How do you learn? I don’t mean ‘in a classroom’ or ‘attending evening classes’, I’m talking about how you, personally, take on information and are able to recall it accurately at a later date. It seems like quite a basic process (as we’ve all been learning new skills since birth!) but the truth is that for teachers, understanding the fundamentals of how people learn is one of the most complicated topics we are faced with! For example, did you know that there are 7 different learning styles, but that the majority of people learn most efficiently through a variety of learning style combinations? Understanding the ways that students learn is important for teachers, as it allows them to ensure that the information they are conveying in lessons appeals to the learning styles of as many students as possible. If teachers don’t allow for differences in learning styles in their classes, the likelihood is that only a small portion of students will take knowledge away from the class, with the majority left feeling frustrated and dissatisfied by their learning experience.
Let’s talk about the 7 learning styles, to give you an idea of the sheer variety of learning methods favoured by students:
1.) Visual Learners. Students who find it easiest to learn through visuals tend to respond positively to pictures and images utilised in the lesson to demonstrate key points.
2.) Aural Learners. These students prefer sounds and music when they are effectively trying to learn new information. Reading aloud or making up a song with key facts and statistics could be an effective tool for these learners.
3.) Verbal Learners. These Students learn most effectively via speech and written language, so engage well with basic ‘chalk and talk’ type lectures. These students may also find it easier to learn from textbooks than some of their contemporaries who favour different learning styles (i.e. Aural or Kinaesthetic Learners).
4.) Kinaesthetic Learners. These students learn most effectively through practical, ‘hands-on’ experiences. Practical experiments or role-play could prove effective teaching tools with students who favour this learnings style.
5.) Logical Learners. These students have an aptitude or preference for logical, mathematical type learning and may prefer clear and definitive systems and logical reasoning in order to gain knowledge from lessons.
In addition to these 5 learning styles, there are 2 more that relate directly to whether or not a student prefers self-study or group learning environments:
6.) Social Learners. These students like to learn in a group environment that gives them the opportunity to share and discuss ideas and concepts.
7.) Solitary Learners. These students like to work alone and prefer self-study, possibly because they find group working noisy, distracting or uncomfortable when it comes to sharing ideas.
Having different learning styles isn’t a sign that some people are ‘brighter’ than others, just because they pick up information more easily from a book than their fellow students. It’s all about which parts of the brain are most active when we are trying to process new information; for example, in Visual Learners the Occipital Lobes are most active, whereas for Aural Learners, the temporal lobes demonstrate higher levels of activity.
So what does this tell us about online learning? For a start, we shouldn’t assume that all of our students’ favour solitary and verbal learning styles! Online courses are designed to make education convenient and easily accessible to students who cannot commit to full or part time traditionally taught courses. It is likely that in almost every course we teach, there are students who favour every single different learning style, so at Footstep Training we work hard to ensure that our courses reflect this. When you sign up for one of our courses, you are given access to a Learning Site that features informative video tutorials plus a range of relevant and interesting resources. You are also given access to learner forums that allow you to interact with other students (perfect for Social Learners!) and have the opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and provide feedback throughout your learning experience.