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LoD Viewpoints May 2005

Learning theorists have long understood that different people learn in different ways: One size does not fit all. Technology has the potential to personalize learning experiences for different learning styles and maximize learning effectiveness for all. This Viewpoints explores learning styles and discusses how learning-technology practitioners can apply it to increase the impact of their implementations. This Viewpoints provides a brief overview of learning styles and discusses some potential implications for learning-technology practitioners.

Learning Styles
From the early days of learning technology, developers have hyped the personalization aspects of potential solutions. One may hear the mantra "learning should be just in time, just enough, and just for me." The reality of most eLearning courses until now has been more about standardization than personalization. In practice, many companies have used eLearning to standardize on courses formerly delivered by many different instructors in many different training centers. But the next generation of learning-technology implementations will see greater use of personalization as technology improves and user sophistication grows.

Personalization in learning should aim to incorporate a wide variety of stored data about an individual as well as new, real-time, information. For example, future learning systems may take account of an employee's role, task context, and prior knowledge. But learning styles—the different ways in which different people learn most effectively—will also be a very important input. Although learning styles rarely see application within learning technology, they have a long history in education-and-training research.

Learning Styles