Different learning styles require different approaches to instructional design. Are you offering instructional modalities that meet your students' needs?
The emergence of powerful yet affordable technologies for delivering online courses has positioned almost anyone with a desirable skill set, experience, or knowledge to share it with others.
And we’ve seen WP Courseware users offer courses across hundreds of different niches, each consisting of learning concepts that are best delivered to students in their own unique way.
Video demonstrations are helpful for software training. Charts, images, and notations are well-suited for teaching a student how to trade commodities with technical signal indicators. And the list goes on. Of course, there are many different ways of learning.
We very often produce content here on our blog which helps our customers decide the most effective modality for delivering their course content. But what happens on the other end of that internet connection?
You’re likely familiar with how you learn most effectively. We tend to discuss this often with our colleagues or peers…you classify yourself as a “visual learner” or perhaps a physical learner who “learns by doing”.
In actually, this spectrum extends far beyond the categorizations we use in casual conversation. Traditionally, instructional designers have adhered to a practice of categorizing learners into one of seven different major learnings styles.
And understanding those learnings styles, or at least having an awareness of them, can be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning your online course content to improve learning retention rates among your students.
Obviously, it’s often not possible to cater to every learning style when crafting content for your course lessons, however, these seven different major learning styles intersect through the use of certain modalities.
Let’s take a look…
1. Verbal learning style
I wanted to address this first as it’s not only the most common teaching and learning style in traditional classrooms, but it’s often a bit misunderstood.
Verbal learners tend to absorb information most effectively when listening to an instructor describe concepts, however, they also integrate information very well through speaking and talking through concepts.
They assimilate information efficiently through lectures, but also through the use of acronyms, mnemonics, or engaging in small group conversation with other students.
2. Visual learning style
Again, this is a learning style which most people can instinctively recognize within themselves or others. We tend to intuitively know if we respond to visual cues while learning.
Visual learners best absorb knowledge through things like images, graphs, charts, and maps. Visual resources are often reinforced through the use of auditory resources as well.
While it may be challenging to initially think of ways to conceptualize your course content visually, if you get creative it can be applied to almost any concepts. And this is true even in online classroom environments. There are now web-based blackboards, mind maps, and storyboards.
3. Aural learning style
We have many, many WP Courseware users who offer online music instruction or who teach other musical skills…composition, production, editing, etc.
However, aural learners can be accommodated when teaching almost any concept, not just music. Studies have demonstrated that aural learners can actually respond well to learning very technical concepts such as mathematics when hearing those concepts described properly.
In e-learning environments, catering to the aural learning style has an added benefit…portability. Even if you simply offer audio versions of video lessons, your content can still be consumed in situations where watching a video isn’t possible, such as commuting.
4. Physical learning style
While we think of physical learners as those who do best, well, doing something, this is one of the learning styles where there’s an intersection.
Sure physical activities such as games, puzzles, and models are what we traditionally think of when it comes to effective techniques for physical learning. However, brainstorming, mapping, storyboarding, and journaling also include a physical component…putting pen to paper.
Identifying physical learners is often simple and quite obvious. Think of an excited Italian waving their hands as they speak! Physical learners very commonly move while either speaking or learning.
5. Logical learning style
Logical learners are problems solvers. They enjoy mathematics and science. They keep checklists and evaluate results or outcomes.
At the end of the day, almost all of us are logical learners to some degree. We all tend to try to find the link between concepts we’re trying to grasp and their practical application. Or we attempt to understand why we arrived at a particular outcome based on a certain series of actions.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to accommodate the logical learning style within online course curriculum. It’s not difficult to present problems to be solved or require written assignments which explain problem solving logic on a computer screen.
6. Social learning style
This is one of the more difficult learning styles to introduce through online courses or within virtual classrooms, but not impossible.
Social learners best respond in learning environments in which there is a high degree of interaction, either with instructors or other students. This is true even if the interaction is simply personal in nature, it doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around the course content.
While it may not be feasible to interact with a large number of students face to face through online video conferencing, implementing other solutions can benefit these learners as well. It’s actually quite simple to build a social network around your course using any number of solutions. We wrote about one of them for WP Courseware a few months ago.
7. Solitary learning style
For obvious reasons, it isn’t much of a challenge to cater to solitary learners with online course curriculum. It’s necessary to be somewhat comfortable with solitary learning to succeed in an online course in the first place.
However, solitary learners prefer the time and space to solve problems within their own mind to fully grasp concepts. Many of us respond this way to new material. We need time to digest it, find the benefits of having the knowledge, and then discover how we can best commit it to memory.
Do you have advice or experiences to share on how you’ve accommodated different learning styles within your online course? We’d love to have you share them with us in the comments below!