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People learn in different ways

That ought to be obvious, even from personal experience, yet we persist in expecting all trainees to achieve a standard proficiency regardless of whether we lecture, show a video, ask them to read a technical manual, or complete an e-Learning module. But only 30% of adults say they learn best by listening; another 30% report they'd prefer to learn by reading and reflection. Among the other generalizations that have emerged from recent studies:
• Learning is often a gradual process that happens through a series of shaping activities, which are not always instructor initiated. This is sometimes called tacit learning. The coaching process recognizes this, and so do many hands-on courses where we expect trainee skills will develop only over time and experience.
• On complex topics/judgment issues, people need to get comfortable, to "mess around" with the topic before they can understand it; understanding does not necessarily flow in a linear manner from breaking the task/object into simpler component parts.
• Learning communities work; there is a social as well as cognitive dimension to learning. Students transform the information they get from instructors and texts into meaningful knowledge through conversations, arguments, lunches, discussion groups and other real-world activities.

     Any instructional strategy needs to be built up from an understanding of how people are likely to learn the cognitive aspects and the related skills & competencies of the topic. An e-Learning course that ignores learning styles is likely to produce sub-marginal results.


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