Different Types of Learners
What kind of learner are you? This might seem a strange question to some, but any of you who have taken an education course as an undergrad, have parents or relatives in the educational field, or can recall a professor explaining or utilizing different methods of teaching may recall the four broad categories of learners. For a quick refresher, they are as follows:
- Visual – Those who learn best by seeing things in action. These types of learners respond well to diagrams, slideshows, and instructional videos.
- Auditory – Those who learn best by hearing. These people are more suited for lectures or presentations.
- Kinesthetic – Those who learn by doing and “hands-on” activities. These people are well suited for displays and examples.
- Dynamic – Those who tend to figure things out by themselves, and learn through experimentation, collaboration, and self-guided research.1
At times, traditional education can leave some of these individuals out in the cold, as it tends to lean more heavily toward auditory learners. However, through the growth and expansion of eLearning outlets in recent years, all types of students and individuals can learn about virtually any topic of interest to them in any way that they prefer.
Research also suggests that eLearning improves information retention. As Karen Jones, at 23-year veteran in the field of eLearning, and Director of eLearning for the Bryant Consulting Group tells her clients, “Technology-based solutions allow more room for individual differences in learning styles. Whereas the average content retention rate for an instructor-led class is only 58%, the more intensive eLearning experience enhances the retention rate by 25-60%.”2,3
The Evolution of eLearning
Over the past several years, eLearning has evolved through the use of information technology from an afterthought, to an accredited and often relied upon method of education. The advantages of eLearning are numerous, and begin with the delivery methods that are availed to online learners; methods that can suit any of the four types of learners.
As is the case with any educational environment, the right curriculum makes for the right kind of learning. A hallmark of a good e-curriculum is the ability for an instructor to adapt the same material in different ways for different kinds of learners. For instance, providing optional links or slide shows for visual learners, while allowing auditory learners to listen in a podcast-style, audio-only format. Educators can also accommodate kinesthetic learners with optional examples or interactive pieces, and allow students to work through material at their own pace alone, or in a group, without funneling everyone through the same rigid formats and lessons.4
The internet offers a wide array of multimedia options for visual and auditory learners, as well as the possibility of interactivity and simulations within a lesson for kinesthetically inclined learners. There exists the possibility to bookmark pages and track results, allowing learners to progress at their own pace. Additionally there are message boards that allow for large-scale group collaboration, as well as experts or moderators available to regulate the exchange of valuable information among community members. The problem is that not all of the information found on the web is equally credible, and the main challenge in eLearning today lies in the learner’s ability to locate credible, accurate information. This potential roadblock eliminated entirely when browsing peer-reviewed, content such that you would find on THE NEXT DDS.
The Value of eLearning
While you may not yet be able to obtain a dental degree online, that does not mean that eLearning cannot offer valuable resources for you as a dental student. THE NEXT DDS is a credible source of education that both compliments and enhances your classroom and clinical experiences. Maybe you’re a visual learner, who will get more out of watching a video of a Class II restoration being performed than you would out of reading about how the procedure is performed, or hearing it in a lecture. Or maybe you’re more of interactive or dynamic learner, who likes to bounce ideas off of others while working. For these learners, THE NEXT DDS has built in chat, messaging, and social features that allow you to stay connected to your classmates 24/7.
Of course, for many, the true value of eLearning comes (as it so often does) from the most rudimentary bottom line questions: how much does it cost/what value am I getting for my monetary/time investment? The widespread availability and financial flexibility are what make eLearning so appealing to such a wide audience.
Access to THE NEXT DDS is available completely free for dental students, so there is no need to worry about expiration dates, deadlines, or budgeting. Dental faculty and students alike can use this resource to compliment and enhance their curriculum, and to help maintain an educational focus even when students are not in the classroom. THE NEXT DDS has built a readily available, expansive library of scientifically sound, peer-reviewed information in a multitude of formats that accommodate all four types of learning styles. All you need to do is log in!
- Schultz, J. E-Learning Solutions Accelerate Learning for All Types of Learners. AESeducation. March 12, 2012. Available at: http://blog.aeseducation.com/2012/03/e-learning-solutions-accelerates-learning-for-all-types-of-learners/. Accessed July 24, 2013.
- Jones, K. The Advantages of ELearning. TheTrainingWorld. June 15, 2007. Available at: http://thetrainingworld.com/articles/elearningadvantages.htm. Accessed July 24, 2013.
- Jack E. Bowsher, "Revolutionizing Workforce Performance: A Systems Approach to Mastery," 1998; D. Peoples, Presentations Plus, 1992; Training Magazine, 19
- Smith, A. The Rich Value of Online Learning – An Online Educator’s Perspective. Elearningindustry. March 29, 2013. Available at: http://elearningindustry.com/the-rich-value-of-online-learning-an-online-educator-perspective. Accessed July 24, 2013.