Sterling Academy Blog

How well do different learning styles work in online high school?

Posted by Sterling Staff on Feb 16, 2015 6:37:00 AM

Most people don’t give much thought to how we learn. Did you know there are distinct learning styles? As you read this article, you will undoubtedly recognize yourself with a few “ah ha moments.” You will also learn why online high school is an ideal learning environment, no matter what your style.

learning styles

How you learn has nothing to do with your intelligence, your personality or other traits. It’s simply an inherent feature that makes you unique – like the color of your hair – that determines how you take in, process and retain information. There are three recognized styles of learning:

  • Visual

  • Auditory

  • Tactile, also called kinesthetic

Most people use all three learning styles to some degree, though one is predominant.

Visual learners focus on what they see.

Words, illustrations, photos, charts and diagrams, maps, video, visual presentations or demonstrations all resonate with visual learners. These people are usually good at things like photography, videography or film, art and design, architecture, navigation and strategic planning (because it requires ability to “see the big picture” and uses lots of diagrams) or games like chess.

The ability to form mental pictures of information facilitates quick recall, so visual learners are often faster at taking tests.

Auditory learners focus on what they hear.

The spoken word and other sounds resonate most strongly with auditory learners. Remember the “alphabet song”? They like music, rhyming, lectures and oral presentations or listening and repeating out loud. They have excellent auditory recall.

Aural learners are often good at playing musical instruments, composing or conducting, audio/video mixing, sound engineering and learning foreign languages because they have a “good ear.”

Kinesthetic learners focus on their sense of touch and movement.

These are people who learn by doing. They often see the world around them in terms of spatial relationships, so they like hands-on demonstrations, flash cards, taking notes, completing word or number puzzles, using or making 3D models.

Because kinesthetic learners are experiential and need to move around, they are well-suited to sports, dancing or drama, construction or mechanical work, sales or other “out and about” jobs.

Online learning is universally appealing.

Traditional brick-and-mortar schools favor visual learners because of their classroom-oriented environment. You see the teacher making a presentation, and you have plenty of homework that is primarily reading- and writing-based. To a lesser extent, aural learners benefit, in that you can hear and assimilate what the teacher is saying.

Online schools provide an engaging environment for all three types of learners, because the multi-media curriculum presentation offers something for everyone.

  • Online school supports visual learning with video lectures, plenty of reading materials and opportunities to visualize the new information you’re learning. As you participate in interactive tasks, games, etc., your brain “sees” the tasks you’re performing and stores mental pictures of them.

  • Video lectures appeal to listeners as well as visual learners, and online students have far more opportunities to talk with teachers one-on-one via phone, to answer questions, obtain assistance or simply explore concepts further.

  • Online school supports kinesthetic learners in unique and stimulating ways. A function as simple as dragging and dropping answers to match questions is a kinesthetic connection students are able to make when studying online. These functions coupled with occasional activities and games sprinkled provide an opportunity for students to learn in a kinesthetic way not offered in a traditional classroom.

The greatest aspect of online schools in terms of learning style is that you can choose your own. As noted earlier, generally a person doesn't have only one learning style, but a unique mix.  You can choose whichever learning style to use according to your current preference.  For example, you can choose to write notes on paper or by using the curriculum's e-notes system.  Or, here are different ways you can use just one component of lessons at Sterling Academy, the video lectures:

  • Watch the lecture with or without taking notes

  • Watch the lecture more than once

  • Watch the lecture once, then just listen the second time

  • Watch the lecture once, then read the transcript of it

  • Watch the lecture and follow along by reading the transcript at the same time

These examples are for just one type of activity in our online lessons.  They show the appeal of online learning, where students are in control of how and when they learn.  You as a student can adjust and tailor your learning to meet your needs for optimum mastery.

Understanding how different learning styles work – and deliberately working to sharpen your “style skills” in all three areas -- will help you later in life, too. You’ll be more self-aware, plus you will be better able to communicate and relate with people whose styles differ from yours.

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Topics: Learning Styles, online school

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