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What Is Multidimensional Learning And Why It Is Important For Your Business

Written by: Isabella Johnston, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" Nelson Mandella.

People are complex, a hot mess, and amazing, right? Those in HR, regardless if you are Chief of People & Culture, a hiring manager, or a CEO should understand that it is vital to adopt a multidimensional mindset when it comes to skilling your people. This builds a culture of continuous learning that improves employee experience which impacts your ROI and keeping happy customers.

So what is Multidimensional Learning?

Let’s look at the root word of this compound word first. Dimension means an aspect, or way of looking at or thinking about something. That is what people do for the most part, right? They think and study within seconds what they see, hear, and experience daily. Let’s take a moment to really absorb the responsibility we have to recognize that we are all unique and different in how we process information, solve problems, relate with others, and learn if it is for knowledge or to change behaviors. The word 'multi' in the compound word shares multiple. In the case of multidimensional, it is multiple dimensions of absorbing information to learn. Multidimensional learning takes into account that humans are capable of way more than we give credit. Adopting a multidimensional learning mindset individually and as a company culture reinforces that it is not all about you, rather about others. Lightbulb moment over the head for some, reinforcing lessons learned in life if you are on a deeper level of understanding in Maslow’s Theory. It does, however, start with you. More on that later. It’s not a stretch to say that employees spend more waking hours with their work colleagues than they do with their families. Creating a culture of engaged, invested, and happy employees is part of what keeps a company vibrant, growing, and successful. Companies with strong employee engagement outpace businesses where engagement is weak. According to Gallup, organizations with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings — per share and have 21% percent higher profitability. I am sure all employers want to see higher profits and recognize the value of engaged employees because they represent the business to the public in multiple ways.

As shared previously, people are deep and complex processing beings. When we interact with people whether at work (or in personal life) we have to remember that people have multiple layers to navigate when communicating and learning. Let’s start by understanding some keywords to keep us all on the same page about learning, mentoring, and how that comes back in measurable KPIs. Pedagogy — This word is typically heard in educator learning circles and focuses on learning styles. Pedagogy is defined as the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.

Deep Learning According to IBM, deep learning attempts to mimic the human brain—albeit far from matching its ability—enabling systems to cluster data and make predictions with incredible accuracy. While a neural network with a single layer can still make approximate predictions, additional hidden layers can help to optimize and refine for accuracy. Deep learning drives many artificial intelligence (AI) applications and services that improve automation, performing analytical and physical tasks without human intervention. Deep learning technology lies behind everyday products and services (such as digital assistants, voice-enabled TV remotes, and credit card fraud detection) as well as emerging technologies (such as self-driving cars). The goal with deep learning is to take collective knowledge, communication, and understanding of humans to improve processes and outcomes. How can this improve learning? People learn from experience. After machines have gained enough experience through deep learning, they can be put to work for specific tasks such as intelligent gaming, driving a car, detecting weeds in a field of crops, detecting diseases, inspecting machinery to identify faults, improved elder care, and so on. Obviously, this eliminates some jobs and brings new jobs into the future of work. This topic plays heavily into how people learn and jobs in the future.

What are the multidimensions factors that influence how people learn and work together?

1. Visual (spatial)

Are you constantly doodling? If you find it easier to understand something if it is in a diagram, you are probably a visual learner. Knowledge or concept maps use visual symbols as a way to express knowledge, concepts, thoughts or ideas, and the relationships between them. These are a great tool for visual or spatial learners as you can draw connections or use color coding to group ideas. By representing information spatially and with images, students are able to focus on meaning, reorganize and group similar ideas easily, and utilize their visual memory to learn. Visual learners often pursue careers such as architecture, engineering, project management, or design [Inspire Education]. 2. Auditory (musical)

If you need someone to tell you something out loud to understand it, you are an auditory learner. You depend on hearing the information to fully understand it, rather than just reading it from a book. Group discussions are a great way for auditory learners to grasp new ideas. Auditory learners have the aptitude for noticing audible signals like changes in tone, or pitch to name a few. For example, when memorizing a phone number, an auditory learner will say it out loud first and take note of how it sounded to remember it. Aural learners often pursue careers such as musician, recording engineer, speech pathologist, or language teacher [Inspire Education]. 3. Verbal (linguistic)

People who find it easier to express themselves by writing or speaking can be regarded as verbal learner. You love to write and read. You like to play on the meaning or sound of words such as tongue twisters, rhymes, and so on. You’re familiar with the definitions of many words and regularly make an effort to learn more meanings of new words. Verbal learners often pursue public speaking, writing, administration, journalism, or politics. Techniques used by verbal learners involve mnemonics, scripting, role-playing, and anything that involves both speaking and writing [Inspire Education]. 4. Physical (kinesthetic)

In this style, learning happens when the learner carries out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. Those who have a preference for kinesthetic learning are called ‘do-ers and much prefer hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners make up about five percent of the population. Kinesthetic learners are often interested in careers such as emergency services, safety representative, physical education, or entertainment (such as acting or dance) [Inspire Education]. 5. Logical (mathematical)

When you like using your brain for logical and mathematical reasoning, you’re a logical learner. You easily recognize patterns and can connect seemingly meaningless concepts easily. Logical learners often lean towards classifying and grouping information to help them further understand it. You excel in numbers and are fine with doing complex calculations such as basic trigonometry off the top of your head! Logical learners could pursue careers in fields such as scientific research, accountancy, bookkeeping, or computer programming [Inspire Education]. 6. Social (interpersonal)

Other learners prefer social or interpersonal learning. If you’re at best in socializing and communicating with people, both verbally and non-verbally, this is what you are; a social learner. People often come to you to listen and ask for advice. They do because of the apparent sensitivity you have to their feelings, moods, and even motivations. You listen well and empathize with what others are thinking and going through.

Social learners may pursue counseling, teaching, training and coaching, sales, politics, and human resources among others [Inspire Education]. 7. Solitary (intrapersonal)

You have a solitary style if you are more private, independent, and introspective. Your concentration is at its best when you focus on your thoughts and feelings without the distraction of others. Authors and researchers often have a strong solitary learning style. However, having a good solitary grounding is evident for many top performers in a range of fields. Being able to learn introspectively works well with some of the more dominant learning styles discussed above [Inspire Education]. 8. Andragogy (prior experience)

Malcolm Knowles developed the Andragogy theory in the 1970s. According to Knowles, adult learners differ from children in the following six (6) ways [ATD]:

  • Need for Knowledge: Adults need to know “why” they should learn.

  • Motivation: Adults are driven by internal motives. They will learn if they want to learn. For instance, a compelling answer to the “what’s-in-it-for-me” question is a powerful internal motivation.

  • Willingness: For adults, the willingness or readiness to learn comes from perceiving the relevance of the knowledge. They want to know how learning will help them better their lives, and they learn best when they know that the knowledge has immediate value for them.

  • Foundation or Experience: Adults bring with them rich reserves of experiences that form the foundation of their learning. They analyze, rationalize, synthesize, and develop new ideas or tweak old ones through the filter of their experiences.

  • Self-Direction: Adults are self-directed individuals who want to take charge of the learning journey. They are independent beings who want to feel in control.

  • Orientation to Learning: Adults learn best when they “do.” They find relevance in task-oriented learning, which they can align with their workplace realities. Besides, task-oriented learning exercises their problem-solving ability that in turn, gives them the confidence that they can conquer their challenges with their newly acquired knowledge.

9. Transformational Learning

We have all experienced aha moments. Flashes of inspiration have led us to see reality in new ways. Nuggets of wisdom that have radically changed our mindsets. Deep insights that have busted through long-held beliefs and conventions. These are transformative experiences that shift our consciousness. As an instructional designer, you should strive to create such learning experiences. Such experiences rouse the mind, stir powerful emotions, and leave lasting impressions. Many such events trigger radical changes in thoughts, perspectives, attitudes, and behavioral patterns—the “transformations.” Transformational learning theory explains how adults learn through such aha moments. The theory is rooted in the belief that learning takes place when the new meaning is imparted to an earlier experience (Mezirow, 1990) or an old meaning is reinterpreted and seen in a new light.

  • Identification of a Dilemma or a Crisis

  • Establishment of PersonalRelevance

  • Critical Thinking [ATD]

10. Experiential Learning

Chinese philosopher Confucius said,

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand."

As human beings, we are shaped by our experiences. For adults, no amount of textbook learning can take the place of knowledge, clarity, and wisdom that come from experience. The Experiential Learning Theory states that the essence of adult learning is making sense of experiences. Adults learn best when they learn by doing. They learn best when they are directly involved with—“experiencing”—the learning instead of memorizing numbers and definitions from books.

David A. Kolb reveals the cyclical nature of experiential learning by explaining how it takes place in four stages:

Concrete Experience (CE):

Adults learn best when the learning experience goes beyond the chalk-and-talk routine. Kinesthetic learning or learning by encouraging physical actions (simulations) and learning that evokes strong emotional responses (realistic scenarios that reveal cause-effect relationships) create powerful experiences that are not forgotten easily. Reflective Observation (RO):

Adults need to engage with and reflect on their experiences to glean insights and acquire knowledge. So it is critical to not only create opportunities for experience-based learning but also provide time and space to encourage reflection. Create opportunities for “watching” the action unfold before the eyes (demonstrations) and “analyzing” processes and procedures (scenario-driven activities, case studies). Abstract Conceptualization (AC):

The success of experiential learning lies in the learner being able to decode abstract concepts from their reflections, generalize these ideas, and realize the relevance to their reality. Designs assessments to encourage learners to exercise their “critical-thinking” abilities, so they can formulate concepts and procedures. Active Experimentation (AE):

Role-playing activities, internships, and other hands-on tasks let learners apply the learning and thus truly“learn by doing.” Active experimentation leads to concrete experiences, and the cycle of experiential learning resumes. 11. Personality Type

“Personality matters for many reasons. One reason has to do with the fit – how well a person’s personality fits the job, the team, and the overall organization. Poor fit is a major cause of conflict and turnover,” said Dr. Blaine Landis, a UCL School of Management assistant professor.

“Personality will affect whether people are hired, promoted, derailed, will help others, be seen as a leader, and so on” [Landis]

Well-validated personality assessments can predict an individual’s work performance, according to psychologist Dr. Robert Hogan, founder, and president of Hogan Assessments. Landis’ research also supports that notion. Not only does personality directly affect employees’ performance ratings, Landis said, but it also shapes employees’ positions in their social networks at work. Those positions help predict job performance, as well. Self-awareness is an important step to professional success. If you don’t recognize and understand your weak areas and unhelpful habits, you’re less likely to advance beyond them. That can limit what you accomplish at work, regardless of whether you’re a research scientist, mechanic, server, or full-time parent with a side hustle [16 Personalities]. My personality type is Protagonist (16 Personalities) or Myers Briggs (ENFJ). This type is a person with the Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. These warm, forthright types love helping others, and they tend to have strong ideas and values. They back their perspective with the creative energy to achieve their goals. Protagonists (ENFJs) feel called to serve a greater purpose in life. Thoughtful and idealistic, these personality types strive to have a positive impact on other people and the world around them. They rarely shy away from an opportunity to do the right thing, even when doing so is far from easy—communication with others. Once I understood my personality type, it helped me to communicate better. I observed how introverted processors were trying to understand what I was saying. They had this glazed look in their eyes with furrowed brows. It was unspoken. Is she ever going to get to the point? look, that clued me in. I learned to organize my thoughts in my head and pay close attention to the other person’s body language and facial expressions. Understanding my personality style shifted how I communicate. I took time to think through what I wanted to say first and slowed down in how I spoke. This actually helped me communicate more effectively with both introverted and extroverted personality types because that is how they process information. 12. Serious Games

No matter where you sit on the spectrum of using games to learn, it is here to stay. People love the benefits. It is fun, and can definitely change behaviors (Think about how much you have spent on games), encourages competition, and can positively impact team building. Game Learn published 8 benefits that I am sharing with readers.

  • Stimulates the mind Playing games offers physiological benefits associated with the stimulation of the brain, and it delays natural aging. In some cases, game-based learning drives decision-making, improves cognitive function, and helps people learn valuable skills and lessons applicable to real life.

  • Improves self-esteem When playing, it is easier to interact with others, establish dialogue, and overcome cultural, social, and generational barriers. Therefore, the use of serious games for training improves the self-esteem of the student, who tries to explore and find alternative approaches to solving different situations in the process of learning.

  • Applicable to the real world Serious games for training enable students to learn concepts and develop skills through the game. This interactive environment, far from turning away from reality, makes it possible to practice and compete so that retaining information and applying what is learned in a simulated situation makes the educational process become a success.

  • Permanent personal development The application of games to learning encourages students to develop their skills continuously and steadily over time, thanks to the gaming environment. Serious games for training favor skills as important as observation, motivation, overcoming criticism, strategic thinking, and, of course, soft skills.

  • Immediate feedback One of the benefits of game-based learning platforms is undoubtedly the possibility of obtaining immediate feedback on student performance. Serious games for training incorporate systems that permit constant monitoring. Thus, those responsible for the implementation of training can study the learning process in-depth, as well as its effect on the achievement of objectives.

  • Interactive nature We live with a lot of multimedia devices that make us familiar with gaming elements (achievements, rankings, rewards, competition, levels, etc.). The interactive nature of serious games enables student engagement because all these playful elements contribute towards learning in a fun way, appropriate to the lifestyle of new generations, and also favoring communication and coordination for problem-solving purposes.

  • Collaborative learning Among the most important benefits of serious games for training is collaborative learning. People who learn through playing usually do so in a collaborative environment in which they work together to achieve a goal. By encouraging cooperation through the game, students increase their job satisfaction; they feel part of the team and are involved in achieving common goals.

  • Unique model The main advantage of game-based learning over traditional training and other methodologies is undoubtedly the unique model it offers. Acquiring technical knowledge through a game is nothing new. However, there are disciplines related to social skills whose development would be very limited without the existence of serious games.

13. Diversity & Inclusion

I am spending a lot of time in this area of D&I because it is important to be reminded we are ALL different and yet the same. All of these differences are what make us unique and bring us together. Why? Because we are made for relationships with one another. We actually need others. True creativity comes from curiosity and working together. Bouncing ideas back and forth, really listening, arguing, and coming together. Language Barriers — When courses are designed by those who speak English as a native and sole language, it puts non-native speakers at risk of not understanding the nuances of the English language. Non-native speakers may interpret words or phrases much differently, and even different English dialects can pose a problem in interpretation. When dealing with a multilingual audience, translate materials into multiple languages as needed, including support for the hearing impaired. Be careful to avoid using slang, jargon, acronyms, and metaphors that don’t translate well or that can be misinterpreted.

Cultural Norms — Differences in cultural norms can impact how learners participate in training programs, including how they respond to questions and their perceived role in the learner/teacher relationship. Some learners may be more reserved, less likely to participate vocally, and view the roles of an instructor differently. This can make them hesitant to ask questions or gain a more specific direction. These quiet, more reserved students may give the impression they don’t understand the material. Other learners are more participatory, vocal, and likely to view the instructor as a facilitator who can/should be questioned and challenged for maximum learning value. These students want more independence and interaction with peers, which runs the risk that they could dominate the discussion and leave others feeling left out.

Visual Cues — Culture often influences how images are interpreted, and sometimes the confusion can be awkward or downright offensive. Common hand gestures like the “ok” or “thumbs up” have very different connotations in different cultures, and various color interpretations can impact the learner experience. For example, while black is often thought of as the color of mourning, it’s actually white in many countries. In the U.S., red is a warning, but in China, it represents good fortune and prosperity. To avoid ambiguity, confusion, or offense, use universal visual cues in training design, have content reviewed for cultural sensitivity, and customize training for the specific audience to ensure maximum relevancy and understanding.

Technology Bias — Lack of internet access is a real issue across large parts of America, and with the popularity of eLearning, this can inadvertently discriminate against rural and community areas lacking internet access or experiencing poor bandwidth from providers. Tech bias can also be a problem for those who work in industries not requiring 24/7 technology access or the need to use a computer to execute their job. To avoid disenfranchising those who can’t—or don’t—fit the profile of a "typical online learner," consider designing programs to be lightweight, consume minimal bandwidth, and that utilize platforms that are accessible on mobile devices.

Gender Bias — Content that doesn’t reflect individuals across gender identity will not resonate with learners and may alienate many. This is an area where implicit bias is especially common, with materials often showing people in roles typically associated with gender—male doctors and female nurses, for example, or male truck drivers and female school teachers.

Assessment Bias — Beyond the course materials themselves, how you assess training and course completion must also take cultural variations into account. For example, when conducting evaluations, evidence shows that some cultures are more exam-oriented and learn and memorize materials for the purpose of passing the test. Whereas other cultures are more process and application-oriented, keen on learning how the material can be applied in real-world situations. Considering these cultural differences when designing and implementing learning assessments is critical; otherwise, it may appear the material is falling flat, or learners don’t understand when in reality, it’s just that the assessment methodology doesn’t suit their learning style.

Time Zone Bias — With today’s distributed workforce, scheduling synchronous training programs can be extremely problematic. For example, an hour-long session set for 3:00 p.m. in California falls directly during dinner/family time in New York, which puts those workers at a disadvantage. When training must span international borders, the situation can get even worse. A lunch-and-learn at midday in some parts of America is the equivalent of late evening in Europe. Trainers also must be cognizant of cultural holidays so as not to interfere or force people to train on days off. This time zone bias is one of the many reasons why self-directed Learning Management Systems (LMS) and streaming on-demand training tools are far better than synchronous or face-to-face instruction—they allow learners to learn at the time and pace that works best for them.

Multi-generational Bias — Information compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP reveals that Millennials account for approximately 50 percent of the workforce.

Meanwhile, the population of people older than 65 is larger than ever. And it’s expected to double in the next 20 to 30 years. While these younger and older employees overlap in the workforce, research reveals they typically want significantly different things from their careers. The former tend to prioritize purpose and personal development while the latter seek security and stability. According to SHRM, challenges can also arise due to differences in communication styles, general work practices, collaboration, and expectations from employers.

These differences highlight how creating an environment in which all generations can work together harmoniously can be difficult. In fact, AARP data reveals that 60 percent of workers report the presence of generational conflict in their workplace.

But fostering a culture of productive collaboration and mutual respect starts from the top down. If your organization hopes to achieve better productivity, engagement, and retention with a multigenerational workforce, consider the following three strategies. [Brandman University]

14. Disabilities

Many adults with learning disabilities were never diagnosed and did not receive appropriate instruction for their disabilities.

This can result in a lack of training, self-confidence, and an inability to leverage their strengths to increase their odds of success in the workplace.

15. Ability Levels

10-20% of all people are born with a learning style that makes reading, writing, or spelling next to impossible without special help [Learning Abilities].

Why will Multidimensional Learning be Important for the Future of Work?

This all matters when it comes to creating a positive work experience for your employees, contractors, and interns. Employee experience is hot in all the positive ways, and it should matter to you because it impacts your bottom line. Employees, contractors, and interns will share where they work, what it is like there, and be a force that recruits new people, prospective customers, and help retain customers stay in your sales wheel. According to Trend Magazine spring, 2021 [PEW Trusts] shared policymakers, educators, and employers have been vigorously debating how best to prepare Americans for our potentially automated future. Some believe that the “hard” skills of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are most critical to the future, while others believe that the uniquely “human” skills of the liberal arts are the ones that will endure in the face of automation. But this debate presents a false choice between the liberal arts and applied learning. It’s not an either/or proposition but both/and: The most valuable workers now and in the future will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills and adapt to the changing needs of the workplace. Adult workers can already sense that things are different now. The Pew Research Center found that 87 percent of adults in the workforce acknowledge that it will be essential or important for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their careers to keep up with changes in the workplace. Most working adults expect to receive training from employers, but few actually do. Peter Capelli, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, puts it bluntly: “What employers really want are workers they don’t have to train,” he writes. “Companies simply haven’t invested much in training their workers.” He notes that in 1979, young workers got an average of 2.5 weeks of training a year, but by 1995, that amount was just under 11 hours, with workplace safety as the most common topic—not building new skills. Employers want workers who bring human skills into particular career fields and supplement them with technical skills that reflect current industry standards. But they largely look to outside candidates instead of skilling up from within. Most working learners recognize the power of combining tech fluency with human skills on their own as their careers progress. But to keep up with the rapid pace of change, employers must redesign their practices to give workers access to learning.

The most valuable workers now and in the future will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills and adapt to the changing needs of the workplace.

The challenge is that few companies actually know the talent and capabilities of their workers. Employers tend to rely on degrees and credentials—things that transcribe, formalize, and codify our learning as comprehensible packages—while most of their employees’ life- and work-based knowledge remains invisible and unrecognized.

Oracle research reports moving into the future employees want and expect a shared culture built out of trust, value innovation, and prioritize research and development. This will be challenging given more employees' desire to work remotely grows. Employees still want to feel some connection to their coworkers and managers, even if establishing them is more difficult. In Oracle’s recent study, employees shared actions that can help them to feel connected.

Suggestions included more frequent communication between colleagues, better collaboration tools, virtual happy hours, peer chats, and group video games.

Most organizations recognize the value of investing in their professional and managerial employees; after all, these are the individuals expected to drive the organization’s success. While such efforts are important, so is investing in front-line workers, who often are the first (and sometimes only) contact customers may have with a company. However, many front-line workers feel overlooked and less connected to the company. This can translate to lower productivity and higher turnover.

For example, Walmart offered its 1.5 million hourly employees the opportunity to work toward associate and bachelor’s degrees, for $1 per day. The 7,500 students who have signed up so far have a retention rate 20 points higher than their colleagues. Moreover, these employees are gaining skills they and their employers will need in the future. Want to learn more from Isabella? Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and visit her website.


Isabella Johnston, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Isabella Johnston (aka The Intern Whisperer) is a serial entrepreneur specializing in Human Resource Development (training & learning). She loves mentoring and coaching humans to think like an Olympian. As a serial entrepreneur, she specializes in multidimensional learning, peer and reverse mentoring, and team communications. Isabella is the founder and owner of multiple businesses in diverse industries.

Intern Pursuit Software (startup) provides employers with intelligent intern management and upskills employees and intern talent.

IP Academy: The most effective learning experience delivering what you need when you need it.

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Pivot Business Consulting - A business consulting firm specializing in process improvement and training/learning.

Cat 5 Studios: Video and Serious Game production company.



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