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The 7 Learning Principles

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Let’s take a look at the seven primary forgetting curve principles and how they’re utilized by Simulations and Serious Games.

1) Information is easier to learn if it’s meaningful and relevant to real-world situations.

Simulations and Serious Games create environments and situations that mimic the real world, reminding users that this learning is relevant and meaningful. We’re not just learning facts and figures, we’re experiencing and doing things, which engages our brains in a much deeper way. Also, we connect with characters and stories more than plain facts, so that makes it still more meaningful. Bonus points if the simulation or serious game is in VR, where the experience can feel very real, increasing relevance and meaning even further.

2) More material to learn means an exponential increase in the time required to learn.

Well-designed games and simulations can hook players into playing for hours on end due to the fun factor, which means students can learn more material in any given session. Further, designers can encourage learners to want to go back and play repeatedly over a period of weeks or months, which means even students can cover even more material. For example, new levels and player abilities can be unlocked after a set period of time, and players can earn points or other rewards for playing longer sessions or repeat sessions over several weeks or months. Better still, games with a social element, as in multiplayer games or competitions encourage players to play for longer, talk to other people about the game and lessons during and after game play, and return to play together again later on.

3) Relearning is easier and faster with each repetition.

Relearning material is easier with Simulations and Serious Games than many traditional learning methods because we don’t easily forget how to play and win a game we’ve played many times, especially if it engages us at an emotional level. Games or Simulations allow us to repeatedly “do” instead of just think, which helps entrench the learning at a deep level. For those readers who like to play video games, you know that if you stop playing a game and return to play again years later, you won’t instantly pick up where you left off, but many skills do remain. This is true of Simulations and Serious Games as well; it doesn’t take long to get back to the level where you left off before.

4) Each relearning increases the time it takes to forget.

5) Spaced repetitions of learning sessions are better than intensive learning over a short period of time.

Simulations and Serious Games encourage learners to return to play often, especially if the games are fun, thus creating spaced repetitions over many learning sessions. If there are many levels to complete, learners may have to return repeatedly over the course of days, weeks, or months in order to pass the final level and complete the game.

6) Forgetting begins immediately after learning.

7) The steepest period of forgetting is the period right after learning, and the pace of forgetting slows over time.

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