Saturday, April 30, 2016

Instructional Design Tips for Different Learning Styles

A compass points to the word "Learning"

As an instructional designer, it is up to you to structure learning programs in a way that maximizes participant learning and knowledge gain. This means engaging learners so that they are actively involved in the process.

We have learned a lot about adult learning since Malcolm Knowles first studied the subject in the late ‘60s. We know that adults learn best when relevance is high.  And relevance is high when participants believe that they need to:
know the information to be successful
improve their skills to be successful
change their behavior to be successful

In other words, training participants learn better when they understand the benefits personally and professionally of learning in addition to the risks of not learning and not changing.

As instructional design consulting experts, we know that to engage adults from the beginning in a learning program they and their boss need to believe in the value of the effort they need to make and the correlated performance results that will occur. Your challenge as an instructional designer, then, is to ensure that the content is regularly linked back to how this will improve their work and performance in the real world. You also need to include a variety of learning tools that will engage the different types of learning styles: 
For the visual learners utilize slides, videos, flip charts and demos.
For the auditory learners incorporate group discussions, stories and lectures 
For the kinesthetic learners design relevant role plays, scenarios, simulations and activities 

In designing the flow of the learning solution, give plenty of opportunities for the facilitator to provide real-time feedback for the participants. As a form of personalized coaching, facilitators can guide learners, on the spot, toward the right answer or encourage the right behavior or tweak the skill being taught. Facilitators should monitor small group activities, guide discussions, and conduct debrief sessions after a role play that include all the learners.

Once a group has completed a presentation, for example, set up time for the facilitator and other learners to give feedback by asking questions, giving specific examples of what worked and what did not work. And after a learning activity, prompt the facilitator to summarize and reinforce what was learned and, most important, link the results to what the learners do on-the-job real-time. For true learning transfer, this focus on how the lessons will be applied on the job is a critical component to the transfer of training back to the workplace.

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