We live in an amazing time when we can learn anything at any time from any place.
But here’s the problem. Many of us invest in expensive information products and online learning and then just let it sit and collect dust. We download and load up our hard drive and then never look at that content again.
Some of us feel guilty for not looking at this valuable treasure trove of learning. We can feel a little bit like that family on Hoarders who just collects information, but never does anything with it. And did I mention it’s expensive? We feel like a fool for wasting so much money.
It’s not your fault
It’s not your fault that lots of that useful content sits untouched.
It may be that the format of the content isn’t right for you.
Just like in the traditional classroom, all learners are not alike.
We each have unique learning styles that impact our ability to maximize our online learning.
Most of us know that we could be visual, auditory or kinesthetic (hands on) learners. We are hard wired to learn more efficiently using our ears, eyes, or hands. Some of us do better hearing, reading or reciting words, while others prefer learning from non-verbal examples or direct experience. (To read more details of learning styles check out Learning-Styles-Online.com)
For example, I am a verbal learner and am much more efficient when I consume learning material by reading it. Give me a book or written material on a screen and I am golden.
But I’ve always struggled with math. In retrospect I believe that part of my math weakness has more to do with how math is taught than my inability to understand the concepts. I’ve had math teachers who barely speak. They would just go up to the board and start deriving formulas without talking me through the process. Within 1 minute, I was completely lost. I recall speaking to my Algebra II teacher and asking him to “talk me through” math so I could keep up with the class. Being a great teacher, he did exactly that and I had success for that one year in math.
Each one of us has an optimal learning style and it’s important for you to understand yours.
Why is this so important when you are learning online? Because we typically embark on online learning alone. It’s you and the screen. There are no classmates, class discussion, classroom, a teacher to hold your attention. It’s easy to get distracted, procrastinate, or only engage in a small percentage of the material. Often the reason we drift away from online learning is because the format isn’t ideal for our learning style. When you invest in online learning, you want to make sure that you are signing up to learn in a format that is optimal for your specific learning style.
For example, I know I learn best through reading and typically invest in online courses that involve ebooks and workbooks. I know that if I invest in a whole course of videos (no matter how short or snazzy) and I’m going to put in a half-assed effort.
Your turn. What is your online learning style?
Often the best way to figure out your learning style is to simply mindfully notice what holds your interest and attention.
When you surf the internet are you hanging out on YouTube (visual learning), reading wordy blogs (verbal learner) or seeking out “how-to” content that walks you through an exercise routine or crafting examples (kinesthetic learner)?
Notice what happens when your online friends and teachers offer content in different formats. If Chris Brogan offers you an audio to listen to on his blog, do you listen to it? (I don’t). Are you drawn to Marie Forleo‘s videos or would you rather she just write down what she has to say and be done with it?
Finally, take the online learning materials you already have and objectively assess how you have utilized them. Did you plow through a written workbook in a weekend? Were you glued to video tutorials and implementing the content as soon as you could? Were you chomping at the bit to get moving with a new workout routine?
And what stuff is collecting dust? I can tell you that I have at least 30 different videos and audios on my hard drive just waiting for me to pay attention to them. I’m sure many of them have great information. I just can’t find the mojo to fire them up and engage with them.
I know my learning style. Now what?
Ah, with great knowledge comes great power.
Now that you know your learning style you can invest in online learning opportunities that are the right fit for you. No more wasting time and money on content you won’t consume.
For me, video courses don’t make the cut. But give me a transcript of the content and I may invest.
If you see a course you want, but the learning modalities aren’t optimal, contact the teacher and ask if they offer it in other formats. They just might. But if not, at least your feedback lets them know they could have more happy students if they touched on more than one learning style.
And if you create content online, keep in mind that your students have different learning styles. Try to offer your information in as many formats as feasible. Because often it’s not the content that makes a program great, it’s how well the learners can access and understand it.