Narrative Immersion and the Impact on the Forgetting Curve


Narrative Immersion

Think back to a favorite childhood memory. What do you remember? What senses are triggered; smells, sounds, sight, taste, touch? Memories consist of a time, place and feeling. It’s called memory because it has stuck with you for a variety of sensational reasons. Learning works like memories – some teachings stick with you, and some don’t.

One hundred fifty years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that people forget learning at an alarming rate. Within a month after traditional learning, 90% of the knowledge is lost. This is called the forgetting curve.

Forgetting Curve

In today’s world, this is rarely talked about as a business issue. Its root cause is the fact that traditional learning is just that – traditional. In this situation, the trainer owns the learning, the knowledge typically comes from a workbook or slide, and the learner is passive. When the trainer owns the learning, it takes all responsibility off the learner. When learning is contained in slides and workbooks, it is not relevant to the learner. The two previous elements contribute to the passive learn who is “along for the ride, with no responsibility. The forgetting curve heavily impacts the business as most training investments do not think to provide a planned ROI for the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve becomes the cost of doing business. We must provide training, and we know they won’t remember, yet there is no other way.

Traditional Learning

What if there was another possibility? What if you could ensure that your learning investment pays for itself? And what if you could change the view of training in your organization?

The most impactful way to combat the forgetting curve is to create immersive learning experiences. Inside this method, the participant is focused on the experience, and they “reach out” to take the learning themselves. They feel what it’s like to use the new skills and are actively involved in the experience.

When the learner takes the learning, the facilitator meets them at where they are. Concepts and models are introduced, and learners choose to “grab” the learning that is most relevant to their situation. Skills are practiced, and commitments are made to use these new concepts back in the office. At Learn2, we create Graffiti walls and provide each learner with a marker. They are instructed to answer the questions on the walls. This gives ownership to the learner and creates an inclusive learning experience.

Implementation idea: Rather than spending time “teaching” concepts, participants are given concise information, and they work together to make it relevant to their group, and ultimately the class.

Due to the learning’s immersive nature, the participants become emotionally impacted by it. The experience elicits an emotional response to what they’re being taught, which in turn increases retention as well as motivating action and behavior. Connecting learning to emotion links with our neuropathways and helps the process of retrieving information become effortless. We have been known to drop learners on the bridge of the Titanic or on an iceberg in Antarctica.

Implementation idea: Start learning off with your statements to enter the learner’s world. Use this to transport the learners to the context you want the learning to take place.

When multiple senses are triggered, the impact that learning has turns into a memory – which keeps the knowledge retained for a longer period of time. During immersive experiences, the learner is made to be a part of the experience. It becomes tangible, and the learner personally experiences the lessons to enhance their skills. Tactile experiences can be as simple as contributing to a Graffiti Wall all the way through to holding blueprints and feeling the cold Antarctic breeze brush against you.

Implementation idea: Use props to connect the learner to the problem they face. How could you offer them pipe cleaners, play-do, craft paper to create a tool needed in the learning? What tastes or scents could you offer to transport your learner?

To ensure your investment in training provides you with a strong ROI, address the forgetting curve at the source by providing immersive learning experiences. This ensures that your learners are fully into experience and feeling it’s impact – making it the ultimate learning method. This type of training drives results and impacts the business greatly. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

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