Learning Theories, Learning Styles, Learning Lukes…

I, like a lot of other people, like to learn new things.  I enjoy the process of learning as well as the acquisition of new information.  When I learn a new thing, I feel accomplished and excited that I grew a new part of my “self.”  Learning is the blissful process of demystifying the world around me. The only problem is the more we learn, the more we realize that we barely know anything.  The process itself is a journey and not a destination.

I have recently embarked on a new “learning journey” that has caused me to look at concepts I was once familiar with in a new way.  I started channeling my learning efforts in new directions (if you are reading this, you are seeing one of those directions) and have found unique places those directions have taken me.

Sure in the past I was aware of learning theories; behaviorists tend to like bells and dogs, cognitivists feel safe on planes because of their “black box,” constructivists make up their own meaning for everything, social constructivists do too – but only in groups, and the adult learner is a new type of animal that must be studied through the lens of andragogy (kind of like pedagogy only it can stay up late enjoying alcoholic beverages if so inclined.)

But knowledge of learning theories is one thing, understanding them is an entirely different thing.  I’d like to say that I have a better understanding, but the pursuit of knowledge never ends; it is a journey not necessarily a destination.  Everything I read on the subject gives me another breadcrumb to follow, and another, and another, until I realize it is 2 a.m., I have to work in the morning, and there is a mess of crumbs all over the place.

If I were to construct my own meaning from all of this I would focus my efforts on how I learn and how I can use this knowledge in my career to build better content for my learners.  After all, if I keep everything in the “black box” the intent of learning does me no good.

All of this got me wondering how I myself learn.  One of the breadcrumbs I ran into along the way (many many years ago at) was something called the memletics learning styles inventory, and it lived on my desktop as an excel file ready to let anyone who cared to find out know their learning style.  This inventory asks a number of questions and, by the responses give, creates a learning profile based on seven learning styles, visual, social, physical, aural, verbal, solitary, and logical.

luke's memletics
The Millennium Falcon of how Luke learns


Today the learning styles inventory can be found online at https://learning-styles-online.com and still provides interesting insight into what your learning style may be.  It also gives you a nice little graph which is handy to have on hand at dinner parties or social gatherings of your choosing.  It turns out that I ranked relatively high on the verbal style so I guess I learn best by telling myself things.

All in all understanding learning theories will make me a better instructional designer, and understanding my learning style (and learning styles in general) will help me on my own learning journey (and maybe help me design better content too…)


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