When have you learned something?

If learning = retention + recall, then how far into the future do we need to be able to recall something in order to say that we have learned it now?

Could you pass an old exam that you passed with ease many years ago?

I couldn’t.

We cannot really talk about successful learning without also talking about the purpose of that learning, and the context and timeframe.

If I memorise a phone number right now, use it in five minutes’ time, and then forget it, could I validly call that learning?

Think about how much reliance we place on trainees answering questions at the end of a course to prove they memorised something. Could they pass the same exam again a month later?

Is that reliance on memorised knowledge exams and tests well placed?

Rather than focusing on what people may or may not have learned, focus on what they can or cannot do with what they learned, and how sustainable that skill is over time.