A few weeks back I posted an article on this blog about learning styles and their importance in supply chain and logistics education and training.
I thought it might be a good idea to follow that post up with a brief discussion of the pros and cons of each learning style, along with a request for some input from you, the reader.
Just to get some dialogue going, I’d love you to share your own learning preferences in the comments section below this post. First though, let’s look at some of the specific learning styles and the strengths or weaknesses they present when applied to the study of supply chain and logistics topics.
The Visual Learning Style: Reading
For some vocational scholars, the idea of ploughing through books and documents as a way to gather knowledge is anathema, while for others it’s a pleasurable as well as an educational pursuit. If the latter applies to you, then you are probably a visual learner with a preference for text over charts, graphs, pictures, and diagrams.
The Pros: The advantages of this style include:
- The ability to learn alone and in a variety of environments
- Little direct support is needed from teachers, instructors, or mentors
- It’s a method of learning that’s highly compatible with online education and training
The Cons: On the other hand, if you use reading as your sole method of learning, you may find yourself being overeducated in terms of theory while missing the value offered by more interactive methods of learning, such as simulations and group exercises.
It’s always important to strike a balance and mix up your study activities, as much as you may love to spend your time absorbed in written material.
The Visual Learning Style: Watching and Observing
Not all visual learners prefer wading through written material. You might find yourself responding more positively to videos, visual demonstrations, and concepts or ideas illustrated by pictures and schematics.
If your style is a combination of visual and auditory learning, video in particular, is a very effective way to gain and retain supply chain and logistics knowledge.
The Pros: The primary advantages of learning through observation include an ability to absorb knowledge from just about everything you see, so in essence, you probably find yourself learning useful lessons not only when actively studying, but also in the course of your day-to-day work and activities.
You don’t need to pick up a book or document to learn, and the things you learn visually are probably committed quickly to memory.
The Cons: On the flip side, you may find it takes a while to learn certain ideas and concepts that don’t “click” on the first attempt. Unlike the reader, your need for images makes it less easy to run through lessons repeatedly, since for example, replaying a video is physically slower than rereading sections of text.
If your style is heavily visual, another possible disadvantage is that any dialogue used to accompany visual media might break your concentration, even when it’s intended to add educational value.
The Auditory Learning Style
If you’re more of a listener than an observer, you have the enviable ability to learn anywhere and at any time, even if you are engaged in another task simultaneously.
Of course, that wasn’t always the case, but today’s mobile technology has made it possible to take in knowledge through your ears, while your eyes and other senses focus on something else entirely.
The Pros: If your learning style is predominantly auditory, you have the advantage of truly mobile education, while others are handicapped by the need to look at their learning material, which eliminates the possibility of carrying out many other activities.
You can learn while driving to work, with the right auditory study-material to hand, or even while working, if your job is one that doesn’t require you to be listening continuously.
The Cons: The only potential drawback to being an auditory learner is that it’s very easy to zone-out while listening to a topic that doesn’t hold your interest, and listening repeatedly to the same thing will probably just result in repeated “zone-outs”. While the same is true to some extent in visual learning, it’s a little easier to force yourself to take in knowledge when reading.
The Kinesthetic Learning Style
The kinesthetic learner is best at absorbing knowledge in interactive environments. If this is your learning style, you will always seek to learn by doing. You may even be one of those people who struggle to stay engaged with written, visual, and perhaps even auditory study material. For education to be meaningful to you, it must be a multi-sensory experience.
The Pros: Advantages of using this learning style include the ease with which you can learn in the workplace, an affinity for interaction (which means you usually contribute to the learning of others while learning yourself), and the ability to learn passively through everyday experiences.
The Cons Disadvantages mainly relate to the availability of training and education programs catering to your learning style. After all, video training and text-based lessons offer little in the way of interactivity, so you need to look for programs that offer plenty of practical workshops.
These are not so easy to find, since most programs combine a few workshops with a lot of self-paced visual and auditory training material.
Solo or Shared Supply Chain Education?
As well as having sensory preferences for learning, you probably lean toward either group or solo environments in which to receive education. That may not mean you’re uncomfortable in one type of environment or the other, but education is always more effective when it matches individual preferences as closely as possible.
Solo Learning: If you prefer to study and learn alone, you will do well to choose a supply-chain education program that’s based exclusively online, or else comprises a blend of online education and occasional physical seminars or workshops.
The advantage of the blended program is that you get a more complete education, with the occasional workshop activities covering topics and concepts that are easier to grasp through practical exercises and demonstrations.
Group Learning: If you prefer to study in the company of peers, a blended program of supply chain training will help you scratch the itch for interactivity, but may not offer enough group activity to keep you fully motivated.
It can be hard to shut yourself away for study if you’re a gregarious person. Fortunately, though, there are a couple of ways around the problem.
One way is to choose a program based predominantly on classroom education (as long as you are able to commit to attending the scheduled classes). Another is to team up with one or two colleagues or friends and share your online study sessions, either by studying together physically, or by connecting through online conferencing or chat applications.
Logistics Education to Suit all Styles
Whatever your learning style, we offer a range of services and products to accelerate your supply chain and logistics education.
If you’re a visual/auditory learner preferring to study in solitude, our range of books and extensive Supply Chain Secrets online program are created especially to educate you in a practical and pragmatic way, helping you understand every aspect of supply chain management without becoming too bogged down in theory.
If your style is more kinesthetic and you like to learn alongside like-minded people, our Supply Chain Leaders Academy might be right up your street. To increase your group-learning opportunities, you can supplement either program by:
- Joining us at our seminars, breakfasts, and online webinars
- Participating in our annual Supply Chain Leaders Insights conference
- Becoming a member of the Supply Chain Leaders boardroom (if you’re a senior business leader)
Help us Optimise our Offerings
Finally, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, we’re always looking for ideas and suggestions to improve our products and services, which is why I’d like to close with a request for your input.
Why not let us know (in the comments below) what your preferred learning style is; how that style benefits you, and if there are any ways in which you might consider it a weakness?
We’ll incorporate your input in our planning as we continually seek to optimise our services for a wide range of learning styles and preferences. So please, don’t be shy, come on and weigh in with your views on supply chain education learning styles.
An extremely informative article! I am repeated looking for ways to keep different types of learners engaged and this article offers some real life examples. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome, Vaughn!
Glad that it helps!