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Last updated: 22.11.17

How to tailor your e-learning programmes to suit different learning styles

When developing an e-learning solution for your business, it's likely that your instinct will be to opt for an approach that broadly caters to the needs of the greatest number of learners, with material that delivers effective learning for the whole organisation.

However, you'll quickly realise that this is much easier said than done. In reality, creating a truly universal learning and development programme is complicated by the fact that different people have different approaches to learning, meaning that what works well for one individual won't necessarily lead to the same level of engagement for another.

For compliance and training managers, this can be a challenge to account for, but the flexible nature of e-learning means that it is possible to tailor your strategy to meet everyone's needs. By considering how different personality types absorb information, you produce a bespoke solution that combines a variety of materials - from text-based information to videos, downloadable resources and bitesize content - that can cater to each of these styles.
In doing so, you can ultimately achieve much better results than you would by trying to impose a one-size-fits-all approach.

Active vs passive learning

One of the most significant differences between different types of learner is the division that exists between those who prefer to learn actively, and those who prefer a more passive approach.

Passive learners tend to respond better to being provided with material to read over and process in their own time, or to be briefed on what they need to know in a non-interactive lecture-style format. Activer learners, on the other hand, like to go hands-on with the material, to take part in discussions and illustrative exercises, and to learn through collaboration and conversation.

Most research indicates that active learning methods tend to be more effective for a greater percentage of people, but preferences for both styles do exist and should be accounted for when developing a bespoke solution that meets everyone's needs.

Text-based material vs multimedia

On a related note, it's worth considering what form your learning materials is going to take, particularly in regard to the balance you're looking to strike between text-based instruction and more tactile forms of media.

Textual content can go into greater and more precise depth about complex subjects, but adding multimedia content to your bespoke learning strategy - whether this be graphics, videos, animations, diagrams or participatory exercises - can often be more engaging, appealing more to visually-oriented learners and offering the kind of at-a-glance clarity that an imposing block of text cannot achieve alone.

Self-directed learning vs group activities

The delivery of an effective learning and development programme also depends on the degree to which it is able to cater for those who learn more effectively on their own, as well as those who prefer group work.

Collaborative sessions can be extremely helpful in getting the whole team thinking about an issue together, engaging with the topic on a more social and emotional level while exchanging different ideas and viewpoints. However, others prefer their learning experiences to be more self-directed, allowing them to review the subject at their own pace and in their own time, and process the information accordingly. Both points of view should therefore be considered when putting together a tailored learning strategy.

How bespoke e-learning can deliver the best of all worlds

Trying to account for all of these differences can feel like an impossible task, but by investing in a high-quality bespoke e-learning solution, it is possible to deliver a multifaceted training approach that caters to the needs of every learner.

The modular nature of e-learning means you can create courses that combine text content, visual media and interactive exercises in a way that can be accessed and interacted with from any location, and at any time. That allows managers to engage different members of staff in the way that will work best for them, and to deliver sessions that serve multiple purposes at the same time.

By taking the time to examine the various learning styles and differences in baseline knowledge that exist within their workforce and adjust their e-learning strategy accordingly, you can create a blended approach that can maximise retention and ensure your staff can be upskilled in the most effective way possible.

Summary: The type of learning style people respond to can vary dramatically, so companies should be looking to tailor and personalise their approach to e-learning accordingly.

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