Addressing Learning Styles in an eLearning Environment
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
In previous posts we’ve covered the various styles of learning that many of us fall into. We also talked about a number of techniques an in-person instructor should and could incorporate into a lesson to address those different learner types that are in attendance at their classes.
Many of us are hands-on learners; we like to put in our hands on the keyboard, view the demonstrations then practice ourselves. I fall into this category. For certain goals, hands on is obviously the best way to train for all types of learners when learning how to use new equipment or new software, and is particularly applicable to train new employees. However, it’s not particularly good for training large groups unless you’ve got a room full of equipment that everybody could use simultaneously.
A major change in the way companies now provide training to their employees is the proliferation of computer-based training courses – AKA eLearning. These come in many formats, but are highly measurable to ensure the trainee has learned a new policy, skill or procedure and therefore is very popular for mandatory and compliance training where showing passing grades or test-based proficiency is required. Advantages of computer based training include the ability to deliver training whenever needed, whenever there is a free short period of time or when time can be set aside for an employee to review the materials on their own. They are also usually available for use on any device – PCs, tablets and increasingly mobile phones – making them ever easier to adopt to your needs.
A variety of types of computer based training programs are available including programs accessible online, using CD-ROMs and USB drives. Many can be purchased off-the-shelf for a variety of compliance topics (PCI, harassment, etc). Many hardware and software companies provide eLearning programs which are role-based (some hotel PMS providers offer front desk, reservations, night audit modules) for specific job-related skills as well as general systems skills. Most eLearning providers are HR related companies focusing on “talent development”, but some are industry-specific associations and vendors.
Much of the off-the-shelf training available are relatively generic, not providing specific company-approved procedures, as well as necessarily role based (HeR’s PII Training course is the only role-based training program for hoteliers on protecting personally identifiable information). This is why many companies contract eLearning companies to write their own company specific programs, or pay for customization of one off-the-shelf. This is particularly useful for companies with multiple language or cultural needs. While building your own or customizing one can be costly, the company can be sure that the employees will learn EXACTLY what they want and need them to learn.
All the learning styles we discussed in earlier articles are well addressed in a well-constructed eLearning program which will include a variety of activities within the instruction sections as well as the testing sections. Most of these programs will include differing media so learners are not only looking at text and bullet points, but also animations, voice-overs, graphics, audio, video and/or internet & PDF links. Hands-on interactivity will include activities such as find-and-click (see image to the right), drag-and-drop elements in the right place, match like elements (such as definitions or image to name), sliders and other tools. Gamification is also a huge trend now and enhances the fun-factor in the learning experience.
Many of these interactive and animated tools are used to make not only the learning experience more provocative and challenging but also in the quizzing and testing within the modules and at the end of the course to verify subject absorption. For the hospitality industry which has a particularly seasonal workforce with high turnover, recurring training may give way to new-hire training. The nature of the employment situation does not negate the requirement for compliance training, so eLearning is a great time and cost efficient way of meeting your needs.
The advantages of eLearning are clear – they are:
Easy to use
Can usually be customized, custom designed and multi-lingual
Employees can repeat the courses as needed until the new skills learned/verified
Great for refresher training
Available 24/7 so, no matter what shift or time zone the employee works.
Ability to standardize the training and, just like instructor-led training, everyone everywhere gets the same message.
Finally, the most important piece is that they are measurable. When computers are used for training, everything is tracked so that you can measure their progress through a program, their test scores and their performance for statistically accurate training evaluations.
Whichever method appeals to you and your team, it is probably a good idea to use a blended approach. While many people do prefer one method over another, using a variety of approaches keeps both the trainers and the trainees engaged in order to achieve the best outcome. Breaking down complex subject into parts and using different training methods for each is a great step.
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