We don’t all learn in the same way. There are different methods which influence the way a person takes in, understands, expresses and remembers information.
What are the Options?
Visual learners learn through seeing. They’re the ones most likely to drift off during a long lecture. Rather than working with words, they’re more comfortable with images. For them, tools like diagrams, flowcharts, pictures or symbols may be key to understanding new concepts.
- A good trick for visual learners is developing a system of symbols to replace the written word. A smiley face might be used to represent a positive result, in a test or experiment, etc.
- It can be useful for visual learners to colour code their notes, to create more visual stimulation.
- Another trick is to spatially rearrange pages – instead of writing across a page horizontally, they can write in a way more descriptive of the relationship (circular, rambling, etc.) being described.
Auditory learners learn by listening. Lectures, tutorials, and group discussions are essential, for these learners.
- Auditory learners can focus better on text passages by reading them aloud, so they can hear how the words sound.
- They’ll gain from the creation of study groups, to hold discussions about core concepts and topics.
- Additive media (large blank document pages, recordings etc.) will give them options to supplement their learning with new material gleaned from discussions taking place away from the workshop venue.
Reading and writing are the main methods, here. University style courses (lots of text books and study notes) suit these people well.
- Read/write learners should be encouraged to study text book-style glossaries, and to write their own as they progress through a course.
- Another useful exercise is to return to any notes taken during a workshop for review. They should read them over, then create a new, condensed set of study notes.
- Read/write learners will benefit from rewriting explanations of core concepts in their own words.
- Lists can also be very useful.
Kinaesthetic Learners learn by doing. Labs, tutorials, and practical exercises are essential for these learners.
- Study exercises should aim to bring all their senses into the experience. This will provide multiple cues to aid their recall of the material covered.
- Kinaesthetic learners should try to fill their notes with several examples for each concept – from the course itself, and then by creating their own examples.
- They should also be encouraged to maximise their use of quiz questions, and practical exercises.
Multimodal learners display two or more of the above learning preferences equally, or near equally.
- This is more of an ideal condition, as combining elements of different learning styles can be beneficial, regardless of your predominant preference.
- Learning styles can and do change, over time. This is often influenced by changes in your learning environmentWhich One(s) Are You?
The VARK is a 16 question survey designed to help you determine your learning style. The test presents a variety of learning or explaining scenarios, and asks how you would best make a decision, or give advice, or integrate this new information.
It’s a good idea to retake the VARK annually. That way, you’ll ensure that you’re using study methods that best suit your current learning needs.
- Think through what you want the elearning participants to take from their training.
- Identify the type of learning – Knowledge, Skills or Attitudes (KSAs) – your students will be gaining.
- If the course involves knowledge retention and development of intellectual skills, it’s considered knowledge-based.
- If physical movement, co-ordination, and motor skills are involved, it’s considered skill-based.
- If principles like motivation and values are concerned, training is attitudes-based.
Size Up Your Audience
- Higher order thinking skills can be better attained individually, or in smaller modules, with group activities. This would include skills like creating, evaluating, and analysing of information.
- Lower order thinking skills, like memorising and remembering, require less interaction. These attributes aren’t so dependent on the size of the study group.
1. Classroom-style training and lectures.
Conveying information, when interaction or discussion isn’t desired or possible. Applications include:
- Conveying information in a short time
- Communicating the same information to large numbers of people
- Providing basic information to a group
2. Experiential learning.
This lets participants try new concepts, processes or systems in a controlled environment. It includes:
- Supervised coaching
- Practical exercises, or
- Some form of internship, with debriefing and reflection.
Used to recreate a complex process, event or set of circumstances, so participants can manipulate the situation without risk, then analyse what happened. Applications include:
- Integrating and applying complex skills
- Eliciting participants’ natural tendencies, and providing feedback
- Providing a realistic job-related experience
- Promoting an overall grasp of workshop content
- Presenting dry material in an interesting way
- Adding a competitive element to proceedings
Help participants reflect on their understanding of concepts and information. Projects allow them to work individually or in small groups, and are best used to test for understanding, or to provide individual input.
Allows an individual to acquire skills and knowledge, guided by structured materials. The process usually involves computer-based modules, CD-ROM/DVD learning, and Web-based virtual labs.
Of course all of this can be applied readily to any elearning project with the appropriate planning being carried out to ensure that your courses are geared to various types of learners. For example, for a general course such as an elearning induction course, it will be important to ensure that information is included that appeals to all kinds of learners so that everyone will be able to take what’s necessary away.