Just as applying generational learning principles can help guide the development of lesson plans that blend online learning with other types of education, knowing the learning styles of your learners can help you create even more individualized and effective educational experiences. To do this, the staff educator must carefully consider who the learners are. As an aid in lesson plan development, consider these questions.
What Is Their Learning Style?
- Auditory learners enjoy the spoken language. They may even talk to themselves, move their lips while reading or read aloud.
- Visual learners learn best by watching first.
- Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, moving, experiencing and experimenting.
When teaching any group, the staff educator should include activities that address the learning styles of all adult learners. By incorporating all learning styles (auditory, visual and kinesthetic), the lesson plan addresses all learners’ preferences, increases satisfaction with the educational experience and can enhance the learning process.
Are They Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants?
Digital natives grew up with technology and are fluent in its use and language and in the language of computers, the Internet and video games. They are less comfortable with traditional face-to-face communication and prefer multitasking and communicating through technology.
Digital immigrants typically were born before the explosion of technology and computers and had to learn how to use it. They may struggle with participating in an online community, which often is an important part of online learning.
Because of the difference in comfort with technology, digital natives and immigrants may have difficulty communicating effectively and learning together. The staff educator must stay alert for this gap and help bridge the gap between these two groups of learners.
How Can I Bridge the Gap?
Bridging the gap between learning styles among learners with different values can be a challenge. Some learners view technology as a barrier to human contact. Other learners prefer to meet their learning needs through technology and are impatient with others who are not technologically competent.
As with any new venture, the educator must take the time to implement online learning successfully. Here are some tips that can help bridge the gap:
- At the start of the process, communicate and emphasize the value of online learning to adult learners.
- Give adult learners uninterrupted time to become familiar with the technology, such as a learning management system.
- Give learners who are experts with computers an opportunity to mentor their less computer-savvy colleagues.
According to Colleen Seeber-Combs, RN, MSN, Senior Clinical Editor at Elsevier | MC Strategies, “With their multiple learning tools and options, online courses allow the staff educator to accommodate all the different learning styles. When combined with the educator’s live instruction and creativity, they help make staff education efficient and effective.”