What is Tactile Learning?
Tactile learning is the process of learning new things through touch or action. For example, a tactile learner will learn an object or pattern best if they can draw it out by hand. The other two types of learners are visual learners, who learn things by seeing them played out and auditory learners who learn new things by hearing them. These differences in learning styles are neither good nor bad, but they are valuable xdistinctions when designing a curriculum for students. It is important to create lessons that are engaging for all types of learners, otherwise some will be left behind. If your entire class is a lecture, you will start to lose your visual and tactile learners and if it is a slideshow or textbook, you may notice some blank faces on the auditory learners. The solution is a lecture that engages all of the different learning styles. That is why multisensory learning is becoming so popular. This is a way to allow students to interact with their lessons instead of just hearing and seeing them.
Why is Tactile Learning Important?
According to the a study by Specific Diagnostic Studies of Rockville Maryland, approximately 37% of students are haptic or tactile learners, 34% are auditory learners and 29% are visual learners. This means that the highest percentage of students prefer to learn things by doing, touching or moving. This stresses the importance of tactile learning in the classroom. While it is possible for a student to be both a tactile learner and an auditory learner, or any combination of the three, it is nonetheless to stress, or even prioritize, tactile learning in the classroom.
Tactile learning can also lead to a more rewarding and more engaging classroom experience. Students love things that they can interact with. Even if the lesson isn’t entirely effective, at the very least the interactive lesson will serve as a well-deserved reward for your students. This is one of the reasons that interactive lessons are on the rise in schools. Anything from using 3D printing to virtual reality field trips have begun to make their way into our classrooms. This is exciting and encouraging for the future of education. Technology is allowing us to give our students a more engaging and, at the very least, more entertaining classroom experience.
The Loss of Handwriting
The one thing that has been lost in the shift to a more technologically advanced classroom is handwriting. What may seem like a basic task is actually a full multisensory experience for students. Seeing the letters appear on paper as the hand moves along the page can lead to a better understanding of the words and letters themselves. You really notice the difference when you take notes by hand rather than by typing them.
With computers being used in almost all classrooms, the tactile experience of handwriting has been lost. When typing, each key the student presses feels the exact same. For that reason, typing is solely a visual learning experience rather than a tactile experience. While typing may be much more efficient, it comes with a loss of tactile learning.
How Do We Use Tactile Learning in The Modern Classroom?
Many edtech companies are beginning to come up with new creative ways to enrich the teaching experience. Perhaps the most relevant example is the company Keybodo. This keyboard company based in Richmond, VA has created and patented a design for a keyboard that allows each letter to be felt by students. This turns typing from a solely visual learning process to both a visual and tactile experience. In the initial tests, this keyboard saw a dramatic reduction of typing errors and elementary school students said they could feel instantly when they made a mistake. This instant tactile feedback may be enough to correct typing behavior over time and give students a better understanding of the letters on their keyboard. This can also be a good way for students to learn finger positioning and touch typing, as each finger in the resting position has it’s own unique feel.