A learning modality is a delivery method of information for learning. Many have cropped up over time as learning development and technology have advanced. Now we have several options to choose from which can cater to different needs and organization structures. What is right for one type of content is not necessarily great for another. For example, if you have remote workers all over the world, a classroom instructor-led event is going to be rather difficult. In order to help you choose the best option when designing a learning program, here are some of the most common modalities along with their advantages and drawbacks.
Classroom Instructor-Led Training
Instructor-led training is one of the most popular techniques around, and as the name suggests, it occurs within a classroom environment with a lecturer delivering the course content. It can include many methods of delivery, such as the use of blackboards, overhead projectors, PowerPoint presentations, storytelling, video, and other multimedia technology. All of the learners are in one place, in person, and engage directly with the instructor.
One advantage of this method is that it is an efficient way of presenting a large body of material to groups of employees. Everyone gets the information at the same time, and it is particularly cost-effective. This can be great, for example, for companies who have groups of employees in the same city who can all come together for quarterly trainings on the latest developments.
The personal element of the training can give learners a sense of engagement that is often lost through online learning. Activities can be planned to facilitate interactions with other trainees and the instructor in order to reinforce learnings. This method also allows for storytelling as part of the delivery method, which is proven to further engage learners, increase recall of information after the training, and help attendees to enjoy the session.
While this can be great for some situations, it does present difficulties when the attendees are dispersed in different locations. It can require expensive travel and can be disruptive to other job responsibilities. Coordinating schedules can also be an issue. As for the content, much of the success of the course depends on the lecturer, so it is important the person who will be delivering the course, is trained and properly prepared with the materials.
Virtual Instructor-Led Training
Virtual instructor-led training has become a mainstream option for many companies due to its convenience. It is particularly useful when learners are spread out across multiple locations because they can tune in from wherever they are. It is similar to classroom events except the classroom is virtual and learners are engaging in the session from remote locations via computers. There is still the instructor who leads learners through the content.
One advantage of this method is that it can be more cost-effective than flying in employees from various locations. Virtual meetings can also cater to far more people than a typical training room can hold, so larger companies may benefit from using this method. Much of the software available for this delivery method allows you to record VILT sessions, which enables for an opportunity to get more out of the instructor’s time. Furthermore, learners can still interact with the instructor in order to ask questions and engage with the content.
As for the drawbacks, learners may get more distracted when they are not actually physically in a classroom. They may not get the same level of engagement as is possible by interacting in person. While some activities can be designed for VILT, often these need to be entirely re-written to translate to the virtual learning world. Also, a VILT course is usually shorter than classroom-based learning, meaning that long courses will likely need to be broken into several modules.
VILT is especially effective if you have many departments spanning various locations, or if employees have particularly unstructured schedules, for example, if they’re often on the road or work their calendars around clients.
A Wiki is a website where users come together to contribute and revise content. While this concept might seem a little outlandish, it can be very effective.
When a trainer is solely in charge of putting together course materials or even working with a small group of subject matter experts, they are dependent on the knowledge of that small group. With Wiki’s, the experience, research, and knowledge from many people can come together. This creates a team environment where participants are invested in absorbing information and contributing to it. This can be great for companies or organizations that want to empower their employees and members. It also can be be beneficial for reaching entire organizations whether people are localized in one place or dispersed in many.
The disadvantage is that this system takes a lot of planning and monitoring to get right, and doesn’t permit more traditional learners to gain knowledge in their preferred way. However, it can be a great method for certain purposes where members have valuable input on a specific topic which can contribute to the overall knowledge base of the team.
E-learning is a successful and popular training method where learners undertake an interactive online training program usually at a time that suits them best. The system is accessible 24 hours a day and provides a set training agenda and objectives that can be worked through by the individual at their own pace.
An advantage of e-learning is that it gives learners the ability to access consistent training materials from anywhere in the world. This is ideal if your organization has many different locations which are constantly needing to learn new concepts. It also reduces the training delivery cycle time which can be a relief for learners and can be kinder on the budget for trainers. It is highly convenient, can be tracked remotely, and gives learners control over how long they learn for in one period. A well thought through e-learning program does not overload the learner, but gives them digestible chunks of information for each sitting.
For some learners, e-learning may not be preferable. Some simply prefer the traditional classroom based system, or at least a virtual instructor, in order to stay engaged. They may want more interaction and a guide through the content. However, many large companies find this modality works well for mass training.
Mobile learning is set to increase in popularity over the coming years. It is very similar to e-learning except it is delivered via the learners mobile device (smartphone or tablet). This is particularly good for employees who are on the move, so that they can engage in training when it is convenient for them. This can be while commuting to a business meeting or taking a flight to a different office.
Mobile learning is highly convenient and cost-effective, and you can simply transfer your e-learning materials into mobile format in order for it to work. In terms of the disadvantages, it might be too impersonal for some, especially those that prefer more traditional training methods. Some employees may not feel comfortable using mobile technology, may get easily distracted, or may have trouble seeing on the smaller screen. However, the way of the future is on mobile devices so it is important to keep this method in mind.
Choosing the right modality when designing a training is critical to achieving the best outcome for the learners and the organization as a whole. Whether you choose mobile learning, instructor-led classroom events, virtual instructor-led training, wikis, or another method, be sure to consider the audience and what will work best for delivering the message.
Looking for help in creating your training delivery strategy? FMP’s Learning and Development Center of Excellence can work with you to make good decisions about how best to put out your learning content. Contact us today!