What is your learning style?
Do you find your way around a new place by using a map? Can you visualize the height of a mountain using a height map? If so, you may be a visual learner. Wondering what this means! People understand and learn information in different ways. These are called learning styles and are classified as Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic, in short, VARK.
Visual (V): This preference includes the depiction of information in charts, graphs, flow charts, and all the symbolic arrows, circles, hierarchies and other devices that instructors use to represent what could have been presented in words. It does NOT include movies, videos or PowerPoint.
Aural / Auditory (A): This mode describes a preference for information that is heard or spoken. Learners with this modality report that they learn best from lectures, tutorials, tapes, group discussions, speaking, web chat, and talking things through.
Read/write (R): This preference is for information displayed in words. Not surprisingly, many academics have a strong preference for this modality. This preference emphasizes text-based input and output - reading and writing in all its forms.
Kinesthetic (K): This modality refers to a preference for experience and practice (simulated or real). In this mode, the learner is connected to reality, either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation.
The Starting Point
Extensive studies have shown that treating all learners in a similar way results in different levels of learning among learners. This led to the idea of creating content and instructions based on learners’ learning styles. Further research was done on presentation styles and a questionnaire was formulated to identify the preferences of learners for particular modes of information presentation. As a result, VARK learning styles became popular among educational researchers. However, implementing VARK in digital content creation is a challenge.
How we implemented VARK in our content?
Teachers in Singapore wanted to reach out to their students through a variety of teaching approaches. So, we decided to use VARK as an instructional strategy in our content. The challenge was to create the same content in four different styles to suit the needs of various learners.
In the V content, the strategy was to use multimedia animations to explain concepts.
The A content was presented in the form of a video discussion between a teacher and a student to explain concepts. Limited animations were used to explain complex concepts.
The R content was created in a text-based mode to suit the read/write learners.
The K content was created with a focus on providing practice to the learners through simulated exercises.