What is Multiple Sensory Learning?

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But I have to chuckle a little bit at the fact that the entire internet doesn’t know what multiple sensory learning might possibly mean. What Color was King Arthur’s White Horse: Oh, the joy of the missed obvious is just a fact of life. And you can either let it frustrate you, or you can learn to laugh at it and roll with the punches, my friends. But, since multiple sensory learning seems to not pretty much explain itself, we may as well talk about it, because I happen to be an advocate of this. Maybe Not So Obvious: Ok maybe I’m being a tad judgmental here. So, I’ll assume at least a third of the people still asking what this means are trying to find out if there’s some defined model for implementing it, rather than just a concept to influence how models work and what tools and approaches can be done. It isn’t. But good on you for stopping and making sure before running off half-cocked. I’m not even bothered by having to explain this topic, it’s just funny how it’s the most obviously named one ever, but needs defining. Well, I suppose it does at that. In a Nutshell: It does mostly mean exactly what it sounds like it means. It is using multiple sensory-engaging platforms through which to teach students. This means that reference material, course instructions, activities, tests and projects involve more than just the traditional text and spoken word activities of classrooms and the most basic digital learning practices. Most teachers dabbling in LMS systems are already doing this to a degree, using YouTube video integration along with wiki management and picture-and-text course structures to prevent ennui. Along with that, it also allows some things better shown than described, or better demonstrated by direct trial than watched or described, to all be taught through the medium that serves them best. Further: Some take this further, and I am all for this. They include enhanced gamification (with some even mildly physical social learning game activities where practical and appropriate) into this, and it does fit the description. Games are inherently a multi-sensory experience, and in the world of usability, interactivity is regarded as kind of a sixth sense itself, though nobody actually says this or would describe it that way intentionally. Benefits: Well, like I said, this busts tedium in the butt, but it also allows everything to be presented in the most proficient way for what it is. It can even make training fun, and be a pleasant break from the usual work they have to do during those hours. You want that. You want training to be met with applause when announced! Caveats: Well it’s not without its possible problems if mishandled. Don’t add complexity or volume to the task just to have an excuse to implement a medium or sensory engagement you think is cool. Be careful with video, as some students don’t learn well from it save specific things. Where there’s video, written material equivalents should be made available alternatively. And with that, we see multiple sensory learning in a nutshell. See why I giggled a bit at having to define it? But, it has many great benefits, as if I had to even point that out, given you’ve already been using it. Take that couple small warnings to heart though …

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Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog