Students learn in different ways and often come to a course with different backgrounds and levels of preparedness. Using the Web, you can make material available to your students in different forms, allowing them to engage with course material at their own pace and in the medium that suits them best.
- Stimulate student interest in course material.
- Use media appropriate to course content.
- Reach students in a variety of ways.
Options for addressing diverse learning styles are suggested below.
Course Web Site
A Web site can be the gateway to resources tailored for a variety of learning styles. You can have your students access sounds, images, simulations, and text, enabling them to learn course concepts from varied perspectives. You may simply want to provide your syllabus online, or offer course notes for review so that students can access this information at any time, from home or school. There are numerous ways to go about creating a Web site. The Catalyst Web site offers step-by-step instructions for using a variety of Web page editors.
Pictures grab students' attention and convey some ideas more easily than verbal descriptions. You can illustrate your course content with diagrams, photos, maps, or a variety of other visual resources. Visual resources posted to a Web site are also available 24 hours a day, so students who need extra time to review material can access it at their convenience. For example, thousands of photographs of cities and buildings are available to students as they study history, architecture, geography, or other related topics.
Using sounds in your lectures can stimulate your students and enhance the learning experience. You might want your students to listen to native speakers of a foreign language, for example. You can post your sound files on the Web so your students have easy access to these materials.
Learning with Simulations
Some students learn best by being engaged in a hands-on experience. When this is not possible, simulations can be the next best solution. See for example the USDS Forest Simulator, software that allows students to set the parameters and watch the forest they planned grow over many years.
PowerPoint presentations give students an important visual point of reference during lectures. Archiving these presentations on the Web gives students a chance to review your main points both verbally and visually and opens up new opportunities for learning.
Catalyst Portfolio Tool
The Catalyst Portfolio Tool allows students to collect, annotate, arrange, and display on the Web a variety of digital artifacts that illustrate their accomplishments. By creating a portfolio project for your students, you can encourage them to reflect on their experiences and accomplishments. Students can use a variety of media in their portfolios, enabling them to work in a medium suited to their learning style.
Catalyst WebQ Survey Creation Tool
This tool makes it easy to create online, interactive surveys, quizzes and questionnaires, which you can use to track your students' learning. With WebQ you can find out your students' learning preferences, their prior knowledge of the subject matter at the beginning of a course, or you can encourage students to provide feedback throughout the quarter. For example, you can survey your students' experience with technology early in a course that uses computers to get a sense of their technical proficiency and level of comfort.
Some students prefer to share their ideas at their own pace and in a safer environment, rather than present them in an impromptu fashion during class. Tools for electronic discussion might be just what you need to elicit participation from everyone in your course. Mailman can make it easy to set up and manage email lists for your class.
Catalyst GoPost Tool
GoPost allows you to create a Web-based discussion board for your students to compare notes, discuss assignments, and work together online. Messages can be posted and read with any Web browser. You have control over who has access to the GoPost forum, and you can even allow students to use pseudonyms to make them feel more comfortable. GoPost discussion boards also give students the benefits of participating in course discussion at their own pace. Turn GoPost into an online collaborative space where students can post their work for peer review and check out others' contributions. You could also showcase students' work and enable them to learn from each other.
Catalyst UMail Tool
UMail allows your students to send emails to you or to your assistants through the Web. You have the choice of making it anonymous so that your students feel freer to share their thoughts and opinions. You might want to use UMail as you encourage students to reflect on and write about assignments, lectures, field trips, or other activities.