<p>Why do some learning programs succeed while others fail? How can you ensure learners get what they need and what you want them to take away from a learning experience in the fastest, most efficient way? </p> <p>Many successful organizations are finding an answer in different “learning styles” models. IBM has long incorporated a specific learning styles model into the design of its global new manager training program. When asked why it is so important, one leader in the On Demand Learning initiative summed it up in one word: speed. Given the pace of today’s business environment, there is a constant threat of falling behind, potentially with disastrous consequences. </p> <p>Though speed is a necessity, speed without behavior change misses the <br /> point. IBM has found that integrating this learning styles model has not only contributed to faster learning, communicating and innovating, but it has even played <br /> into the competencies that emerging leaders need. By discovering how they best learn and communicate, managers can optimize how they receive and share information with others.</p> <p>Speed, effective information transfer and shortened learning time can be critical competitive differentiators for any organization, regardless of learning content. Consider the following example. A group of university football players who participated in training that helped them uncover their own learning styles saw a direct connection to their success. They noted that understanding how they think and learn helps both them and their coaches give and receive information more effectively in those crucial split seconds during a game. Everyone knows how to make sure they “get it.” This easily translates to the workplace, where quick communication, comprehension and application of learning have never been more critical.</p> <p>One reason informal learning and communities of practice continue to grow in popularity is that they allow learners to ask for what they need “on the field” and better tailor the experience to fit their unique learning styles. By the same token, many e-learning programs fail because they have not been positioned to meet the learning style needs of their target population.</p> <p>Carol Dweck’s research at Stanford University found that people who believe their brains can be “built” like a muscle will learn more effectively, so we know that a learning mindset is critical for achieving engagement and outcomes. The effective positioning and application of learning styles can help instill that growth-oriented learning mindset, but first learners must understand and believe that they can stretch their personal preferences — and not get boxed in by their style or use it as an excuse to disengage.</p> <p>To get the outcomes you and your participants need, educate learners about their learning styles, demonstrating that each has the ability to think and learn beyond their individual preferences. Only then can participants own their learning objectives, take responsibility for their success and get support to better meet their needs. </p> <p>Design learning that offers differentiated style options to learners as they progress. This can reduce learning time, better engage the learner and have a direct impact on outcomes, all while making clear the responsibility the learner has in the learning process.</p> <p>Finally, consider whether your messaging appeals to all learning styles. For the broadest impact, this step needs to extend beyond the training environment to all organizational communications.</p> <p>Ready to get started? Assess how well your current curriculum — including content, platforms and delivery mechanisms — responds to the learning style needs of your audience. Then give your learners and your designers the tools they need to increase learning speed and effectiveness by designing with styles in mind.</p>
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