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Websites that appeal to the Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, & Kinesthetic Learning Styles

Multiple Intelligences Dr. Thomas Armstrong does a fine job of simplifying and presenting Gardner's theories of multiple intelligences. Of course we have the obligatory list of ways we are 'smart', but Armstrong goes farther with an extended example of how you can approach the same subject (in this case the moon) 8 different ways. This is commercial website offering various products, but it does offer a clear view of Gardner's central ideas. Armstrong's use of a detailed example is an excellent cue to anyone developing online material--always leaven the abstract with tangible applications of the big concepts!

How Technology Enhances Howard Gardner's Eight Intelligences This is a simply terrific site that goes into specific detail about how technology can be used to teach to each of Gardner's intelligences. Think of this as a cookbook site that will fill your head with a wide variety of ideas and options about technology and learning styles


The importance of learning styles in online education is just beginning to be recognized. Most web based online learning environments remain dominated by the read/write style of lesson presentation. This is likely to remain the case for the immediate future. However as bandwidth and delivery speeds increase, multimedia will become integral to online learning environments widening the learning style appeal. The following websites have been compiled to demonstrate 'appeals' to different learning styles. These learning styles have been grouped according to a Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic styles. To find out more about your learning styles take the VARK online assessment.


Visual

Digital Eye Online Photography Course This course is designed to teach high school students the essentials of photography. "The goal of the Digital Eye Online Photography Course is to allow high school students of all abilities to express themselves artistically through the medium of photography. Students will learn the basics of photography by taking meaningful photographs of their community, and compiling these images into a presentation that will be shared in class, with the school board, PTA, or community center." Photography is about seeing--this course will help you learn how to see.

Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus This is an unusual site. You'll need a lot of computer horse power and some persistence to make it all run but the result is a unique experience in visual learning. The Thesaurus acts as a brainstorming tool by webbing each words' synonyms into a 3-D visual presentation. Great jumping off point for poetry, non-lineal thinking, and word play.


Aural

WWW Audio Tutorial of Basic Chinese This site is based on the idea that the only way to learn a language is to hear it and speak it. You'll need to have sound playback software to 'hear' the Chinese. Downloading plug ins and stand alone applications is a hassle. I think these types of technical issues are the biggest roadblock to using 'Aural' technology.

Bell Labs Text-to-Speech This is a handy tool if you want to add small snippets of speech to your course sites. Enter the text, choose the voice, and you can create sound files. Be aware that the files are large and may take a lot of time to download across the net.

Reflective Teaching What is Reflective Teaching? This audio lecture presents a simple, yet effective way to use currently available web-tools to present information to the aural learner. Using a series of RealAudio recordings, the site presents an interview with Prof. Kathi Bailey, President-Elect of TESOL (1997-1998) and Visiting Scholar of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1996-1997). Additionally the printed text of the interview is presented as you listen to each segment. Why not do this with key lecture materials on your site? Consider too having students do a project that uses this presentation method.


Read/Write

Start of the Hero's Journey This research and writer's tool is a site based on Joseph Campbell's analysis of the hero myth. This site is part of The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI), the same folks that organized What A Site. While I've listed this under Read/Write, the site also uses images and sounds to round out the learning style appeal. For more on the Hero's Journey and Joseph Campbell click here!

The Java Tutorial This online how-to course in Java programming is dressed up with a reasonable number of applets that appeal to the visual learner. This site bills itself as the "The Java Tutorial, A practical guide for programmers with hundreds of complete, working examples." This tutorial is organized into trails-- a way to group lessons on a particular subject. This course really takes advantage of hypertext, allowing the read/write learner to pick and choose the areas of Java programing they would like to learn. It is a pleasant surprise to find that most of the pages are not 'burdened' with too much Java, but rather sparsely illustrated. Nice to see some style here.

Questioning Toolkit Is produced by FNO From Now On The Educational Technology Journal. This site presents lessons on questioning strategies. The material is presented in hypertext format, allowing the user to skip about as they follow specific ideas. Of course the material may also be read sequentially. This site uses Inspiration generated colored cluster diagrams to present an alternate to their bulleted outline presentations. Cluster diagrams certainly appeal to the visual learner, although I think you learn more if you make the diagrams yourself. Presenting information in diagram and more structured outline form could be readily adapted to most course sites. (Rather than post a written response to a web surfing assignment a cluster of web search results could be offered instead.) Making clusters an option will help visual learners

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band & We Didn't Start the Fire: A Stream of Consciousness History of Postwar America were both created by John d. Sweeney and at first look like examples of trivial web-fun. The concept here is to hyperlink across the web using Billy Joel's song, or the famous Beatles album cover as a 'menu'. As they stand, these sites would appeal to the Read/Write and Visual learner. Add the actual music and you'd capture the aural leaner as well. (I'm sure copyright concerns are the reason you won't 'hear' these sites.) I think these sites demonstrate an alternate approach to research or 'hit list' construction. Why not use this idea in conjunction with a 'conceptual image' approach. A student assignment might be: Find a song, poem, or complex image that symbolizes the main ideas of your research. Then hyper link the appropriate words or images to your web resources.


Kinesthetic

Build It & Bust It: A Webside Construction Zone Students, as part of the ThinkQuest web design competition, created this engineering site. This site allows you to use Java applets to build, test, and tear down structural models. Not quite the tactile feedback of building with real materials, but it still satisfies the physical/spatial experience requirements of the kinesthetic learner. This site uses a simulation environment to help the user learn by doing. Their full Walkthrough Tutorial will give the read/write learner a 'foundation' in the subject manner. I suspect most kinesthetic learners will load the Java applets and 'play' with the interface first. Either way the site appeals to multiple learning styles.

Poetry Tiles Have you ever run across a colorful, magnet strewn refrigerator, covered in small word-magnets? Just slide them around and see what kind of images you can capture. Here's a sanitized for kids web version of that pastime. I suppose this fun, simple site could be listed under both Kinesthetic and Read/Write categories. You'll need Java and patience to get things going, after that just move words around in cyberspace around and see what develops.

The Animated American Sign Language Dictionary will appeal to visual and kinesthetic learners as it shows you how to sign. The use of animation to guide the user through the hand and finger movements of American Sign Language is an effective and logical way of teaching this skill. Their signing model looks a bit like a lumberjack, but the use of short looping video really makes this concept work.


Online Learning Meets Learning Style

The more I think about how to stretch our tired little online reality into a multimedia wonder that appeals to all learning styles, the more impatient I become for the virtual learning space of the future. The websites I've sited certainly lack the rich environments that truly appeal to all of the learning styles. The audio is slow and cumbersome, the video is low resolution and often crashes your system, the Java applets take forever to load, if they don't freeze the screen first.

This is an imperfect learning environment-- ah, but there is so much promise!

At present (in my opinion) online education is for the read/write learner. If you are not comfortable with words and writing you'll find it very hard to learn online. The anxiety of writer's block alone might knock you out of the box. So what do we do about that box? That little glowing screen where we go to school? ?

I've been trying to think 'outside the box'. This course has been all about the potential of bringing multiple learning styles to bear online--but we haven't really done more than the usual read, write, investigate, report and discuss. Powerful ways to learn--for the read/write learner. But what about all the other learning styles? (That's a good question to keep asking.)

This course gave me the courage to plan a course on computer game design. The potential students are likely to be highly Read/Write AND Kinesthetic. I'll be using every device available to appeal to their learning styles. RealAudio and Video interviews will be part of the research (I'll want my students to use them and create them). Collaborative online gaming will be required so students can become part of an experienced-based community. A number of simulations will be created and acted out just because they appeal to multiple learning styles. (I'm thinking of an online collaborative game project in which one of the group members is a ringer who intentionally stalls and obstructs the project. The real purpose of the simulation will be to learn how to deal with low performing co-workers, a typical reality in the game design business. I'm thinking about a cgi-scripted 'aptitude' test that will intentionally offer a disjointed interface and truly test the applicant's ability to 'play games'.

I've repeated the phrase 'I'm thinking' quite a few times. (That's a good statement to keep making!) That's why I'm here.


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