Top Ways Tech Can Help Support Different Learning Styles

No two people are alike and yet, traditional classroom learning was designed to reflect a single type of student. The teacher would stand at the front of the classroom and speak, sometimes using a blackboard to make notes or draw a simple diagram, and students would observe and take notes. Fortunately for parents, many modern educators have recognized the importance of teaching to different personalities and learning styles. They're using technology to help support those different learning styles and have come up with innovative, engaging ways to share information and assign work, creating more inclusive classrooms and enabling more students to succeed. It’s a wonderful thing!

How does your child learn?

You may be aware of your own learning style to some extent — for example, recognizing that you best take in knowledge by reading or listening — but as a parent, it can help to understand your child’s learning style in order to help them succeed. A 1992 study by researchers Fleming and Mills helped identify and outline four common learning styles, giving them the acronym VARK for visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Remember, these learning styles apply to all ages, and the tips we share here may help parents as well as children. What applies in school often applies at home or in the office, so don’t hesitate to use this information to support your own success!

Finding the right tech

Visual learners do well with depictions of information in graphic forms instead of text. This includes charts, maps, labelled diagrams and other visual devices. If you have a visual learner at home, they may benefit from using a mindmap application to organize their thoughts, or using flashcards to study for a test. If your visual learner struggles with written assignments, try Google’s speech-to-text app for preparing essays or other assignments. An Iris Pen may also help them with taking notes from text sources.

Auditory learners (also called aural learners) prefer to receive information that is heard or spoken, and often benefit from talking through concepts aloud. Their preferred learning models include lectures and group discussion, among other things. If your child is an audio learner, consider audiobooks or podcasts to help them absorb information. High school and college-aged students may also benefit from recording lectures using a digital voice recorder or software on their smartphone or laptop. They may also thrive in a study group, or simply by talking out a project around the kitchen table!

Reading/writing learners have a strong preference for the written word. They thrive on essays, books and other text-based formats. If your child does well learning from written sources, make sure they have an excellent laptop for researching online, taking notes and preparing documents. They may also benefit from using a traditional paper notepad in class.

Finally, kinesthetic learners are best suited to experiential learning that’s tactile or rooted in participation. This might include lessons that involve lab experiments, demonstrations, case studies and practical applications. If your child is struggling to learn from text sources, consider getting them a tablet to watch video demonstrations on. This might make all the difference in their learning — and their confidence!

Connect with your school for support

While it’s possible for students to learn well in a variety of ways (this is called being multi-modal), it’s also common for individuals to have one dominant learning style that impacts their ability to function well in other settings. If your child is struggling with homework or classroom assignments, consider speaking to their teacher about what tech is available and how you can help bring these accommodations home. Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTs) can be an excellent resource for families, and your school administrator may even have devices for loan.

By Staples Canada

May 21, 2021