Multi-sensory media instruction offers the best in learning to American business and industry. Today, both CD-ROM (either stand-alone or digitally networked) and multi-sensory based E-Learning reap the greatest returns.

More than anything else, the body of multi-sensory training developed for business and industry brings training efficiency. There are several obvious reasons. Multi-sensory instruction reduces training time. Estimates are that learning occurs 38-70% faster than with traditional classroom instruction, and course content is mastered 60% faster.

Perhaps equally important is that when compared with traditional classroom instruction, multi-sensory learning also results in better training. Studies show that participants increase understanding by more than 50%, resulting in greater learning gains. Participants also demonstrate 25 to 50% higher content retention, and 50 to 60% greater consistency in content understanding.

In the best commercially available multi-sensory programs, full-motion video, graphics and optional word-for-word audio do most of the teaching. Experts agree, and the research proves, that active multi-sensory teaching is vastly more effective than passive acquisition of information acquired through tests or lectures.

Effective multi-sensory training programs are also competency-based and real-world in nature. Trainees learn how to perform “hard” or “soft” skills, and they are taught these skills within the context of relevant job or life situations. Being able to see how newly acquired skills or knowledge can improve one’s day-to-day life is the best motivation for adult learners.

Driven by the business sector’s need to show return on investment, effective multi-sensory instruction is also measurable. It has testing elements that assess a student’s incoming skill or knowledge level, and re-evaluates progress upon completion. Most importantly, those tests can be re-used months after initial training to measure retention, the bottom-line of successful training.

Interactivity is one of the most critical factors for the success of multi-sensory programs. Almost every expert of learning agrees that doing and experiencing are the key elements in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. Well-designed multi-sensory programs require learners to be active participants in their own learning process, instead of being uninvolved listeners receiving information delivered in a passive environment.

At the heart of the success of multi-sensory training programs is “learner control.” Most high quality programs are designed and used as individualized, one-on-one instruction, with the learner controlling the sequence and path of learning.

Programs that imbed flexible and non-linear design can accommodate a wide variety of learning styles and ability levels. Slow learners, for instance, can spend more time reviewing and practicing difficult material, while fast learners are not penalized by boredom or frustration under an externally imposed pace or path. Optional word-for-word audio (a requirement in today’s E-Learning environment) allows less fluent readers an equal opportunity to learn while, at the same time, the more fluent readers can disengage the audio function and move forward at their own pace. Flexible, non-linear programs can also deliver instruction in varying depths so that it can be used for different purposes.

Without question, multi-sensory instruction is the ideal training choice. And, with good reason! The research points positively to the phenomenal results that can be achieved with knowledgeably designed programs.

Whether you choose CD-ROM (either stand-alone or digitally networked) or E-Learning (designed with a multi-sensory foundation), you will have chosen the best in training!

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning