What Is Multimodal Learning?

What Is Multimodal Learning?
Summary: Multimodal learning is teaching a concept through visual, auditory, reading, writing, and kinaesthetic methods. It is meant to improve the quality of teaching by matching content delivery with the best mode of learning from the student.

What You Need To Know About Multimodal Learning

Have you ever had your teacher try to explain something to you in vain, only for you to understand after viewing an illustration about the concept? For a better-rounded educational experience, teachers have to be well versed in the implementation of multimodal learning.

Schools usually have a diverse student body consisting of students who all have different learning styles. While some students prefer an oral explanation on how to perform a task, others prefer a physical demonstration of the same. According to The Gordon Kelley Academic Success Center, students exposed to multiple learning styles (multimodal) can learn quicker, deeper, and also retain more of what they learned.

What Is Multimodal Learning?

To understand multimodal learning, you first have to know the different modalities and their characteristics.

Modes are channels of information. They include:

  • Speech
  • Audio
  • Written and print
  • Illustrations

Most of your typical online learning platforms already have these modes already integrated into their system by design. Still, it is useful to understand the principles of multimodal learning to become a better educator.

An example is that people learn from images by reacting to visual cues such as photos and graphs. People can also learn from kinesthetics by reacting to tactile cues such as actions and movement.

Multimodal learning is teaching a concept using more than one mode. By engaging the mind in multiple learning styles at the same time, learners experience a diverse learning style that collectively suits all of them.

The VARK Framework Explained

There are a couple of models to explain learning styles, the most popular of them being the VARK model by Neil Fleming, a New Zealand teacher.

The VARK model suggests that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic.

  • Visual
    They learn best by seeing. Visuals, such as pictures and graphs, are helpful.
  • Auditory
    They learn best by listening. Audiobooks and podcasts are preferred over other modes.
  • Reading/Writing
    They learn best by reading and writing. Writing down information helps them remember.
  • Kinaesthetic
    They learn best by doing. A practical, hands-on approach is more effective.

The idea that students perform better when the school activities and learning styles match their strengths and preferences grew in popularity in the 1970s. There is even a VARK questionnaire that suggests the learning methods you should be using based on your answers.

While a study conducted later on suggests that the matching of teaching styles to learning styles does not influence a student’s educational outcome, the learning styles concept is still popular to date.

All in all, VARK is still a valuable model to guide you when creating diverse eLearning content for your students.

The Importance Of Multimodal Learning

Research has proven that students learn best when educators apply multiple learning styles simultaneously. Multimodal learning creates an exciting learning environment, which leads to increased engagement from the students. It is because they aren’t required to conform to a particular learning style that doesn’t suit them.

Did you know that students prefer digital learning and technology nowadays? When using videos for eLearning, you can incorporate techniques such as eye-catching visuals and high-quality audio to ignite and retain a learner’s creativity. You can even use whiteboard animation for your online courses.

Implementing VARK: Strategies For Each Learning Style

Here we discuss strategies for improving engagement for students of each learning style.

Auditory And Musical Learners

Auditory learners prefer learning new concepts by having the solutions and examples explained to them. They often use music as a way of understanding information. They tend to say words out loudly or hum and sing to remember what they learn.

Visual And Spatial Learners

Visual learners learn better by seeing it. They usually like taking notes and studying in quiet places. You can keep them engaged in a classroom by using images that are relevant to the course content. These could be maps, diagrams, and charts.

Physical Or Kinaesthetic Learners

Popularly known as hands-on learners, kinaesthetic learners prefer getting their hands dirty and physically engaging with the subject. They tend to deprioritize reading and writing. These learners make up about 5% of the population and lean toward hands-on careers such as emergency services, mechanics, and sports. They can learn when moving around, drawing, and acting.

Verbal Learners

Verbal learning includes both speaking and writing. These learners have a preference for learning methods such as poems and word-games. They tend to be intellectuals, possessing great storytelling techniques. Most of them are also bookworms. Career-wise, verbal learners seek out fields such as law, film making, politics, and writing.

4 Examples Of Multimodal Learning

Now that we fully understand what multimodal learning is, here are some examples;

1. Case-Based Learning

It refers to the use of real-life examples when introducing or going through a concept in class. It gives actual proof that what the students learn in class is useful in the real world, motivating them to learn.

2. Multimedia Research Projects

Multimodal research projects will have the students finding information from different media sources such as books, podcasts, and news clips. They then create a presentation of their findings.

3. Educational Games

Games usually use many modes at once. Mathematical games, for instance, can spice up a lesson of traditional mathematics. There are also digital gaming platforms such as Prodigy, which make students practice more and more math without even realizing that they are learning.

4. Think-Pair-Share Strategy

This is a technique designed to promote individual thinking, collaboration, and presentation in an activity. It improves the understanding, cooperation, and expression skills of students. It also aids in formative assessments.

Multimodal learning is a great tool especially if you want to improve the quality of your teaching. Summarizing there are 4 different modes: visual, auditory, reading/writing, physical/kinaesthetic. Try and use a combination of all of these in your lessons for the best effect.