Kolb’s learning theory introduces us to four distinct learning styles (or preferences), which are based on a four-stage learning cycle – learning by feeling, watching, thinking and doing.
In other words, we all agree that individuals learn uniquely, combining a mix of the above preferences to bring out their own unique style of learning. We also appreciate that although there are as many unique learning styles as there are individuals; we can categorize them into a finite number as shown very elegantly by David Kolbe.
My question is how practicable or feasible it is to try and accommodate various learning styles while designing a course, be it classroom or online?
In a classroom, the elements of instruction used seem to depend more on what the instructor/facilitator is good with rather than on addressing a variety of learning styles that the audience brings to the class.
As far as online courses are concerned, I agree we all make sure that there is a judicious balance of content, graphics, animation and interactivity.
But is there a more objective method to decide how much of each is recommended? I don’t remember collecting data on the learning styles of the target audience before sitting down design a course. Is there any research available that suggests a general distribution of learning styles in a given population?
If we know, even in general terms, the distribution of learning styles in a reference set of population and if we can get hold of an objective method of deciding what instructional elements we can use and in what proportion, I think our training programs will be much more effective.
I would welcome my colleagues to respond with their knowledge and experience in addressing this area.