As shared in Forbes, the current generation of digitally savvy students has been passively trained by years of social media, e-commerce and online entertainment to expect a high-level user experience in all their digital interactions, with no exception for their educational institutions.

E-learning is such an integral part of the educational development that even universities perceived as pillars of high-quality education, such as Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, etc., started offering online courses both for credit and for free.

There are many forms of online training that you can choose from depending on your preferences. There are, however, two models that are particularly popular and use two of the basic concepts in learning – knowledge and skills. Below you will find details about what knowledge-based and skill-based learning are and how to apply those methods in your training for more efficient results.

Knowledge-Based Learning Method

As it is evident by its name, the knowledge-based learning method is based on the knowledge the learner already has and aims to build upon it. Here is what you need to know:

  • Definition: This type of information delivery aims to build upon the understanding that the learner already has. The individual uses their current knowledge to help them complete the task.
  • How it Works: Clear instructions will be set at the start of the task, which helps the learner to clearly see the path to the finish. Meanwhile they can use the knowledge they already have, whilst also absorbing new things. This linear structure helps the learner to see how they are advancing and can help to stress where, if any, the slits in their knowledge are. By exercising this method, consistent feedback is given to help the person see where they have made a mistake and where they are correct. This means that their knowledge is assessed along the way guaranteeing that they are progressing.
  • Why Use the Knowledge-Based Learning Method? Learning a lot of facts at once can be intimidating for many of us, particularly when there is a range of subjects to learn. Therefore, it is essential to practice the knowledge-based technique as it means the person can clearly identify where more emphasis is required. By building on the knowledge a person already has it lifts their confidence by showing them that they already have some, if not all, the knowledge they need to finish the mandatory task. And in case they don’t, they discover where they need to focus more attention.

Skill-Based Learning Method

The skill-based method aims to build upon the skills the learner already has and encourages them to be brave and dare to set foot onto unknown ground as well. Here is what you need to know about the successful implementation of this method:

  • Definition: Skill-based learning revolves around developing and using certain skills that can later be used to attain the mandatory knowledge. The classroom setting will encourage individuality, as well as combination of active learning and teamwork to help the people retain the knowledge.
  • How it Works: Assignments can involve working together to measure one another’s knowledge and help each other to develop and learn. This form of learning is effective for helping increase self-confidence, which in turn will help the person to do well. It also means that they will be more open to other, possibly harder subjects, as they will feel they have the skills and capability to easily resolve the problems in front of them.
  • Why Use the Skill-Based Learning Method? This process allows the learners to access, process and then express the information they have absorbed rather than merely writing it down. It not only helps the individual to learn what they need to succeed in the course of the specific online training, but helps to develop life skills that can help the person grow and advance. Learning this way will boost teamwork and communication skills, as the students work together to solve problems and help each other to reach the goals.

The Methods Together

All in all, the two methods are not completely different and can be used together to give an effective boost on the learner’s confidence that they can cope with different situations relying on their knowledge and skills. Here is how to do it:

  • From a lector’s point of view, it transforms the way lesson planning is done. Using the knowledge-based learning method the focus would have been on how they could teach the class about a certain topic, whereas in skill-based learning it means that the focus is on how that topic can help the students develop and learn certain skills.
  • Both approaches complement each other as the knowledge-based learning confirms that they have all the information stored in their brain, that they can later take into the task, disclose on to others and use the skills learnt to help one another to get the desired end result.
  • Combining the two styles will also guarantee that all students are learning at the same pace. Practices such as games and role-plays are a nice way to combine the two methods, and are proven to have great results as they make learning fun and are suitable for all kinds of students, from small children to working adults.

Top Tips for Creating an Effective Online Training Course

No matter which of the e-learning methods you choose, there are a few musts in order to create an effective online course. The main three ones are:

  1. Pre-Assessment – helps the lector get to know the student and design the online training course to perfectly meet the learners’ needs.
  2. Designing Targeted Online Training Materials – helps the tutor target their online training content based on the goals, needs, and preferences of their learners. A great start is to create a target group and see what fits that group’s needs. Also, as markets globalize, it is smart to consider looking into E-Learning Localization services that would assist with start-to-finish translation project management and production of the E-Learning courses, online training, presentations and other materials related to training and development.
  3. Add Interactivity – The most efficient way to build skills and simplify knowledge transfer is by enhancing interactive elements. If the setting does not allow for an online interaction of any sort, create online training activities that involve real-world situations, challenges, and characters.

To sum up, knowledge-based learning delivery aims to build upon the understanding that the learner already has whereas skill-based learning revolves around developing and using certain skills that can later be used to attain the mandatory knowledge. Both methods of learning are effective, and the best learning technique would be to combine the two and then to add games to make learning fun. If choosing only one of the methods, it is good to take into consideration the personal learning habits of the specific student and then apply the preferred method.


  • Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement, Forbes
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