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Worried about the switch from blackboard to keyboard? Here’s how to make your learning style work online

Do you enjoy the freedom of an online classroom without walls, traffic or a dress code?

Do you love carrying your school with you every time you PCS?

Online learning has its perks — and its difficulties. Do you also have difficulty transitioning from the uncomfortable, yet familiar, wooden desks and blackboard to your cozy couch and laptop?

Depending on how you learn best, you may find yourself struggling to take it all in and keep up. Visual learners who thrive in a read-and-write environment typically adjust well to the online classroom, but auditory and kinesthetic learners may have a harder time.

Instructors for Bryant & Stratton College Online keep that in mind as they set their lesson plans and course loads.

“In our online classes we try to meet the needs of our students by making use of multiple learning styles,” Brooke Urban, adjunct instructor who teaches business principles and management principles, said via email. “With visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners, as an instructor I try to incorporate a blended style so that all of my students can be successful.”

Most students include elements of each style into their study habits but tend to have one that’s dominant. So how do you know which style fits you best?

“Time and experience is one way to know your learning style, and another way is to look at the characteristics of each learning style,” Urban said. “Some of the traits will correlate with how you learn best, which can then help you learn more about your learning style.”

You’re likely a visual learner if you absorb material best by seeing it. You understand charts, pictures, diagrams and maps. You also are adept at reading body language and facial expressions, Urban said. She recommends visual learners make outlines and lists, take notes, and use highlighters or underline text to better absorb the material.

Auditory learners excel when they can hear the material being covered. They are outspoken in class, like to read out loud and follow spoken directions well, she said. She recommends auditory learners record lectures, repeat facts aloud and record notes after writing them.

“For our auditory learners (Bryant & Stratton Online has) also incorporated videos and audio clips as well as ask our students to relate what they are learning to real-life situations,” she said.

Kinesthetic learners best absorb information from doing, moving and touching. They often speak with their hands, like to role play and build models.  

The hands-on, kinesthetic learner typically faces the biggest adjustments, Urban said. But with discussion boards, online tutoring, live office hours, Skype, iChat and other tools, the virtual classroom becomes a little more concrete.

“Kinesthetic learners also benefit from the online classroom because they are physically clicking the mouse and navigating through the classroom. This keeps the student engaged,” she said.

Urban recommends kinesthetic learners incorporate flash cards, role playing and study groups into their academic regimens.

Knowing where your strength lies will help you adjust your study habits to make the most of your classroom experience, she said.

Urban recently made the transition from classroom to online classes herself as she began working toward her doctorate in education. The leap, she learned, isn’t always easy.

“It is very ironic that I find myself in the same position as many of my students, being a first-time online learner,” she said. “With the experience of now taking online classes, the best advice I can give is to learn about your own learning style and make sure to pick a program that has incorporated avenues for you to be successful.”

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