How to Adapt Your Learning Strategy to Reach All Learners
When is the last time you took a standardized test? Do you feel like it fairly measured your intelligence and knowledge? Did you enjoy taking the SAT or ACT? For most (and myself), the answer is no. Even though standardized tests, huge lecture halls, and power point decks are the norm for the education industry, it doesn’t mean students are actually learning.
Image source: Medium 
I want to take a moment and pay tribute to someone who influenced my learning journey greatly – my mother. Without her influence I would have gone astray and who knows where I would have wound up. A few months ago I was attending the ASU-GSV Summit – a conference my mother certainly would have loved to attend given her passion for education and learning – where great keynote speakers such as Michael Moe, Jeff Weiner and Betsy Devos shared personal insights on the challenges the education world faces today. The 3-day event helped crystallize a thought I have had for a very long time:
Learning is not a hat, and one size certainly does not fit all.
I’ll explain my thought a bit more by sharing the way I learn and how that differs from traditional training or education. Throughout my life people have been shoving textbooks in my face and asking me to sit in classrooms to listen to lectures. While I found a way to make it through and get my degree, to say I learned anything of value might be a stretch.
See, I am one of those people that came out of the womb wondering “What’s in it for me?”, which is commonly referred to as everyone’s favorite radio station, WIIFM. It picked up steam in pre-school and has continued through my lifelong learning journey. Each time I am presented with interesting information I become immersed in the topic. I work feverishly to review content (using articles, books, videos, games, etc.) and then attempt to apply it so I can determine the value of what I have just learned.
Now, imagine trying to train someone like me at a large company on compliance-related topics with tools like video, lengthy e-learning programs or (heavens forbid) a power point deck. The likelihood of success on that endeavor would be less than zero. Unless forced to, I would never click on an email yet alone read and retain any of the content.
So, the question is, how can an organization or educator transform from a model that assumes all people learn the same to one where the learner picks their path or consumption model?
It starts by recognizing that each individual is unique and there is not one technology or learning platform that can do it all; that includes your LMS, MOOC, MOODLE or POODLE. Once an organization recognizes this fact, they can focus on providing learners with a wide array of tools and solutions that allow individuals to choose the style of learning that fits them instead of the one that fits the instructors or corporations’ viewpoint.
As you can see from the chart below, the modern learner is vastly different from the one of yesterday. Adapting to this challenge, while it may be daunting, is essential if companies want to close the skills gap with their existing employees and avoid recruiting new ones each time the need arises.
Source: Bersin by Deloitte
While this challenge is daunting to learning professionals, the good news is there has never been a better time to look for alternative learning solutions. The investment in education technology (Ed Tech) has gone from $550M invested in 2010 to $2.1B today. Even more, a recent report shows gamification (an element proven to increase knowledge retention) will boom to $22.9B by 2020 .
At mLevel we work hard every day to ensure even the most distracted learners are retaining information. We believe in breaking up long content into short, bite-sized chunks. Offering information in a wide array of activities – ranging from true/false questions to game-based and scenario-based activities – helps keep all kinds of learners engaged and certainly beats an hour-long lecture or power point deck.
While some companies use our platform as their primary learning software, mLevel is most often used as a blended solution alongside your existing learning management system. Using a blended solution by adding an element of microlearning and game-based learning will help reach more learners and produce more effective outcomes.
So keep your chin up and remember that learning is not like a hat… and certainly one-size does not fit all.