This past week, I enjoyed a wonderfully comprehensive discussion in a casual coffee setting with a few very smart friends about how we learn. One was a past grade school teacher, two were flight instructors, another was a veteran medical doctor, and others were simply well educated business professionals. All participants where keenly interested in learning and all lived lives rich with learning to maintain professional standards, certifications, or to deliver complex knowledge to others. Suffice it to say, they were all still continuously involved in their own learning processes. They were life-long learners.
In reality, this new lifestyle is imposed on most people today. Some say, you must continue to learn until you die. With the rapid changes in society driven by constant change, technology, costs, and opportunities, the ability to learn is available to all. But, the ways of learning in the past are obsolete and no longer viable. Doing all of your education in your youth and finishing formal learning by age 22 is not practical when a person may have a career built on a dozen different jobs over the span of their working years. Whole industries are disappearing and new industries are appearing. Students entering post-secondary education in September of 2019 will likely be employed in industries that do not even exist today.
The way that we learn in the future will be very different to how we learned in the past. In the modern digital era, old teaching methods are no longer relevant.
Commonly used teaching methods may include: class participation, demonstration, recitation, memorization, or combinations of these.
In the digital age and with the new teaching platforms, the old “sage on the stage” approach whereby the teacher stood in front of a classroom full of students and lectured endlessly on and on while students furiously scrambled to write notes from the professor’s elite wisdom or as he / she read from chapters of the textbook is now obsolete. In truth, it was a poor method for teaching and demanded that the students paid strict attention and applied rapid absorption of the massive volumes of content. A moment of distraction could derail the entire process. If any barriers to effective communication occurred, such as poor pronunciation, inability to hear properly, thick accents, or abstract and unknown terminology that would trip up a student, then the learning exchange failed and likely never recovered in class. Students would need to attempt to relearn the missing content outside of the classroom setting or fall behind.
A modern educator today is a facilitator of learning who guides their students along the journey of acquiring knowledge, wisdom, and critical thinking. Today, learning uses several formats composed of short lectures, reading, case studies, group work, assignments, workshops, presentations, clinics, labs, rounds, and more. Learning is dynamic and no longer static. Materials are ever-changing to keep pace with the changes in the world around us.
Today, the old bricks and mortar schools are no longer essential places where learning can happen. Now, we use new platforms to learn built on the internet delivered to your desktop or laptop or connections to your smartphone or tablet.
Historically students filed into a classroom and sat in these lecture halls at a specific time and place to learn. Now, learning can take place at anytime, on any device, and at any place.
A variety of media forms are used for learning, such as podcasts, video streaming, live lectures, group sessions, group video conferencing, text chats and messaging tools, are all applied using real-time and non-real-time delivery. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and data visualization are emerging as new learning experiences. The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) to engage full body sensory learning is developing as well. The learning experience is far richer and more tactile than in the past leveraging all of the human senses simultaneously to bring learning to life.
Next to IoT as a catalyst for innovation in education is the advent of 5G cellular connectivity. Having a broadband high speed connection available everywhere will facilitate the ability to connect to educational content anywhere and at anytime.
With IoT and 5G uses in education, security and privacy tools are essential to protect the students from external unwanted interference. A federated network topology has new risks that can be exploited by evildoers so these networks need to be protected in an appropriate manner so as to not adversely affect the learning processes.
With artificial intelligence now invading every aspect of our digital lives, it will drive new learning strategies too. On-demand learning that is delivered just-in-time in a more compact modular means will be normal as we progress in life. Learning will be shaped to the specific needs of the individual.
As technology becomes federated, so will the learning platforms. These platforms will exist in the cloud, in fact in multiple clouds, as well as on the networks, at the edge of the networks inside nearby clouldlets, and in the devices in our hands or worn on our bodies. The content will be modularized and federated over the internet so it is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
Edge computing will play a role in the future of learning, by using a content delivery architecture built on a federated architecture, the placement of cloudlets nearer to the learner will change the delivery mechanism for the better compared to the centralized architecture employed in online learning today.
Peer-to-peer is an essential technical element of the federated mesh edge access networks to permit cloudlet to cloudlet interaction, which will not only speed up the connectivity, but will permit a new form of student interactions laterally and not just vertically over the networks. So, the flow of information will move differently and be exchanged in a different paradigm.
Blockchain can be used to authenticate and track the consumption of these online learning sessions. It can be used to control, limit, or inversely unbound the consumption of content.
The most interesting idea that this technological shift allows is the source of the content from a myriad of providers. Today, every university provides their own unique version of each course or degree program. Schools complete with each other for students and revenue. But these next generation designs will now allow a different model for engagement, schools will be able to collaborate. So, why not source the courses from the best professors available? A MBA degree can now federate the courses for the greatest effect and value for the student. For example, use MIT for the technology, Oxford for critical thinking, McGill for law, UCLA for communications, Stanford for cognitive, and Athabasca for the three or four foundational courses, like accounting and finance that must use Canadian content. This model would be prized by the students and provide a richer learning experience now in a transparent delivery. However, the classic single source education model would be disrupted in this federated model, which may be impossible for many schools deeply embracing their legacy delivery model to accept and adopt.
Learning is an extremely important and personal experience for people of all ages. Years ago, there was an assumption that everyone learned new material the same way. But over time, research discovered there are a number of different types of learning styles and different ways that humans retain and process information.
The more you know about these different types of learning styles, the more prepared you will be to help yourself (or your children) learn a new skill, idea, language, or concept—no matter what the material may be.
What Are The 7 Different Types Of Learning Styles?
While every individual is unique and everyone processes information at their own pace and in their own way, research has discovered there are seven types of learning styles or categories that everyone falls into.
Here are the 7 types of learning styles:
1. Visual (Spatial)
As the name suggests, visual learners are those that learn best when they have an image or cue to help them process the information. They may also need to map out or write out their thoughts in order to really process what they are thinking.
These are some of the most common characteristics of visual learners:
- Have good spatial sense and sense of direction
- Can easily visualize objects, plans, and outcomes
- Like coloring, drawing, and doodling
- Have good color balance
- Are good at using maps and rarely get lost
For example, a visual learner in a writing class may process the information better by seeing a movie clip of how a film adapts the literature it was based on, instead of listening to the literature being read aloud.
You are a visual learner if: You prefer pictures, images, and mind maps to help you process information.
2. Aural (Auditory-Musical)
Aural learning is a unique type of learning style, but it is used to classify those who respond primarily to sound. Unsurprisingly, most musicians are aural learners. This is a learning style that is not often addressed in many schools because it can be hard to teach outside of music class. These are also individuals who respond best to things such as binaural beats.
- Find that certain music invokes strong emotions
- Enjoy listening to music in the background while learning
- Have a good sense of pitch or rhythm
- Often hear songs, jingles, and themes tend to pop in their head without prompts
For example, a song that helps you remember the alphabetical order of all the states is a way to tap into aural learning styles.
You are an aural learner if:You prefer learning through rhythms or tend to use clever rhymes to remember something.
3. Verbal (Linguistic)
Verbal learners learn best both under verbal instruction and writing. They typically excel with both. These learners are typically those that go into public speaking, writing, journalism, and debating.
- Express themselves in both written and spoken word
- Enjoy reading and writing
- Like tongue twisters and rhymes
- Has a large vocabulary and enjoys learning new words
For example, reading definitions of a word aloud or writing them down a few times, are ways for verbal learners to process information.
You are a verbal learner if: You need to read content aloud to learn something or prefer to have someone speak the information to you so you can process it.
4. Physical (Kinesthetic)
If you are someone who likes getting their hands dirty, then you are likely a physical learner. Physical learners are extremely animated and always need to be moving. They learn best by going through the motions of what they are learning.
- Notice and appreciate the physical world around them, such as textures
- Enjoys sports and exercise along with outdoor activities and working with their hands
- Tend to use and pick up on body language
- Enjoy making models or doing jigsaw puzzles
For example, if something is bothering you or you are trying to wrap your head around a concept, you would rather go for a run or walk than sit down and figure it out.
You are a physical learner if: You do not learn something until you do it, and need to draw out your own diagrams or role play to learn new information. You may also be constantly in motion and speak with your hand.
5. Logical (Mathematical)
Most logical thinkers end up being engineers, mathematicians, or pursuing the sciences. This is because they have a very unique way of learning. They are the individuals who want to understand the reason behind content or skills and tend to enjoy games like chess and doing brainteasers.
- Classify and group information together to better understand it
- Perform complex calculations
- Create procedures for future use, after coming up with a solution to a problem
- Plan agendas and itineraries and even rank and number them
For example, those who prefer making a neat and organized list while studying and extracting key points from material for these lists are typically logical learners.
You are a logical learner if: You can learn something only when you understand the bigger picture, along with the logic, reasoning and systems behind that concept.
6. Social (Interpersonal)
As the name suggests, social learners are natural group workers. For students, these are the individuals that seem to be involved in every extracurricular activity. For adults, they are the individuals that like to be engaged with others, work on teams, and ask their peers for feedback in order to learn.
- Prefer to socialize after work or class
- Enjoy playing group sports
- Bounce ideas off of others and to work through issues in a group
- Listen well
- Are often trusted by others for their advice
For example, in school when teachers assign group projects, it is often a way to appeal to social learners.
You are a social learner if: You prefer to work with other people and find you learn best in groups.
7. Solitary (Intrapersonal)
Solitary learners are individuals who simply prefer to learn on their own and keep to themselves. In most situations, this is a learning style for socially introverted people – but not always. There are some people who are extroverts in social situations but prefer to be alone when they are trying to learn. They also tend to be concerned with goals and outcomes.
- Spend time on self-analysis
- Prefer to relax or travel away from crowds
- Think independently
- Journal, write, and record personal thoughts and events as a way to improve.
For example, someone who reads self-help books to develop a deeper understanding of themselves is often a solitary learner.
You are a solitary learner if: You need to sit alone and study by yourself in order to retain information.
How To Apply This Knowledge In Your Learning Routine
So, now that you know what learning style you fall under, what can you do with this information?
If you know what learning style (or styles) that you have, you can start applying this to your everyday life, even if you are no longer in school.
While you cannot always ask someone in a meeting to sing a rhythmic song for you so that you remember the information better, you can start using these learning techniques in your everyday life to grasp concepts faster, better, and with greater ease.
There is no wrong way to learn. And even if it may seem strange to others, you need to play to your strengths when trying to learn a new concept so that it really sticks.
By being more aware of how it is that you learn, you may find that you develop new interests, start retaining information from beneficial books better, or that you remember new names and pick up new skills even faster.
In summary, if you can apply your own learning styles to the modern delivery platforms and technology used for learning, you can accelerate your own learning journey and make it into a richer, more rewarding experience that is catered to your specific needs. Learning will be fun, successful, and practical all together. You will gain in immeasurable ways. Enjoy the experience!
Diaz, C. (2019). Understanding The 7 Types Of Learning Styles. Mindvalley. Retrieved on November 13, 2019 from, https://blog.mindvalley.com/types-of-learning-styles/
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more