Whether you’re a full-time student or ten years into your career, we are moving away from traditional learning. Online courses are becoming more popular because remote work is thriving, and hybrid education models have seen great success. As automation, AI and digitization move our world further into the online sphere, we need to find the best strategies for life-long learning. Without a growth mindset, you might remain stagnant in old skills, fall behind the fast-moving business world and lose innovation.
80% of CEOs have reported that finding employees with new skills is the greatest challenge to their workforce. Additionally, professional development is one of the top factors contributing to workplace happiness, meaning that employees are searching for opportunities to build expertise. The problem is that many of us fall into a routine at school or work, losing the motivation to try new learning strategies or develop cutting-edge abilities.
Four distinct learning types characterize the way we absorb information and develop new competencies. Living by your self-proclaimed learning type won’t drastically improve your ability to learn new information. Still, you might find a better groove and hopefully make life-long learning a priority. Traditionally, tasks are suited to one type of learning, but with more remote options, we have the flexibility to decide exactly how to develop our expertise. Some of us need to get our hands dirty to pick up a new skill, whereas others can watch a five-minute YouTube tutorial and go pro.
From visual and auditory to experiential learning, there are so many ways we can customize our tasks to fit within our preferred style. As schools move towards a blended model — the advantages of Elearning, integrated with the benefits of in-person learning — and remote work becomes the norm, it’s time to take a deeper look at personalized learning and find your focus strategy.
What are learning styles?
Today instructors, researchers, and leaders have realized the importance of learning styles, and they understand that not everyone learns in the same way. The term learning styles refers to the instruction model that is most effective for an individual. Understanding other people’s learning styles can help structure a course, task, or conference for optimal retention, but many are still unsure of their unique style.
The goal of identifying your learning style is to personalize instruction materials so you can easily absorb information in a way that matches your preferences. There is a growing interest in learning types, and researchers are trying to link teaching methods to memorization. One thing has become evident: using the same teaching method for everyone is ineffective for mass understanding. There are four learning types that researchers have identified: Visual & verbal learners, visual & non-verbal learners, auditory & verbal learners, and tactile & kinesthetic learners.
The Multitasker (Visual and Verbal Learners)
This type of learner needs both visual and verbal stimulation to learn a new concept effectively. These learners thrive in a more holistic environment where they can both listen and look at information. The multitasker probably won’t last through a three-hour lecture and would rather talk through concepts in a small group with additional visual resources. If you’re a multitasker, you might retain more information through a graph, table, chart, or picture, in addition to auditory resources. These learners often need to sort their ideas verbally and talk through concepts to obtain a deeper understanding. For optimal retention, multitaskers should engage in discussion and illustrate new information using notes or diagrams.
These learners would opt for a YouTube tutorial or video conference before sitting down for a lecture. If you manage a multitasker, adding additional visual resources to accommodate their preferred learning style might be worthwhile. As a manager, you should rotate between visual, and verbal presentations so that multitaskers are provided optimal learning opportunities. You can make quick graphic illustrations using Canva or MarkupHero, and spice up a presentation in Google Slides for all the multitaskers in the room.
The Visionary (Visual and Non-verbal learners)
Visionaries thrive in a quiet environment with little to no distractions where they can process concepts internally and look at visual resources. These learners get frustrated if they have too many meetings, discussions, or presentations to attend. Unlike the multitasker, visionaries are very independent learners and probably the most likely to skip a class or meeting altogether. Its best for visual learners to absorb information through a graph, chart or slideshow, because listening to others might just lull them to sleep. Unfortunately, visual learners usually have to adapt to a different learning style because most business meetings or classroom lectures rely heavily on auditory material.
For those who learn visually, remote work or school probably came as a blessing. These learners are better able to absorb information and solve problems when working independently. If you manage a visual learner, give them space to do their work rather than slamming them with questions throughout the day. Luckily, with the shift to remote work and more online classes, visual learners can opt for their preferred method of instruction.
The Conversationalist (Auditory and Verbal Learners)
The conversationalist learns best in back and forth dialogue where they can listen and speak equally. If you have a co-worker calling to “talk things out,” they’re probably a conversationalist and need more than written instruction. For these learners, thorough discussions enable deep understanding.
These learners usually enjoy background noise in their work environment and feel more distracted surrounded by static, white noise. Listening to music or working in a busy environment might actually improve their ability to absorb new information. As a manager or professor, it’s critical to check in with these learners to reiterate expectations and keep your door open for any questions.
The Doer (Tactile and Kinesthetic)
These folks are very ‘ hands-on learners’ and reach proficiency through practice. Doers are usually great problem solvers because they learn through trial and error. While these learners can be tricky to manage because of their persistent nature, they are also great innovators when given the support to try out new ideas. Kinesthetic learners rarely fall inside traditional teaching methods, as they only make up roughly 5% of the population. Doers struggle to sit patiently in a lecture hall or team meeting because of their unique way of processing information. These learners are often the ones fidgeting during a presentation or getting up halfway through a meeting.
Kinesthetic learners have a superpower to always jump in action and make quick moves when thrown in the deep end. These learners do not shy away from picking up a new skill but need to get their hands dirty to do so.
Why is it important to understand your learning style?
Understanding your learning style will help you choose teaching methods that flow with your unique preferences. Today, online learning presents a multitude of options for learners outside of traditional education models. Online learning is an opportunity to step away from formal instruction and customize the learning experience. As researchers focus more on learning styles, we've realized that learners cannot fit in the same box.
In addition to understanding your learning type, it is also essential to understand the learning preferences of others. You might think a visual learner isn’t listening or a fidgety kinesthetic is being disruptive, but that isn’t the case. Pay attention to the learning styles of others and adjust the way you deliver information, structure their workload, or communicate in meetings.
How to pick up new skills and stay organized
Developing new techniques or skills can be overwhelming without a good system to stay organized and productive. Shift is a productivity app that you can use to bunch together course materials and essential apps in a workspace. Bookmark common resources, add critical apps and streamline all of your email accounts with Shift. Aggregating all of your resources in one space will help you stay on top of your course load, especially if you're working simultaneously. Try Shift today and stay productive at work, while learning new skills on the side that can assist your future endeavors.