I've been thinking/reading a lot about memory recently for various reasons. But that's another story! Within the context of learning, Ebbinghaus' 'Forgetting Curve' is something that has always interested me...it refers to the human tendency to quickly forget what we learn in the absence of further learning or reinforcement.
Ebbinghaus conducted his experiments back in 1880 and 1885, teaching himself a list of nonsense syllables. He found that the more time elapsed between learning a list and his attempt to relearn it, the longer it took to relearn it. The time involved increased until it was almost as if he had never learned the list to begin with. These experiments have since been replicated and corroborated widely so have stood the test of time, leading to the logical conclusion that a one-off learning event is not an effective approach...particularly when dealing with behavioural change.
This is where learning campaigns come in - these borrow elements from marketing, communications, and behavioural psychology. Learning campaigns are gaining in popularity but are still by no means the norm. Obviously a greater investment is required than a one-off learning event in terms of time, resources and budget but for organisations who are serious about effecting behavioural change then this feels like the only logical way to go. I'm looking forward to working with more clients on learning campaigns in 2018, watch this space!
Since the human brain is wired to forget without repeated exposure and practice, trainers have to think beyond an event-based model.