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Researchers, teachers, psychologists and scientists have spent a considerable amount of time studying, and trying to determine the different ways in which one understands and learns information. There are people who prefer cramming a couple hundred pages at the 11th hour before an exam, and then there are those who make detailed notes, flashcards, and intricately colored charts and graphs months in advance. There’s nothing wrong with either of the ways; it’s just that each individual has a different learning style – one that corresponds to the way they acquire knowledge.
Amongst the 70+ different schemes that describe the various types of learners, there is one theory that is particularly popular across the board; namely the VARK Model.
The VARK Model stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic modalities of learning. Introduced in early 1990’s, Fleming and Mills presented four different type of learning modes which seem to reflect the varying experiences of students and teachers alike.
The VARK Model describes the four different types of learners as follows:
Teaching environments, irrespective of whether they are in-person classrooms or online training sessions, all depend on and utilize the various learning types to get the right message across in the right way. However, often, a multi-modal approach is used to accomplish the same.
That is largely because there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept that applies when it comes to learning and learning styles. People can and do fit in any of the four learning types. They can also utilize a combination of them.
Here is an in-depth look at the four individual learning styles and how various online IT training programs utilize them to cater to their vast audience of learners.
The visual learner is one who responds best to visceral, graphic material that includes contrasting colors, eye-catching shapes and design element, along with diagrams, and graphs mapping out information with varying symbolism.
A visual learner depends on the use of imagery that directly correlates to the content, helping organize and explain the meaning behind the course material. A visual learner not only prefers seeing the information clearly displayed, but is able to utilize the symbolism to assimilate information considerably better than when it is presented in text form.
Computer engineers, IT professionals and programmers are usually classified as visual learners, since computers largely depend on visual or graphic representations to display their concepts.
For visual learners, online training programs usually have:
- Well-crafted visual presentations with graphs, charts
- Video design elements with fresh, cool colors and accents are common
- 3-D models, multimedia, drawings, maps and puzzles are often used.
The aural or auditory learner is one who relies on the spoken/heard word for information gathering and understanding. The largest group of right-brain dominant learners, an aural learner tends to become distracted through visual presentations and is most attentive during discussions, lectures, and group brain-storm sessions where there is vocal sharing of ideas.
For aural learners, the use of informal, conversational language with colloquialisms, abbreviations, or even slang is preferred. More often than not, auditory learners can be found sifting through their ideas out loud, instead of weighing their thoughts and then speaking. With such learners, having them repeat what’s already been said, or asking basic questions with an obvious answer, is quite common.
The most popular example of such a learner would be a musician who learns how to play an instrument by listening to recorded pieces and sequences, while visualizing playing said instrument.
The following elements comprise an online IT training session that caters specifically to auditory learners:
- Discussion-based group activities to promote a verbal exchange of ideas where the aural learner is free to repeat key material to absorb it better.
- Provision of audio based cues to aid information retention.
- Utilization of background music to foster individual learning sessions to accompany textual information.
A reading/writing-based learner performs best when presented with vital information in detailed textual form. These learners are the group of people who find themselves distracted easily by visual or audio aids, and are unable to understand and/or retain information when it’s colorful or loud.
For these learners, having annotated text on hand to interact with is more powerful than any other learning modality. Any and all forms of reading and writing, especially manuals, essays, reports and assignments, are particularly preferred for this type of learners.
A teacher or a professor is a very common example of such a learning type.
For readers and the writers, some of the tools used by IT training modules are:
- Thoroughly detailed, written hand-outs or presentations
- Quizzes and questionaries’ for interactive learning
- Notepads, tablets, phones or computers for content reviewing
- PDF files or documents with easy-to-read lettering for continual revision
A kinesthetic learner is one that depends on the ability to touch, move and utilize objects in real-time, in order to learn. Such people rely on communication through body language and physical activity in order to learn new things. They are tactile learners who prefer tangibility in their learning modality, to form a connection with the information imparted.
For these learners, a hands-on learning experience works best; allowing them to explore their creative side, to search for and come up with relevant solutions. A list of strict instructions often backfires with this particular group of learners. Instead of yielding successful results, a list of rules and necessary outcomes detracts them from their intended course.
Given the need for having a hands-on approach to facilitate learning, it’s difficult to cater thoroughly to kinesthetic learners, especially in strictly e-learning training programs. However, allowing the use of complex equipment and tools, project-making, and mobile learning opportunities do well to engage a kinesthetic learner into achieving their potential and gaining success in their intended learning.
IT training courses that cater to all the aforementioned learning types are a beneficial resource for anyone who wishes to accumulate and/or develop IT knowledge and applicable skills. And, since there are a multitude of IT training courses available online, said training is steadily becoming accessible to all.