Well, which type of e-learner are you? It sounds like a straightforward question, and indeed it is the first question you should ask when embarking on a new course or field of study, yet it’s a topic that most people navigate intuitively rather than actively interrogating – which can mean seriously compromising the experience and results of your course.
Instead, before you even sign up for this or that online course, it is important to figure out your learning style and to decide whether it can even be applied to the program you hope to complete. Whilst many such programs are adaptable and have alternative modes of study available, some remain strictly textual, or video-based, or conveyed via spoken-word podcast – and if these media do not match your best learning circumstances, it may be worth looking into another provider before committing time and money to the wrong course.
So what exactly does it mean: what type of e-learner? Well, learning theorist Neil Fleming has observed that while the human being is an animal that inherently loves to learn, we each accumulate knowledge and reason better through different methods. He called his categorization of study styles ‘VARK’, after the four key methods – visual, auditory, reading, kinesthetic – adding a fifth study style that involves a thoughtful mix of all of the above.
Visual learners will understand a subject better if it is presented to them in the form of images, diagrams, or data visualization. They will also make better progress if they take a similar visual approach to their own study technique – for example, by breaking down complex theories into diagrams or even cartoon strips that explain the logic step-by-step.
Auditory learners may find they get on better in traditional lectures than other people. They love to be told information, but also to interrogate it verbally by asking questions and getting involved in discussions. If this sounds like you, be careful never to undervalue the power of group discussion!
Reading/writing learners tend to be your bookish types. They process information by writing it down in their own handwriting, whether they’re listening to a lecture or – preferably – studying a textbook. This type of learner will also benefit from thinking through their ideas on paper. They may write essays (in the original sense of the word – ‘to try’) without the intention to submit them, but rather to just get their ideas out of their head and into sensible, re-readable sentences.
And kinesthetic learners may be the least ‘traditionally academic’ of all – but that doesn’t make their preferred method of learning any less valid. Kinesthetic students learn best from actually doing things: from getting their hands on the hardware or software and trying it out.
If you haven’t yet figured out which is your ideal method of learning, try working through the flowchart on this new infographic from PoundPlace. There are some tips below on how to proceed once you know just what type of e-learner you are.