Learning models
Training & Learning

UK L&D: 3 Learning Models That Will Transform Your Training Programmes

Are your training programmes a hit with every single one of your employees? 

As L&D professionals, we want our training to be useful and effective for all our learners, but it’s not always easy to deliver courses that everyone will like due to the range of learning styles and preferences present within every team.

For L&D teams, these different learning styles can become a barrier to achieving high course satisfaction and completion rates. So, how do you overcome these challenges? It’s well worth L&D teams investing the time to research and understand how employees best learn and retain information to increase the effectiveness of your training programmes. 

In this article, we unpack three learning models and provide tips on how to use these models to deploy training your employees will actually learn from. With our help, you’ll discover what powers the learning process and understand what the best course formats are for multiple learning styles, enabling you to design great courses that all your employees love.

First up, Kolb’s learning model.

1. Kolb learning model

The Kolb learning model was developed by David Kolb, an American educational theorist known for his extensive work in experiential learning. Kolb introduced the learning styles model in 1984 as an extension of his previous work, the experiential learning cycle.

Kolb's learning model views learning as an integrated process that progresses through four mutually-supportive stages:

  1. Concrete experience (feeling)
  2. Reflective observation (watching)
  3. Abstract conceptualization (thinking)
  4. Active experimentation (doing)

The second part of Kolb’s theory highlights the different styles learners have. To build an effective training programme, you need to factor in all the learning styles to customise the approach and harness each learner's strengths. Let’s take a closer look at what these four learning styles are, and what they mean for your training programmes.

1. Converging Learning Style

Learners who are convergers are inclined towards thinking and doing—these people shine at the fourth learning cycle stage, active experimentation, as they are great at experimenting with ideas. 

When it comes to designing your training programmes with these types of learners in mind, be sure to focus on the practical experience. Include practical tasks like quizzes, role-playing and workshops with breakout sessions where learners can tackle problems in a collaborative way.

2. Accommodating Learning Style

Accommodators are intuitive and prefer relying on their instincts rather than their logic. These learners take in other people's analysis and will therefore rely on information from others rather than make their own analysis. Similarly to the converging style, you can use a collaborative approach to learning as this will engage these types of learners.  Focus on group tasks and project assignments where there is involvement from multiple people.

3. Diverging Learning Style

Divergers are the creative types, best at generating their own ideas to solve problems. Divergers are most suited to self-directed learning, as this type of style is flexible and puts them in the driving seat. They also prefer instructional styles that allow them to apply the acquired knowledge to solve real-life situations. 

In addition, divergers make great subject-matter experts, so it’s important you leverage these people to promote a culture of peer learning in your organisation.

4. Assimilating Learning Style

Assimilators are logical people,  big on watching and thinking. They prefer facts and logically sound theories over practical approaches, and take in everything with the support of known information. Be sure to include texts that can be downloaded and easily accessed in your learning management system (LMS) so assimilators have the information to absorb more effectively. 

Now you’re familiar with the basics of Kolb’s learning model, you can start to shape your learning programmes to suit these four particular learning styles. This way, you can give every one of your learners the challenge and stimulation they really crave.

Next up, the VARK learning model.

Related: 9 Learning Theories to Structure Your Training Programs

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2. VARK learning model 

The VARK learning model supports learners' diverse preferences. An acronym for; V – Visual, A – Aural, R – Read/write, K – Kinaesthetic sensory modalities, the model suggests that some learners take in new information through a single one of these preferences, whereas others rely on a mix of these four learning preferences. 

According to studies, 34% of people have single preferences (also called type two learners), while 66% have multimodal preferences (known as type one learners—people who can switch between the four learning models depending on the situation). This information is key for L&D teams in understanding the pace at which learning can take place and the need to have variety in the way you present your course content.

Here’s how you can accommodate the four VARK model learner preferences as part of your training.

  1. Visual learners learn best by seeing. Ensure you include charts, diagrams, and videos as a way to present information in your courses hosted on your learning management system.  
  2. Auditory (aural) learners learn best by hearing. A great way to engage these types of learners is by including links to relevant podcasts and audiobooks as part of your courses.
  3. Reading and writing learners prefer displayed words. They may also be visual or auditory learners. The best learning tools for these types of learners are checklists, reports, and ebooks.
  4. Kinesthetic learners learn through experience (touching and doing). Learning in the flow of work is a good approach for these types of learners because it allows them to take what they’ve learnt and apply it to the context of their role.

Asynchronous vs. synchronous learning

The VARK model aligns nicely with the notion of asynchronous vs. synchronous learning, the term we at 360Learning use to describe the next phase of blended learning

Asynchronous learning favours written information and communication, as well as self-directed and self-paced learning through online courses, company wikis, and pre-recorded webinars. Synchronous learning, on the other hand, describes learning through human interactions such as live video discussions and workshops with breakout rooms. 

These two types of learning formats satisfy all four VARK learning modalities so L&D teams should consider incorporating them into training programmes.

Last but not least, the third learning model we will explore is Hermann brain dominance.

Related: 6 Examples of Asynchronous Learning to Hook Your Employees

3. Hermann brain dominance

The Hermann brain dominance model offers a way to get the best learning results out of cognitively diverse learners. It categorises learners into four types – theorists (analytical), organisers (sequential), humanitarians (interpersonal), and innovators (imaginative). Here’s what you need to consider as part of your training, in accordance with the Hermann brain dominance model.

  1. Theorists are analytical and factual-oriented learners who are great at memorising information. Ensure you include memory quizzes in your online training to engage theorists.

  2. Organisers are organisational thinkers with practical and structured thinking. Organisers absorb new knowledge if all the information is arranged systematically. This means you should make the learning modules and paths in your LMS as clear as possible. Make sure you include how long it takes to complete a module or path and provide an overview of what’s included to keep organisers motivated to finish your courses.

  3. Humanitarians are inclined towards interpersonal thinking and thrive in group interactions. When it comes to keeping these types of learners engaged, you should focus on peer learning and harness social interactions. Peer learning will encourage humanitarians to learn from each other while incorporating social forums in your LMS is a highly effective way to promote collaboration in the learning process.

  4. Innovators are problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Active learning—a process where the learner is involved in actively constructing their own understanding of the subject, often through group interactions and applied thinking—is a great way to engage innovators. You can add online exercises such as peer discussion, team problem-solving, and group tutorials to your training programmes for these types of learners.

Introducing a new model: Collaborative Learning

We have broadly mentioned the collaborative aspects of learning throughout this article–but the concept of Collaborative Learning runs deeper. Rooted in the spirit of employees taking control of their own learning experiences and identifying their own needs, the Collaborative Learning model incorporates many of the aspects of the three models described in this article, including: 

  • Kolb’s application of learning through experience and self-directed learning in the workplace.
  • VARK’s focus on recognising the four preferences to learn in the flow of work using a mix of asynchronous and synchronous methods.
  • Hermann brain dominance’s support of group interaction, peer learning and active learning.

L&D teams can promote a company culture based on Collaborative Learning by encouraging knowledge sharing, decentralising the learning process, and making it easier for people to take control of their own learning. A Collaborative Learning platform can help you apply all of these techniques.

Ready to see the Collective Learning model in action? Get in touch with one of our experts today to learn more.

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