After A Web conference: How To Reinforce Learning

If you’ve recently conducted a web conference for training purposes, you likely tried to make it as effective as possible. You put time and resources into finding the right content and delivery method. You worked to make the experience engaging. But what about after the web conference? Did you do anything to reinforce learning after people logged off?

Imagine this scenario: You’ve planned and executed the web conference of your dreams. Your presentation was engaging and learners were eager participants. The course got good reviews, and you’re confident you taught everything that needed to be taught.

But back at work, you don’t see the skills in action. People engage in the same old processes and results stay flat. Why aren’t employees eagerly showing off their new-found knowledge and having the impact you’d hoped for?

The answer? Because new learning requires reinforcement to stick.

Why A Web Conference Shouldn’t Be A One-Off Event

Today’s eLearning solutions offer big advantages for engaging learners and teaching new information. But your investment in employee development shouldn’t end with one training course. Learning a concept once doesn’t guarantee it’ll stick or be implemented. Too often, people fall back into familiar work and behavior patterns after even the most riveting course. They don’t think to use the new skills, no matter how powerful the training experience was.

Web conferences and eLearning can pose specific challenges to learning retention. Distractions of a virtual environment might keep people from giving their full attention. Multitasking, constant online interruptions, and technical difficulties can also make it challenging for people to catch everything.

There are several reasons skills don’t transfer the way we expect. The biggest culprit though is probably what we call the forgetting curve.

What Is The Forgetting Curve?

In the 1880s, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus began studying memory. He found that people forget new information fairly quickly after they learn it. Later studies supported Ebbinghaus’s discovery—what’s now known as the forgetting curve.

The research says that forgetting is exponential. When people learn something new, they begin forgetting it almost immediately. The greatest decline happens within the first day after learning. Ebbinghaus’s curve shows that people forget about 70% of what they learn within the first 24 hours of learning it. After that, memory loss slows but continues as time passes.

To combat the forgetting curve in your training, reinforce learning early and effectively.

How To Reinforce Learning

Training reinforcement focuses on helping people retain knowledge. You’re not trying to teach anything new, you’re helping them retrieve what they’ve already learned. You want them to be able to transfer the skills—to understand how and when to apply their new knowledge and put it into action.

You’re working against the natural human tendency to fall back on old habits and practices in moments of high stress or tight deadlines. In short, the moment when they most need their new knowledge. So how exactly do you help people retrieve and cement what they’ve learned?

There are 3 principles at the heart of good retrieval practices:

  1. Begin right away
    The first days after training are the steepest part of the forgetting curve, so it’s important to begin learning reinforcement immediately after training. Help learners keep their momentum by starting while the information is fresh in their memories.
  2. Reinforce learning regularly
    Training shouldn’t be just a one-time event. Habits are built through repetition, and memory is strengthened when it’s accessed often. Make sure your efforts are a recurring process.
  3. Aim for active recall
    It’s important to help learners work on their memories. Don’t just present the information all over again. Use teaching follow-up strategies that give people chances to actively recall what they’ve learned. The act of bringing information back to mind helps the brain register that it’s significant and makes new knowledge more memorable.

With these foundational starting points, let’s dive into ways you can keep your web conference content top of mind.

5 Tips To Reinforce Learning After A Web Conference

To make training stick, combine web conferencing with additional training methods. Here are 5 strategies for reinforcing learning early and regularly, and making it meaningful.

1. End Training Sessions With An Action Plan

You can start reinforcing before participants even leave training. Ward off early retention loss by ending a web conference with a plan. Have learners brainstorm and record how they’ll apply what they’ve learned back on the job.

Writing down commitments and goals makes them more memorable. And people are more likely to recall and apply new knowledge when they’ve pictured it in a specific scenario.

A good action plan should include specific measurable goals. It should also involve a set timeframe when the skills will be put into play. Have learners write down what they’ll do, when they’ll do it, and what outcomes they hope for. They can keep their plan handy for quick reference back on the job.

2. Send Reinforcement Emails

Reminders at regular intervals keep memory from fading. Consider creating a series of refresher emails to go out on a planned schedule.

The emails should complement the training and could include things like:

  • Reminders or summaries of key concepts
  • Suggestions for where the skills can be used on the job
  • Motivational quotes
  • Case study examples of the skills in action

Help trigger memory by getting the key concepts in front of people regularly. Doing this over a set period of time spreads out their interactions with the information and keeps it relevant.

3. Conduct Follow-Up Training Sessions

Spaced learning strengthens memorability. A great way to follow up a web conference is with continuous training.

Consider scheduling mini-training sessions periodically after your conference or webinar. You might try reconnecting monthly or quarterly. Sessions can be synchronous or asynchronous. Create self-paced learning modules in your LMS. Or schedule live meetings where everyone logs on together and conduct a discussion or role-play exercises.

You can also use a blended learning solution—a combination of online resources and real-time meetings. Schedule regular team sessions that bring everyone together to discuss questions or concerns. Have them practice skills or report how they’ve used what they learned in training.

However they’re conducted, continuous training options should focus on application. Include quick overviews of what was learned and dedicate the rest of the time to quizzes or practice. Use continuous training to give learners more touchpoints with the content and built-in chances for active recall.

4. Test Learners

Tests and assignments help people cement what they’ve learned. Increase long-term knowledge retention by adding quizzes to your continuous training efforts.

To make testing effective, administer it at intervals over a set period. Integrate quizzes into your follow-up sessions or email reminders. Strengthen the effects by making questions challenging. It makes learners work to come up with the correct answer. The more effort it takes to retrieve, the more memorable the answer will be—even if people don’t get the correct answer the first time around.

Helpful quizzes can take many formats, like multiple-choice or short-answer thought questions. You can test on the information directly, or ask learners about how they would apply it in a given scenario. Anything that gets them digging for the right answer.

5. Create A Culture That Supports New Skills

Any new knowledge is only useful to employees if it has a place back on the job. Bolster memory and transfer by making the new skills a part of your organization’s culture. Try the following to make the transition more seamless:

  • Use the vocabulary and processes taught in the training in your meetings and internal communications.
  • If participants learned a specific method of problem-solving, include the steps in your meeting agendas when approaching a problem as a team.
  • Provide a discussion forum that lets people ask questions or get coaching from fellow learners.
  • Add goals from the training to quarterly or annual reviews.

Make your web conference content integral to daily life in your organization. It’s hard to convince the brain that information is important if it’s not related to the learner’s goals and purpose.

Conclusion

Even the most engaging and informative web conference doesn’t guarantee skill transfer. Employees can’t apply what they can’t remember, so make training an ongoing process. Begin reinforcing learning right away, continue at regular intervals, and help people take an active role in recalling what they’ve learned.

Training isn’t just a box to tick. Continuing education is an investment in your organization’s performance and your employees’ experience. Guarantee success by supporting your investment on an ongoing basis.