Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Education today looks a lot different now than it did twenty, ten, or even five years ago.
Computer literacy is a staple in many education programs. Starting as early as elementary age, students may gain these skills through everything from typing to simple math "edutainment" (educational yet entertaining) games. Then, as they get older, students can find themselves taking hybrid and even purely online courses on host sites like Canvas and Google Classroom.
Education doesn’t stop after school. Thankfully, we don’t stop learning the moment we walk across the stage to collect our diplomas.
We don’t stop learning differently just because we hit adulthood, and the ways in which we engage in our companies—whether it comes to building soft skills, onboarding new employees or training in new fields and technology—should reflect that.
Understanding Different Learning Styles
First, let's start with some of the different learning styles and what works for them, so we can understand where and how we can find the perfect resource for their learning style: the “multisensory” learning, the coveted One Size Fits All.
There’s no real agreed-upon number of learning styles, especially when you take into account everyone’s schooling, previous job experience, internships, individual backgrounds, and so on.
In fact, if anything, the more unique factors you consider, the more complicated it is to try and tailor your program to suit everyone.
There are also tests like the Enneagram, which categorizes individuals into 9 groups based on temperament and decision-making in order to better help understand strengths and weaknesses. Then there’s the Myers-Briggs, a similar study that divides people into groups of 16, considering factors like extroversion versus introversion, intuition versus sensing, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving.
For now, however, we’re going to focus on what Fareo Dorcas Oluremi of the International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE) says are the most agreed-upon 3 learning styles, “visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile.”
This way we can help you develop a program that can work for any employee, business or company, no matter the individual.
That can’t be that hard, right? Gulp.
Three Primary Learning Styles
First, we have visual learners. Visual learners learn by watching and often emulating what they see. In many ways, the classroom environment can benefit visual learners, who read along with the whiteboard or screen, follow charts or PowerPoints and are at their most engaged even while watching videos.
Because of this, the options for visual learners are pretty expansive. There are articles, books and countless videos. You have everything from LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) to numerous free courses on YouTube, and that’s just the beginning.
Auditory-processors, on the other hand, learn (as you might imagine) primarily by listening. You may find someone taking notes or even doodling when you’re in a board meeting, and not always looking up...which in some cases can make them seem detached. However, they may be turning their attention away from the visual stimuli in order to better listen to what you have to say.
Podcasts or websites like eLearning Industry might help auditory learners. eLearning Industry has articles that can be listened to, like this one on “8 Soft Skills Online Training Modules To Include In Your Extended Enterprise.”
Kinesthetic or tactile learners are always moving. If there isn’t an activity presented to them, you might find them doing something repetitive in order to listen better. Bouncing a knee, chewing gum, tapping a pencil, picking at something on their shirt. Again, this can make them appear to be disengaged, but oftentimes this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whether it's gamifying learning like 1Huddle, an organization that promises to help improve skills and grant a better onboarding experience, or trying physical-related ice-breakers and team-building in the office, kinesthetic learners learn better when they’re doing.
This study by Rowan Cheny from the Digital Commons at Western Oregon University on kinesthetic learning in adults states that “[a]ction provides sensory feedback to the brain.” But does this apply to everyone?
Restoring Balance to the (Work)Force
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it's that people learn differently and respond differently to varied stimuli. For some, turning training into a game is exciting and makes them more engaged and more likely to respond positively. It may even be more likely to help them retain the information that they didn’t get at whichever university or high school
For others, they will learn best the old fashioned way, whether its by reading, watching or listening and taking notes.
The truth is that not everyone is going to enjoy each step or gain as much from each type of learning as the next person, so really hybrid courses or programs are probably in your best interest.
If there are multiple steps or methods in a program, you’re more likely to engage everyone, even if it’s not all at once or in the same way.
“You can't build a leading brand with yesterday's tools,” 1Huddle tells us. Maybe old manuals and pen and paper won’t work for everyone, but there are multisensory ways to build your own eLearning site that’s tailored for you and yours.
And this can also help any generational gaps, too.
“Organizations should employ technologies and methodologies that mimic the approach Millennials have become so accustomed to,” Mark Magnacca, President and Co-Founder of Allego states in this article. “By doing so, they promote greater connection and collaboration between Millennials and their co-workers, while breaking down knowledge silos.”
Our Education Model
When creating an eLearning program, starting out with a training video or series of videos for a certain skill or onboarding process can help.
Whether from LinkedIn, YouTube or beyond, these can be embedded into your training course, along with articles from sites like Deloitte, which offer skill-based articles called Insights that can be filtered through the topic, sector, or spotlight.
Like a good hybrid college course, having these supplemental sources can make any “in-class” moments more valuable and less difficult for you, as people come to any or all company meetings or training sessions prepared.
For a more interactive classroom experience, you can also have certain passages or handouts prepared to discuss in class and have people take turns reading them aloud. This isn’t just to keep one person from having to do all of the reading or to keep your office from falling asleep (though there’s that, too), but audio-learners especially will learn best from having someone read the material out loud, and taking turns will keep everyone on their toes and engaged as they wait for their turn.
If you would rather not lead any sessions yourself, work directly with a company like Northlake Professional Group to create a custom learning solution for your organization that meets your budget, time, development needs and desired learning style.
At the end of the day, companies have their own feel. You know your office culture. If gamifying makes sense, now you know the resources for it.
The more resources and options you have available for your office, the more likely you will be able to meet everyone’s individual needs.
eLearning can reflect that, as multifaceted as each individual, bringing something as unique and valuable as they are. We’re not all the same, and that’s the beauty of implementing various education styles.