People learn in different ways so it is important that students have access to different learning methods on their courses if everyone is to benefit equally from the teaching on offer. Learning in the traditional way where a teacher or lecturer stands in front of a classroom of student sand delivers the subject matter with minimal interaction is not the right way for everyone to learn.
For this reason, many schools, colleges, and training providers are judged externally not just on their teaching but on their teaching and learning. After all, teaching is of no use if students aren’t actually learning anything. Traditional classroom methods can sometimes mean course content is not understood or absorbed and that students are not engaged and enthused.
This is one of the reasons that higher apprenticeships become a popular alternative to a university education. An apprentice on one of the higher level project management apprenticeships, for instance, can achieve a degree level qualification whilst also learning about real project environments and gaining real experience.
But just what are the different ways people learn?
Studying alone can work well as there are no distractions (or, at least, no other people distracting you) but it only works for those who are self-motivated and disciplined in their learning. When taking professional exams, such as those for project managers, this is often a convenient route as it minimizes time away from the job.
Many courses of academic study or study for professional qualifications in law, accountancy or project management such as APMP, PMP or PRINCE2, can be completed individually through distance learning and supplemented by online communities and forums. Students may have access to podcasts and e-learning modules to supplement more formal written material.
In a Group:
Classes work best for learners who prefer to engage face-to-face in order to make course content more meaningful for them and the studying experience more enjoyable. In a group situation, individuals can learn from one another and it is often easier to develop new ideas when there are others to bounce ideas off.
Some students actively avoid engagement with others and for certain subjects prefer the cold, hard logic and rigorous thinking required of some scientific or mathematical topics. They require clear guidelines and accurate factual information to complete a course of study. Such learners might typically study “alone within a group”.
Many people can absorb new information simply through hearing it spoken – either by a teacher or lecturer in a traditional classroom setting or via a training podcast. Podcasts are still relatively new but are being used more and more, particularly for professional training courses in topics such as project management, and they allow study literally anywhere and anytime.
Many topics are difficult to grasp when only presented vocally and often the use of diagrams can greatly assist understanding and the retention of knowledge. Visual learning has long been part of traditional teaching but more recently videos or animated slide shows have added another dimension to learning strategies.
“Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand” – this Chinese Proverb (often attributed to Benjamin Franklin) is so true. And it is the reason why many courses use interactive sessions to help their students understand and remember the subjects being taught. Sensory perception is one of the ways children learn when they are very young but it can equally be used for adults of all ages. A range of successful interactive sessions has been used on training courses involving tools typically associated with child’s play, such as building blocks and balloons.
So next time you are considering a course of study don’t just think about the subject matter but also how it is delivered and whether that suits your preferred learning style.
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