Thursday, May 08, 2014

How sequential and simultaneous thinkers use computers to learn

Schools all over the world are doing it: making tablet computers compulsory for students, ordering smart boards, redesigning classrooms into e-learning centres. It’s cool. It’s trendy. It simulates the future workplace. But is it for everybody?  

When it comes to internal information processing, learners will always use either sequential/analytic or impulsive/holistic brain processing and will either need to reflect or think simultaneously about the learning content. Therefore, online-learning situations and course organisation need to take these style differences into account. 

Generally speaking, people with a sequential/analytic dominance are linear thinkers who like facts, details and logic. They want their learning materials neat and organised, and they will read them from the beginning to the end, without skipping around. They learn step-by-step, prefer logical and analytic arguments and focus on details and facts. To cater to their needs, the online-learning package should:
  1. Make frequent use of keywords. 
  2.  Make use of lists and bullet points. 
  3.  Explain all procedures to be used. 
  4.  Detail all the assignments and objectives. 
  5. Underline important facts and arrange them in sequence. 
  6. Proceed step-by-step through detailed information. 
  7. Have a facility to assess the student’s progress frequently. 
  8.  Provide instant and regular feedback on the student’s progress.
Impulsive/holistic processors, in contrast, aren’t interested in details. Instead, they need to know the overall picture and the reasons behind a project. They tend to use their intuition or feelings rather than rationalise about a problem. Their computer-based learning should:
  1. Relate the lesson to the students’ experience. 
  2. Use practical examples. 
  3. Provide an overview of the concepts. 
  4.  Make use of mind-maps. 
  5.  Make use of summaries. 
  6. Allow the students to discover the facts by themselves. 
  7. Allow the students to map, graph or illustrate the material. 
  8. Give positive feedback, even for small achievements.
What is your child's preferred way of learning? Find out.

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