If I ask you to think about learning something new, what comes to mind? Are you visualizing a typical classroom setting that puts the learners behind desks and the teacher at the front of the room, chalk or dry erase marker in hand?

Those of us who had this vision probably went to school before the digital age.

Today’s students (or “digital natives” as they’re often called) would probably visualize a slightly different scene. Perhaps their typical classroom vision includes a computer, digital projector or even an iPad.

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Regardless of what type of classroom setting you envisioned, there’s probably one thing they all have in common. Most classroom-based learning (which many professional training programs are still utilizing) puts the instructor at the front of the class to “talk to” (not with) the learners. It’s the same approach as the first grade classroom.

Unfortunately, with this static approach to learning, we are overlooking the needs of the most important person in any learning scenario... the learner!

The VARK guide to learning styles suggests there are four types of learners:

  • Visual: Learners who prefer diagrams, pictures, graphs, videos, charts etc.
  • Aural: Prefer to hear and discuss the material when learning
  • Read/Write: Handouts, glossaries, lists, readings and notes are most helpful for these learners
  • Kinesthetic: Learners who learn by doing, i.e. games, hands-on examples, real-life application, trial and error

In a classroom filled with learners and only one instructor, it can be easy for one or more of these learning styles to be left out and make it more difficult for some employees to learn.

A well-designed elearning course, however, can meet each of the different learning needs while still completing your company’s professional development or training requirements. A single course can include graphs and videos for visual learners, narration for the aural learner, thorough notes for the read/write learner and games or product demonstrations for kinesthetic learners to interact with.

And not only do employees learn in different ways, everyone also learns at a different pace. Some learners grasp concepts very quickly, while others might need a little more time to let it “sink in.” In a traditional classroom model, the instructor needs to accommodate each of the learners and stick to a rigid time schedule, which can result in some learners not fully grasping the material. A scary thought if you’re responsible for delivering safety training to electrical contractors, for example. 

A traditional classroom setting also has a set start and end time, which results in learners having to fit the class into their schedule (thus having to rearrange work deadlines or other projects) or, even worse, miss the important opportunity to learn altogether, which can impact on-the-job safety or productivity.

With an elearning approach to professional training, not only do employees choose when to start, they can also learn at their own pace. So whether a course takes three hours or three days, the learner is the one in control.

Elearning has many benefits for today’s employees, especially those of us who are too busy with projects and deadlines to easily rearrange our schedules to accommodate a traditional training course. A good elearning course has all the functionality of a traditional classroom-taught course (even the ability to collaborate with other students!), but with much more flexibility.

Can you tweek your training program to better fit the needs of your learners? Contact us today to learn how to incorporate elearning into your existing training program. 

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