Train to the Senses: Benefits of Presenting Information in Various Modalities

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Train to the Senses: Benefits of Presenting Information in Various Modalities

When it comes to deciding on how to deliver training, organizations can often find it difficult to choose a delivery mode and some simply revert to previous methods of presentation due to comfort and familiarity.

But why must organizations pick only one mode of presenting information? Many, if not all, of us in the instructional field have heard at one time or another that not everyone learns the same way and that differentiation is key. So, if individuals learn differently, why don’t organizations provide various modality options in their training? Presenting training information across various modalities can improve recipients’ understanding and help motivate them to learn by allowing them to choose how to view and absorb the information.

Learning modalities are how we take in information, process it, and learn using our senses. Different activities will engage the different modalities and while we have five senses, in instruction, the focus is placed on these four learning modalities:

Modality Activity
Visual (sight) Graphs, screen shots, videos
Auditory (sound) Verbal instructions, lectures, discussions
Kinesthetic (movement) Hardware demos, software drill practices
Tactile (touch) Hands-on activities, checklists

Learners see and hear information, work through steps, and interact with e-learning materials. The more learning modalities that are triggered, the greater the chance of learning.

In every workforce, there will be those who prefer to read about a topic and gain a deeper understanding of how certain processes work and connect. There will be those who just want to drill and practice the step-by-step directions involved in a process. Others will prefer to view a demonstration of that process as a way to learn. Each individual will have their own preferred method of learning and will respond best to the associated learning modality activity.

In upcoming internal trainings, we will be presenting all the different modalities for the same learning topic and make it available to all learners. A single learning module will contain:

  • Conversational narration explaining a process (auditory)
  • Screen shots and video walkthrough of the process (visual)
  • Step-by-step checklist of the process (tactile)
  • Follow-up task to recreate the process (kinesthetic)

This will provide learners the ability to choose the activity that aligns with their preferred learning style or work through every option, which would improve their chances of learning due to the presence of all the modalities.

As more and more organizations move away from the traditional classroom-style training sessions, they have an opportunity to create learning activities that present information via the different modalities. While creating activities for each of the modalities does require additional time on the instructor’s part, the payoff is increased learner engagement. That is a trade I am willing make.

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