09 August 2010

BlogHer Recap: More Studies Needed

I'm a solitary learner
The obvious top story of BlogHer '10 focused squarely on a charming ten-year-old boy and his aunt and their rather eventful commute and their fundraiser.  And the most frequently used word I heard to describe the conference was "overwhelming" - so many people, so many vendors, so many parties, so much stuff.

I didn't really have much to do with any of that - though I did enjoy catching up with a few people. Instead, I spent my time introducing bloggers to Dr. Angie McQuaig from University of Phoenix (my client) and we discussed the importance of learning styles. And it was actually pretty cool.

As I mentioned earlier, people learn in different ways - some by listening, some by doing, some by reading, and so on.  University of Phoenix is looking at ways to provide material that fits best with the way the individual student learns.  There is a lot of research out there on learning styles - there are several different methods and the field is constantly evolving.  We used a tool that lists seven learning styles - visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary.  I found a quick explanation of each style here:
You can actually have more than one dominant learning style.  I'm a solitary learner but I'm also a verbal learner and a social learner.  Bloggers took a short quiz and learned their own learning style and got some information on it.  For fun, we also aggregated and displayed the quiz results in real time - and that's when Dr. McQuaig noticed something interesting. 

Dr. McQuaig told me that the most common learning style is visual.  This shouldn't come as a big surprise. Aural and physical learning styles are the next most common.  But look at how the BlogHer folks did:

The visual learning style was actually the least common of the bloggers who took the quiz. The most common learning style for these bloggers was verbal - and it was no contest.  Verbal learners were followed by social learners and solitary learners. (The percentages work out to more than 100 because again, a person can have more than one learning style.)

Now, this is by no means a scientific survey, and Dr. McQuaig would be the first person to say that.  Researchers would go on about things like selection bias and so on, and they'd be right.  There's no way we could say this quiz represents all bloggers.  There's no way we could say it represents all women bloggers.  We couldn't even say this represents all women bloggers who attend blogging conferences.   But we got enough people to take the quiz that I do think we may have stumbled on to a rather interesting research idea.  

If someone could demonstrate a significant difference in the learning styles of bloggers or even a particular type of blogger, it would certainly have an impact on people in my line of work.  If I'm designing a blogger outreach campaign, I want the material I use to be as accessible as possible to the people I'm trying to reach.  If they're verbal learners, for example, I'm more likely to use tools that allow bloggers to both see and hear words, and make use of acronyms.    And it's not just bloggers vs. the general population - if say, mom bloggers are verbal learners while science bloggers are logical learners and political bloggers are visual learners, the tactics I employ may vary for each.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

Jacqueline said...

Thank you for your post.

I used various approaches with adult learners, but always started with their self-analysis. They identified how they learned best, then planned strategies to develop more skills in other ways of learning. Worked a treat.