Welcome to another Training Tips Thursday blog post. As promised at the end of last weeks post and during my Training Tips in 10 Facebook Live, this post is about different learning styles. I’m going to give you a brief overview of different learning styles, how to cater for them and also how to do this when you don’t know the group.  Now, I’m not going to go into too much detail into the theory of learning styles, I want to focus on giving you practical tips but if you aren’t familiar with any theories around learning styles I would recommend you read a couple of articles. This one gives an overview of the Seven Learning Styles, which I am going to focus my tips on but I also think it is worth reading about Kolb’s Learning Styles on businessballs.com. I come from a Youth Work background and Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and Honey and Mumford’s variation on it (also mentioned in the article), were the two theories that I became very familiar with through my Youth Work and training and still inform the way I approach my training today.

Training for Different Learning Styles.

For each of these learning styles I’m going to give some examples of training delivery you could consider using if you are creating an online training course but also if you are delivering a more traditional face to face piece of training.

Visual

An online training course naturally lends itself to visual learners. In the WordPress course I am developing at the moment with Chris, we are using a lot of screen casts, so the learners follow Chris through the process of doing things on WordPress. We also use screenshots of downloads that are available to our learners and we put text on the screen to emphasise points that we are making.

Visual learners are also easy to deliver to in a more traditional training setting as well. You could use presentations or handouts with diagrams on. You could put relevant photos or pictures up to support learning points or you could use a whiteboard to draw a diagram or write down points as you make them so that the image is more dynamic and the learner can remember seeing it building up in front of them.

Aural

Aural learners learn through the use of sound or music. My tip here relates to both types of training delivery. For some areas of the training you could have some background music playing. In one of my courses I use to play a video that had background music the whole way through and the video showed a case study summarising a lot of the learning from the course. For those learners who learn in this way, that part of the training probably stayed in their mind more than other parts.

In the past I have included an activity in some traditional, face to face training where the learners made up a song/rap (their choice!) about a theory I was teaching them and performed it in groups. Now, this is one of those training activities that will divide a room. Some of the learners’ eyes will light up at the thought of doing this, others will obviously sink deeper into their chairs, but, all of them remember that theory after they have done it, especially those who learn best in this way.

You could even do this as part of an online course. Set your learners the challenge of writing a song/rap about a topic and if they want to they could post it to a Facebook group if you have one or to a support forum for the course and share their masterpieces with other learners.

I would not consider myself to be an aural learner but I remember song lyrics much longer than anything I have been told which isn’t set to a tune.

Verbal

These learners are naturally catered for in most training settings. They learn by listening to you and taking notes. So make sure the pace of your training isn’t too fast, so that note taking is possible for these people.

Physical

Physical learners like to get hands on and if possible learn well if they can get up and move about. This can easily be included in traditional training courses. If I am teaching a theory that is in a cycle or something that fits along a timeline I put each piece of the theory or event from the timeline onto pieces of card and ask my learners to work sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups, to lay out the cards in the right order on the floor or on a wall using blu-tac (or similar!). I’ve also facilitated activities with groups where I’ve asked them questions the answers of which fit along a continuum. I set the two ends of the continuum at either end of the room and ask the learners to stand somewhere along that line depending on their view on where the answer comes. This also creates good opportunity for discussion, experience sharing and learning from one another as well.

When delivering online training activities can still be included, obviously you don’t know whether the learner is actually doing them, but hopefully if they are self motivated enough to be doing your course they will follow your process. You probably won’t get them up and about, moving around their office or living room or wherever they are doing your training but you could ask them a question, get them to put their answers on bits of paper that they lay on the floor, then in a second question ask them to put them in priority order. With our WordPress training we could do this when we ask the learners to think about what they want their website to be able to do.

Logical

The kinds of activities I have mentioned above would also suit the logical leaners. They may not feel the need to hold the bits of card in their hand and move them around or walk up and down a continuum but the problem solving and discussion and debate would fit with their preferred way of learning.

Social and Solitary

I think it’s easier to approach these together. A traditional training course lends itself to the more social learner. You have the opportunity to facilitate large and small groups discussions and activities which enable the learners to use you each other as sounding boards to bounce ideas off or to clarify their learning. Having said that, I would have thought, all courses will have sections when the learners are listening to you, taking notes etc. Also, for some activities, if you are putting a question to the group you could give them the option of talking to the person next to them about it or to make notes about it by themselves and then ask for feedback from the group after a few minutes.

Online training lends itself to the more solitary learner but there are ways you could provide opportunity for social discussion. You could have a Facebook group or some kind of forum for your learners to access and discuss their learning or ask questions. You could arrange meet ups if there are a number of learners close together geographically. Perhaps you could even ask the learners to take a lead on this so that you know the opportunities are what they would like to engage in.

How do you plan for different learning styles when you don’t know the group?

This is fairly easy. You make sure you cater for all learning styles. Kolb said that although we may favour one way of learning to another, we all respond to different ways of learning. He felt learning should be experiential. We shouldn’t just do or watch or think or feel. We need to experience it all.

Next time

In next weeks TTT I’m going to focus on different facilitation styles. I also plan on doing another Facebook Live next week on evaluation methods so keep an eye out for that too! Thanks for reading!!

Challenge

This is a blatant attempt to get more likes and follows on my Facebook Page. If I get over 150 page likes in the next two weeks I will take on the song writing challenge I mentioned above. I will write a song about Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and perform it during a Facebook Live. So, I will review my page likes on Thursday 16th February. If I’m at or over 150 likes I will get writing and composing and I will perform my song sometime the following week! Get sharing everyone!