Oct 12, 2009

Multimodal Learning

For a very long time, education consisted of little more than rote memorization. This meant reading and writing, followed by more reading and writing. Learners had very little in terms of options when it came to meeting their personal educational needs.

But as history progressed and technology produced new avenues for information distribution, learning started to take on different forms. Devices like VCRs and audio cassette players brought audio and visual components into the classroom. Then came the laptop computer and Powerpoint presentations. Gradually, students have been weaned from rote memorization, and instead engaged through a variety of different media. Today, rote memorization has not been tossed aside, but rather supplemented. As modern schools grapple with the seemingly endless resources of the Internet, students are being confronted with new ways to learn.

This is undoubtedly a good thing. With new modes of learning comes higher rates of knowledge acquisition and retention. There have been a number of studies on the power of this. One study released last year, for example, demonstrated that combining visual and verbal instruction resulted in sizeable increases for learning. The challenge facing educators now is how to incorporate material that touches on all the different learning styles that students could utilize.

If you find your teacher blissfully unaware of all the opportunities available for engaging you as a student, don’t hesitate to show him or her the light. If all you get is lecture after lecture, try presenting a short HippoCampus clip to spice things up. Or, print off some pictures that might add a nice visual to the lecturer’s notes. Or, bring in an audio recording to hear another perspective, such as a speech given by the subject matter in a history lesson. There’s so much out there, you just have to go out and find it.

Even if you can’t get your teacher to incorporate all the fantastic resources you know are available, don’t deprive yourself and your fellow classmates of resources you know can help. Actively engage the content, and you’ll find that you’ll learn faster, more effectively, and possibly even have a good time.

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