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November Spotlight: Multi-Modal Learning Strategies to Improve Knowledge Retention

Monday, November 16, 2020 2:21 PM | Angela Dawson (Administrator)

November's Spotlight is provided by Michelle Bodkin!

We have heard it before; not everyone learns the same way. This can be a challenge when it comes to designing and developing corporate eLearning training, but incorporating multimodal training methods can solve that problem while also improving knowledge retention.

Multi-modal learning takes into consideration the different ways people learn to stimulate better memory encoding and knowledge retention. This method has been used in traditional academic settings to stimulate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses in different combinations that work for each individual. However, it's also been applied in the corporate training sector through blended and hybrid learning modalities. The underlying theory is that more complex memories are easier to remember later. If an individual is presented with custom learning activities that target different memory types (semantic, procedural, emotional, etc.), then they become more engaged learners.

Virtual Training Modalities

Though recent changes in common employee training and development modalities have been accelerated, the shift in training methods has been shifting toward digital learning for the last several years. This presents an opportunity to expand upon the use of digital training modalities, but the sudden transition also presents some challenges for employee development teams that have been relying upon instructor-led training modalities.

Creating Complex Learning Experiences

Digital learning ecosystems present an opportunity for employee development teams to create more robust learning experiences with diverse training modalities. Most modern learning management systems can accommodate more than traditional text-based eLearning courses. For instance, the use of 3D models or AR/VR to recreate objects or environments has become increasingly common as a supplement to instructor-led training activities.

Best practices in training design strategy recommend the careful combination of training assets to shape behaviors and form knowledge, but without being repetitive. Your training materials should be complementary in that each asset targets a different memory type or learning style in various combinations. For instance, you might use a 3D model of a medical device to introduce a learner to the process of using a new product, an infographic to emphasize technical specifications, and interactive video training simulations with branching scenarios to promote critical thinking around how to use the device in novel situations. While each activity centers around the subject, they approach it from different angles, contributing to a more in-depth understanding.

Gamification as a Training Method

One of the most effective ways to create a multi-modal learning experience is through serious games or gamification with custom eLearning activities. The complex nature of eLearning simulations can easily combine procedural, semantic, and episodic memories with motivating factors and emotional memories. Our gamification work with Lego, wherein learners navigate the operations of retail management and earn points based on their performance, offers a great example of using simulations to target procedural memory using visuospatial-based learning activities.

Conclusion

There is enough variety in individual learning styles that a one-size-fits-all approach to corporate training programs simply doesn't make sense. Moreover, memory is a complex process. Using one training modality simply isn't as effective as a multi-modal training strategy. So, when you're designing (or redesigning) your next corporate training program, consider how different asset types can fit together within your digital learning ecosystem.



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