a training program to accommodate different learning styles
By Ginny Stibolt www.sky-bolt.com
discussed in my last column-The
Influence of Technology on Training and Development for your Company-designing a training program is
complex. During this process, you may need to bring in an outside group to look
at your situation. You need to determine how much training can be put
how much should be outsourced, and how much needs to be kept in-house. There
is no one correct answer and no one-size-fits-all training
program. Even after you
have crafted the best possible training program for your company, you will need to
keep refining it.
People learn differently. How do you
accommodate different learning styles when designing your company's training program?
Also, in these times when greater diversity is desired, people's backgrounds
and cultures may also influence how they learn.
learning occurs only when a participant is willing and able to understand
and retain the information that you are presenting, it is important to consider
each person's style of learning.
The standard classification is that people
learn in three different ways:
- need to "see" what they are learning.
- need to "hear" the information and facts.
- hands-on training and learning by doing. This also includes
taking notes or writing down the important parts or steps of a task.
people use a combination of all three styles, but usually they tend to learn
better when they use one style or method.
addition to considering what the employees' needs are, you also have to
consider the economics of your presentations from a business point of view
and then strike the best balance. Furthermore, none of it would be relevant
if a proper evaluation wasn't done first so that training programs are
focused on actual needs for the employees and the organization.
Let's start at the beginning:
What do your employees need to know? The
initial evaluation should be from both the management's and employees'
perspectives. Create two surveys: one for management and one for
some time to formulate relevant questions for
your organization and its culture. Cover the whole of the organization and ask some
questions like these:
the employees comfortable with and know how to make the best use of the
hardware and software to perform their jobs?
they know the legalities of certain actions such as sexual harassment
and dealing with medical records?
the people they work with need to be better trained to be more
what knowledge and which skills people need is the starting point for
implementing changes. Also before you begin, you need to define the
desired outcomes for the training program and set up a way to measure or
assess the effectiveness of your program. We talked about the needs
for this in the previous column, but worth mentioning again because without
it, you won't have any way to see if your training is working.
the training actually begins, the employees need to
understand its importance to the organization as a whole. This needs
to be done in a way that will help to overcome the cultural differences when
it comes to learning. The motivation to do well is not automatic for
everyone, but with good planning and preparation, your employees and
the company will both benefit from the training.
you have decided to keep your training in-house, here are some
A teacher in a classroom with students is the traditional training
setup. There are many advantages to this: the teacher can present
information in a variety of ways, interact with the students to see if they
understand and provide opportunities for the students to do exercises with
supervision. If you look at the 3 learning styles, this model can
cover all types of learners.
disadvantages for this model for business training include:
difficult to get all the workers who need training together at the same
time and still run the business.
to the middle shortchanges both the advanced students and slow learners
or people with poor language skills. The slow learners can be left
behind or they will slow down the whole class. The fast learners will
become bored or restless if the pace is too slow.
expensive, both for the trainer and the training space. (If it's
technology training, it is even more expensive.)
One-on-one coaching, mentoring and on-the-job training or apprenticeships
offer another approach to training that will address all three learning
styles. These methods have some of the same advantages as the classroom with
the added feature that one-on-one interaction can be crafted for each
of the disadvantages for these methods include:
trainers need more training and time allotted to accomplish the
training. It is expensive to train each employee separately.
methods are often catch-as-catch-can and they may lack organization and
It may be difficult to assess the success of this training.
III. Online, Intranet, or other self-running training options have certainly
increased in the last several years because of their many advantages. While
developing the content may be an initial expense, it can be used many times
over on an as-needed basis. People can take the time they need to absorb the
information. The whole employee handbook can be set up on the company
Intranet for easy access and for easy updates. Chances are good that even
if you've outsourced the rest of your training, you will be using this
technology for some additional or internal training and on-going
of the disadvantages for these methods include:
technology interface can be intimidating and confusing for some people.
on-line training works best for visually oriented people.
students must be self-motivated and the interaction between students and
the instructor is missing. If the student has a question, sometimes it
is not easy to find an answer in a timely fashion.
But the reality of the situation is that often there is so
much training needed and the training budget is limited, that it is tempting
to just put the material into a PowerPoint Slide show and let each person
sit through it. If the slides are well developed, this may be adequate
someone who is visually oriented. But generally this is a poor use of
technology for training.
a suggestion for making those PowerPoints work better for training-narrate
the slides. There are software programs to compress PowerPoints up to
95%!! And the students do not have to have PowerPoint or a viewer to
experience it. One easy-to-use program is Impatica for PowerPoint. www.impatica.com. With a well-narrated* slide presentation, you've helped
both the auditory
learners and the visual learners.
Well-narrated is NOT reading the words on the slides, but enhancing the
content with meaningful examples and further explanations. See PowerPoint
This article was originally published
on Digital Harbor On-line in 2004 and updated in 2014.
© Ginny Stibolt (You may not repost this article, but you may quote
parts of it with links to this page.
has years of teaching experience from seventh grade through college.
She's also owned three technology companies and has more than 20 years
experience with computers and websites. www.sky-bolt.com
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