Why Multiple Modalities Fuel Better Learning Outcomes

Your team is your company’s biggest competitive advantage. In an always complicated, ever-changing world, training and learning opportunities make all the difference in keeping their skills sharp.

But given the demands on your team’s time and resources, the traditional approach of classrooms and mandatory PowerPoints isn’t automatically the right one. New training modalities that harness recent technologies and learning methods provide more flexibility and affordability, meet organizational requirements, and better align with learner preferences. 

Training Modalities Continue to Increase

In training, “modalities” represent different forms of learning. According to Raleigh-based Training Industry, Inc., 52% of training providers use three to six modalities, including:

  • Traditional, onsite, and instructor-led.

  • Remote, virtual, and instructor-led.

  • “Always on” and on-demand.

  • Additional modalities that accommodate specific topics, organizational needs, and learner preferences.

As technologies (e.g., mobile apps, augmented reality, video, etc.) continue to proliferate and become more embedded at both the organizational and individual level, the number of modalities will only continue to increase.

Different Training Modalities Provide Choices

Dr. Hernan Murdock, CIA, CRMA, serves as the VP of Content and Programming at ACI Learning. As a certified internal auditor, risk management expert, and instructor, Dr. Murdock has seen first-hand how new training modalities have made an impact on learning.

“One of the goals of any instructor is to reach the people who want the knowledge,” Dr. Murdock said in a recent interview. “With that in mind, we need to make it easy for them to connect and learn using any medium or platform that is available.”

COVID-19 and the overnight transformation to a remote workforce that took place in early 2020 clearly has had an impact as well.

“People have been continually challenged to get their personal lives, work lives, and education lives all lined up,” Dr. Murdock said. “By having a choice of different training modalities available, we can reach them, and they can reach us. We can connect using any platform that is most convenient for them.”

Virtual Learning: Getting Better All the Time

The expansion and availability of multiple training modalities have already resulted in significant changes in how organizations approach training and learning. In one recent study, 56% of companies indicated they are retooling their training programs and 62% have increased (or are planning to increase) training-related spending in 2021.

While COVID-19 might have propelled virtual training into a necessity, it is an accelerant for a transformation that was already underway even before the pandemic. As early as 2018, research indicated that traditional classroom instructor-led training offerings slid to 49% from a high of 70% in 2008. Virtual learning increased during the same time to 10% of all formal training programs.

The bottom line is clear: virtual training was already becoming a standard part of business culture even before the first quarantine orders went into effect in early 2020.

"Virtual training has been in place for a long time, and it has been getting better,” Dr. Murdock observed. “Over the last five years, the quality and number of technological features have increased substantially, making the learning experience more productive and enjoyable.”

The increasing availability and consistent improvement in broadband technology has fueled this “substantial” growth.

“What we see now is that broadband is widely available and the technology around cameras and microphones has made audio and visual presentations better,” Dr. Murdock said. “We now have a convergence of people – instructors and students – who are more comfortable with it all. So, we are in a very good place. We’re seeing some exciting things happening now.”

Multiple Modalities Mean Better Learning Outcomes

A diverse array of factors from better broadband to the unexpected transformation of the remote workforce has resulted in the increasing availability of multiple modalities in training and learning. This has meant more choice for employees, with more tools available to improve their professional lives and help them prepare to harness the knowledge needed to ensure their organization thrives.

“When you have a variety of training modalities, you’re able to offer your learners the ability to learn when, where, and how they prefer,” Dr. Murdock observed.

With your team serving as your company’s biggest competitive advantage, recognizing, and embracing the reality of choice has never been more critical.


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