Adult learning styles
As adults, it’s important that we all understand adult learning styles. As we age, I think we have an amazing opportunity to continue to learn and grow, in areas that we actively choose for ourselves. It’s certainly a different type of learning when we are older than when we’re children and teens, when we had much less choice about what we learnt and how we learnt it.
As adults, the world of learning is at our fingertips. We no longer have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on college and university courses that we feel obliged to use, even if we don’t love the topic anymore. We now have the amazing ability to change career direction and learn new skills relatively easily and quickly.
By understanding our own learning styles, we can choose the learning that will suit us the most. There are various models of learning out there. The one that I like most is the VARK learning styles model.
VARK learning styles explained
The VARK model is based on four modalities. VARK stands for:
Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic. There is some overlap between the modalities, and lots of people are multimodal, meaning that they do not have a mode that stands out above others.
Let’s go through each modality to understand them in more depth.
VARK visual learning style
In this style, our preference is to receive information in the form of charts, graphs, labeled diagrams, flowcharts, maps, and other ways that might include things like circles and arrows, diagrams of hierarchies and lines of connection, and symbols showing the relationship between different things. It also includes patterns, shapes and different formats to convey information that could otherwise be written down.
This style doesn’t include still photographs of reality, videos or PowerPoint presentations.
For visual learners to learn effectively, diagrams and charts must be much more than just words in boxes.
VARK aural learning style
In the aural/auditory preference for learning, there is a preference for information that is heard or spoken. This style includes taking in information from group discussions, webinars, radio, lectures, speaking with others and talking things through with others. It also includes email because emails are often written using non-formal and conversational style language.
People with an aural preference may like speaking out loud as well as to themselves. They may speak before they think as a way of learning, and repeat what others have said. They learn best by saying things out loud.
VARK read/write learning style
People with the read/write learning style preference like to receive information displayed as words. This is a common mode of learning and is seen in things like reports, manuals, essays and written assignments. Lots of people research using google and websites to find written information, and use books as their key method of taking in information. People who prefer this style do well with keeping diaries, making lists, using the internet, reading material and relying on words to convey the information they need.
VARK kinesthetic learning style
For kinesthetic learners, they love to learn by doing and experiencing. This could include watching and participating in demonstrations, simulations, case studies, and seeing things applied in practice. This could also include watching real life videos and documentaries. The examples are best if they are concrete and real, where the learner can really appreciate and experience the material.
Free learning styles test
If you are interested in finding our your own VARK learning style, there is a free learning styles test here:
It only takes a few minutes. You don’t need to sign up or provide any personal information in order to complete the test and get a brief result.
How I’ve put my learning styles into practice as an adult learner
For lots of people like me, I am mutlimodal. This means that I switch from mode to mode depending on what I’m working with, and this is context specific. As an adult learner this has come in very handy for me when learning a whole new profession from the ground up.
I knew that I wanted to do something new, and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I already had an undergraduate degree in Science, and two postgraduate degrees in HR and in Management. That’s a lot of years of study, and lot of university course fees. Why would I want to change direction now?
The answer is that I wanted to learn new skills. I wanted to accomplish something completely new to get out of my comfort zone, and prove to myself that I could do more. I wanted to stay relevant too, as technology is moving at such a rapid rate. I didn’t want to be left behind.
I also wanted to do something that would allow me to work from home. That would mean a whole new skill set for me though, and I wondered if I had it in me.
I found the perfect learning opportunity
After some research, I found the perfect learning platform for me. It taught me how to build my own websites and monetise them using a range of techniques. I signed up to get 10 modules of free training to see if I liked it. I didn’t like it. I LOVED it. I signed up for the full membership containing 50 modules (and also included was another additional 70 modules that I didn’t realise were also included).
Anyway, because I like to analyse things, as I was doing the training it occurred to me that whilst the training really suited me as an individual, it would suit practically anyone because it covers the full range of learning styles.
The training is presented in module format with:
- videos including voice over step by step instructions and screen captures of steps;
- written material to reinforce learning;
- practical exercises along the way, so you are building your websites as you are doing the training.
All the learning is self-paced, so you do it when it suits you. If you need to go back and do it again, you can. I would do the training on my tablet with my headphones whilst I was out and about with my children, taking them to various activities after school and on the weekends, and while I was working full time.
There are also classrooms where you can ask questions, live training that occurs weekly (and recordings if you miss it), blogs written by the community and shared for everyone to see, and additional training written by the community that covers all four learning styles.
If you are thinking of a change in career and are concerned that you don’t have it in you to learn a new profession, I am telling that you can, and it is easier than you think.
What you learn in this online training is more than what you learn at university, for a fraction of the price. And the best thing is, you can continue doing what you’re doing and learn something new in the background. You also get to try it out for free.
Find out more about the training and the platform that changed everything for me here: