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What is Multimodal Learning – Elevate Learning to the Next Level

Multimodal teaching involves using visuals, auditory, reading/ writing, and kinesthetic/ tactical methodologies to develop employee training programs. We’ll discuss multimodal learning in detail and ways to implement it in an organization. 

Corporate training is yet to become a favorite part of an employee’s life. Though many organizations are changing their training models from traditional to modern, they haven’t yet explored the various possibilities that can make employee learning more attractive and productive. Workplace training continues to be text-intensive despite the addition of infographics and webinars. 

However, the time has come to embrace multimodal learning to improve employee engagement and performance. Multimodal learning is a combination of multiple learning models and methodologies that make training more employee-friendly and interesting. It also provides trainers an opportunity to create engaging learning content in different formats. 

Let’s find out what multimodal learning is and how it can bring a positive change in employee training. We’ll also look at the role of assessments in multimodal learning. 


What Is Multimodal Learning?

Multimodal learning involves using multiple modes to impart knowledge to the users. For example, the trainer will not just rely on speech or text to train employees. Rather, the trainer will use a combination of audiovisual content to make learning easy and engaging. Images, illustrations, voice notes, music, colors, gestures, movement, writing, etc., are used liberally in multimodal learning.

Modes are related directly to the senses. Each mode provides a different sensory feeling to the employees/ learners. They can personally interact with the modes, which creates a dynamic learning experience at the workplace. This is a total shift from traditional/ fixed training methods followed by several businesses. 

Trainers combine the modes based on the topic and the audience. The content mode is personalized for employees to feel comfortable learning more. Let’s say an employee is a visual learner. An apt learning mode for them would be images, illustrations, infographics, videos, and other forms of visual content. This enables the employee to stay focused and improve their knowledge to become more productive at work. 


4 Types of Multimodal Approaches 

Multimodal learning caters to a diverse learning group at educational institutions and corporate companies. In today’s world, where diversity and inclusivity are a primary focus at many workplaces, multimodal learning allows the management to create a comprehensive and employee-centric training program for all groups. 

Multimodal education is broadly divided into four types. These together combine to form the VARK model of learning. VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic (tactical) learning methods. 

1. Visual

Visual learning stimulates learning through the eyes. It could be in the form of illustrations, artwork, diagrams, graphical representations, flowcharts, cartoons, memes, gifs, etc. Color coding is also a part of visual learning, where employees identify a topic/ theme based on the label (color sticker) associated with it. 

2. Auditory 

Auditory learning deals with listening and engaging through the ears. Audiobooks, podcasts, lectures, speeches, webinars, and even in-person training come under this mode. Discussions, debates, group events, etc., also belong to auditory learning, as the employee has to listen and pay attention to understand and respond. 

3. Reading & Writing

This method of learning has been here for ages. It is the standard form of training and involves the use of textbooks, PDFs, course material, pages and pages of instructions, eBooks, etc. Even the assessments are in written format with descriptive questions. Assignments also come under this category. 

4. Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic learning is where employees have an active role in the process. It combines multimedia presentations, demonstrations like role-playing, and a combination of two or more forms of learning modes. It is a hands-on training methodology that is practical, customizable, and employee-friendly. 


Why Is Multimodal Learning Important?

But why should companies adopt multimodal instruction methodologies? Why is it important or beneficial for an enterprise to revamp its training program and adopt multimodal learning? Let’s find out. 

  • Multimodal learning helps a diverse group of employees train together. 
  • Engaging in multiple learning modes makes the training session interactive and fun. 
  • Employees don’t have to be forced to learn through modes that don’t suit their learning abilities. 
  • Research shows that students gained more knowledge when taught through multiple modes. The same rule applies to employees. 
  • The combination of visual and auditory learning increases focus and attention levels. 
  • As the name suggests, multimodal learning is vastly different from unimodal learning with rigid structures. 
  • Most interactions are already multimodal (where an employee listens and sees others talk and express themselves). It makes sense to use the same approach in training programs. 

Guidelines to Implement Multimodal Learning Styles

Implementing multimodal activities and training programs in an organization requires planning and a streamlined approach. From creating training teams to making content available in multiple modes, you should take care to develop a holistic learning environment at the workplace. Use the following factors to guide you through the process. 

Using Multimodal Texts

Text is technically in written format. So how can you turn it multimodal? This is done by adding text to images, videos, PPTs, gifs, memes, etc. While the visual content provides some information, the text adds more to the context. Here, the text is mostly in captions, titles, tags, and one-liners that are easy to read and understand. 

Multimodal texts are not complex. In fact, they are a simplified and condensed version of complex content. For example, online learning, captions on video content, infographics, flowcharts, graphs, and visual worksheets have text in crisp and concise formats. Trainers can use puzzles and online simulations to create multimodal texts for employee learning. 

Another form of multimodal text is communication aids like flash cards. Employees can practice interacting with colleagues, stakeholders, management, and customers to overcome communication difficulties. This is helpful for customer service teams, marketing teams, and recruiting personnel who have to interact with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds.  

Enable Digital/ eLearning

Digital and blended learning are gaining popularity in schools, colleges, and corporate offices. Students and employees prefer to learn online at their own pace. At least, they want an option to plan their learning conveniently. Multimodal learning should also ensure eLearning facilities for employees. 

Integrating an LMS with your systems will allow employees to access the training material whenever they want some information. It could pave the way for continuous learning within the enterprise. Another advantage of investing in an LMS (Learning Management System) is third-party integrations with assessment tools like PrepAI

Furthermore, digital learning enables employees to continue with their training even when they are away from the office. It’s a win-win solution for employees and organizations. 

Cut Down Overload

The biggest concern with multimodal learning is information overload. It’s the trainers’ responsibility to ensure that too much information is not shared with employees at once. The content has to be carefully structured and presented in smaller packages. Even the presentation process can lead to overload if modes are not chosen properly. This leads to stress, anxiety, and poor performance. 

Employees will feel overwhelmed and become wary of learning at work. They will not show good results during assessments as content overload leads to confusion. You have to ensure that the modes included in the training are compatible and align with each other. The modes also have to align with the content and the duration of the session. 

One mistake trainers make is to include too many modes in the training programs. This leads to overload and should be strictly avoided. Use modes based on what your employees prefer. 

Assign Multimodal Projects

Multimodal learning has to be accompanied by multimodal assignments and assessments if any. Though this applies more to schools and colleges, companies can also assign projects to employees based on their training modules. Assessments are a must in corporate training to ensure that employees have benefited from the program and can apply their newly gained knowledge at work. 

PrepAI is an AI-based assessment tool. It is a free question generator from a text that can accept multiple input methods (text, PDF, DOCX, video, YouTube link, and Topic search). The assessment tool automatically generates questions when you enter input data. The questions are created in different types, such as multiple choice, true/ false, fillups, and descriptive. Trainers can edit and add/ delete the questions to customize the assessment paper. 

Offer Multimodal Feedback

Feedback is a must after a training and assessment session. The feedback can be individually sent to each employee. They should also have a choice of discussing the details with the trainer. While printed/ email feedback is common, multimodal feedback is more encouraging. For example, you can set up a leaderboard to congratulate the top employees. The feedback sheets can have graphical representations to identify areas of improvement. 

Visual feedback and two-way communication can enhance the quality of feedback. Employees will have a better idea about their skills and the company’s requirements. This will ultimately lead to an increase in performance and productivity. 


5 Examples of Multimodal Learning

Here are a few examples of multimodal learning to incorporate into training programs. 

Multimedia Researching

Ask employees to base their research on multimodal content. It means that they should gather project-related information in at least three modes (PDFs/ ebooks, videos, infographics, etc.). This data has to be compared and correlated before being used for the project. 

Case Studies

A case study involves analyzing real-life instances to understand the situation and look at it from a different perspective. This method is helpful for ethical and behavioral training where employees can identify the crisis, and the source of conflict, and come up with alternative solutions or ways to avoid similar situations in your company. 

Think-Pair-Share

This is a collaborative learning method where employees are paired in teams to think, discuss, and share their views on a given topic. Here, trainers should take time to pair employees with similar learning methods to make it easy for them to collaborate. The teams can be mixed and matched when employees feel more confident. 

Personalized Journaling

Ask each employee to maintain notes of what they’ve learned during training. They can turn it into an assignment and share this information with trainers. The content created by employees can be added to the training material as it will help other employees learn faster. 

Gamification

Gamification is a way to include multimodal assessments (using question paper generator tools) in workplace training. It creates an environment of healthy competition between employees and urges them to deliver better performance. Furthermore, gamification can make learning interesting by converting boring content into audiovisual content for easy consumption. 


Conclusion

Multimodal teaching makes employee training programs more efficient. It shifts the perspective from company-centric training to employee-centric. Everyone is different and has different learning abilities. 

A multimodal learning environment will provide diverse employees with equal training opportunities. An increase in employee learning and performance will positively affect your business and make you an industry leader.

Originally Published on PrepAI

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