LEARNING STYLES, THEORIES, AND WEB DELIVERY
It is what we think we know that keeps us from learning—Chester Barnard
How Adults Approach Learning
Overview of Learning Theories
How the Internet Is Changing Learning Learning requires active exploration. It is something you do. So far, we have been considering things that are important in planning for online learning: goals, motivation, and time management. Now we begin to focus on the learning process. For adult learners, this emphasis immediately introduces the “theory versus practice” dilemma, which is best resolved by finding ways to engage in learning effectively when it both focuses on theoretical content and involves experiential implementation. Engaging in online learning in university‐level courses, as we illustrate in this chapter, allows you to gain insights from both theoretical sources and experiential exchanges and to affirm your preferred learning style.
How Adults Approach Learning
There has been plenty of opportunity in the last thirty years to study how adults make a decision to reenter university, as millions over the age of twenty‐five have returned to formal education. This emerging body of knowledge extends beyond what motivates adults to learn; it also describes ways that adults prefer to learn and how to teach them effectively. Called andragogy, this field of study complements the field of pedagogy, research‐based knowledge related to how children learn and ways to teach them successfully.
The primary insights verified by adult learning research are simple ones:
• Adults want to be in charge of their learning (that is, make deliberate choices).
• Adults want formal learning to be convenient and affordable.
• Adults want university‐level learning to be relevant to real‐world issues and workplace practices.
• Adults want to use their earned university credentials for personal and career advancement.
What Do You Think?
Are these the things that you value in online learning? What would you add to the list?
Youthful learners do not usually have the necessary experiential component to enrich a self‐directed learning environment. From a pragmatic perspective, it should be noted that, for adults, formal learning is usually added to an already full schedule of work and family responsibilities. For youth, learning may be their primary life activity.
BASIC LEARNING STYLES
Educators are currently giving much attention to learning styles and identifying preferred personal approaches to learning. Many instruments are available, some online, that can help determine which basic styles of learning are important to you: visual (seeing and reading), auditory (listening and speaking), or kinesthetic (touching and doing). Many of these instruments also try to identify the type of learning environment that you prefer, such as social or independent. Analyzing your learning preferences and patterns in relation to these ways of learning is helpful. Knowing which style suits you best and which type of environment is most favorable allows you to achieve optimal learning results by putting these preferences into practice. Given the situational nature of learning, however, from time to time you will have to engage in activities that require a learning style that isn’t your preferred one. Are you an auditory learner?
In this case, if you are aware of your preferred style, you will be prepared to Knowing which styles work best for you enhances learning make extra efforts to achieve the desired learning outcomes.
Active learning is central in the online environment. The online environment stimulates active learning and high levels of engagement. In fact, the Web‐based environment provides unlimited opportunities for developing the learning types that Howard Gardner’s (1983, 1999) theory cites as necessary for achieving