No two learners are alike. Top training managers know that and meet learners where they are, catering to a range of learning preferences and levels of prior knowledge. They also offer multimodal content, providing learners a choice of training media.
To maximize learning and knowledge retention, put your learning management system to work. Use the LMS software to let learners know their options and make it easy to find and access the eLearning most useful to them.
Multimodal learning respects learner preferences
Learners vary broadly in how they prefer to consume content. Some learners love short videos, while others want only podcasts or printed materials. For some types of content, it's easy to offer several options while covering the key points and meeting learning objectives.
Learner preferences may vary based on individuals' abilities, experiences or learning environments. Some find it easiest to complete training during their commute, when reading text or listening to a podcast might be more convenient than watching a video. Other learners might choose based on their abilities. A multilingual learner might opt for a video with closed captioning and transcripts that help them review unfamiliar words, for instance.
Learners absorb more with a choice of learning media
Giving learners a choice improves accessibility, too, reducing cognitive load and helping learners master content.
The principles of Universal Design for Learning stipulate that instructional designers should offer multiple ways for learners to engage with and use information. Research published by Cisco found that students who used multiple modalities of learning outperformed learners who engaged with content in only one medium. And research by University of South Florida, Oregon State University and the U.K. Office of Communications found that most people who use accessibility aids like closed captions do not have a disability—they simply find that they can focus better, learn more and more easily remember what they've learned.
Other knowledge retention strategies include designing learning that builds on previous training or existing knowledge and including relatable, real-life examples and practice scenarios in learning materials.
Content can influence presentation medium
An important consideration in deciding which media to use for training materials is the content itself. For example, explaining a step-by-step process lends itself naturally to video or infographics—such as annotated diagrams and flow charts. Text accompanied by images or a podcast are natural choices for telling a great story.
When selecting a format, instructional designers should consider learners' needs and preferences, and match those with two or more media formats that fit the content. Having choices over how to learn can boost learners' motivation, leading to greater engagement that can improve mastery and retention.
Where LMS software can help
Once developers have created a library of appealing content in different formats, the LMS software kicks in. This is how and where learners find what they need.
A search function might allow learners to filter content by media format as well as topic, for example, so they can search for videos on emergency procedures or an infographic on filling out the annual employee review form.
Your LMS might allow learners to indicate their preferences in a learner profile so the LMS can suggest suitable content in preferred formats. The LMS software can then recommend related or follow-up content in additional formats to reinforce learning and strengthen knowledge retention.