Online courses can accommodate multiple learning styles and disabilities. Specifically the D2L learning system used by VHS collaborative has features with auditory playback and ALT text or the Null attribute. The VHS collaborative also advises that the use of sans serif font, and the use of colors to be kept at a minimum. It is also suggested that underlining be reserved only for hyperlinks and color or bold for emphasis. Additionally, it is best to avoid many animated images on a page. Like in f2f models, there also can be accommodations for the quantity of material expected. For the online discussion area, there can be a variation of summarizing discussions rather than formulating one’s own.
There is no doubt that a student who has difficulty reading will certainly have trouble with an online course. However, some benefits could include the fact that students get extended time on task. For example, in a f2f classroom there might be 30 minutes to work on an activity, but online the student can take an hour of focused time with fewer distractions. Time being equally beneficial for gifted and talented students, they can achieve high order thinking skills and dig deeply into concepts, thus pushing themselves to learn more.
Below is a tabled-summary of an article put out by Richard Felder and Barbara Solomon for North Carolina State University. It describes the various learning styles and gives suggested strategies for being successful learner in those categories.
Active and Reflective Learners
|Tend to retain and understand information by doing something active||think about it quietly first|
|“Let’s Try it out and see how it works”||“Let’s think it through first”|
|Like group work||Prefer working alone|
|Difficulty sitting through lectures||Can sit through lectures|
Sensing and Intuitive Learners
|Like learning facts||Prefer discovering possibilities and relationships|
|Like solving problems by well-established methodsDislike surprises||Like innovation and dislike repetition|
|Patient with detailsgood at memorizing facts||Better at new conceptsmore comfortable with abstractions and math formulations|
|More practical and careful||Work faster and more innovative|
|Need real-world connection||Don’t like a lot of memorization and routine calculations|
Visual and Verbal Learners
|Remember best with pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films||More from written and spoken explanations|
Sequential and Global Learners
|Gain understanding in linear steps||Learn in large jumps absorbing material randomly without seeing connections but then suddenly “getting it”|
|Follow logical stepwise paths in finding solutions||Able to solve complex problems quickly or put things together in novel ways once they have the big picture, but have difficulty explaining how they did it|
How does your brain process information? Take this short quiz to see what learning style you are: Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire
This is me:
Looks like I’m an intuitive, visual, global learner. I do often find it easy to tinker with things. Really, that is how I came to learn what I know about digital media and computers. What helps my teaching is the ability to take the global concepts and package them for my students in what I hope is a similar, intuitive, way.
Technology, such as web 2.0 tools are interactive tools which empower the learner to creatively design his/her learning. Active learners need interaction with lessons – games, interactive learning objects, hands-on projects, etc. A student using technology has more interactive opportunities with creative tools and more time to process information before presenting to the wider audience. Online learning can help students in some cases, if the activities allow time for creative tinkering and reflective processing. A challenge is if the content is reading-based. My online teaching discipline this fall will be teaching programing. Currently the pre-created curriculum is heavily text-based. Also my course is very sequential. I admit it was very difficult for me to learn programming, a lot of patience and trying to see the bigger picture is what helped me prevail. I believe this will aid me in being an effective teacher of the course because I’ve been in the trenches with the blindfold. I know what a learner of this type will need to do to accomplish the tasks. It is similar to why I felt I was an effective Spanish teacher. Being non-native, I found tricks to help me visualize languages and help those who struggle with memorization of vocabulary. I plan to supplement my course material with video tutorials.
Felder, R, Soloman, B. Learning Styles and Strategies
Felder, R, Soloman, B. Learning Skills. James Cook University http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/learningskills/resources/lsonline/learning/index.htm