Could the future of e-learning be right under your nose?

Could the future of e-learning be right under your nose?

Posted on Jul 21, 2015

Could the future of e-learning be right under your nose? 



People say that smell is the last of our senses to fade away, so it almost makes sense that smells enable us to recall information and memories.

Ever had that feeling of ‘deja-vu’ when you smell something in particular? The scent takes you back to a time in your life where you can remember the place, who was there and what was happening so vividly, all from a smell. It can be triggered by anything; the smell of a certain sun cream, a particular drink, something being cooked, a special perfume or aftershave – whatever it is, you can recall instantly what that smell reminds you of.

Now imagine applying the same logic to learning. Get ready – here comes the science bit. Your olfactory senses (the organs involved with smell) have strong links to your brain’s memory headquarters. The main part of smell processing, called the ‘primary olfactory cortex’, forms a link with the ‘amygdala’ (the part of our brains responsible for forming emotions as well as emotional memory) and the ‘hippocampus’ (the part of our brains responsible for forming longer-term memories) which are two big components in memory creation and storage. So biologically it’s logical that we learn by smelling.

Scientists have decided to look into this a little deeper and have some very interesting findings, a study at Harvard University has shown that volunteers who were exposed to bursts of rose scent as they slept after studying were better able to recall the material, even without being exposed to the scent again. It was found that the scent intensified the transfer of information to the hippocampus (the long term memory bit of our brains) and it wasn’t simply an example of state-dependent recall.

So, with our science lesson completed and those clever Harvard University chaps testing the theory for us, how can this help us learn? The simplest, and probably easiest, way would be to wear a certain perfume or aftershave for a particular topic/subject. So, for example, when you’re next completing a Health and Safety course, have a squirt of that same aftershave/perfume before or whilst you’re reading. Then next time your risk assessments are due spray that same scent and you’ll recall the stuff you learned and be able to carry out your risk assessment efficiently and effectively.


Keeping the subject memorable is at the heart of everything we do here at flick

We want you to remember what you learned with us and apply it to your everyday jobs and lives. We’ve already ensured that all of our courses have the audio and visual elements added in as standard. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite got hold of the technology to enables you to smell whilst you learn yet, but as soon as it’s available, trust us, ‘smell-o-cation’ will be the newest feature to our courses.

Dare to dream about how this theory will add to your learning? We’d like to imagine it being linked to our course pages in a significant way, so when you’re reading the Food Hygiene topic, the topic itself will release a burst of ‘freshly cooked bread’. We wonder what smell we’d use for Data Protection? Any suggestions do let us know via twitter at @FlickLearning – we’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, remember to spray your pencil or pen with that perfume before you do your next fire drill or risk assessment and that knowledge will come flooding back!



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