How To Use Distributed Practice in E-learning

How To Use Distributed Practice in E-learning!

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by Liubomyr Sirskyi

People learn all their lives, interact with the outside world, and expand their consciousness from birth. Therefore, our thoughts and learned lessons allow us to evaluate the picture of the world.

In the process of learning, students develop cognitive abilities. There are so many ways to do this, but only a few can help you retain new knowledge. One of the most effective approaches, among others, is distributed learning. Let's learn more about this concept.

The Notion of Distributed Learning

Distributed learning is a specific method when students spread their goals evenly over the learning time. Moreover, lessons have a shorter time, but they occur more frequently. Therefore, this method differs from the mass method, where students must complete the entire program in a year and move on.

There are also differences in the ways of getting knowledge. For instance, students cram answers to midterm and final tests, but they will keep them in memory for a few days. It focuses on practical memorization, bringing more benefits and better retention of new knowledge regarding distributed learning.

How Effective Is The Distributed Learning

The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus first considered the practice of distributed learning. During his studies of human cognitive capacities, he noticed that repeating information at a specific interval allows you to fix it in memory for a long time.

It is better to use the following methodology:

  • the first repetition - immediately after the end of reading;
  • second repetition - 20 minutes after the first;
  • the third repetition - 8 hours after the second;
  • fourth repetition - 24 hours after the third.

This approach allows you to remember information nine times faster than the usual "memorization." Therefore, distributed learning helps you consolidate knowledge and skills in long-term memory qualitatively. More and more teachers and creators of online courses are using a methodology that relies on neuroscience.

What Are the Methods of Distributed Learning

There are three most common ways to implement distributed learning into your curriculum:

Procedural Learning

In this case, a person learns to reduce the constant working of neurons. Then, with frequent repetition, information is automatically consistent with actions, and the result is something like muscle memory.

This approach is practical when learning, for example, to play piano or guitar. It is much better to master a particular skill than to play mindlessly. Further, it's vital to start slowly and gradually increase the tempo. After that, you can connect the skills.


Scientists have found a connection between long-term memory and gained skills. For example, some can learn much more if they have developed a consolidation system since childhood, remembering information under the influence of some stimulus.

For example, with the constant repetition of the text, a person subconsciously picks up some keywords. And when people notice them in different circumstances, they begin to remember what they learned earlier. With each repetition, the information gets even better fixed in long-term memory.

Constant Knowledge Testing

This point is the most critical when talking about the distributed learning process. After completing the module or course, you must pass the initial test, which will help you find out the first results. Then, you can increase the intervals between the following tests based on them.

Knowledge testing can be both oral and written.

How To Implement Distributed Learning in the E-course

E-learning is becoming the new standard. It's facilitated not only by general digitalization but also by the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, thousands of students pay due attention to distributed learning as one of the best methods. It allows every tutor to set individual conditions for each learner. And this is how you can implement distributed learning:

Choose an Optimal Course Length

First, you should review the content. There are complex topics that take dozens of hours to learn. Conversely, you may shorten some modules, allowing applying the distributed learning methodology as efficiently as possible.

Pay Attention To Course Structure and Segmentation

After analyzing the eLearning content, it is necessary to work on the structure properly. Think about how you can divide the e-course into parts so that each module fully and effectively covers a specific block of knowledge.

Remember that a clear goal for each segment is an essential part of any online course. After all, if students cannot reach their goals, they won't be able to learn the following topics.

Create a Course Plan

The distributed learning methodology won't help achieve the desired result if you do not have a clear plan to take an e-course. In addition, it is necessary to ensure gradual access to new modules. This approach will save you and your students time, as they won't quickly cram the material at the end of the course.

It is much better to open each module gradually: until students have spent the required amount of time watching the video or have not passed the intermediate test, they cannot move on to the next level. It is also worth noting that they cannot return to the previous one (i.e., there is no way to correct the score). In addition, this approach ensures that the eLearning course schedule is adhered to and its objectives are met.

Educational platforms make it possible to create a training program taking into account all the nuances. An intuitive environment allows you to quickly track each student's progress and establish an individual development program. In addition, you can launch the first eLearning course in just 30 minutes.

Do Not Forget About Tests

You can't do your job without them, even using advanced teaching methods. However, quizzes and tests are required, and they help you evaluate students' progress during the e-course. It is possible to mark modules that require passing a test on the online education platform.

In addition, the LMS helps you change the course structure. For example, if you detect a decrease in student performance in a particular module, you can adjust the lessons' order. It will make it more effortless to pass the training course and increase the score for the test. In addition, working on the structure allows you to create a highly productive learning experience.

You can put tests anywhere, but experts recommend doing them at the end of each module. But do not overdo it with checking students; otherwise, you risk boosting the outflow of learners from the course. Nowadays, game mechanics are also increasingly used in tests. They attract students' attention and stimulate the study of valuable facts. In the end, students remember more practical information to use in the future.

Repeat Information to Students Regularly

Distributed learning develops the remembrance of valuable knowledge. Therefore, it differs in the number of repetitions of educational material during the e-course. It's vital to ensure that you do enough repetitions of the current topic to store the knowledge in long-term memory. After all, the brain also should be trained, like any other muscle.

It's unnecessary to repeat each topic ten or fifteen times because it depends on the complexity of the e-course and the individual characteristics of each student. Therefore, experts in online education advise maintaining the number of repetitions at a middle level. This approach will provide equal conditions for all students. If any of them have difficulty with a particular topic, they can get more time to review.

Another advantage of regular repetition is learning without restrictions. Students can study freely and not worry about their schedules. It also reduces stress levels and increases completion of the online course.

Where Is Distributed Learning Most Often Used

There are many areas to apply distributed learning. And only you can decide where and when to use this technique. Meanwhile, it is crucial to determine the target age group and the complexity of the material. So let's look at three areas that are the best for distributed approach.

Learning Foreign Languages

Perhaps this is the best option for using such a technique. After all, the primary problem of learning foreign languages ​​is not the correct use of vocabulary or the construction of sentences but the preservation of the lexicon. People may forget words over time, like any other knowledge.

In addition, if you can quickly memorize a large number of words, then you'll be able to cope with other topics (for example, pronunciation and intonation) more easily.

Distributed learning helps fix new vocabulary in memory as much as possible. You can divide similar words or specific meanings into separate groups and work on them. Therefore, you'll create a stimulus for remembering words in the future.

Courses for Experienced Students

If your target audience already knows the course subject, a distributed method will help you create a more advanced program.

But, it's essential to use this strategy cautiously because you don't know what knowledge your learners have received earlier. Therefore, it is better to start learning a new topic with an introductory course. And don't forget about dividing the e-course into separate parts if you want to present a complex subject.

Subjects That Require Constant Repetition

Some directions require repeating specific actions several times before they fix in long-term memory. These include, for example, yoga or playing musical instruments. Here it is best to use distributed learning. It is pretty simple: this approach creates new neural connections connecting skills to specific actions. Therefore, a distributed technique improves peoples' cognition.


Let's sum it up briefly. The distributed learning methodology is mostly better than traditional mass learning. Practice makes it perfect, as they say. It happens in life: if you want to succeed, you must gradually and often repeat specific actions.

However, there is no ideal way to implement distributed approach in an online course. It is much better to change its content as needed. Yes, it does require a certain level of grit and skill in detecting more or less effective techniques. However, it'll help provide the perfect learning experience for your students.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions about distributed learning, leave them in the comments section below. We will answer them and analyze the most interesting ones in the following articles!