You Mean You Like To Read?

Olson and Bruner (1974) claim that learning involves two distinct aspects: acquiring knowledge of facts, principles, ideas, concepts, events, relationships, rules and laws; and using or working on that knowledge to develop skills. – Tony Bates

When I think of anything related to learning, this quote encompasses a large portion of it. Learning definitely involves acquiring knowledge and then applying said knowledge to different situations. Of course there are elements of critical thinking and analysis, but this could also be considered the development of skills with the use of the acquired knowledge, which is represented in part in this quote. But how does one acquire this knowledge?

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Photo Credit: imagenesalviento Flickr via Compfight cc

All teachers during their training learn about the multiple intelligences of learning, and most have completed quizzes themselves to determine their learning strengths and weaknesses. Although these have been debated recently about their validity in teaching, as we see in Tony Bates’ book chapter, there are different types of digital resources (including print, audio, and video), and we all have our own learning preferences when it comes to these resources.

Out of the digital resources Bates’ suggests, and reflecting on my own learning experiences, I would personally place audio as my least favourite, similar to Logan. I agree with Bates when he says that “audio is often best used in conjunction with other media such as text or graphics thus adding complexity to the design of teaching“. Alone, I find it difficult to remain focused when I simply hear audio – for my personal learning preferences, I have always preferred when sound has been an enhancement to videos or text. This is why radio shows, podcasts, and even music have all been difficult for me to delve into because of my learning preferences. I understand Bates’ advantages, in that audio clips are easier to make than video ones and that they require less bandwidth, but in the end, if I don’t learn with them, these advantages can’t win me over to the audio side.

Just like Chalyn, I enjoy videos and I use them often in my teaching. Videos such as Crash Course History, This Day in History, or BBC documentaries find themselves in my history classes often as I find they engage students in learning with the combination of comedy (when it comes to Crash Course), picture, audio, and, oftentimes, as Bates says, real world issues. I also agree with Bates in that videos are helpful that they can be repeated over and over again. I attach all videos I use in my classroom to my Google classroom so students can re-watch them however many times they need to, or simply replay certain areas or stop at a specific time in the video to gather more information. For my personal learning needs, it is often the video accompanied by the sound that help me understand all the concepts on a deeper level. Of course, there are disadvantages, as Bates notes. The fact that there aren’t many “high quality educational video[s] free for downloading” and that it is difficult to create original videos makes this digital resource not always practical for the classroom.

Photo Credit: Gerard Van der Leun Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Gerard Van der Leun Flickr via Compfight cc

So this leaves me with good old fashioned text. This is actually my preferred method for learning (personally) as I particularly appreciate “manipulating” the information I am acquiring. I tend to write all over my texts, highlight key words, and write links between paragraphs, and ideas. It has always helped me to learn something when I write it over and over again myself – the repeated behaviour helps me to understand things that I did not know before. This could perhaps be traced back to my schooling, which was mostly done with textbooks, note taking, and other forms of “text” learning, just like Jessica. It is what I am used to, what I have gotten used to, and what I have most practice doing. My mind works well with the “linear sequencing of information in a structured format”, and I believe the function of text presentation “abstraction and generalization” does also help students acquire information. I do understand that text can be outdated – even as early as it is printed – and therefore does not always present the more recent information. As well, it does require high literacy skills, as Bates’ has noted, which is not always the case with all of our students. Therefore, although it may have been the “go-to” when I was learning, times are changing, and so I should perhaps as well.

So, in the end, I think a mixture of all these digital resources is best for our classes, seeing as everyone learns differently and has different preferences. In my own experience, I prefer text and video compared to audio, and most of my students seem to be particularly engaged with short videos. That being said, all of these resources have a place in educational settings, and should be used to target different skill development and strengths amongst our students.

What are your thoughts on the digital resources described by Bates? Are you an auditory learner, or more interested in video and text resources like I am? Please let me know in the comments below!

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18 Responses to You Mean You Like To Read?

  1. Hey Elizabeth,
    For some reason your photos aren’t showing up – just thought I would let you know. Try viewing your blog without being logged in.

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    • Yes, thanks Alec! It has been two weeks now that it shows up before I post and then when I post it disappears. Not sure why this is happening – I have gone through a series of different pictures from Compfight and they are all doing this. I have been trying to work through it, and I was going to post a question on the Google+ this week about it. This also never happened before I got my Mac, and has only been happening since my Mac, but I really don’t know how that could be the problem. I will continue looking into it! Thanks!

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  2. Absolutely a “visual” learner. I love reading and video. There’s something about audio that invites multitasking and therefore less attention paid to it. At least with reading and videos they have a somewhat captive audience. This kind of learning must definitely lend itself well to social studies!
    Great post as always 😉

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  3. asingh2 says:

    So, I was with you until you determined your preferred method of learning was text! I completely agree with just audio feeling like it’s missing something…and I guess, if I’m being honest, it’s not that I DON’T learn from text, however, it’s definitely not my preferred method! I too, prefer something I can interact with, which I guess would be why I enjoy our weekly blogs so much – I learn a lot from interacting with peers and understanding others perspectives. However, I’m not sure if that is an option for ‘favourite mode of learning’, so the close second for me would definitely be video!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts this week Liz – enjoyed learning from you!

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  4. ashleypmurray says:

    Another fantastic blog Liz – minus the photo issues you are having for some reason?? I wish I could help you with that issue. I am in the same boat and find that audio just doesn’t do it for me. I know people who listen to podcasts in the car or while working out but I just can’t seem to focus on audio in order to learn. I enjoy music, but you don’t really have to focus on it and that makes it much different than a podcast. I’m not saying I have NEVER listened to a podcast, I certainly have, but I would prefer to read something over listen to it. I can’t do audio books either -although I wish I could because I might actually be able to get through a book on my drive to work since I can’t seem to find time to enjoy a book anywhere else at the moment haha.

    I enjoy text, especially text that I can write on or highlight. I like to ask questions in the margins as I read or highlight important concepts. It helps me understand the material better. Regardless of the medium I feel like I really have to be in the right frame of mind to learn from the material. If I am tired or stressed, the medium doesn’t make a difference. That is something that is important to consider about our students. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what medium we use if there are other barriers getting in the way.

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    • I have ALWAYS wanted to get into audio books as well! My brother lives in Calgary, and that eight hour drive is killer. That being said, my mind just wanders every time I have tried to get into the audio books. Maybe someday! Thanks!

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  5. Pingback: Ashley Murray

  6. Same issue- cannot stay focused on an audiobook. I actually don’t even like to listen to someone read to me, I’d rather do it myself. When learning new information I find I need to highlight/make notes and often re-read. I do like videos for application of skills, if someone shows me and I replicate what I’m supposed to do next it really helps. I would be completely lost right now if it weren’t for youtube videos and Alec sharing his screen!

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  8. Twana2017 says:

    Over the last few weeks I began to think that we were kindred spirits. Tonight after reading your blog, I have to say that it is in fact not true. I, unlike you, detest reading. I am incredibly jealous that you find the linear sequencing of reading straightforward and natural. I am someone who has struggled with reading and comprehension my entire life. Therefore, I migrate towards audio and visuals, be them video, diagrams,photos, or personal drawings to learn. I’m wondering if you were an early reader and/or if you have always enjoyed reading?

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    • I guess we will have to be *almost* kindred spirits, Twana:). I always enjoyed reading – ever since I was a little girl, my parents read to me every night and then as soon as I could, I started reading with them. Later, because I was an entirely cool kid, I would spend my weekends at the library getting novels to read for the week to come. How about you?

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      • Twana2017 says:

        I like hearing that your parents read to you and it led to your personal love of reading. Because I have struggled with reading my entire life I make a point of reading every-night with my daughter. I want her to love reading and do it well- it makes life so much easier!

        Liked by 1 person

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