Once the group I was in learned what style they most closely connected with and then separated out into those sub-groups, we had a blast! (Well, the Divergers certainly did!) I was utterly amazed at how blatantly we demonstrated our learning style characteristics and it truly opened up a new way of thinking for me. It also helped me improve my instructional design that I was working on at the time and helped me to challenge myself to learn in varied ways.
Now, over the past month, this lone tweet in the Twitter-verse appeared along with a subsequent blog post and has stirred up some conversation:
I posted Mark's blog post on Twitter and LinkedIn and was honestly surprised at the quick responses and to which way they were leaning -leave the learning styles behind. Surprised because of how valuable learning about these styles had proven to be for me and others.
It is the desired Learning Objective or Performance Outcome (and, to some extent, the content) that will determine an appropriate instructional strategy. While instructors and leaders may have a responsibility to support the learner through their progression from (potentially) novice to (developing) expert, they still have to acknowledge the optimum methods for delivering said instruction. Any instructor trying to adapt instruction to ALL learning styles (e.g. Kolb) is setting themselves up for failure.I read this and my immediate reaction was, 'Really??' And my second reaction came from my love of Social Media: 'How great it is that I can connect and discuss issues and topics like these with people from all over because of a tweet and a post!'
The Learning Objectives and the Performance Outcomes we focus on are certainly crucial to effective instruction and training and I agree that adult learners are ultimately responsible for their learning. But aren't we called 'facilitators' for a reason? Are we not out there to facilitate deep, meaningful and engaged learning? And can we not enhance our approach by ensuring that in our Learning Objectives, Performance Outcomes, content and presentation that Divergers and other learning styles are 'targeted' and considered? I have come to believe that the 'optimum methods' for delivery would mean making sure you don't simply cater to Assimilators and hand your learners a textbook and say, 'Read it'. So, if you're not 'adapting instruction to ALL learning styles', who are you leaving out and disengaging? And can you make those that aren't engaged 'responsible' for their own learning when you've basically left them out of the equation and they can't relate?
I still believe from personal experience and conversation, that many people do not adopt Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook into their professionl development or personal lives because of their learning styles. But don't quote me on that, because as a lifelong learner, I'm still doing just that -learning.
I would love to know what you think about the Learning Styles approach to instruction and training, so please add your comments below and thanks for continuing the conversation!
SPECIAL NOTE: Join me for tonight's Learn with Me Twitter Chat at 8pm EST (December 3, 2012) where we will be discussing this issue of Learning Styles and their value, the case against and what alternative viewpoints and approaches lead to engaged learning as well. Use the hashtag #learnwme and see you tonight!