Permobil Express Learning - Avoid Cognitive Overload!


Cognitive load theory is a theory of how the human brain learns and stores knowledge. When our brains process and store information, it takes place in one of two ways.

One way, known as our working memory, is where small amounts of information are temporarily stored. Scientists believe that at any one time our working memory has the capacity on average to store up to four pieces of information e.g. reply to the email I received earlier today, listen to the voicemail and return the call, finish the article for the blog and pick up the dry cleaning on my way home.

The second is known as long term memory. In this type of memory, larger amounts of information are stored for long periods of time. Some information sticks around forever, some we eventually forget. What we continue to ‘know’ is dependent on not only how often we use this piece of information, but also how it was stored in the first place.

The ability of our brains to recall information from our long-term memory is determined by ‘schemas’. A schema is a group of linked memories, words or concepts and become a cognitive shortcut. This leads to having the ability to store new things in our long-term memory and therefore being able to remember and retrieve this information in the future, is much quicker and more efficient.  


Sometimes, when we are learning, you’ll hear people say, or perhaps you have said something similar yourself “I’ve read this over and over again, I just don’t get it, my brain hurts!” 

This is a concept known as cognitive load, which describes that our brains have a limit to how much information can be in our working memory at any one time. If a learner, or a teacher or presenter can be mindful of this and present information in way which does not overload the learner, only offers up necessary, usable chunks of well explained information, it reduces cognitive load, which allows the learner to move the information into long term memory to create the schema. 

Cognitive load theory and research has made several recommendations regarding instructional techniques that can be used when teaching. One suggestion is coined the ‘redundancy effect’.

“Students do not learn effectively when their limited working memory is directed to unnecessary or redundant information. The ‘redundancy effect’ occurs when learners are presented with additional information that is not directly relevant to learning, or with the same information in multiple forms.

An example is a textbook which includes both text and a diagram that needlessly repeat information, or a PowerPoint presentation in which the presenter reads the text presented on the screen. Requiring learners to process redundant information inhibits learning because it overloads working memory. Cognitive load research shows that best practice is to remove redundant information from learning material.” See here for further information.

The Permobil Education Team deliver education using a variety of methods, such as:

  • face to face – classroom style teaching 
  • hands on demo, practical and theory 
  • written material in the form of a blog or instructional guides 
  • online education presented either as a live or recorded webinar or via Microsoft Teams 

With cognitive load being front of mind, we considered some alternatives which has resulted in the launch of our new and additional format for delivering education – Permobil Express Learning!  


We have created our first express course, each module is only 10-15 minutes in length, meaning we only cover what you need to know without all the other fluff!   

Our first course for 2021 consist of 10 express modules and is titled – Seating and Positioning Needs of the Aged Care Population.   

We begin with laying the foundations with an overview of the healthy skin followed by the ageing skin. We cover postures and the impact on the seated individual in relation to their ability to function, before delving into risk factors contributing to wound development. We focus on pressure injury risk and classification, along with other causes of skin damage. Then we wrap up the course with two express modules covering the recommendations and types of support surfaces available.

Click here to find out more and to register for our upcoming Express Learning Course. 


Dee Smith
Clinical Education Specialist

Dee is a Registered Nurse with almost 25 years’ experience in a variety of specialties and is passionate about mentoring, educating and empowering health care professionals to provide safe and quality care.

Dee graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Nursing in 1997 and in 2001 gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Infection Control. She has Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. 

Dee worked within the Aged Care Industry as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in Infection Prevention & Control. She developed and delivered education and training of evidenced-based practice in Infection Prevention and Control, Wound Care and Pressure Injury Management. 

Dee joined Permobil in 2020 as the Seating and Positioning BDM and in 2021, joined the Asia Pacific Clinical Education team as Long Term Care/Aged Care Clinical Specialist. 

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