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Embracing diversity… enjoying variety

22 February 2016

Last time during my School’s faculty meeting, we wanted to know the size of our meeting room so we could estimate whether a certain room would be sufficient space for a proposed students’ laboratory. “Oh, this room is about 6 square feet”, one lecturer said. “We can measure with our feet, can’t we?”, another proposed. “Let me measure with my arm’s length”, another offered… “you are a short man, your measurement won’t be accurate”, another retorted. Then another brought out his smartphone, walked briskly to and placed it on one wall and tapped the phone. He walked to the opposite wall whilst everyone looked on with awe. “Ei, there’s an app for that too?”, I exclaimed. “Yes, don’t you know?”, another remarked, like he wrote the app. My wondering of why the questioner did not bring out the app if he knew it existed was interrupted by the measurer’s announcement. “This room is 60 square meters”.

I have asked my learners to complete a 20-item questionnaire so that they know their learning styles. In the end, the page displays the person’s learning type – whether the person is an auditory, a tactile, or a visual learner. I believe that this information will be relevant input in planning my lessons; I will know what type of content / media /instruction method to increase or decrease. Last week, I showed a video to illustrate the concept of phases and lifecycles in IT Project Management. After, no one could understand the video. I decided to replay, this time muting it, and explaining scene by scene. Meanwhile, a sheet of paper was going round for them to write their names and their learning type. I just brought the sheet out, and man, there are 19 visual learners, 7 auditory learners, and no tactile learner. No wonder some of the students began to tease “Brian, Brian, Brian” [the name of the video’s main character], apparently that is all they kept hearing, and they did not follow the video because they did not hear / understand the accompanying sound. Showing and pausing scene by scene, and explaining even sometime with examples drummed home the concept.

This experience really gave me firsthand experience of learner diversity, and the importance of knowing and attending to it for the teacher’s own sake. Kindly share with me how you identify and manage learner diversity.

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