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Monday, 14 December 2015

Types And Styles Of Learning: Helping Learners Learn Better

Expert Author Gireesh K. Sharma
Learning enthusiasts are continually conducting various researches on the vast area of learning techniques that are adopted for different types of learners. If we understand these very well, it will be easier for us to create learning content, which suits a particular type of learner best. This will be a huge benefit that leads to actual ROI of training budgets. There are mainly two modes of delivery - asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Asynchronous learning is when the learner is not led into a specific learning pattern or pace and is free to choose his or her own way through the learning content. Synchronous learning is when the learner is taken ahead on the learning course by a teacher or instructor, and the learning is structured as per the best devices of the instructor/teacher. But what do we adopt to get the best results?
Asynchronous learning is one way that a learner learns in an e-learning environment. This mode is backed up by collaborative tools like e-mails or discussion boards. So, while the learners take their own course and pace through the learning material, the option for interaction is always open - within the learner group as well as with the instructors. The interaction or any contribution is refined, for it is not spontaneous, but thought out.
Synchronous learning, on the other hand, is through 'participation in the social world'. With help of social media such as Chat or Web conferences the learners, with or without an instructor comes together and learns. This is closer to traditional classroom teaching, the premise behind this mode being that learning is a social phenomenon. 'Isolation' of the learner, which is pegged down as the main reason why drop-outs occur in online courses, is avoided by continuous contact and the feeling of being part of a learning community.
The main benefit of Asynchronous learning is that most of the communication held in this channel is content-related. This backs up the theory that asynchronous learning increases the learner's ability to process information. But planning activities and social support is minimal, raising the issue of isolated learning and how it can eventually dissuade or discourage learners.
Benefits of a synchronous channel of learning is that there is room for discussions, increasing the 'community' feel in learning. While some of the topics can be far removed from course content, and could be considered diversion by some, synchronous learning allows flow of information and increases motivation and involvement of the learners with the content.
So, coming back to the question, when to use asynchronous learning and when to utilize synchronous learning? We can utilize asynchronous learning when reflecting on complex issues or detailed content. It is also a good idea to adopt this way of e-learning when actual meeting cannot be arranged. It is best to adopt synchronous learning when you need to discuss less complex issues or get acquainted with the learners. These sessions can also be utilized to plan tasks to move ahead in the curriculum.
In conclusion, both Synchronous and Asynchronous modes of learning compliment each other. This is an indication to the training instructors as well as e-learning developers to provide opportunity for both in different learning activities. The emergence of newer types of media is also a positive indication towards this - while this paper discusses some asynchronous (e-mails, blogs etc) and some synchronous (chat, video conferencing etc.) modes of communication, there are only going to be more evolved types of media that can be utilized to support both kinds of learning.
With more options available, it is a brighter future for learning as a whole.
Gireesh is an e-learning enthusiast and an avid follower of leading industry blogs related to topics related to online training software like Rapid Authoring, game based learning, LMS, online learning courses, Mobile Learning, etc. and like to discuss leading trends of new-age corporate learning.

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