For many years, I have read headline after headline calling for “Training” “and Re-Training” as necessary to America’s economic future. Those headline-prescriptions are applied to both the unemployed and the under-employed. And, the lack of sufficient training is used as a “reason” behind the exporting of American jobs.

As with so many problems, the cause is clearly visible — but, the means of solution are greatly flawed. And that is because the individuals who design the training prescriptions are myopic in their knowledge.

“What worked for me will work for everyone,” becomes the mantra for the deciders of the re-training programs. And the obvious result is that those re-training programs then become reading-based solutions — leaving most of the people needing the re-training unable to acquire the skills they so desperately need.

A truly educated person thinks laterally. They accept new information and constantly readjust their conclusions as new learning warrants. Conversely, an advanced college degree is no guarantee of educated thinking if it only guarantees a linear continuation of a status quo that no longer exists.

What are the facts regarding effective training today? What is the better way to achieve significant learning gains for, at least, fifty percent of our population?

Today, we live in a television age of information and too few would-be learners’ eyes rely primarily on the printed page for information and knowledge. Information, values and opinion are, for the most part, shaped by the two-dimensional images we see and hear on our television screens. Reading for information has been de-emphasized in this natural evolution of knowledge transfer. Today, moving pictures of real people and real actions, making real sounds, are shaping the minds of our citizens.

What are the facts today? Only 24 percent of this nation’s fourth graders are able to form opinions from what they read, and only 34 percent of our high school seniors can. The majority of our working adult population cannot comprehend beyond a third- or fourth-grade reading level.

Most people are visual learners when it comes to skills acquisition. ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘doing’ – in combination – is still the best way. In fact, studies continue to reveal that using “seeing-hearing-doing” multi-sensory media (in a full-motion and optional word-for-word 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.

If this nation is truly serious about “Re-Training America” it must look toward the multi-sensory learning programs that are delivered today through CD-ROM, DVD and the best of E-Learning. Only then will we begin to seriously address the “Re-Train America” goals that this nation and its under-employed require.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning