This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

On Kolb and social media tools

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    James Kerr

    Considering all the different social media tools available, they share a fundamental function; one can be a consumer or voyeur, or one can be an active participant.  It is the difference between “watching” and “doing”, from Kolb’s learning styles.  Consider the following social media applications:

    YouTube – Can be viewed entirely at a “consumer” level, and not as an uploader or participant.  Or, one can contribute to the community and content base;
    Twitter – Can be view-only, or can contribute.  Great for starting dialogue, brainstorming, quick sharing;
    Instagram – Photo-sharing;
    Pinterest – Collecting images and links, organizing and categorizing;

    At the “watching” level, anyone can become a consumer of the content, browsing at will, or subscribing to specific feeds or channels.  Not until participation occurs, however, does it cross into the “doing” level.

    Even as watchers though, consumers can use their experiences as “feeling” for further reflection and “thinking”.  Certainly as active participants who are “doing” and interacting with the social communities, “feeling” as concrete experiences can lead to further “thinking”.  In this manner, social media applications seem to fulfill all aspects of Kolb’s learning styles.


    Thanks James,

    This leads me to ask -how can we as teachers design learning activities and experiences using social media that might cater for a range of learning experiences.  For example we could ask students to watch a youtube video, or we could ask them to create a youtube video, either individually or collaboratively, or we could ask them to analyse and critique a youtube video, or to post a reflective response to a youtube video. (Or perhaps we might ask them to do all four!)

    Each of these learning activities would cater for or encourage the use of different ways of learning.


    I came across a while ago on activities based on video-blogs where they were drafts were both peer-reviewed, tutor-reviewed and the final assignments were presented in classroom. Perhaps this kind of approach would engage a mixture of learning styles?


    Hi Diane,

    Apologies for a late response but your message  resonated with me. As an online tutor we have to work hard to engage learners who may not find the online environment as supportive as their preferred learning style might warrant, and it is vital that we approach what may seem to be predictable tasks in an unpredictable way. I haven’t used the range of activities you have with video but have done to with journal articles in an efort to meet differing learning styles for the sometimes tedious task of engaging with the literature- or just plain old reading to some of our students. It can be alonely task and by setting a range of activities in advance, including creating a group summary, critiquing a section then peer reviewing, identifying key ideas or even key terms, rewriting the abstract or identifying key wider reading resources from the references/ bibliography and thereby collaboratively creating a group wiki of useful resources can all help involve the learners in each of Kolb’s quadrants in an active yet non threatening manner.

    Thank you for reminding me of how easy it is to be creative and try to match learning styles despite  having something which may, at the outset, seem uninspiring.



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