If we can only get this nation to recognize the differences between the two dominant learning cultures, skills acquisition will improve for everyone.

I am a big believer in the development of advanced reading skills for certain career paths and for certain professions. I am also a big believer in multi-sensory based education and training for the more-than-half of our population that does not assimilate reading material written beyond a 4th Grade level.

We are sensory beings. The more of our senses that can be involved, the more completely and enjoyably we learn. Even better, the more of our senses which become involved with the learning experience, the greater our retention. Nobody is trying to exclude the one-third of us who are comfortable in a reading-based learning environment. We’ll respond favorably to full motion multi-sensory media, too. But for the two-thirds in this nation who have no learning culture choice, multi-sensory training initiatives will be pivotal.

In order to “make a difference” with your training initiatives, an educator/trainer has to first solve the problem of these two differing learning styles within her organization. This may not be as difficult a task as one might initially think. For example, some jobs require advanced reading ability. If the instructor knows that skill to be required, then the networking technologies that place lots of words and graphics on the computer screen is an acceptable choice – as well as are 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 reading-based E-Learning (principally, adapted PowerPoint and written procedures) 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); multi-sensory E-Learning (with full motion video and optional word-for-word audio), interactive CD-ROM (with full-motion video) 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” multi-sensory media instruction 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.

In short, you must address the learning style demographics of your trainees before you can even begin to successfully contemplate your training initiative options.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning