Understanding learning theories
In order to fill in the details in an online course in a way that will efficiently convey information to learners, you need to be aware of the ways that learners actually learn. Learning theories are a helpful source of information when developing courses, since they allow course developers to envision new ways of learning.
This lesson discusses learning styles and learning processes. Knowledge of learning theories will provide you with a solid foundation to help you develop skills that will make you a more effective online course designer. The best design decisions are based on a solid understanding of learning theories.
Many researchers have studied learning styles. As a course developer, you should be aware that learners have different learning styles. In this lesson, we will discuss why understanding learning styles can make us more effective course developers and instructors. We will discuss a few of the theories about learning styles, including VAK theory, Bernice McCarthy’s 4Mat system, and Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory model.
Why study learning styles?
When you want to learn something new, what do you do? Do you look for an example or a model? Do you seek a tutorial to guide you through the topic? Do you like to read what the “experts” say about the topic?
When you want to learn about something, you will usually follow a similar pattern of behavior to achieve your goal. This pattern of behavior is a learning style. While you will not always follow the same patterns of behavior when you want to learn something, you will find that you are more comfortable when engaging in learning styles that work for you. By studying learning styles, you can determine what learning styles work better for a given topic and for your intended audience.
In the training field, one of the most widely discussed theories about learning styles is the VAK theory. This stands for Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. The VAK theory states that we use all of our senses when learning. The idea is that everyone learns in these three ways, but one of the three is always dominant.
§ There are two types of Visual learners: Linguistic and Spatial. Linguistic visual learners like to get their information as written words. Spatial visual learners like to get their information as pictures and videos.
§ Auditory learners like to get their information via the spoken word. They prefer not to read information.
§ Kinesthetic learners need to move and be stimulated physically in order to learn. They like to have background music or to take notes while listening to a lecture.
Although this is probably one of the most widely used theories, it is just that: a theory. There is no scientific research to back it up