Topic 1: Introduction to Distance Learning Pedagogy
Faculty Team Members:   Consultants:
Jon Shorr, UB Gene Rubin, UMUC
Jean Runyon, Charles County CC Joan McMahon - Towson
Carolyn Deniker, Garrett  
Analyze the Audience

Teachers and students think, learn, and organize their worlds differently. On-line courses can accommodate more of those styles than can traditional classroom courses.

LEVEL: Beginner/Intermediate (Reasonably experienced teachers intuitively know that people learn differently. However, many college faculty haven't had formal education/pedagogy courses and therefore may never have articulated these concepts.)

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the online activities, the participant will be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile learners.
  • Determine his/her own preferred learning style upon completion of the online assessment tools, such as the Keirsey tests and the Learning Styles Questionnaire.

Critical Issues: Do face-to-face and on-line teaching require different approaches to addressing different learning styles? If so, how?

Presentation of Topic Information

A learning style is the way one prefers to learn. It does not have to do with how intelligent a person is or what skills they have learned. It has to do with how an individual's brain functions most efficiently to learn new information. Having a preferred learning style is like having a favorite route from Maryland to New England: some people barrel up I-95 through New York; others take I-95 but use the Garden State Parkway, the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the Merritt to get around New York City; still others wind their ways along the blue highways through Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Any one of those routes (as well as several others) will get you there; it depends on your personal needs and preferences. The same is true with learning: there is no "right" or "wrong" way.

The three main learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile. Visual learners make up about 65% of the population. Auditory learners make up about 30% of the population. Kinesthetic learners make up about 5% of the population. Despite preferences, most people rely on a combination of learning styles.

~ Joan McMahon, Towson State University, FOTTC presentation


Available Resources
  • What are the available resources on this topic? List online resources and print resources

Online Resources

~ The Learning Decisions Interactive Newsletter, 2000 edition has a theme of "Implementing Learning in the Digital Age" and features a different benchmarking study each month. The April 2000 focus is on "The Role of Trainers in E-Learning."

~ Learning Styles Resource Center

~ Learning Styles Questionnaire. Individuals respond to 44 questions to determine their learning style preferences. This assessment can be taken online and scored immediately. Upon completion of the assessment, individuals can learn more about their preferred learning style as well as view websites that further explore learning styles.

~ The Keirsey Tests. Current research into personality styles suggests that learners have unique personalities and a unique learning style associated with that personality. Learning styles affect the way individuals gather, process, and make decisions about information. Individuals may take the The Keirsey Temperament and Character Online Assessment as well as develop way to incorporate a variety of teaching methods in an educational setting.
Note: At the Honolulu Community College Website, click on "Teaching Tips Index" and then on the topic, "How People Learn."

~ A Learning Style Survey for College. Individuals can take a Learning Style Survey for College and the online assessment will identify the primary learning style as well as learning strategies.

~ A Description of the Primary Learning Styles. This site provides a description of visual, tactile, and auditory learners as well as strategies.

~ Do you have what it takes to be a successful web student?

Print Resources


  1. Visit and identify your learning style
  2. After studying the information contained in Joan McMahon's Learning Styles presentation above (especially slides 12-15/Gregoric and Fleming's learning modalities), create three approaches to teaching the same piece of information, one of which appeals to visual learners, one to auditory learners, and one to kinesthetic learners.
  3. Read and report on one related on-line resource.

Discussion Questions

  1. After studying the information contained in Joan McMahon's Learning Styles presentation above(especially slide #18/Grasha's Teaching Styles), identify your primary teaching style: expert, formal, personal, facilitator, delegator. What are some advantages and disadvantages of this style in on-line teaching?
  2. After studying the information contained in Joan McMahon's Learning Styles presentation above (especially slide #19), identify your primary teaching philosophy: behaviorism, cognitivism, humanism, constructivism. What are some advantages and disadvantages of this philosophy in on-line teaching?

Assessment Strategies

Create a lesson plan that incorporates or appeals to multiple learning styles (see ACTIVITY #1 above).