Learning Tips for Visual Learners in Distance Education Programs

Find out about online degree programs for visual learners. Get course descriptions, program info, and online requirements to make an informed decision about the best program for your learning style.

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Essential Information

Distance learning programs may present course materials in a variety of formats, including pre-recorded lectures, online chat rooms, and interactive study materials. Different people have different styles of learning, although the three main categories are auditory, tactile, and visual. Auditory learners absorb information best by hearing and listening, tactile learners prefer to have hands-on experiences, and visual learners learn best when they can see a task or lesson being explained. This article focuses on the last group and provides some helpful tips and tricks for people who understand by seeing.

Online degrees are available at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. They may be offered in fully online or hybrid formats, and some programs may require residency or clinical rotation periods. In order to participate in online classes, students need to ensure that they have proper equipment, such as a microphone and headset. They may also need access to software such as Word or Photoshop.

Online Undergraduate Degree Programs

Students looking for an online undergraduate education have plenty of options, as both diploma and degree options are available in a number of fields. Content delivery varies from school to school, but most programs use an online portal software such as Blackboard or Moodle to relay information to students. Visual learners can benefit from a number of tools, including video lectures and detailed diagrams. Other visual aids include PowerPoint presentations, graphic organizers, and blogs.

Information and Requirements

Students applying to undergraduate programs typically need only a high school diploma. Some programs, depending on their field, may require prerequisite coursework in subjects related to the major, such as math and science for engineering programs or foreign language for an international program. Technical requirements are also minimal, as students should not need more than internet access in order to attend these programs.

Common Undergraduate Majors

The following list contains a few examples of majors that online undergraduate students typically pursue:

  • Business administration
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Criminal justice
  • Marketing

Online Graduate Degree Programs

Whereas undergraduate degree programs provide a more general education, graduate education is normally much more specialized and focuses almost exclusively on a specific field or academic interest. Certain programs, especially those requiring technical expertise, may require on-campus sessions and laboratories wherein students can acquire valuable hands-on experience. These sessions can be an excellent opportunity for visual learners, as an in-person experience with a subject is often much more beneficial than listening to a professor describe it.

Information and Requirements

Students applying to graduate programs typically endure a much more rigorous admissions process than undergraduate students. Applicants will need at least an undergraduate degree, and some programs mandate that the degree be in a relevant field. Work experience is also a common prerequisite. Technical requirements can also be stricter, as certain programs may require software specific to the major (engineering programs, for example, often require engineering software).

Common Graduate Majors

The following list contains a few examples of majors that online graduate students typically pursue:

  • Communication
  • Data analytics
  • History
  • Nursing
  • Elementary education

Helpful Hints for Visual Learners Studying Online

The following tips can help visual learners succeed in distance education programs.

Participate in Distance Education Orientation

Students who know they're visual learners may take advantage of online distance education orientation sessions offered by many postsecondary schools. An online orientation session can provide additional information about the program, course delivery methods, course materials and outcomes. These details can help visual learners assess if the program is a good fit for their learning style. Some of these self-assessment tools also offer advice tailored to specific learning styles.

Meet Technical Requirements

Distance learning programs may specify what kind of computer, processor, operating system, browser, sound and video card, plug-in or software applications are required. Ensuring that these technology minimums are met can mean the difference between accessing visual learning tools like diagrams, maps, charts, illustrations, simulations or online lab activities and not.

Review Distance Education Program Information

Some instructors use more visual materials than others. Before starting a class, students can generally review the syllabus, lecture notes and list of assignments to determine whether the instructor presents lectures, videos and course materials in ways that help visual learners.

Use Search Engines to Locate Study Materials

Not all distance learning courses will include visual learning materials. In that case, it's possible to use a search engine to locate relevant visual learning materials online. Videos, animations, virtual tours and timelines can help students master important concepts. Students may find visual learning materials online can be as diverse as online tours of prominent museums to virtual autopsies, surgical procedures or lab experiments.

Take Effective Notes

Students may take notes during video lectures, especially those in which instructors only present information verbally. They may focus on the facial expressions and gestures of instructors to better understand what's being communicated and better remember the lecture. When taking notes while reading textbooks and other written materials accompanying distance education courses, online learners can use color as a visual aide to highlight key facts and ideas. They may also draw arrows to tie ideas together or draw concept maps to aid in retaining main ideas.

In summary, students can find online programs in many subjects at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Visual learners can employ a variety of strategies that can facilitate success within a virtual classroom environment.

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