SL, Dunn & Dunn’s Learning Style model, and collaborative activities

This is the second post of five describing the  work of the students from the PD class, I’ve been running since December 5th, 2011 with students from the Master’s Program on ICT & Learning (MIL) at Aalborg University where the students have to do presentations in-world. Background information on the course/the presentation task can be found in this first post. On Tuesday, January 17th Team B had to present their analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment.

Team B and their focus


Team B; Efus, Yeps, dirkovski & JaneOlga with matching team t-shirts.

Just like the first presenting team A, the members of Team B also come from very different working backgrounds ranging from a Training Coordinator and Training Developer, an E-Learning Consultant, a K-12 Teacher, and a HR Consultant. All of the team members work with development and implementation of ICT and Learning at some level in their organizations, and for their presentation they had decided to focus on learning styles and different activities based on the following investigation questions:

How can SL facilitate Dunn & Dunn’s learning styles as pedagogical platform, and in what kind of collaborative activities can they be included as part of a learning process?

In their work, Team B had tried to design for a target group of adult professionals between 40-60 years with some SL experience.

Team B’s sandbox
To support the MIL students’ work in SL, each team was assigned a sandbox on December 9th (after they had learned the most basic SL skills), and the pictures below show the progression in team B’s sandbox:


December 17th; Team B has started to experiment in their sandbox.

December 18th; Team B’s sandbox rapidly changes appearance.

On December 19th, I visited Team B’s sandbox and spoke with Yeps and dirkovski about their design.

Later on December 19th Team B’s new pool area was almost finished.

December 21st; Team B’s sandbox looks quite finished, but there is more to come …

December 26th; The need for more space is solved by conquering the sandbox’s air space.

December 31st; Team B’s sandbox addition is starting to appear in the South East end.

Team B’s midway status presentation on January 3rd.

January 11th; Team B’s sandbox is almost done.

On January 15th, I met briefly with dirkovski from Team B to discuss different in-world audio possibilities, and the planning of their presentation.

Team B’s presentation
Prior to their presentation, Team B sent out information in our regular 2D platform and their agenda looked like this:

  • 8:00 PM: Welcome and agenda
  • 8:05 PM: Theoretical foundation
  • 8:20 PM: Learning style test
  • 8:40 PM: Exercises in three groups
  • 9:25 PM: Announcement of the winner
  • 9:30 PM: 3 questions (use of The Opinionator), reflection, and wrap-up
  • 9:45 PM: Feedback and evaluation

For the theoretical inputs we were all comfortably seated in the cosy pillow-area.

Team B started by introducing their investigation questions and explain their interest in trying to combine the Dunn & Dunn learning style model with activities in SL. We were also given a brief overview over the many different types of learning style models, and Dunn & Dunn’s specific model was presented as a cognitivist perspective on learning focusing on how we, through our senses, collect and process information.


The 21 elements of Dunn & Dunn’s learning style model.

Team B also explained how they, in their design of the sandbox, had tried to accommodate different learning styles, and they gave us a very interesting glimpse into their joint design process.


Team B explaining the design (process) of their sandbox.

As Team B explained, with reference to Bang & Dalsgaard, one of the problems with this kind of cognitivist learning perspective is that it tends to focus solely on learning from an individual perspective, but the Team wanted to try to combine this with a more social constructivist perspective through design of different activities (that we as audience were asked to participate in).


Cooperation or collaboration – what’s the difference?

Furthermore, in their work Team B had also been inspired by the COI-model that focuses on different kinds of presence necessary to obtain a satisfactory educational experience; cognitive, social, and teaching presence.


The Community of Inquiry model in focus.

After the theoretical introduction, we were asked to move to another part of the sandbox, where all the participants had to complete a learning styles test.


MIL11 students answering the Learning Style test.

Result: No kinesthetic learners among the participating students.

As a very nice detail the students were given t-shirts matching  their learning styles.

After the test, the participants were placed in three groups, and all groups now had to go to two different locations to complete small exercises. The exercises were designed to match three different learnings styles; auditory, visual, and kinesthetic – Team B had wisely chosen to disregard Dunn & Dunn’s forth tactile learning style. We were also told that there was a certain gaming element to the exercises, that the groups had to collect points, and that a winner would be announced by the end of this activity.


I started by following group 3 and Team B’s Efus to Hawaii :-)

On Hawaii, the members of group 3 had to choose between different transport options, go out on the sea, pass a buoy, and return to the shore in the fastest time possible:


laserquik turned out to be quite good at riding the Orca killer whale!

Happytown chose the Jet Ski.

… and so did Ingma.

Inge, however chose the inflatable wave jumping mattress.

Meanwhile, JoeChipmunk enjoyed a gold dive in the mountains!

When group 3 had finished this exercise, one of the other groups came along, and I decided to move on and follow another group.


Back in Team B’s sandbox;  Group 2 had to memorize the pictures on the display, and go to New Earth and find the specific locations/items.

mouritzen and Ilikespace quickly found the bridge and received their first points in this exercise.

We soon had to go back to Team B’s sandbox, and here the winner was announced:


And the winners were; laserquik, Happytown, Ingma & Inge – W00t!

Team B had prepared a very nice podium for this activity, and they had even taken the time to “engrave” the trophy – another very nice design detail! It was time to wrap up the experiences, and for this purpose Team B had prepared three statements, and the participants were asked to enter the Opinionator.


1. statement: SL is a suitable platform for working with the three learning styles!

2. statement: Of course it is possible to work with both learnings styles and collaboration in SL!

The final statement, was bold and fun: “Today’s presentation has been well-designed and has fully covered (the COI model’s) social, teaching, and cognitive presence, and I have learned a lot!” As I told Team B, I’m not a fan of learning style models, especially not those without learning theoretical foundation such as Dunn & Dunn, but that was not an issue in relation to their presentation. Basically, Team B chose to focus on different modalities and explore their potential in relation to SL, and it made good sense. Team B managed to make a convincing case of combining modalities and collaborative activities. The sandbox clearly reflected their theme and investigation question, and their presentation was filled with nice little details that demonstrated the hard work the team had put into it.

In summary, just as it was the case when Team A presented, we ended up having a very good and fun joint learning experience, and once again it was great to witness the fruits of genuine collaboration :-)

/Mariis

BTW, for anyone interested in exploring the use of Learning Styles, I recommend the following report that offers a critical review of some of the most popular learning styles models:

Coffield, F.; Moseley, D.; Hall, E. & Ecclestone, K. (2004): Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning – a systematic and critical review. Published by the Learning and Skills Research Centre.

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