This page is based on a series of presentations I have done for TUANZ and at ACEC '06 and Learning@school called digitising classroom practice. I am very interested in the new research coming out of American Universities like Harvard on Neo Millennial Learning styles.

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What is a person's learning style?

A person's preferred method of learning depending on the task and situation. A person's learning style is varied, its not fixed.A person can have several different ways of learning depending on what is being learnt. Learning styles changes tasks. A students learning style for one task may not be the same for a different task, subject or topic.A learning style has three main aspects:* How you perceive information* How you process information* And how you organise and present information Tradionally, there are three different components to the model of Learning Styles.* Sensory learning style
A person's Learning style is influenced by their preferred sensory learning mode, their personality type and their aptitude. If we were to test each you would probably use VARK, Myers-Briggs and Gardner's Multiple intelligences for each of these respectivelytrad_cog_learn_think_style.jpg
However research from Jukes, Prensky and Dieterle-Dede-Schrier are adding in another element. This element I called media based learning. It relates to the students who through long exposure to digital technologies are wired differently to us (the digital immigrants). Prensky calls them Digital natives, Jukes; native learners or digital kids and Dieterle-Dede-Schrier - Neo-millennial learners

How do you work out your learning style?

As a classroom practitioner I need something that is simple to apply and use. I have looked at Gardner's Model of Multiple Intelligences. This is brilliant work, but I find it to unwieldy and complicated to use in the classroom.However Fleming (2001) model looks at the aspect of which senses a learner is using. This is a simpler model that I find can be easily used, applied and tested with my students. This model is VARK Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic. I can cope with this!
It is important to note that VARK and its resources are covered by copyright, but here is what they say "VARK copyright materials (including purchased materials) may be freely used by teachers, professors and tutors in colleges, universities and high schools. It is polite to request permission." Please ask them! They gave me permission to use these tools and I think its brilliant stuff. Contact them at their contact page.

Why would I bother?

Using a simple model like VARK, where you add variety to your teaching practice by teaching in a variety of modes is of huge value for us as practitioners and our students as learners.If we regularly touch the different styles, we are likely to enhance and personalise the learning of our classes. This will benefit us, as teachers and them, as learners by increasing engagement and motivation. By allowing the students to work in their prefered mode they will retain more knowledge, forge links between concepts and develop a deeper understanding and ownership of their learning.
We can not overlook the moments of ownership - The most powerful event in my schooling was when I concieved a concept in mathematics with out the teacher spelling it out to me. It was a classic light bulb moment, a mental click. Now as I look back I realise that the teacher had been carefully scaffolding and faciliating this concept but, that moment still remains a highlight.

A recent article published in the eSchool News - supports the concepts of learning styles and essentially combining several different modes - i.e. a multimodal approach
"According to a new report commissioned by Cisco Systems, adding visuals to verbal (textual and/or auditory) instruction can result in significant gains in basic or higher-order learning, if applied appropriately. Students using a well-designed combination of visuals and text learn more than students who use only text, the report says."


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