Understanding Learning Styles for better LMS Course Content

August 6, 2014

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Modes of learningToday I was inspired by one of the sections I completed in the Leaders of Learning MOOC I have been participating in for the past two weeks. The first section introduced the four different modes of learning which define the ways people differ in their learning styles. Understanding these learning styles will undoubtedly result in better LMS course content. Separated into four quadrants, the Hierarchical Individual, Distributed Individual, Hierarchical Collective and Distributed Collective are all motivated by unique learning goals. After reading up on each quadrant you will have a clear understanding of the motivation behind various learning styles so you can effectively engage all of your learners. First up is the Hierarchical Individual!

Quadrant 1: The Hierarchical Individual

Those who learn in the Hierarchical Individual quadrant are most successful in formal education institutions that provides learners with clearly defined metrics for success and a clear path to increase in ranking. These individuals flourish with instructor provided content and thorough rubrics that clearly define the success targets one must meet. The socio-cultural ideologies that drive this model are most dominant, and a common narrative that drives it is "that if one does well in school then ones deserves social and economic success." In practice, the Hierarchical individual model is best observed in your typical classroom or lecture setting where the teacher guides the lesson and students listen in order to complete homework and tests that cover material taught.

Quadrant 2: The Hierarchical Collective

Similar to the Hierarchical Individual, Hierarchical Collective learners learn best in environments where they are provided with clear measure measurements for success. Unlike the Hierarchical Individual’s though, measures of success are based upon communal values and goals set by the Hierarchical Collective Organization. Hierarchical Collectives' view education institutions as the primary tool for helping children develop common community values in order to be successful members of society. Therefore, teachers and instructors are responsible for creating positive social learning environments so that students can learn how to collaborate with their peers. Due to the fact that success is measured on collective social and cognitive skills, tests cannot assess learning objectives in this quadrant.

Quadrant 3: The Distributed Individual

The Distributed Individual learner will likely preform best in online learning environments where they can develop knowledge and skills as they see fit. These types of learners are motivated by their own learning goals and questions, and pursue these unique interests to the depth and breadth that suits their immediate desires. Unlike the aforementioned two quadrants, these types of learners determine their success internally as opposed to externally. They set their own success measurements and achieve them based on their current ambitions. The best way to engage these learners is to provide a large pool of categorized material that they can sort through at their own pace.

Quadrant 4: The Distributed Collective

Distributed Collective learners are similar to learners in quadrant 3 (above) but differ in their desire to learn what they want in networks of people who have similar learning goals. Learners in Distributed Collective networks take on roles as both the teacher and the student wherein people who are experts in specific areas teach others and then learn from other experts in return. Online learning in organizational LMSs can target these types of learners by ensuring there are social applications built in the LMS. Employees can then form groups that delve into specific topic matter. Success for these types of learners is defined by the community at large and often measured by the individuals ability to meaningfully contribute to the growing body of knowledge.

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