There’s Science Behind the Modern Learner’s Success

The question is, why?

It’s science … and below are three points from studies that support our claim from both primary and secondary research.

1. Modern Learners retain knowledge better.

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German Psychologist, published his hypothesis: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. This is better known today as “The Forgetting Curve” and it claims that over time our memory and knowledge retention decline. Further research suggests that a person’s ability to retain information diminishes after about 25-30 minutes. One study even showed there is a decline in students’ attention 10 –15 min into lectures (Bradbury, 2016).

So why are Modern Learners able to battle knowledge and memory decline better than others? They consume information in shorter bursts, taking in more information, more often and revisiting that same information time and time again. They are constant and continuous learners. They can save learning time – consuming it quickly and then coming back to it in short and bite-sized formats to grow their retention.

The emergence of microlearning and the prioritization of continuous learning support this science. Organizations that embrace microlearning and continuous learning are seeing their performance and engagement results soar.

2. Modern Learners rarely burn out.

A few years ago, I wrote a book on performance and leadership (The Organizational Champion, McGraw Hill). In this book, I featured a performance method known as periodization. Right now, athletes from around the world are practicing periodization as they train and perform in the Tokyo Olympics. This method suggests that the best performers properly manage their peak intensity and rest intervals in order to increase their performance. World-class athletes don’t start their training at 100% intensity and then never let off the gas until game-time. They likely start with a 10-20% effort, then growing their intensity to 50-60%, followed by maximum effort a short time later – hoping to bring their max performance for when it counts the most.

My accountant works similarly in her profession. She saves her maximum intensity for February, March, and April – tax season. She rests and recovers in May and June.

Modern Learners know when to bring the fire to their performance and when to recover. They love winning and will do what it takes to succeed. This success is due, in part, to the ability to know when they need to recover.

3. Modern Learners are active participants, not passive observers.

While I’m sure there is little debate regarding the value of this point, I’m compelled to validate it. So, I’ll mention one study, Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing is Better than Watching for Learning from a MOOC from Carnegie Mellon University (Koedinger, 2015). It found that interactive activities are six times more likely to help people learn. You heard that right, six times more likely just by introducing and integrating interactive learning systems with adaptive feedback that include open communication channels, which can help improve the learning process and boost productivity. The study also suggested Modern Learners thrive on feedback and collaboration. They want to contribute to the learning and application – debating it, extending it, improving it, and evolving it with their professional community.

Are your tools supporting Modern Learners and enabling their success? If you desire to see your organization’s engagement and performance grow among your employees, consider a solution that prioritizes continuous and active learning, and provides a flexible platform that accommodates your employees’ unique work and lifestyle. If you have more questions, we’d love to talk with you and dive deeper.


Mike Thompson – CEO, SVI and Learner Mobile

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