“Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed.” ~ advanology.com
Learning styles are a guide to help programmers understand how they learn and how to optimize their ability to learn new materials and keep up on trends in the industry. Will has found that he is primarily a kinesthetic learner whereas BJ is primarily a visual learner. However both enjoy listening to podcasts when driving because the content of the shows and the situation of driving lends itself to auditory learning.
The episode begins with where the metaphor of learning styles originated and an overview of the different models. Then the guys delve into the most common model (VARK) discussing the best ways to learn for each style and covering some of the distractions to be avoided. Next they discuss the different settings for learning and how setting adds complexity to the concept of learning. A brief talk on learning mindsets and the ideal style and setting for each follows. Finally the episode ends with a discussion on how individual programmers can use this metaphor to their advantage.
18:40 What Are Learning Styles?
Originally for Teachers and Presenters
The concept of learning styles comes from the differences in learning modalities. Individuals have a prefered modality and by addressing that modality teachers and presenters should be better able to communicate with students.
Several Different Models
There are several different models for understanding learning styles. Of the various models Felder and Soloman’s Index of Learning Styles and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are the most widely recognized. The model that BJ learned in school is the VAK or VARK model. That stands for Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic.
“Learning styles theory says that an auditory learner will learn things better when they are presented aurally. But there are many types of knowledge which are hard to grasp aurally – for example the shape of a country or how to ride a bike. Just about everyone will learn the shape of a country by seeing that shape, that is visually. Just about everyone learns how to ride a bike by doing it, that is kinaesthetically. It is the type of information that drives how we should present it – not the learning style of the learner.” ~ Olivia Mitchell
23:45 Styles of Learning
Each of these represents a different modality of learning. Individuals generally have a prefered modality or multiple prefered modalities. However depending on the situation or material some modalities are better suited for learning than others.
Visual learners learn by visualizing information and the relationships between different sets of data. They prefer charts and graphs or infographics and can become distracted by too much visual stimuli in their environment.
Auditory learners prefer hearing and reciting information. They learn best through lectures, podcasts, or discussion groups. Environments with a lot of noise can be distracting.
Kinesthetic learners take in information by movement. Activities like labs and roleplaying benefit this style. They prefer to be hands on and experimental but have more difficulty with less practical and more conceptual learning.
This is more than just a visual-tactile combination, they learn by reading and writing. They prefer to interact with text, test their understanding, and fill out handouts or take detailed notes. They will take notes when no written material is presented.
35:47 Settings for Learning
Social learners prefer to interact with the presenter or in a question/answer format. They excell in discussion groups and tend to be outgoing. However they may stray off topic in a group or get bored in lectures without some form of social interaction.
Solitary learners learn best with self study. They prefer to know the material thoroughly before discussing it and may be uncomfortable in a discussion group.
Location has a large effect on your ability to learn. Where you are learning may have distractions that impede your prefered style. For example, Will has difficulty with learning in a noisy environment and avoids coffee shops whereas BJ can easily tune out auditory noise but has difficulty learning in places with multiple visual stimuli.
41:08 Learning Mindsets
Similar to the kinesthetic modality, active learners prefer to learn by interacting with the material and manipulating objects. They learn best with physical experiments and can get bored or fidgety in a pure lecture environment.
Solitary learners often fall into the reflective mindset. They learn by analysis preferring to think through problems and evaluate options. This can lead to indecision when not fully understanding the material or experiencing information procrastination.
Detailed learners take in information linearly, in an ordered manner. They prefer concrete, practical, and procedural information. Generalizations can be distracting.
Overview learners take in information holistically or systematically. They prefer conceptual, innovative, and theoretical information. They get bored or distracted when focussing on fine details.
44:26 Individual Differences
“Rather than concern ourselves with the preferred learning style of an audience member we should think about the modality that best suits the content.” ~ Olivia Mitchell
Research into learning styles has consistently shown no significant difference in the effect of learning when styles are used in planning teaching and presentation materials.
Reward for Research
There is a $5,000 reward for research proving learning styles work when taken into account in designing teaching materials. However, the modalities of different learning styles do exist in individuals.
The research does show that individuals have a prefered learning style. The issue comes with the use of learning styles when designing teaching materials. The learning modality used in designing materials should instead focus on the content being presented.
Using Learning Styles
When learning new material individuals will differ on how best to learn and what distractions have the most impact. As programmers we can use these styles to better our ability to learn and to avoid the situations that will reduce our ability to learn.
IoTease: The R Files
A new addition to the IoTease lineup, the R files are Random or Rediculous IoT projects and products that exist on the web. Not just Rube Goldberg machines these are products and projects that make you think, “Why?”
The Petzi Treat Camera
“Launch your pet’s favorite mini treat at anytime with a patented treat launcher”
This IoT product may not be for everyone. It is a treat dispenser and camera with a “free secure app and interaction.” The camera has 720p HD video at 30fps so you can watch your pet as you launch treats for them to chase.
Tricks of the Trade
This is the premise of Open Source, code is free. It is more like recipes.
This week Will talks about “stealing” code, by that he means using available code not actual theft of intellectual property. It’s important to realize that Google is your friend. There are people that are smarter than you that have already solved the problem and they can give you a starting point. A lot of code is offered for free on sites such as Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange, or Reddit.
A major thanks goes out to our Audio Guru Jason Belcher this week for catching some editing errors when mastering the audio for this episode. His efforts have greatly improved not only our quality but our enjoyment of the process.