You’ll often hear people say that teaching is an art. But, there’s more science involved in teaching than you’d expect. Educators, researchers, and subject matter experts have studied effective instructional strategies that’ll help learners be more engaged, productive, and ultimately successful. And, often effective workplace teaching strategies are neglected. That’s why employees usually imagine work training to be boring and dragging.
But in this article, we’ll explore instructional strategies examples that we’ve learned from research and first-hand experience to help you train your teams better.
What’s an instructional strategy?
Instructional strategies (sometimes called teaching strategies) are methods, techniques, or tools that help learners succeed in learning. A good way to think about it is that it’s about finding solutions to learning problems. It’s also important to understand that effective training isn’t just about becoming a better teacher, it’s more about helping students become productive learners. And since every learner is different, it’s a good idea to have a lot of tools in your belt.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution because as people we have different learning styles. For example, I’m a reader and a verbal learner. I learn effectively by reading whatever kind of material and then having a great conversation with someone about it. Your team members might be visual learners and learn primarily through graphs, slides, or videos. Instructional teaching strategies take all of these factors and more into consideration.
Why is instructional strategy important for workplace training?
In a 2023 report, LinkedIn shared that the center of an organization’s success is its people’s careers. Continuously learning individuals will thrive and succeed in an economy that’s always shifting. They call this agility. This means that learning and development are crucial as ever, as they’ll spell the success of your business. And on the employee’s side, people are hungry as ever to learn new skills to reach their full potential.
Instructional strategies based on sound science, research, and personal experience will help you train better. 59% of employees in 2023 claimed that they lacked workplace training and resorted to self-teaching for important work skills. That’s a big number. Imagine how productive your employees would be if they didn’t have to think about training themselves! Effective workplace training will keep your employees knowledgeable, satisfied, and just more efficient.
So, let’s get down to business, here are 10 instructional strategies examples you can use and integrate into your organization’s training programs.
1. Instructor-led training
This is one of the most common types of workplace training. You can even call it traditional, but in no way are we implying that it’s ineffective. What makes instructor-led training effective is that it’s supposed to get someone with expertise and experience to share their knowledge on specific topics. There’s so much you can learn directly from a person that you can’t get from resources online.
Instructor-led training also allows learners to step into the shoes of an expert in the field. It’s just more reliable, that’s why a lot of online learning solutions have also integrated instructor-led training in videos. Instructors can provide proper demonstrations for skilled-based training like machine handling and equipment safety. This is also cost-effective because there’s someone in your workplace who can lead a training session.
2. Resource speakers
Bringing in resource speakers is a great way to bring in knowledge from other fields to help your team develop in different aspects of work. It’s a good investment to learn directly from subject matter experts, professionals, and thought leaders. Another great thing about setting up talks with resource speakers is the discussions. You can set up Q&A portions where your team can ask questions for even more learning!
And if you’re not up for face-to-face talks, there are hundreds of resource speaker content all over the internet that’s available to deliver to your teams. For example, there are Ted Talks on just about anything you can imagine. Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown even has an amazing online course on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that he teaches himself.
3. Blended learning
This learning strategy has been quite a buzzword since the start of the pandemic. Blended learning is the combination of face-to-face learning with online learning. Hybrid learning and communication have become the norm not only in schools but in all aspects of our lives. It’s also been studied quite extensively since then, with researchers finding the best ways to make online and physical learning work.
A study shows that while technology makes communication efficient, learners still value real-time interactions with instructors and peers. Technology can also get overwhelming, so the study concludes that elearning tools need to be much simpler to be effective. So, if you’re planning to use blended learning for your workplace training, make sure you use simple but effective learning tools while balancing face-to-face interactions with teams.
Microlearning is related to the previous strategy and should be used hand-in-hand. Microlearning is an innovative learning strategy that breaks down complex information into digestible bite-sized chunks. These chunks are essentially highly targeted lessons to aid knowledge retention. And it’s not just about making big lessons shorter, but it’s also about using technology through visuals and gamification to make learning interactive and fun.
Learning solutions like EdApp offer microlearning courses on a wide range of topics for different kinds of workplaces. And let’s emphasize accessibility. One of the core principles of microlearning is accessibility. This means that courses are accessible through mobile devices and can be taken at the learner’s pace. This has proven to be effective for jobs with hectic schedules like front-line work, retail, and manufacturing.
We mentioned gamification earlier, so we’ll talk about why it’s such an effective instructional strategy. Gamification is when you add gaming elements like quizzes, leaderboards, badges, and rewards to make learning fun and engaging. While studies are continuing to see the long-term effectiveness of gamifying learning, it still proves to engage and motivate learners to start training.
Most elearning solutions out there offer gamification with their learning materials and courseware so be sure to find the right fit for your learners.Our tip for using gamification is to make sure the game elements are relevant to your learning materials. Don’t use quizzes just for the sake of adding quizzes, make sure you’re effectively using knowledge checks to better aid knowledge retention.
6. Social or peer learning
They say that experience is the best teacher for a reason. What better way to learn about your job than from your peers and leaders? Social learning is an instructional strategy that fosters a culture of sharing learning experiences through open discussions and feedback. Ask any employee, more likely than not, the first person they’ll ask a question about work to is a coworker or teammate.
Encouraging social learning sets the foundation for collaboration, which in turn creates opportunities for a future project for your organization. A lot of learning platforms already integrate social learning as a feature, leveraging your existing pool of experts as part of your learning strategy.
Like other virtual learning strategies, the webinar has found its way to be one of the most used instructional strategies in the age of hybrid learning. Don’t dismiss this strategy yet, because often we think of webinars as awkward and dragging, but honestly, it doesn’t have to be. Webinars can bridge a global audience to a local conversation. Wherever you are in the world you can talk to and ask real-time questions to experts.
Finding and providing webinars to your teams allows you to expand their horizons and be part of conversations they’d otherwise not have. Webinars are also usually recorded so you can archive and revisit them during your team’s own time.
8. Hands-on training
As a practical person, I find that applying the knowledge I’ve learned in training is the best way to truly absorb information. Adults need to know why they’re learning a new skill for them to learn. It’s important to let your learners know the value of the topics you’re training them in because they won’t learn otherwise. That’s why laying down the objectives and learning outcomes before any kind of training is important.
Role-playing simulations and collaborative learning is cited as effective hands-on training. But, what you need to do is let your teams try their work out with space for failure. That’s why you train because there’s little consequence. People tend to work ineffectively when they’re afraid to fail. But once an employee fails in training, they’ll have the confidence to do their job much better. So create room and integrate empathetic hands-on training into your programs.
9. Spaced repetition
Spaced repetition is a learning technique where crucial lessons are repeated at increasing intervals to make topics essentially unforgettable. You can think of this like lifting weights: you start with lighter 100-pound weights on your first session then progressively increase the weight after every session. By working your way up, you’re going to be stronger and stronger. Because your brain is a muscle, the same principle applies.
Studies on spacing for science curriculums have shown that spacing is effective for long-term knowledge retention, which is important for every skill. Elearning solutions have begun to integrate this principle into their technology. For example, EdApp has a feature called Brain Boost. After every course, review quizzes are regularly sent to learners at algorithmically set intervals (dependent on how well they do in the course).
Spaced repetition simply applies the same principles of reviewing lessons when we were in school but at much more strategic intervals.
10. Auditory learning
Aural learning is also under auditory learning. Some learners absorb knowledge best simply by listening and not even taking notes. Modern learners listen to music, talks, podcasts, and even audiobooks instead of reading or interpreting visual information. As mentioned above, I’m an auditory learner. I love to learn by listening to people and talking about my thoughts on a subject. I’m able to process information better once I can articulate my thoughts to someone.
So, at work don’t hesitate to provide your teams with learning resources in podcasts and audio-based media. Have a space where your teams can converse about important learning topics. Conversations are also a very low-pressure environment, there’s no need to impress anybody. And if you look back, sometimes don’t you remember things people mention in passing? Especially because they stuck to you? That’s why conversations are so powerful.
5 tools to use with your instructional strategies
Now that we’ve talked about some instructional strategies to integrate into your workplace training, let’s dive into some easy and accessible tools that’ll make your life easier.
There’s a reason we emphasize the use of elearning tools so much. These learning technologies were designed by experts who have studied instructional design, psychology, and learning sciences to create effective solutions to simple learning problems. For example, accessible courseware that utilizes microlearning is game-changing for workplaces with teams that are on the go.
There are a lot of amazing online learning tools available for free too, like EdApp. It’s got everything from learning content to reporting and analytics for learning managers. Tools like this do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on more important things! Try it for yourself—it’s free forever—and see how it helps you!
Online course builders
The meat of training boils down to the learning content which is usually delivered through courses. Having a course builder saves you the trouble of designing and building effective lessons from scratch. You’d want your course builder to be completely customizable so you can add your materials and even update the content whenever necessary.
Some learning management systems (LMS) even offer course creation services where you can collaborate with experienced instructional designers to help build beautiful courses for you. Or, if you’re pressed for time, EdApp has a brand new AI create feature where you can build courses with a click of a button, no research or brainstorming necessary. Whichever style works best for you, there are always a lot of options out there.
Quiz maker tools
Quizzes are always a simple and easy way to engage your learners in any subject. So, if you’re not looking for whole courses, maybe a quiz maker is for you. Most online quiz maker tools simply ask you to upload questions or templates and it’ll build everything for you. It’s a great way to integrate gamification in a quick and hassle-free way.
Virtual communication tools
Make sure you have video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet because this is primarily where blended learning, webinars, and other virtual instructional strategies can be applied. Zoom also has a wide range of integrations and interactive tools that can help facilitate different kinds of discussions. Try the whiteboard feature!
And if your teams are on Slack and Discord, there are also a lot of fun games you can play to integrate into training. Technology is so advanced these days, explore the possibilities!
Digital learning paths
Think of a learning path as a learner's training journey. It’s a step-by-step development plan that a trainer and individual collaborate on. This is so important because goals and learning outcomes decide how effective training will be. Having a path will also motivate learners to achieve their objectives and learn much more effectively. A personalized learning path also considers a learner’s style and pace, because everyone learns differently.
A digital learning path is a plan integrated into a learning management system, so you don’t have to do it yourself as a trainer. With an LMS like EdApp, you can set which courses will be delivered to your learners based on the learning paths set. You can also set up spaced repetition quizzes to reinforce learning and more. Tools like these just make life so much easier and guarantee the success of your training.
Think about your learners and train strategically today
Instructional strategies are just solutions to learning problems. Our hot tip is to get to know your teams and learners well to better help them with their training needs. Yes, there are tools for that but personalizing and empathizing are key to a healthy learning environment. It may all sound technical, but at the end of the day, it’s all about learning. So, talk to your teams and find an instructional strategy that works for them today!
Try microlearning as an instructional strategy today! Sign up for EdApp—it’s free forever.