methods for working through a problem step-by-step. The satisfaction of reaching the correct conclusion can help in knowledge retention. Using this approach, online learners must draw on their acquired knowledge and follow proper instruction to find solutions. This may include both new concepts and prior knowledge that should already be in long-term memory. The problem should be complex enough to challenge and test their knowledge, but not so difficult as to frustrate and discourage learners. Storylines, case studies, and if/then situations can reflect real-world scenarios where the student is required to apply a logical approach to resolving the problem.
- Deeper Questions
When designing elearning solutions, instructional designers should also include questions that compel learners beyond mere recall and application of information. Questions that inspire more thought-provoking approaches play a significant role in lesson retention. Profound or counter-intuitive questions may challenge learners' assumptions and require a more thorough examination of key ideas. This results in a deeper connection with the information that simple logic alone can't provide. For example, questions like "Which of the topics covered will have the most impact on your career?" lead the learner to both recall the topics and analyze their value at a personal level.
- Don't Overload
Online learning should involve active recall techniques at the conclusion of each lesson module or activity. Retention of this knowledge should be tested sometime later, such as drawing on the former topics but through a different technique. For instance, a quiz on the current subject could be followed up by a problem that also touches on former lessons. "Spaced" learning reinforces knowledge by tying new ideas to existing ones. Lesson plans and activities that build on knowledge rather than simply imparting new facts lead to better long-term retention of all topics.
- Creative Review
Recaps, or summaries, tend to be one of the lesson parts which learners focus on the least. Many will even feel bored or frustrated if asked to summarize what they've done or heard. They may become stressed if they feel they've missed something. But a creative approach can overcome these negative associations. For instance, summarizing their new knowledge in a creative way, such as arranging a visual presentation or encapsulating their knowledge in a story or original problem scenario. This is a more engaging approach which requires them to review and incorporate knowledge in creative, meaningful ways.
- Taking Notes
Taking notes is a very typical approach to learning, and for good reason. Your eLearning programs should encourage students to take notes, even if they feel the topic is familiar or simple. This creates greater long-term retention. ELearners might be encouraged to use note-taking apps or come up with creative note systems that make the process more engaging. One approach might be mind-maps to better organize knowledge to align with their own thought processes, such as memory devices, tables, or informational diagrams. This not only helps to reinforce their knowledge but leads them to develop more concise and useful reference materials for later study or review.
Active recall may be an elusive concept to those used to thinking of learning as lecture or blackboard- focused, but it's highly suited to an eLearning environment where materials are more interactive and adaptable. It only requires a little creativity in lesson planning to increase recall in your eLearning projects.