The four types of learning styles: How digital humans cater to all

Technology shouldn't leave people behind. Here's how Conversational AI in digital humans is built to help people learn in the way that best suits them.

January 15, 2020
The four types of learning styles: How digital humans cater to all

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”Ignacio Estrada.

The way we learn is built into who we are – it’s in our hardware.

But how we teach people is up to us – that’s our software.

People are different and they learn things in different ways. We have to build our software so it works best with their hardware. Not the other way round and presume they all understand it.

To do that conversational AI is offering the education sector a more complete look at which learning methods are used in teaching environments. And it’s not just in the classroom. Because, in truth, we’re always learning, and businesses are understanding the impacts of educating their audiences, too.

The retailer telling a customer in-store about products. Banks giving financial guidance. Insurers helping people make a claim step by step. Healthcare providers giving counsel on wellbeing, diet, health and medicine.

All these businesses – every business – provide information in some way. And how well those businesses do it dramatically impacts the customer experience and therefore bottom line.

As we enter an age where artificial intelligence begins to impact and automate virtually everything, we have to make sure technologies (from chatbots to digital humans) provide quality, regardless of who your customer is, so everyone gets an exceptional experience.

For that, VARK is a useful framework.

What are the four types of learning?

The VARK methodology breaks down learning types into four categories:

  • Visual learners
  • Auditory learners
  • Reading/writing learners (also known as verbal learners)
  • Kinaesthetic learners.

Let’s quickly look at the key characteristics of each style of learning:

Visual learners

Education for the eyes. Those who find visual teaching methods most effective take in information best when it is presented as imagery (a chart, an infographic or some other stimulus for the eyes). Most people are visual learners – about 65% of us.

Auditory learners

Education for the ears. Those who fall into the category of auditory learners find listening to information most effective – the type that like to educate themselves with audiobooks, or by asking questions in seminars so they can have a spoken conversation. Research shows 30% of people learn best in this way.

Reading/writing learners

Education via text. People who find themselves scribbling notes in a class or seminar are reading/writing learners. They find education works best for them when they can see it as text, be it a quiz or some annotations to go along with a presentation. These learners can sometimes fall into the kinaesthetic category when it’s the action of making their own notes that helps the information sink in.

Kinaesthetic learners

Education for the hands. Hands-on teaching methods work best for kinaesthetic learners, when they can be active in the lesson. That can be anything from choosing answers in a multiple-choice quiz or doing some sort of action or activity. Around 5% of people fall into this category.

Why multimodal learning is most important

But wait! Before you start making all of your content into graphs, know that it’s not enough to present information in any one way to help the four different types of learners. In fact, studies show the majority of people learn best when multiple modes are blended together and used at once.

Of those who learn best from multiple modes, the most effective combinations are:

  • Visual and auditory
  • Visual and kinaesthetic
  • Auditory and kinaesthetic

That makes a huge difference. You can see that while kinesthetic learning alone is the preferred technique for only a small number of people (5%), when combined with auditory and visual learning, it’s one of the most preferred and effective ways people take in information.

For those looking at using AI to educate customers, it means not only making sure that a method of learning is catered for but that the technology can provide multiple types of learning at once. No pressure, then!

AI in education: How digital humans teach

If you’re reading this blog post, you might be familiar with AI-powered digital humans and how they’re being used around the world.

If not, you can get a quick catch-up (visually and via text) in our free eBook titled what are digital humans.

One of the most central benefits to businesses employing intelligent digital humans is how they communicate with users in an educative, multimodal manner. Using all aspects of the VARK methodology, digital humans cater for:

Visual learners

For the 65% of us who like visual information, digital humans are already adept at using on-screen visuals to explain a concept or give step-by-step instructions. For examples of using on-screen visual experiences in the modern eCommerce setting, our UI expert and Experience Designer, Kartika, has unpacked the scenario in a similar blog post below.

Auditory learners

The 30% of auditory learners get to speak to a digital human, and be spoken to through natural language with the benefits of body language and tone of voice adding to the effectiveness of understanding.  

Now think of every demographic: my son is four years old and can tell Google: “Hey Google, play Dan Carter highlights on YouTube via Chromecast”. I’m holding out for the day when we can make a digital human Dan Carter to give my son virtual rugby lessons and teach him how to kick World Cup-winning penalties.

Meanwhile, studies show older people love digital humans because they don’t have to read or write into tiny boxes on their phones.

Reading/writing learners

Similarly to visual learners, those who take in information best through text can have it presented by the digital human on the screen they’re learning from.

They can read the script of a video that’s playing, read the key points of a pdf or just read what they have said and the digital human has processed in speech-to-text.

Kinaesthetic learners

Kinaesthetic learners are accommodated for by being active in a real-time conversation. Multiple choice elements can also be used on-screen to create deeper engagement with the materials being taught, or in some cases they can interact using objects that the digital human can recognise.

Blending all this together for exceptional CX

But, as we know, learning is best when it’s multimodal. As a form of conversational AI, digital humans not only cater for all types of teaching, but can blend any combination of them together.

You may also know the great educator and Nobel Prize winning scientist, Albert Einstein. But have you met his virtual twin, Digital Einstein?

We created Digital Einstein as a companion and an educator, to open him up to a new generation, who can learn about his life, times and seminal works in the field of physics.

Digital Einstein uses voice, on-screen text and visuals to convey information in a way that best suits different people. By interacting with his daily quiz, kinaesthetic learners also have a way to get hands-on as they learn.

Digital humans offer the same range of interactions in banking, healthcare, retail, telco and software companies, to shout out a few.

How each industry can best use the multimodal educational nature of digital humans can differ – for instance, improving financial literacy in banking. We’d love to hear the challenges you think could be solved, or help you determine the right use case for your customers.

Can other virtual assistants do the same?

Not quite. Although virtual assistants are very “smart”, but one-dimensional in their experience. Siri – voice. Alexa – voice. Chatbots – text.

Digital humans, meanwhile, allow for a human-to-machine conversation with more VARK aspects beyond what you can get with a chatbot, an educational video or even a state-of-the-art voice assistant.

You can’t interact with a video, you can’t read or see most of what Alexa says, and you can’t naturally speak to a chatbot. But a digital human can do all of these together.

The future of educating customers is digital, human, multimodal and inclusive

If you have told someone something multiple times, and they still don’t get it, they aren’t the slow learner… it is your product, your communication and your customer experience that needs to level up.

We’re about to enter an exciting chapter in artificial intelligence; and the winning combination will be where every interaction a company has with its customers accommodates for every single person the way they learn best. That is why the more you think about it, the more it makes sense that AI is given a human face and can interact naturally with human conversation.  

This is where the digital human experience is unmatched. Face + Voice + Text + Touch.