Although there remains much debate about the topic of learning styles, teachers still find that structuring their lessons with the end goal in mind of engaging students’ dominant learning styles — auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — makes the most sense. Their own personal observations support the theory that students have a natural preference for one of the three learning styles. Delivering lessons that incorporate techniques that appeal to every learner makes sense. 

Transitioning in-person lessons to the virtual learning world that appeal to multiple learning styles doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are many resources available that will help teachers build engaging, fun lessons for all.

Auditory Learners and Virtual Learning

“I hear and learn” is the key phrase for auditory learners.

Auditory learners comprehend and retain information by listening and speaking. These learners love giving oral presentations, asking questions, reading aloud, and interacting with teachers, so face-time online with their instructors is important.

Technology such as Zoom, Skype, and other video or audio style conference software is ideal for auditory learners. A Skype classroom connection enables them to ask questions, listen to responses, and interact with both teachers and students.  Podcasts assigned by the teacher on the specific topic of the lesson are also a great way for auditory learners to grasp concepts. Audiobooks also appeal to auditory learners and can supplement their classroom experience.

Guest speakers add an additional element to any classroom but appeal to auditory learners who can listen to personal insights from expert guests. Take a virtual trip to a zoo and invite a veterinarian or biologist to your online class as a guest speaker. Ask a poet to read her poems to your class and have the class write and share their own poems. There are many ways to add inspiring voices to your classroom using virtual technology.

Visual Learners Love Reading and Watching

“I see and understand” reflects the visual learner’s way of interacting with the world.

Visual learners prefer reading materials or viewing demonstrations to grasp concepts. Such students learn easily from reading the textbook or watching how-to videos. Teachers can upload PowerPoint presentations and recording narration or using screencasts to deliver lessons that appeal to visual learners. 

YouTube offers a wealth of various videos that can enhance the classroom experience. English language arts and literature teachers can use clips from the movie versions of famous plays and novels to add interest for visual learners to their lessons. Mathematics teachers can find instructional videos that utilize diagrams, how-to instructions, and more on everything from long division to advanced calculus. Adding video links to resource lists for students to watch on their own offers a great way to engage visual learners.

Kinesthetic Learners Must “Do” a Task to Grasp It

“I do and I understand” summarizes the kinesthetic learning style.

Kinesthetic learners must touch, do, or make what they are studying in order to truly understand it. Kinesthetic learners thrive in a learning environment that emphasizes hands-on projects. These are the kids who love the science fair project because they can actually make something to illustrate what they’ve learned or who go off and write their own short stories, fan fiction, or other projects to play with words.

Technology offers plenty of opportunities for kinesthetic learners.  Kinesthetic learners love games and online versions of Scrabble, crossword puzzles, or find-a-word games can help students learn vocabulary, spelling, and other language arts skills. Other online games such as The Grammar of Doom use an adventure-based simulation to teach English grammar.  Science and math teachers can find real-world simulations available in PhET, with free online physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics simulations available from the University of Colorado. 

The Secret to Virtual Learning Success: Mix It Up!

The true secret to successful online teaching that appeals to all three learning styles is to mix up the lesson delivery. Don’t just share a PowerPoint lecture; start with the PowerPoint lecture, but break up the lesson into short, 5 or 10 minute lectures followed by 5 minutes of interactive discussion and games for homework. Provide students with lists of resources for additional learning opportunities: YouTube videos, audiobooks they can check out free from the online library, games to play, things to build at home using items they can easily find or scrounge from what’s at hand.

Everyone likes variety. Even when students prefer to learn by reading, hearing, or doing, variety spices up lessons and encourages students to participate in the activities. It also keeps learning fun, which everyone — teachers and students — loves. Creating virtual lessons that appeal to all learning styles benefits everyone.