It's generally accepted that people don't learn the same way. Some students are better learners visually, others learn better through hearing, and some have to engage in practical before they can truly grasp a concept. It's challenging enough to help different types of learners develop at the same pace in a physical class, and it's safe to say many educators struggle with that aspect of teaching.
But despite the difficulties inherent in incorporating the different learning styles of students in classrooms, it's something educators have to do. Despite the work that it requires, educators have to accomplish this difficult task because it's important that no child, or learner, is left behind. However, the past year has tested the will of many dedicated teachers. Because how does one take note of divergent learning styles in online classes, and figure out a teaching plan that carries every learner along? It's a difficult task, alright. Thankfully, it isn't impossible. In this article, I'll be outlining the different kinds of learning styles and will be offering suggestions on how educators can integrate them into online learning.
Some of these suggestions may not seem feasible if you're making use of a reliable online platform. But many of them will certainly give you new insights on how you can carry every learner along during your online lesson.
The first learning style on this list is the visual learning style. Most people learn by seeing, because graphic images are especially striking, and can imprint themselves in the mind for a very long time.
Visual learners, as might be expected, love visual images. They adore things like diagrams, charts, and a visualizing process. They want educators to draw out a concept on the board and explain it to them with visual aid. They don't want to hear about what a thing is, they want to see what it is. They love learning by looking at visual concepts, creating them, or even watching other people create them.
And how do you identify visual learners in your class? Well, for the most part, they are usually habitual drawers or doodlers, they are biased towards diagrams and charts and prefer visual instructions.
Visual learners are usually better primed to learn in the online class if they have access to visual aids, as opposed to just reading text or hearing it read to them. The obvious solution, as an educator, is to provide diagrams, charts, and other such visual aids during lessons.
However, there are some more practical ways to assist visual learners:
- At the beginning of the class, show the class a series of bulleted instructions that outline what they are supposed to turn in that week. This image stays in their mind and allows them quickly to recall deadlines. It's so much better than giving them lengthy notes that detail expectations of the assignments.
- Use PowerPoint to give a visual image of each step of the assignment. Asides from that, you must always upload a strong example of the assignment that students can follow.
Social learners, as the name implies, are learners who love working with others and learn better when they are in a community of students. These groups of learners are probably the most impacted by the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Since physical interaction has been limited, they long to have the opportunity to learn in a county of learners. But don't despair.
You can help this class of learners by creating an informal forum where students can introduce themselves to one another. And make sure this forum incentivizes communication among students. For example, you could have a single thread where the first student who responds to the last message on the thread asks the next student to answer a question.
For auditory learners, a module where they would have to go through pages and pages of boring text may seem boring and will be rather ineffective. But there are also ways you could get around that.
- One effective method is to create classroom "lectures" using QuickTime and upload the lectures to YouTube. This way, the students wouldn't have to go through those long texts, and could simply listen to their lecturers speak. You could also include an Easter egg in the middle of the lecture to incentivize participation. That is, a random phrase that only someone who listens to it completely can know, and then give extra credits to the student who discovers it.
- You could also focus on getting the audiobooks of important texts to the course. This will also help auditory learners learn via their preferred method.
These are learners who do their best work while working. These learners love learning by doing and respond amazingly to hands-on activities. To help students like this keep up with the rest of the class, you could attempt to give different options for assignments. Don't just give a one size fits all assignment. Allow your students to experiment. Give kinesthetic learners something they can work on and submit. Allowing students to submit assignments in different ways will help them show their creative sides, and could even inspire an interesting conversation during the class.
It's Challenging but Possible
Yes, we understand. Doing all these can be tasking for the educator. But if you're serious about not leaving a single child behind, it's important to learn how to apply these methods to the online classroom and make the best of them.