Multiple Learning Modalities

Those of you familiar with me will no doubt immediately recognize a phrase Pace must have said to me – multiple learning modalities is not something usually spouted from me. Though I do greatly like the ring it carries, I’d say something more like, “lots of different ways of learning.”

What does “multiple learning modalities” mean?

Pace and I make an awesome team because, not only do we phrase things differently, we teach differently. We have very different communication styles – and it’s a big strength. Pace is a techie geek, I’m a book geek. (Being a book geek has amusing side effects; sometimes I’ll pronounce things funny because I’ve only ever read them before. Endless laughs.) Pace loves explaining things, I’m a storyteller. Pace is logical, I’m emotional. Pace learns best by reading (words and diagrams are best) or being lectured followed by practicing and experimentation on her own, and I learn best with visual and audial input and hands-on guided practice and repetition.

In The Usual Error, we explain things. Unsurprising given the non-fiction bookiness of it. However, we don’t just leave it at that. We have at least one detailed illustration per chapter, and at least two examples given in story-form. We have a table of contents, a table of stories and examples, and a table of illustrations.

It’s the usual error in The Usual Error.

For me, I’d be far more likely to remember the picture of the little girl hugging the beat-up teddy bear than the phrase “It’s okay to have problems.” Or, if I remember a phrase, it’s more likely to be related to the story in the chapter than the explanations therein. Thus, we included different types of indexing to help different learners find what they’re looking for.

When we drafted Marty to illustrate, I told him this would be a great challenge – illustrating communication without using the same concept of two people sitting and talking over and over would be tough. He rose to the challenge and far surpassed our hopes, bringing us genius ideas and potent illustrations that bring the concepts to life.

We made much effort to reach several different learning styles with the book, and we’re reaching out to audial learners with the audio book. We do the same thing in our workshops: we lecture a little (but invite interruption), we play games, we give pictorial handouts, and we have interactive discussion.

How we learn impacts everything we do.

It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve gained a better understand of how I learn. The impact of knowing my own learning style is incredible; it gives me the power to take my learning style and apply it to the things I’m learning, which in turn strengthens my ability to actually learn and retain.

I was inspired by Megan to take markers to books when I read, and that makes a huge difference. I scribble, highlight, doodle, underline, circle, make ?s and !s, and dog-ear my way through books, and I’ve started wanting to read non-fiction. This is huge for me! Previous to six months ago, I’d only read one non-fiction book in my entire life, and now I’ve read several – and enjoyed them and retained what I learned. I’ve also learned that I’m far too audially sensitive to enjoy recordings or other such things; if it’s too loud or too soft or there’s any kind of background noise, I can’t focus. I also need visual stimulation while I’m listening to spoken word recordings or I tune them out.

For example, in Online Business School, you get audio files and .pdf files. The .pdfs are transcripts of the audio tracks. Naomi’s sultry voice matches the text – almost exactly but not entirely – and it’s awesome. That was a huge help for me in both being able to focus and in being able to retain. Having Pace right there as a study buddy was even more awesome, and if I’d’ve printed out the transcripts so I could color and highlight, I think I’d’ve been in learning heaven. I’d probably be able to recite the entire thing, so it’s probably best that didn’t happen.

If Naomi had been singing instead of talking, I would have the whole thing memorized.

I mean, I learned the order of the planets from a catchy song on Blue’s Clues. It works!

Either you or the internets will know.

I learned by trial and error, but there are lots of good sites on the internets that can help you figure out what your learning style is. I’ve tried a few of them, so here are the ones I enjoyed.

This one is neat and accurate, but you have to purchase a detailed report. It gives you a little bit of info for free, though.

This one made me laugh and feel like a freak because I said yes to all three columns nearly ever time. This means, which I already knew, that I have Multiple Learning Styles.

I took three or four others, but found that a lot of them require your email address or other information, so I won’t recommend them. Suffice to say, you can google for “learning style free tests” and take the ones you like. For me, every single one I took said I have “multiple learning styles”, so they’re either generally accurate or I’m a test-breaker.

Take your pick.

You can also pay attention to yourself and not even ask the internet (this is scary and hard, I know). I already knew I have multiple learning styles, because I want to listen to music, highlight, doodle, discuss, and fidget while I read or work. I cover the entire gamut!

Knowledge is power!

Knowing how you learn gives you power. I used to think I was stupid because I did very poorly in school – but it’s because I don’t learn when someone talks at me, and taking notes never helped. It’s not my style, baby. Now I know there’s nothing wrong with me, I learn perfectly well – within my styles – so I can take advantage of myself (woo!) and learn in my own way.

My own way is surrounded by books, markers, fluffy cushions, good friends, music, and my laptop.

What’s yours?

Feel clear and confident about your direction in life!


Do you wish you could follow your heart, but it seems impossible? I can help you find the clarity and courage you need.

In other words, I can help you find your path.