By Shelley A. Gable
How do you learn best?
Do you have a knack for remembering things you’ve read? Can you recall every word of a conversation days (or even months or years) after it happened? Or are you one of those people who needs to get your hands on something to learn about it?
All of these may be true for you in different situations. But for most of us, one of these items will be true most often. Knowing which of these learning modalities is your strongest can guide you in reinforcing what you’ve learned from an online continuing education course.
What is a learning modality?
Many learning researchers suggest that we learn through three sensory modalities:
- Visual (learning through seeing)
- Auditory (learning through hearing and/or speaking)
- Tactile (learning through doing)
Each of these sensory modalities is stimulated in different ways in an online course. An awareness of your strengths and how to take advantage of those strengths can make online learning feel easier.
This post will look at the visual modality in more depth so you can determine whether you’re a visual learner and find out how to leverage that strength in online learning.
(A future post will dig into the auditory and tactile modalities in more depth.)
If you’re a visual learner, you may be an ideal candidate for online learning. Researchers estimate that 70% of the population learns best with the visual modality.
How do you know if you’re a visual learner?
If the majority of the statements below are true about you, you’re probably a visual learner.
- You prefer to read a story rather than listen to someone tell it.
- You can easily make sense of maps.
- You prefer diagrams, flowcharts, and concept maps to text.
- You have a knack for solving jigsaw puzzles and mazes.
- You try to recall difficult-to-remember information by attempting to visualize where you encountered it.
How can you leverage visual learning in an online course?
This is an easy one. Nearly all online courses are heavy on visual stimuli. You’re constantly presented with slides that outline the main points of the course, highlight important points (through visual cues such as bolding and color), and display information in graphical form such as flowcharts and diagrams.
That said, there are additional steps you can take to reinforce your learning visually.
Writing notes about the content of an online course reinforces learning by displaying that information in a new way. An earlier post on this blog (How Can Note Taking Help You with Online Learning?) offers advice on how to take notes effectively.
Associate Images with Textual Information
If you’re taking a course in which most of the slides are dominated by text, you can make a conscious effort to associate images with that text to help you remember that information later. For instance, if you’re presented with a list of statistics, envision them and write them down as a graph.
Decide Whether to Read the Audio Narration
Many (although not all) online courses include audio narration. Sometimes the narrator simply reads the text that appears on the slide. If this is the case, you may find it beneficial to turn off the audio and read the narration transcript. Sometimes very little text appears on the slide, so the narrator provides critical information that you must hear rather than read. While you could still opt to focus on the transcript, you’d likely benefit more from looking at the graphic while listening to the explanation.
Suppose you’re completing an online insurance continuing education course. If you’re a visual learner and you’re trying to remember something from the course, you may try to picture the specific slide where that information appeared. Taking advantage of the suggestions above will provide you with additional ways to visualize and recall that information.
Are you a visual learner with other tricks for recalling information? If so, please share!
And remember…more about the auditory and tactile modalities next week!
If you appreciate these ideas, it’d be swell for you would share them (button below) or subscribe via the feed.
Interested in sales? Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling.. Click here to get licensed.
Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley has written articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.webs.com.