Modalities Matter

By January 19, 2018 No Comments
Learning Modalities

In our most recent research project, we analyzed 283 individual responses from a pool of employee learners in a variety of industries (randomly polled by Training Industry, Inc.) to understand these learners’ views regarding the consistency and effectiveness of the training provided by their employers. We explored consistency related to many areas of L&D, including training content, training delivery, learning technology, and training administration. We also asked the learners’ opinions regarding how they prefer to be trained, how consistent their learning experiences are across training programs and their perceptions of effectiveness.

There is a distinct connection between training consistency and effectiveness. As a next comparative point, let’s examine a modality’s impact on effectiveness, contrasted to a learner’s preference.



Training Modalities Used by Learners in Past 12 Months

We asked learners to indicate ALL the training modalities they used in the past year. As you can see in Chart One, eLearning, with 52%, and Instructor-Led Training (ILT), with 49%, are neck-and-neck for the modality most delivered by an organization. Both these percentages can be bumped up equally by adding in the shared results from Blended.

When we compare the combined the digital/online training modalities of eLearning and webinars against the combined in-person learning experiences of ILT and mentoring, they are almost equal. This appears to be a cost-effective balance of traditional training and training technology.



Learner Modality Preferences

Next, we reviewed “Learner Modality Preferences,” asking learners to indicate the training delivery method they felt was the single most effective and impactful modality.

Not surprising to anyone here at The Training Associates, ILT dramatically led the pack for effectiveness.





Overlaying Method with Preference

Although slightly misquoted in the movie, Apollo 13, “Houston, we have a problem,” is now a universal business quote for understating the importance of a situation. The 43% delta between eLearning delivery method and learner preferences certainly can either be considered a problem or an opportunity.

Does this mean eLearning is a bad choice? Absolutely not. eLearning has incredible strengths as a highly scalable technology-based modality, including portability, lower costs, zero travel, as well as time and content chunking. However, it doesn’t appeal to all learning styles. Some learners will not enjoy the experience – especially strong activists and pragmatists. It also eliminates real-time Q&A which can demotivate employees if they feel they don’t have the learning support and reassurance that the physical presence of a trainer delivers. Additionally, carelessly executed eLearning programs can be dull and pedantic.

When designing your training program, modality matters. It must take into consideration content, learner personas, budget and, of course, objectives. Don’t allow the lure of eLearning’s cost-effectiveness and scalability to be a siren’s song.

All of TTA’s L&D programs begin with a scoping session with the client to determine and prioritize needs and address program gaps. To illustrate, for one particular client, we conducted an audit of more than 30 of their ILT and eLearning courses. The company had aging legacy development and educational delivery methods, as well as siloed corporate management involvement in sales and product training. In addition, eLearning solutions were not current or accessible in mobile environments. A flexible approach was needed for the development of both a content management system and a learning management system, as well as instructor-led training. They also needed to develop a strategy surrounding the selection and execution of learning modalities. Of the many actions taken by the client, one strategic stand-out was the development of a Chief Learning Officer position responsible for all product, sales, support, and management content.

It is important to understand your training objectives and align the modality that best fits the learners’ preferences to help achieve training effectiveness.


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