What is multimodal learning?

Multimodal learning theory refers to the idea that learning the same information in many different ways can help learners retain the information for longer and put it to better use. Multimodal learning theory has a lot in common with blended learning theory, as both methods use multiple methods to train. Multimodal learning and blended learning can often be used interchangeably in a workplace learning environment, however, they don’t always mean the same thing.  

For example, blended learning often refers to the ability to train across in-person and virtual environments.  

Multimodal learning refers to engaging multiple different human senses while learning. Some multimodal learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods. Reading and writing are also engaged here as well.  Blended learning can be multimodal learning, but not all multimodal learning is blended learning.

Research suggests that learners who engage in multiple methods of learning retain information for longer and can demonstrate stronger access to that information. Most of the studies about multimodal learning are from a classroom setting, however, many of the same principles can be applied to workplace training through adult learning theory.  

Multimodal Learning Strategies 

Working multimodal learning strategies into your training plans can require a little pre-planning. First, there are a few questions you need to answer. What are the multimodal learning styles and how can you apply them in workplace training?  

One of the most popular methods to define multimodal learning is called the VARK model, coined by New Zealand teacher Neil Fleming.  


Learners who prefer visual depictions of information tend to gravitate towards maps, diagrams, charts, flow charts, and other symbolic devices. Other learners may have chosen to present this information in words. The Visual format could also be described as graphic.  

Aural / Auditory  

The aural style of learner prefers information presented in a heard or spoken way. Learners with an aural preference report that they learn best from lectures, group discussions, radio, and speech. If you’ve ever heard someone say that they learn best by teaching someone else, they may have an auditory preference!  

Reading / writing  

The reading and writing preference might seem a little self-explanatory – it’s words! Learners with a preference for reading and writing tend to learn best through reading and writing essays, manuals, reports, worksheets, and more.  


Kinesthetic learners often prefer to learn by doing. However, learners with a kinesthetic preference may also learn just as well from a demonstration, simulation, or video of real-life situations. Kinesthetic learners may also learn well from reading and writing as long as the writing is based purely in reality, so they may also learn well from recorded case studies.  

While these are the four learning styles, learners often choose to consume their information in more than one format. This is where multimodal learning comes into play. Some learners are flexible and switch from style to style depending on what subject or context they are working in. Other learners have a very strict preference and wish to exhaust all available content in their preferred mode before moving on to a different mode. 

Some learners prefer the 70/20/10 method, which postulates that 70% of learning is experiential and 20% of learning is peer-to-peer, while the remaining 10% is formal coursework and traditional study.  

Benefits of Multimodal Learning 

While it’s natural for learners to have a preferred learning style, there are many benefits to blending learning styles in a workplace training environment. The two most popular methods of workplace training – microlearning and instructor led training (ILT). 

Depending on the style of video, microlearning could satisfy many different learning styles. Animated videos can satisfy visual, aural, or reading/writing learning styles, whereas realistically filmed videos or tutorials can satisfy a kinesthetic learning preference.  

Instructor-led training can happen virtually or on-location. Traditionally, most ILT happened directly in the workplace. Through tools like Hybrid Classroom and BizAcademy, L&D managers can also facilitate virtual ILT.  

Blended or multimodal learning allows for a greater level of flexibility and personalization. It also leads to improved learning outcomes, increased engagement, and can be more cost-effective than other kinds of training.  

The benefits of multimodal learning also leads to success in other parts of talent management. Employees that feel they are growing within their organization are also more likely to stay, improving retention. Retention can help recoup turnover costs and build a deeper leadership bench. As you can see – really nailing a learning and development strategy has the potential to positively impact almost every area of business! 

Strategies for Implementing Multimodal Learning 

Incorporating blended learning into your L&D strategy may look different depending on your industry and your current learning culture. If your workplace primarily uses ILT, implementing multimodal learning might look like assigning some multimedia resources like a video series (microlearning), a podcast, or other online activity.  

If your workplace is hybrid or fully remote and is already taking full advantage of online multimedia learning resources, adding a human element such as a discussion group would be a way of creating a blended learning experience. Book clubs, discussion groups, or team-led lectures over lesson content are all methods for implementing multimodal learning strategy in remote or hybrid teams.  

It’s also important to encourage learners to practice what they’ve learned in the work environment. This appeals to a kinesthetic learning preference, however, it’s also the goal of all training. If it’s not immediately possible for learners to practice skills (in the case of an emergency, for example) it’s important to create opportunities for learners to practice.  

How BizLibrary Can Help You Create Blended Learning Experiences for Your Workplace 

The BizLibrary Solution directly supports multimodal learning at all levels from directly in the platform. Our content library offers multiple kinds of microlearning videos that support many forms of multimodal learning style(s). Learning reviews and assessments also help create a blended learning environment by supplementing and reinforcing what employees have previously learned.  

We also offer synchronous development through BizAcademy, our VILT solution. BizAcademy is a cohort learning solution that engages with learners through multiple learning preferences, including social learning.  

If you’re looking for more assistance with multimodal learning, check out our blended learning webinar or reach out to a solutions consultant for more information!  

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