Training Industry research has found that most L&D leaders believe offering multiple modalities is important for training success. In fact, 52 percent of organizations use between three and six modalities in a training program. Multimodal learning can include mobile apps, e-learning platforms, simulations and other technology-enabled modalities as well as formats such as instructor-led training (ILT), on-the-job training (OJT) or coaching.

As a training manager, how do you know which modalities to choose for a given training initiative? It’s important to take into account best practices as well as learner preferences. These tips can help.

Learner Preferences

Training Industry research has found that the most popular modalities for learners include OJT, ILT, on-the-job coaching, social learning, performance support tools, e-learning and video. It’s important to measure learning engagement and effectiveness by modality to determine learner preferences and modality effectiveness in your organization. For example, it may be that while your sales reps prefer mobile microlearning, which fits between client calls, while your web development team prefers virtual training labs, where they can practice their new skills.

Different groups may have different learning preferences. While ILT tends to be preferred by most learners, Training Industry research found that leadership training modality preferences can vary by gender, and recent research issued by D2L found that coaching and mentoring are most appealing to the oldest and the youngest learners in the workplace.

Koreen Pagano, product management director at D2L, says that for millennials, coaching and mentoring are good tools, because they can learn from older employees who can share what they’ve learned from their success, while older employees can learn from the new perspectives and tech-savvy skills of their younger co-workers.

A Holistic Approach

The key, Pagano says, is “to have a really-well rounded L&D program that can support all of the employees.” Similarly, Dr. Srini Pillay, CEO of the NeuroBusiness Group, wrote in a recent issue of Training Industry Magazine that multimodal learning “can increase the brain’s ability to change” – which, after all, is the goal of any training initiative.

Using adaptive learning technologies, it’s becoming easier than ever to identify individual needs and preferences and tailor training accordingly. Here are some questions to ask when selecting modalities for a training program:

  1. What’s the best way to integrate learning into the learner’s work day? For example, if your program is targeting electricians who are in the field all day, a series of short mobile videos may be more effective than a longform online course.
  2. What technological capabilities does your organization have? If your e-learning platform doesn’t support mobile access, for example, either make sure non-mobile employees can access it in another way, or find a different platform.
  3. What technological capabilities do the learners have? You can have the best, most engaging platform the market offers, but if your learners don’t know how to use it, it’s worthless.
  4. How do the learners prefer to learn? Similarly, your learners can be tech-savvy and have access to great e-learning content, but if they have a strong preference to ILT, e-learning may not be the way to go.
  5. Will we be able to evaluate effectiveness? Business leaders are increasingly expecting learning leaders to demonstrate the ROI of training programs. Make sure that whatever modalities you select, you’ll be able to measure the impact the learning has on employees and the business.