How to Develop an Effective eLearning Program for all Learning Styles

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By: Nzingah Ramos, Contributor

Oftentimes, when people hear the term “online learning,” they think of someone clicking through a lengthy PowerPoint with paragraphs of text on the screen. This is linear learning, with the only engagement being the click of a “Next” button. In recent years, eLearning has advanced past this notion and has transformed to become a dynamic and engaging way for all types of learners to obtain new knowledge and skills.

Engaging elements and their impact on various types of learners

Dynamic engagement is beneficial to all, whether Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic Learners. This includes graphics, narration, videos, animated scenarios, also known as Scenario Based Learning (SBL), interactions and much more.

Visual Learners

Some fundamentals when it comes to visual design include contrast, simplicity and placement, which together make the graphic more effective. Focusing on an effective graphic can help the learner better interpret and recall the training material. For instance, describing the shape, color, size or location of a pictogram or placard may not be enough for a visual learner. However, describing the characteristics of these types of hazard indicators with the help of a graphic (and better, an animated graphic) will make much more of an impact.

Auditory Learners

To aid auditory learners, choosing a narrator/presenter that can deliver the message appropriately and guide the learner is essential. It’s important that the voice matches both the topic and target audience. For example, CHEMTREC’s hazmat training and crisis solutions courses are narrated by a more authoritative narrator due to the nature of the content, whereas a yoga course would benefit from a calm, soothing narrator due to the type of content. No matter the tone, the presenter should have an engaging voice that holds the interest of the trainee.

Visual and Auditory Learners

Incorporating videos within online training is also growing in popularity. Speakers can quickly convey a lot of information using this visual and auditory method. They can relate to the trainee by conveying emotion, thus offering a lean-in moment as it changes what the trainee was hearing and seeing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten times as many.

Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learners

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Scenario Based Learning (SBL) is a simple and creative way to reinforce learning. It not only gives the trainee a break from absorbing new information, but it allows the learner to reflect on the topics that have been covered so far in the course. SBL can be as simple as presenting the scenario in the form of a video with breaks or checkpoints that ask questions. For a more complex approach, instructors can use branching to give the trainee control of the scenario. It’s also an opportunity to add an interactive moment to the course. Interactivity is one of the main elements of engaging eLearning. It’s another lean-in moment that can help the learner feel as if they are choosing their own path at their own pace. Similar to SBL, it can reinforce learning and check for comprehension.

Although kinesthetic learners comprehend the best through movement, these elements of interactivity can facilitate their learning style by simulating real-world activities. If the training topic is how to properly mark and label a package, this type of learner would benefit most from an interaction that asks them to do just that. It may say something like, “Drag the correct label(s) onto the appropriate sides of the box and type the correct marking onto the box.” Although they are not able to physically touch the box, they can drag and drop as if they are standing in a warehouse.

Individuals should leave training with changed behavior, by noticing elements of the training within their workplace or other settings, recounting the narrator’s guidance and understanding how to apply the training appropriately. WMHS

Nzingah Ramos is the Training Program Manager at CHEMTREC, which uses various combinations of the above elements to create an effective eLearning experience. The company is a service of the American Chemistry Council, and the world’s premier call center for hazmat emergency response coordination. CHEMTREC offers a variety of services that help companies meet local and international regulations, including telephone emergency response, SDS services, hazmat training, lithium battery compliance solutions and extended service protocols (www.chemtrec.com).