Learning Styles and Digital Media

By Emil Towner

Picture of laptop and film canister

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Should college professors incorporate digital media into a classroom to engage students with different learning styles? Despite today’s push for flipped classrooms and social media communication, the answer cut and dried.

For example, Cedar Reiner and Daniel Willingham discuss the myths and realities of learning styles and argue that “students may have preferences about how to learn, but no evidence suggests that catering to those preferences will lead to better learning.”

So…Why Use Digital Media?

Although including multimedia may help hold student attention and add variety to course material, Reiner and Willingham argue:

“We shouldn’t congratulate ourselves for showing a video to engage the visual learners or offering podcasts to the auditory learners. Rather, we should realize that the value of the video or audio will be determined by how it suits the content that we are asking students to learn and the background knowledge, interests, and abilities that they bring to it.”

In other words, Reiner and Willingham believe digital media should be incorporated only after considering the abilities of specific students and their background experiences or familiarity with the subject.

By doing so, professors can shift the conversation from “Did I engage the right senses?” to “What did students think about while they were in class?”

What Do You Think?

When and why should digital media be incorporated? How do you measure the success of digital media used in your course?

Leave a reply below to help other faculty members tackle these challenging questions.

About the Author: Emil Towner is Assistant Professor of Business Communication in the Marketing Department.