Black notebook.Learning new material is a skill that comes easily to some, while others struggle to make concepts stick. Besides an engaging teaching style and positive learning environment, the format used to present content can aid to comprehension to help make continuing education training work better, for more people.

Some research suggests that reading printed materials leads to better retention. In our conversations with CE training instructors, we have heard that some people prefer to hold a book in their hands and experience all of the tactile sensations that go with it—turning the pages, for example, and using familiar means of finding information, like a table of contents, indexes, and tabs. Some readers even like to see the creases in the spine, as an indicator of progress made.

Research has shown that anchors, defined as visual cues like the location of certain text on a page, help information stick in ways that digital counterparts can’t match. When you read print, you essentially make a mental map of the text, much like you do when driving in an unfamiliar area. You remember what that intersection looks like more than you remember what your GPS told you to do.

Moreover, when you read a printed course book and hold it in your hands, you have a better idea of where the passage you’re reading falls in relation to the whole text. Progress bars on eReaders and mobile devices try to replicate this, but it’s not as effective.

Reading online can be convenient, but the downside is a higher likelihood for distraction. Odds are, reading isn’t the only online task you use your computer or mobile device to do. A book, on the other hand, serves the sole purpose of content provider and can be easier to immerse yourself in.

Whether you give learners access to class materials online, in print, or both, these points are worth considering. Training materials that embrace these principles can make for a more rewarding, more effective class for learners. Set your learners up for success by including print as part of your continuing education training program.