You often hear someone claim to be a “visual learner,” which simply means that they need to see something in order to understand it. Researchers have studied and modeled learning styles in a number of different ways over the past several decades, and the origins of this specific visual style of thinking can be traced to Neil Fleming’s VAK model. One of the most commonly known and quoted models of thinking, it states that when comprehending information, people learn best with one of three types of stimuli:
Visual learners best comprehend information that is presented in pictures, diagrams, charts, and the like; auditory learners do best when hearing this information spoken; and tactile learners need to touch and learn by doing. While this theory is commonly accepted, it has been highly scrutinized in the scientific community, which posits that there is little to no evidence that any one preferred method of learning is actually more beneficial for comprehending and retaining information.
Regardless of this ongoing debate, it is important to consider the media structure and channels through which people obtain information. It is less important to identify how people prefer to learn, and instead figure out how they are actually learning—and these experiences are occurring increasingly online today, a channel based primarily on visual display. The use of audio-only content ...