6 Learning Modalities of Effective Online Employee Training

illustration with talk bubbles and brains representing online employee training learning modalities

After more than 30 years in the behavioral change industry, we know for certain that not all adults learn the same way. Multiple training approaches are essential to delivering effective online employee training that appeals to the preferences and needs of all learners in an organization.

Countless psychological studies and practical experience shed light on adult learners’ unique expectations, demands and challenges. While children learn from their surroundings without being choosy, adults learn in more selective ways. They have preferences for how they want to learn. And adult brains often need ideas to be presented in very specific ways to sink in.

Address Different Learning Styles

The mistake many companies make is purchasing a “canned” program for security awareness and compliance training. These one-size-fits-all courses often do nothing more than just “check the box” for compliance. Rarely do they capture employees’ attention, allow them to absorb new information, and impact real behavior change.

For e-learning employee training to be successful, organizations must first understand their learner profiles. Then they should build an awareness training program that aligns with employee preferences and needs. Consider these crucial elements of adult learning and retention:

Modalities – Learning opportunities ranging from visual and auditory to collaborative and kinesthetic – to reach all types of learners

Engagement – Training that evokes emotion, which is directly linked to memory, for improved retention

Cadence – Training delivered at the right pace, frequency and repetition for your learners

A cookie-cutter approach won’t work. Successful online employee training needs to be varied in its modalities and customized to your organization’s needs.

6 Online Employee Training Methodologies

Traditional online courses are just the tip of the iceberg in training your employees to recognize cybersecurity threats and workplace ethics. Using these six diverse training modalities helps to build engagement and strengthen participation in your awareness training program.

  1. Assessments – Assessments should be conducted before beginning any employee training initiative. They typically ask a series of questions to gauge employee baseline knowledge and highlight areas of weakness that need to be addressed with training. Assessments give business leaders and trainers insights on where to focus their training program. These tests should be repeated every six months to one year to measure program success and inform future training strategies.
  2. Courseware – Traditional online courses are the most utilized way organizations introduce training to their employees. Courseware can vary in length, most offering quizzes at the end. Compliance personnel like courseware because it’s a straightforward way of showing auditors and management the percentage of individuals that have taken the training.
  3. Gamification – Gamification uses game mechanics and game thinking to engage users in solving problems. Gamified training motivates employees by incorporating elements of fun, interaction, competition and reward. Many companies offering this type of employee training see a notable jump in user engagement.

  4. Videos – Videos are a great way to share materials in a shorter, more direct way than traditional courseware. Shock and awe modules, for example, often have no voiceover but show staggering statistics that grab employees’ attention. Videos can be delivered to the user’s computer or device, or they can be shown in public places – lobbies, breakrooms, etc.

  5. Newsletters – Newsletters often serve to reinforce training topics. Delivered electronically, posted in common areas, or mailed home for employees to share information with their loved ones, newsletters convey reminders and recurring messages.

  6. Posters – Whether electronically delivered or printed and displayed in a physical environment, posters serve as visual reminders of key training messages.

Highly Customized Awareness Training

Fortunately, experts in awareness training and employee behavior change can guide your organization in designing a training curriculum with the modalities, languages and frequency for best results. Global Learning Systems’ cybersecurity training professionals offer Consulting Services to help companies do just that.

Take the guesswork out of setting up and deploying your security awareness and compliance training program. GLS offers consulting services and program management to ensure your employees are trained and ready.

We asked our experts to offer tips to help organizations build a knowledgeable, security-minded workforce. Here’s what they had to say:

Establish your baseline – Metrics are essential for any corporate training. At the onset, run a security assessment to identify the knowledge gaps. Baseline assessments should include simulated phish testing, as well as penetration testing that reveals poorly written code that makes your organization vulnerable. Insights from these metrics will help develop your customized online employee training curriculum.

Engage your C-level champions – Having your CEO and other C-level officers backing your security awareness program is essential for success. Their endorsement will emphasize the importance of training to make the organization more secure. C-level support builds employee commitment to training. It also puts middle management on notice that they will be held accountable for participation within their departments. 

Target training based on roles – Start with basic training for every employee, so they understand potential risks and their role in protecting your organization from cyberattacks or legal ramifications. This baseline level of awareness training also ensures that you meet all compliance and regulatory requirements.

Beyond the basic training, identify roles in your organization with higher risk exposure. This may include managers and human resources leaders handling employee matters and IT personnel responsible for cybersecurity. Training needs also differ for developers of software applications that process and store private data, as well as C-Suite executives with fiduciary responsibilities. These individuals each need to understand their duties related to risk management in their specific jobs.

Choose the right frequency – Many organizations are moving from more extended modules and a one-and-done mindset to shorter, more frequent training. More concise online employee training modules give employees time to soak in the messages, and continuous training reinforces what they’ve learned throughout the year.

Measure progress and ROI – Employee training programs have the ultimate goal of changing employee behavior. With greater knowledge and understanding of the many risks in the workplace, they will take ethical action and be more security-minded in their day-to-day work. Training assessments enable you to track progress and measure how reduced risk behavior saves your organization from costly consequences.

Flexible, Customizable Online Learning

Global Learning Systems offers a robust online employee training platform with user-friendly content. Subject matter experts author our security awareness and compliance courses, with all the training modalities to ensure success. GLS offers flexible training packages, and our training consultants can help you tailor training to your organization’s unique requirements. 

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