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Learning Styles: Engagement Success for Everyone

This week I explore how tapping into different learning styles lets you build engaging online training for different types of learner and Unleash Superheroes in your organisation!

Spring has finally sprung! I love this time of year because everything’s awash in shades of green and the sunny weather really gets the creative juices flowing! Most of all it’s time to pack away the woolies, bring out the superhero spring wardrobe and check out this season’s styles!

This week, as I dusted off my favourite seasonal superhero cape, I pondered a style dilemma of the non-fashion variety. As a diehard L&D geek I’m talking about learning styles, of course. In the same way gamification discussions can get heated, learning style is another hotly debated learning theory. Should we tailor training towards learning styles? How many styles are there? Do they even exist at all?

Learning Styles and Engagement

One thing is certain, choice is a massive part of modern life. As eLearning designers, we have the power to deliver engaging training that meets all our learners’ needs, whatever their style preference. The key word here is ‘engaging’ because although, learning style might not influence knowledge retention, it does have a massive impact on engagement in online learning.

With attention spans reducing, engagement is more important now than it’s ever been. Training is in endless competition with information overload from social media memes to mobile games. We can’t ignore individual preference in the world of learning either. It’s time to delve into the closet of learning style and put together the perfect outfit for online training!

Learning Style in Brief

Although there’s some controversy and dispute over how many learning styles exist, I am going to explore 3 of the most common ones that can transform your training into engaging awesomeness!

Looking good:

If you’re like me and love a good comic strip or are a sucker for paint-by-numbers, then you’ve probably got a penchant for visual learning. Don’t worry, we’re not alone! In fact, a whopping 65% of people are visual learners. This helps explain why infographics and video are the undisputed king and queen of content today.

People are drawn to imagery, because it’s easier and faster to digest the facts when they’re surrounded by pretty pictures. Image and video content communicate your training narrative quicker than text ever could. So, whether you’re building online learning, giving that nerve-racking presentation or writing your first book, help your content compete with the best cat videos out there – Remember super stunning graphics matter!

Awesome Auditory

Consider the way podcasts and TEDtalks have taken the internet by storm. Why does the power of the spoken word remain such as hit? For starters, 30% of people prefer to learn this way. Furthermore, vital aspects of communication can never be fully replicated by text or image, such as tone of voice (I’m saying this with a smile in my voice, I promise!).

How can you build the power of audio into your training? If you include audio content make sure it’s engaging! For example, include webinars or podcast-style assets to break up the text and support the narrative. Think more TEDTalk, less monotonous teacher voice and you’ll be well on your way to success!

The Power of the Written Word

Yes, this is me saying I support text in learning (some!). Hear me out! Bookshops are still open and blogs continue to fill up the digital world (including my two cents!). We all like a little text in our lives (and training!). The important thing to remember is there’s a time and a place for text. It is especially needed when we’re trying to communicate the full detail of a subject or theory.

There are also many learners out there who prefer the written word. So, if you do need to use text within your training, keep it relevant, clear and engaging. Use your text to communicate the nitty gritty details, tell a story and keep your learners hooked to the very end.

Solitary vs Social

This is what it says on the tin – some learners prefer to learn in a social environment whilst others tend toward solitary study. However, learning style is not set in stone and our preference for social or solitary learning can shift depending on the setting or circumstances. With ever more social features at our disposal, online learning is in a great position to satisfy learners whatever their learning environment preference.

No More Monochrome!

Like most things in life, learning styles are not black and white (however trendy monochrome might be!). The important thing to remember is, we don’t just have one learning style, we use a mixture of all them. Like our favourite coat, we may have that one style we prefer but sometimes, it’s too hot outside to wear a coat. It’s a case of people finding which one works best for them in each situation or based on the subject matter in question. So when you’re building training, decide which delivery method best suits the course content and your audience.

How my book taps into learning styles


As one of the 65% of visual learners out there, I’m a sucker for pictures. So, although I’m excited to be writing my first book, and Unleashing Superheroes, I’m not planning to write the sequel to War & Peace. However, in my goal to help you create lasting organisational change, my book will be packed full of  strong theory, engaging storylines, three dimensional characters and comic style images to fire my fellow visual learners’ attention. For the audio lover, keep an eye out for our upcoming webinars accompanying the book’s key themes.

Like the best online learning out there, I want my book to tap into different types of learning. It’s important to to use a mix in your own online training. This lets you tailor it to different learning preferences and keep engagement levels soaring.

How do you like to learn and is there a new style you’re eager to try out this season? Let me know!


Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to get all the extra juicy details on unleashing your inner superheroes!

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