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Which Learning Style?

Most of my days are spent doing one-on-one type support over a large array of software and hardware issues. I’m like an in-depth tech support. Over the past month I have been able to do work with my favorite thing: online courses. It’s been great but it has also been extremely challenging. In my past experience with creating content for online learning I have had the benefit of knowing my audience was one that liked to learn online. This is extremely helpful. As we all know, teaching someone who is comfortable with learning online is a much easier task than teaching someone who is not comfortable with learning online. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with 6 courses worth of people (instructors) who taught online but did not necessarily learn well online. In the beginning, I had an idea what type of problems this would cause but really didn’t have a clue.

Problem #1 – The majority of the “students” really had no desire to learn anything new. They were being forced into it because we are changing the LMS whether they like it or not.

Problem #2 – The change from WebCT to ANGEL is pretty substantial. WebCT is a very structured area only allowing you to place content in specific locations. ANGEL is a very open area allowing you to create the entire design of your course on your own. There was a pretty even split of people who liked this and hated this.

Problem #3 – The majority of the “students” do not do well in an online format even though they are online instructors. We did provide the opportunities for them to come to face-to-face sessions but many did not attend.

Problem #4 – Due to the large number of “students” we had an extremely wide variety of learning styles. Creating content that suited them all in one shot was nearly impossible.

So I found myself (the only Instructional Designer and one of the only SME’s) juggling what I thought was best for the learner, what I could produce fastest (we are on a strict timeline), and what I knew the most about. This was not a fun juggling act.

I find interactive content the best way for learners to learn and retain information. So I created Captivate tutorials whenever possible. I also know from experience in this institution that people love to have printed out instructions of specific tasks. So I tried to incorporate as many printable references as I could while putting together afore mentioned Captivate tutorials. Thank goodness for ANGEL’s doc files they were so gratious as to give to us for our editing and using as we needed. It was much easier to simply splice a piece of their instruction manual to use as the printable reference rather than have to make one on my own. Much time saved there. I’m also thankful for their in-depth instructor reference manual, Tony Suess, and the ANGEL-L ListServ from which I attained a good portion of my ANGEL knowledge.

Where am I going with this? Really, I’m not sure. My brain is pretty much friend at this point.

I guess my point was, how do you successfully balance the learning styles without overkilling the audience on information? It is my hopes to go back through the course I made and add printable references for every Captivate tutorial. But I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t also go through and add simple non-interactive screen capture videos for each item also. This would be for the people who don’t like to read the printed version but don’t want to take the time of doing the interactive version. So many different ways of learning. How in the world do we cover them all cohesively?

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