It is widely acknowledged that the benefits of employee training are far-reaching; from enhanced productivity, higher morale and employee motivation to a more innovative culture.
However, for these benefits of training to be realised, learning must be achieved as an outcome of the training. Participants need to connect to the training content and really understand it so they can apply what they have learnt into business as usual.
There are many factors that influence how learning can be achieved in training; for instance, the learning style of the participants, the ability of the presenter to create connections for those participants to the training content and of course, the physical space in which the training is being held.
To maximise the learning connections in a training event, the presenter will need to cater to the different ways the participants interpret and decipher the new information. There is a popular belief that people learn in different ways. One popular theory, the VARK model identifies four primary types of learners; visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic. Each learning type will connect more to a different style of teaching. Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested these four modalities after reflecting on the experiences of students and teachers.
To increase the connections to the training content and increase learning outcomes for the participants, the presenter can do a few simple things to cater to the different learning types present in the one training room.
- Visual learners – need to see the information and see the links and relationships between different ideas or points within the content. The presenter should share graphics and charts and use lots of colour to create a highly visual presentation
- Auditory learners – prefer to hear information rather than reading or seeing it displayed graphically. The presenter should create opportunities for these learners to recite the content out loud by creating dialogue around the training content by asking questions and encouraging group discussion.
- Reading/writing learners – learn best when they read and write the content. It is important that these learners have access to notepads and pens as a minimum but even more effective for these individuals is to have access to an annotated handout so they can read the information as it is being presented. Including a ‘summary section’ within the handout is a great tool for these learners.
- Kinaesthetic learners – are hands on learners. They like to ‘do’ to enhance their learning. To cater for this learning style, the presenter should generate a few exercises or games that enable the participants to role play or move around to express certain points.
The physical training space also has a key role to play in enhancing learning connections. Regardless of an individual’s learning style, the training rooms should be set up to achieve an interactive and collaborative experience.
The training room lay out, including tables, chairs and positioning of the presentation must be set up to allow participants to see and hear each other, and comfortably see the training content. It is important to have sufficient space to allow the presenter and participants to move around easily and engage one another effectively and to allow interactions to be both spontaneous and natural.
Technology should also be integrated into the physical training space to engage participants and increase learning connections. Having relevant visuals at each table or ‘pod’ may increase learning so too will auditory aids. Having accessible AV tools can allow participants to hear, view, share and save ideas and key information in real-time.
Focusing on ‘learning outcomes’ as an output of training rather than merely ‘training content’ as the input of training, will enable the many benefits of training to be realised more effectively.