Historically, an organization has focused certain time and money on educating/training when either some process or function within the organization has gone awry or an edict-to-train has come down from high up in the organizational structure. It is at this point that the trainer or educator has had to focus on the “who-to-be-trained” and the “what-to-use” components. Far too often today, the “who” is overlooked because of the rush to adapt the learner to the new networking technologies (the “what-to-use”).

Too bad — for isn’t having well educated/trained students and personnel going to ultimately be more valuable to those individuals – and, give more of an ROI to the organization in the long-term?

Why have so many of us forgotten the fundamentals of effective learning? How can we assume that learning takes place just because instruction and learning materials are made available? We’d better get back to the basics.

In order to effectively educate/train a group of people, an instructor must have some awareness of the “learning styles” with which he/she is working. And no single vendor can help the instructor make the correct choice(s).

Don’t courseware-providers have but a single solution to offer? Their own! And isn’t their task to get you to bend ‘your problem’ to meet ‘their solution’ so that they can sell their own proprietary products to you (a ‘one size fits all’ approach)?

An educator/trainer has to first solve the problem of differing learning styles within his/her organization. This may not be as difficult a task as one might initially think. For example, some jobs require good reading ability. If the instructor knows this skill is required, then the networking technologies that place lots of words and graphics on the computer screen (Computer-Based Training, known as CBT) is an acceptable choice – as would also hold true for books and manuals.

But, what about the vast number of jobs that do not require reading in order for the individual to succeed? Are you going to throw the same books and networking CBT technologies at those individuals? If you do, you will be wasting the resources of your organization – for little learning will be the result – and, consequently, skills improvement will be minimal.

Most people are visual learners when it comes to skills acquisition. ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘doing’ – in combination – is still the best way. Stand-up instruction (with hands-on exercises); distance learning (with good facilitation), self-paced interactive CD-ROM (with full-motion video and full-audio), and multi-sensory E-Learning are all more effective media for the large majority of people seeking to acquire, or improve, skills.

In fact, studies continue to reveal that using “seeing-hearing-doing” multimedia (in a full-motion and audio environment) will increase the majority of learners’ understanding by more than 50%, resulting in a 25-50% greater learning retention, and with a 50-60% greater consistency in content understanding – the ultimate aim of all learning.

Multiple-solutions tailored to the diverse needs of the organization are the most important challenge facing business, education and government trainers/educators today. Like almost all things, this challenge can be met – but only if the knowledge and experience are there.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning