There isn't an end-all-be-all of training modes. In fact, each method has its own set of unique advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, whichever learning method is able to deliver the desired learning objectives in the required amount of time will more than likely be the best fit.
While some decisions will be made based on the constraints of time, money, and learning objectives, consideration should be given to the efficacy and experience of the chosen learning mode.
Below we'll explore how each of these key areas can affect the learning experience and impact your learning objectives.
Edgar Dale's often critiqued Cone of Learning (Learning Pyramid) shows how different learning modes impact knowledge retention. While the exact percentages and orders can be endlessly disputed, it’s clear that some actions have the upper hand.
Experiential learning (practice by doing) and teaching others always achieve the highest percentages of knowledge retention.
Any training method that doesn’t incorporate either of these concepts into the structure of the instructional design is missing the mark.
The organic and flexible nature of human interaction can lead to unscripted breakthrough moments by allowing learners to teach and learn from one another.
Aside from the cultural and collaborative benefits associated with training that is socially engaging, it also fuels even more knowledge retention.
The cornerstones of experiential learning are concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Put simply, a learner must be able to do, learn, plan, and do again.
This level of interactive feedback is hard to find outside of learning by doing. Paired with thoughtful audio, video, and written content, learners can make the most of a training method’s interactivity.
A flexible pace can be ideal for a number of reasons. It allows facilitators to spend more time on areas where the learning audience is struggling to grasp concepts and allows them to speed through content that is already or easily understood.
With some variation between every training audience, this flexible pace will be leveraged differently from class to class.
It goes (almost) without saying, that everything is better when people are having fun. As it turns out, fun boosts learning potential in more ways than one.
The Journal of Vocational Behavior found that "fun activities were significantly related to learning from others and non-interpersonal sources."
In Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning, Neurologist, Judy Willis showed how fun experiences increase levels of dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen – all things that promote learning.
With each learning mode having its own set of advantages, there is no reason to limit our training methodologies.
Blended learning combines the best elements from each mode to ensure that participants are given every opportunity to learn, retain, and implement their newfound knowledge.
See how gamification combines the best of each learning mode in our eGuide, Games That Smart Businesses Play.