What’s Your (Learning)Style?

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As I read through the various learning styles and took some of the tests, I found that I have a pretty good handle on how I learn. My preference is to read material and make lists. Writing things out also helps me lock information into my brain. I prefer visual to auditory, but I like hands-on better than both of those.  Material that I am learning must be relevant to my life in some fashion. The back and forth of discussion also adds to my enjoyment of learning. According to the VARK Questionnaire, I have a mild read/write learning preference.

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I have known for a long time that I am not an auditory learner. If someone tries to read something to me, I tend to tune them out because I know I am not going to retain it. Hand me something to read, and I am much happier. A video with steps in it that I can stop, execute the step and continue with the video are also helpful. But videos that I must sit and watch the whole thing to find a piece of information drive me crazy. If I click on a news item that I am interested in but find it is in video form, nine times out of ten I will close the page, never having watched it. Just tell me what I want to know, and we will both be happier.

Technologies that I find most helpful include videos that I can stop and start, such as the ones Patrick Lowenthal put together for EdTech 502. Those were a lifesaver! I spent a lot of time working my way through those to teach myself how to build web pages. The training videos at Lynda.com are another helpful tool that matches my learning style. Discussion boards that are active and relevant to my life/profession are also great tools that increase my knowledge and engagement. It was mentioned in EdTech 537 that often the best ideas and discussion come not from the blog posts themselves, but from the conversations they generate. When I find a post that has meaning for me, I am always careful to dig through the comments to see what other lines of thought and ideas were contributed. Twitter chats are great because they are relevant (I chose to participate) and often fast-paced. I have to pay attention, or I will miss something. The busiest ones are almost too much, and I will go back and read through afterward to see what I missed. Writing reflective blog posts makes me think about what I am doing, how I am doing it and for what purpose. I started a blog last summer, and while I have not posted much in the last couple months, I know I need to get back to it. I feel more centered when I write, and I always learn something from the comments.

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The learning style most opposite to mine is auditory. Technology that auditory learners find helpful includes listening to podcasts and possibly creating their own. Many of my students enjoy audiobooks, especially as they tend to have weaker reading skills. VoiceThread is a wonderful tool for auditory learners. Not only can they listen to the material, but they can also record their comments through the microphone without needing to read/write. I use VoiceThread to narrate tests that my students can listen to through their Chromebooks. This meets the IEP requirement of Questions Read and allows students to follow the test at whatever pace they choose. Narrated videos also work well for auditory learners, allowing them to pause and rewind as necessary.

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