Benefits of multimodal learning and how to choose the right learning partner

Organisations have realised that multimodal learning —using more than one media to engage the brain in multiple learning styles— is the best way to promote learning.


By now the world has realised that learning doesn’t happen only in classrooms. In fact, learning outside the classroom is much more deep rooted and impactful. People want to learn at their own pace and their own way. Some people like to learn through videos, while some still prefer a book. Some want structured official instructor-led training sessions, while some will not mind learning from the comfort of their office or home. Modern learners want to take control of their learning and development and are more self-directed unlike a decade ago.

At the same time, businesses are looking at great learning resources that improve business outcomes, support their people and improve both internal and external customer experience.

Organisations have understood that to promote learning amongst their people, they will have to go the multimodal way. They will have to use a learning method that uses more than one mode or media to engage the brain in multiple learning styles. This allows instructional elements to be presented in more than one sensory mode. Here are some of the most common training modalities available to learners today:
• Live instructor-led training (in classroom and/or virtual)
• E-learning courses
• Videos
• Books (print and/or online)
• Audio (podcasts and/or audiobooks)
• Mentoring (in-person and/or virtual)
• Practice environments (on-premises or virtual)
• Assessments and practice exams
• Resource files (PDFs, PPTs, Docs, and so on)
• Social learning (discussion groups, community sites, and so on)

Also, organisations need to be cognizant of the fact that learning modalities at work can differ, as per the need of the hour and the learning need itself. Take for instance these few cases:
• If your company is hacked, you need to quickly figure out a prevention technique. Having someone take an hour-long course to figure out what to do will not help. In such a situation, the team needs quick access to a short video or a section of a book that describes how to stop the specific attack. Another option is to let the team have access to a mentor who has faced a similar issue before and can provide a few quick tips on what can be done to help control the attack.

• If someone needs to learn a new programming language, a few five-minute videos or a few sections of a book will not help. The person will probably need at least one course (or maybe a series of courses), supported by in-depth books, practice coding environments, access to source code samples and so on, to be able to learn the language well.

• In case people need a quick refresher on a particular skill they already possess, retaking an entire class or reading a whole book will be a waste of time. A few targeted videos and a section or two of a book may be all they require to get back up to speed.

This whitepaper will help L&D leaders review and modernize their learning content and consider how best to engage and inspire their learners.

Clearly, the biggest benefit of a multimodal learning programme is that it allows unlimited, continuous, scalable learning at a reasonable cost. What an average company will spend in one day on a training session for its employees can suffice as the annual budget for training and learning round the year, through a trusted learning partner that offers a multi-modal programme. However, finding a single partner that offers all of it together isn’t easy.

Most learning organisations or vendors provide one, two, or at the most a handful of learning modalities. That puts buyers at the risk of huddling up too many vendors to get a mix of all modalities for their people.

This can create a disjointed user experience with multiple instructional styles, formats, navigation, and so on. This is why, organisations need to shop smartly and look out for the select few vendors who can provide a wider range of modalities and at the same time help address niche learning needs. There are also a few players in multimodal learning, who not only impart knowledge but also provide the facility to test and demonstrate the new skills or insight.

Lastly, multimodal learning not only allows people to analyse the effectiveness of a learning programme or a session, but enables understanding and optimised learning in real-world environments. According to a research, an average learner’s scores on basic skills assessments increase by 21 percentile when engaged in multimodal learning in comparison to single-mode learning.

Hence, it makes sense for organisations to proactively create a learning environment, which is conducive to various learning preferences by delivering the same content in multiple formats or multiple content in the same format. The fact remains that in a diverse work environment, everyone has their own interests, readiness and learning style, and multimodal learning is the way ahead.

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