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College Presidents and Learning Styles
September 23, 2009 - 9:28pm

Listening to the inauguration speech of Dartmouth's new President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, marks one of the more inspiring moments in my career as a learning technologist.

Dr. Kim talked about learning.

We learning technologist love to talk about learning. We inject learning theory and learning research into our talks and workshops on technology. In our collaborations with faculty we always try to talk first about learning and teaching goals, and only then about what technologies best support these goals.

Listening to President Kim I kept wondering if the integration of learning theory into the core mission of the institution is beginning to diffuse throughout the leadership in higher education? Do the leaders on your campus talk about the importance of active learning and about salience of different styles of learning?

Perhaps it would be best if we let President Kim's speech speak for itself. I've highlighted the main passages on learning styles, although the speech has many references to active learning.

The full-text can be found here.

President Kim said:


P)ursue knowledge seriously. I don’t mean take yourself seriously. I mean take seriously the importance of figuring out how you learn best.

Some people learn best through direct dialogue with a faculty mentor; for others, collaborative work with a group of peers works best.

Visual representations or mathematical formulas help some people master key concepts; for others, the flow of descriptive language brings clarity.

Figure out what works best for you. And, be forewarned: If I meet you crossing the Green later this fall and ask you, ‘What works best for you when you’re trying to learn something?’ I expect a clear answer.

Brilliant. I couldn't come up with a statement more cldear about the importance of understanding different styles of learning. As a learning technologist I firmly believe that the appropriate use of technology is essential in meeting the learning styles and strengths of our students (and the teaching strengths of our faculty). We are finally at a point where the technology tools in our toolkit are catching up to our theoretical and research based understanding of how people learn.

It is exciting to contemplate a future in which higher education leaders place discussion of learning styles at the forefront of their agendas.

 

 

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