Some Instructional Designers will tell you that there are only three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. That’s not a bad beginning, but there are actually many more distinctions that can be useful when designing training and professional development courses. Since one of the goals of instructional design is to improve the learner’s experience, what better way is there than using a solid understand of the learner’s potential style?
Of course you can’t select in advance which learners are going to take a course. You can, however, make allowances for the various styles by providing alternatives and options in your course design. Here are some things to consider for the various learning styles.
A Team Player is a learner who will follow all the rules, read instructions, and even help out other learners if they have the time during a course. For them to be successful, you need to design your course in a way that spells out the objectives, and outlines a way for them to be successful. Also, make the application to real life as direct and accessible as possible.
Technicians are left-brain learners. They like taking the “direct” approach to learning, and enjoy any activities that allow them to experiment or experience the course in a physical way. Design some activities and games, and you will be sure to satisfy this learning style.
Supporters are “people-pleasers.” They are empathetic to the needs of others, and enjoy opportunities to interact with other learners. They are also very idealistic when it comes to learning, and may take on too much. You will need to establish boundaries for them, and calibrate their expectations. And be sure to give them ways to express their creativity and find meaning in the course material.
The fourth and final learning style is the thinker. True to the name, these learners are highly analytical, intellectual, and want to explore topics in depth. Since this may not be a fit for all the other learners, it is useful to have additional resources available for them so that they can explore all the theoretical angles in depth. And most importantly, don’t make any factual errors or omissions, or you will lose your thinkers.
Only a Taste
This has been only a taste of the many ways to satisfy the various learning styles. Start now and do some additional research (especially if you are a Thinker) and you will find much more.