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Engage with learners and their unique style

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A few weeks ago I got my son's school report. I was very pleased with it and with all the effort he had put in throughout the year. However, I must especially commend his teacher who managed to come up with at least 30 different ways of telling us that our son talks a lot.

From 16 months old, he's been talking in sentences and he only stops when he's asleep. But although this can be wearing, it is how he learns. He genuinely is spongelike and takes in everything that he hears. He learns by asking questions, by providing a commentary on what he's doing, and by listening to other children. Of course an auditory learning style is not that uncommon, and I'm delighted that he hasn't been told to shut up in the classroom. To do so would be limiting his learning.

This is one of the key reasons Power Hour is a live training format. So far we have resisted the temptation to put our learning online. That's not to say that e-learning isn’t useful: Of course it can be incredibly useful for certain people and with certain topics.

However when people talk about flexible learning, all thoughts tend to be about online methods. But with most online learning you have a solitary experience. For those with a visual learning style it may work very well, but for those who are more auditory and like to talk, or those who are kinaesthetic and like to touch, feel and do, the impact is going to be limited.

So when planning development for an organisation, make sure that live training remains part of the mix. It may feel a bit old hat, it may not be trendy, but there's a reason that it has been around for as long as it has – and that is because unlike any other medium, live training allows you to engage with all of the learning styles not just one.

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  1. Chris Allan

    I agree that there is a place for face to face training. There are some subjects that really benefit from live interaction with a good tutor but the key here is "the good tutor". It's not the medium but the instructional design. You say that "there's a reason that it has been around for as long as it has" - well obviously, online technology is relatively new. Studies have shown that there is no difference in the outcomes of training when you compare face-to-face with more modern media driven formats. Take a look at the study carried out by the US Military back in 1947 where they compared film based, text based and face-to-face delivery with no significant difference in the results. Other studies report similar findings (eLearning and the Science of Instruction - Clark & Mayer 2008). As I said, I don't think elearning can replace all face to face training. It should be used to compliment it, but it should not be dismissed as less effective.

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