Amy Potthast | Instructional Coach & Designer | Learning Design Studios

Posts tagged ‘spaced learning’

Spaced learning and one-off workshops

How to encourage learners to spread out their learning, when you have one shot to teach them.

According to John Medina’s Brain Rules, you’ll learn best through re-exposing yourself to new information at specific intervals.

This kind of learning is called “spaced learning” and is in contrast to cramming, or a study method I call “How I Passed my Freshman Computer Programming Course at CMU”—memorize a lot of code, then type it in the right place on the exam, then go home for winter break and never think about it again, ever.

So, if spaced learning is the ideal, how do you encourage it, when you’ve only got a one-hour workshop or presentation (instead of, say, a semester-long college course)? The following are some ways that I have tried — I’d love to hear what you’ve tried! Leave a comment below.

Close your workshop with a review

If you don’t already, review the workshop content as part of your wrap up. There are lots of ways to do this, depending on how much time you’ve spent together. An easy way is to look back at the objectives for the workshop and quiz participants on how well they’ve met them. Learners will remember the end of the workshop better than the rest of it, so reviewing the content at the end sends them home with the key points fresh in their minds.

Ask learners to explain new ideas to a friend

The best way to learn is to teach. Task your learners with explaining a new concept, teaching a new skill, or discussing a new issue with a friend. Reviewing content orally is a kind of elaborative rehearsal — repeating the content in a relatively complex way that anchors it in long-term memory better.

Give a homework assignment

Clearly optional, homework assignments invite learners to take their interest in your subject one step further. Ask learners to read a specific book from the library, reflect on the topic in writing, interview an expert to learn more, watch a film, create something new.

The homework assignment will allow your learners one more exposure to the new skill or content area, helping them review and revisit what they learned from you during the workshop.

Encourage learners to take & review their notes

Leave space in your handouts for learners to take notes. Encourage them to review their notes during the week following the workshop.


How do you encourage your learners to deepen their knowledge of workshop content?