Hickory has one goal – to build fundamentally better ways to learn. This focus guides all of our decisions and helps us prioritize. “How do we think this will affect they way people learn?” is a common question around these parts, along with “Who ate all of the mini-reece cups? *”

What does Hickory do to improve learning? It makes predictions on when a learner is likely to forget their training, and schedules either personalized review exercises to keep this from happening, or a next lesson to help build on what they know. Typically we can keep a team to ~90% retention of the training information, in other words, we keep people from forgetting.

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But let’s get into it, why is this important?

My position is that the next (but not only) step to move the training / educational world forward is a concerted focus on the long term retention of information, i.e. remembering stuff (preferably the important stuffs). The first point is simple, as a learner, if you aren’t able to recall the information you’re exposed to then what’s the real benefit of all the reading, video watching and lectures? Have you really learned?  — A question for another day.

Our data suggests that knowledge retention drastically drops off after a training, with most people missing more questions during the review period than in the lesson. Quite simply we forget, and surprisingly quickly. For the trainers and managers we work with, the question of whether a single exposure to the information followed by a quiz is enough to satisfy their training needs, the answer is simple. No.

When you focus on retention you also begin to see the shortcomings of quizzes and the futility of lifelong certifications. There isn’t a complete state to learning, and we shouldn’t talk as if there was one. Everything we know is in a state of flux, constantly reorganizing itself and in most cases, drifting off to the land of forgetting. To say that someone has learned something because they’ve passed a test works well on paper, but doesn’t map to the mind. Grades and certifications are simply bad accounting.

You can’t begin to improve knowledge retention without first understanding how you forget. This is Hickory’s current purpose. It knows how well every user knows every concept in the training and predicts the likelihood of them forgetting it for everyday in the future. We show managers who knows what and how well in real time, and what excites me is that we can tell you what to learn or relearn when. This is an entire learning environment reorganizing itself around the learner and focused on one goal, improving knowledge retention for that individual.

The data around how people retain information over time also gives you a really clear picture of the good, the bad and the ugly of the content and the lessons. At Hickory we’ve been able to show trainers and managers not only how to improve their training programs, but tie this to job performance, something a one time snapshot like a test just can’t do.

 

 

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For too long, incomprehensible lessons, bad teachers, and a whole ecosystem of lackluster LMS’s have been hidden behind shit data. I would be curious to know from other educational companies: how many times have you gone back and reshot or redone portions of your content catalogue because you found that they were incomprehensible to the learner? And how did you measure that? This happens at Hickory and for our customers weekly, based on the retention data we can see where people are having trouble and resolve those issues.

The key point here is that long-term retention of knowledge is important. It is crucial to learning, allowing the learning journey to get started and evolving with every step along the way. Remembering is necessary to move from one level of understanding to another and from basic application to expertise. It should be a key focus of every educational institution. Not only does it open all sorts of fun learning doors, but it promotes the acceleration of future comprehension, it enables more accurate measurement of the value of the learning / training environment, and it allows the learner to have a continuous dialogue with what they’ve learned in the past.  

 

Hickory’s first target was to build a system that could help us understand forgetting and increase knowledge retention. We’ve done that. I’m incredibly grateful to all of those who have helped us get here and to allow me to talk about this. It’s a long list, and while circumstances put us all in different places, I’m very grateful to the minds that have touched and helped us along the way.

 


Hickory is now entering it’s second phase:

Full Integration of Machine Learning. 

Every person who interacts with Hickory makes it better, faster, smarter. It’s learning from you as you learn from it. This is step two, and what we are today is not what we’ll be in a year, it’s a constantly evolving system focused on one thing, to build better ways to learn.

Brian

* Who ate the Reece’s? The answer is always Brian.  

V2


Hickory is now entering it’s second phase:

Full Integration of Machine Learning. 

Every person who interacts with Hickory makes it better, faster, smarter. It’s learning from you as you learn from it. This is step two, and what we are today is not what we’ll be in a year, and in 10 years… Stay tuned.