Learning happens many ways. Let's look at some.
Directed Learning involves detailed assignments about what to do, how to do it, where to go for information and what to do with it when you find it. Structured activities are straightforward: You know what you are supposed to do, you do it and your "grade" is based on whether you performed at some pre-defined level.
Inquiry-based Learning puts more responsibility on the learner to ask questions and formulate a plan for answering them. This type still occurs within a well-defined framework of background knowledge and options. How you learn is as important as what you learn.
Exploratory Learning is free-form in subject, depth of content and mental organization of what is discovered. A thirst for knowledge and an attitude of "Gee, I didn't know that." are crucial. This type of learning is very difficult to evaluate since no two learners follow the same paths and explore the same way.
In terms of teachers and "teaching performance," directed learning is the easiest to oversize and evaluate. Inquiry-based and exploratory are increasingly more difficult to "teach" and grade. Sadly, this make them less attractive to teachers with time constraints, and minimal training and experience. Sad because these two are the most fun type of learning for most students.
We are trying to put together learning activities that span the gamut and allow students to use all three learning styles with our multimedia polymer education material. What we have so far is just a start. We have tried to initially include some of each type, but we need help: if you design some neat learning activity based on our stuff, let us know and we'll include it here with your name in bright lights (go to submission form). If you have any comments or suggestions about what we have here, tell us. To see just what we have, go here.