The other day I came across a LinkedIn profile of someone who was a self-described “multi modal instructional strategist.” This indeterminate modifier made me wonder whether he meant that the instructional strategies he implements are multi modal or if he meant that he, himself, was multi modal. Since for many, many millennia humans have interacted with the world using a number of senses, we are all personally multi modal. So, if he meant that he was multi modal he probably can’t lay claim to first mover advantage. But if he meant the alternative interpretation, there’s not much unique about that either. These days almost all corporate instruction is multi modal. I think we would be challenged to find any corporate training department of a reasonable size that didn’t employ some combination of live training, eLearning, virtual distance learning, video, audio, mobile delivery etc.
To me the question then becomes:”Are we better off?” To this question I would answer “yes.” Yes, in the sense that we can train at a distance. Yes, in the sense that our training is available on demand 24/7. Yes, in the sense that our training can be “multi modal” and so we can be more creative. Yes, in the sense that we can personalize training based upon learner profiles and prior performance. Yes, in the sense that our devices allow us to find important information in seconds rather than hours or days.
But, is our training more effective than it used to be? Now that’s a much more difficult question to say “yes” to. I don’t know of any evidence that our employees today are better trained than the employees of a generation ago. But I think they could be. We just need to pay attention to what we have learned over the past 20 years or so about how people actually learn, what instructional strategies actually work and what methodologies actually promote long term retention.
Our multi modal devices are great, but let’s use them effectively by incorporating modern cognitive science into our learning strategies.