- Considering the learning style theory you selected, reflect on whether you accommodate these learning styles in your teaching practice. Do the technologies you use help you achieve this? If so, how? Or do they hinder it?
- What tools relate to the specific modalities or dimensions of your selected learning style? Does the situation change if the activity is accessed from a mobile, or done ‘in the field’?What other types of technology works well with activities in these? For example, where do classroom clickers (mentioned in the Eric Mazur story in Week 1) belong? What about social media?
- Do you agree with the idea of learning styles? Why are they often questioned and criticized?
Learning styles or learning preferences? Teaching method or pedagogy? It is easy to label but difficult to define what is a learning style. I often employ a variety of different techniques in my teaching practice. I set problems, find solutions, work independently, and collaboratively, I ask people to try with out knowing why and I give them the theory up front. Often it is the subject matter that lends itself to a particular technique (I will avoid the word style for this entire response).
I used to tend towards a practice of delivery of content, experience of practice, application of knowledge, reflection on experience, evaluate learning and refine for next cycle. However, I now tend more to a flipped style of learning that places greater expectation of involvement with the learner. My model of learning delivery now is much more: prepare, upload, deliver on-line in advance of the classroom, Students interact on-line with the content, arrive at the learning to discuss and apply knowledge, reflect on experience and repeat the cycle. This is the flipped classroom as you probably recognise. It does rely on the student buy-in for them to get the resources in advance, and this takes time to embed. However a few ‘missed expectations’ where the learner has not done the preparation work and arrives at class unable to fully participate in the session usually creates a peer pressure for the learner to get more involved. Combining this with formative peer assessment and you can usually get -buy-in to the process.
Technology helps the flipped classroom by allowing you to manage the learning flow through a VLE and a learning path tool. I can push information out to the learners and set up an announcement to notify them of the new content and the expectation for the next lesson. Collaboration tools like Google Docs allow the learners to produce work outside of the classroom and quickly build responses to tasks set without the need for software on their machines. Google Docs also works across devices and operating systems so is ideal for this purpose.
The VLE allows me to deliver across devices, but as it is web-based, it is not an ideal platform for delivering to tablets. A better tool is using something like iTunesU to deliver the content as this works across devices and creates notifications when the users subscribe to the content. However this is a system that is outside of the university ecosystem and therefore might be hard to scale up to large class sizes (limits on iTunesU for individual users). I can use Socrative to replace the need for hardware clickers (turningpoint) which will allow me to test the learning in the classroom. I could deliver all of the classroom session in tools like Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate but we are not talking about full distance learning delivery models here. So, for face to face, I would set up a hashtag for twitter for people to contribute and follow, possibly a Padlet for them to create and share their thoughts. All of these would be published in advance on the VLE and displayed on a flipchart/whiteboard in the classroom too.
So do I agree with ‘Learning Styles’? no. Do I agree with talking to my students to find out what my students like and changing my learning techniques accordingly? Yes. Most certainly, yes!