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Archive for the ‘Adult Learning Principles’ Category

The Cycle of Reflective Teaching

Friday, October 30th, 2015

As the National Library of Medicine Training Center, we think a lot about things like: how can we make this presentation better; are we really reaching our audience; are we teaching or training; and other similar topics. In fact, every time we get ready to teach another session of a class we’ve taught multiple times before, we make revisions and tweaks to (hopefully) keep making it better.

This week, I came across a blog post by two writers who have been guest experts for Twitter chats sponsored by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development entitled, “The Cycle of Reflective Teaching.” This first sentence jumped out at me: “The more reflective you are, the more effective you are.” If this is true, and self-reflection is a skill that can and should be developed, how do we do that? While authors Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral target primarily those who teach in K-12 settings, there might be something here for all of us who do any type of training or teaching.

Here’s a summary of their key points:

1.) Stop. “We’re doing without really thinking about what we’re doing.”

2.) Practice. “Thinking about your work, as an act unto itself, will not singlehandedly make you a more reflective and effective educator.” Hall and Simeral outline the four steps of the Reflective Cycle.

3. ) Collaborate. “This work is far too complex, and far too important, to go it alone.”

If this topic piques your interest, read more in the full blog post or check out their book titled, Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom.”

For me, I think I’ll keep thinking about my next class when I take my walk today.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
top-100-tools-for-learning-2015-1-638NTC staff follow a number of blogs, online forums, listservs, and Twitter feeds related to learning and instruction. Jane Hart is a well-regarded international speaker and writer on modern approaches to workplace learning. Jane is the also the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world’s most visited learning sites on the Web, where she also compiles the very popular annual Top 100 Tools for Learning list from the votes of learning professionals worldwide.  Her blog, Learning in the Social Workplace, was recently rated top of the 50 most socially shared Learning and Development blogs.

Recently, the blog published the Top 100 Tools for Learning for 2015. For the seventh year running Twitter is the Number 1 tool on the list, although this year it is very closely followed by YouTube, and, once again, the list is dominated by free online tools and services. Jane observes, “I can also see some interesting new trends in the tools that are being used for both personal learning and for creating learning content and experiences for others.”

Some “Big Movers” on the 2015 list – moved up sixteen or more places – including Skype, OneNote, SharePoint, and Kahoot. To read the full blog post, including the complete presentation of the 2015 list, visit:Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015.

What We’re Reading: December Edition

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Here are a few things we’ve been reading lately:

Did you find any of these particularly useful? Read anything lately that we should add to our “To Read” stack?


Online Learning and Motivation: 3 Ways to Keep them Coming Back

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

We’ve all been there. We sign up for an online class with every intention of completing the class, but somewhere along the way things get in the way and we don’t finish the class. They call it the U-Shaped Curve: “Novelty and enthusiasm produce high drive at the beginning, but it drops off sharply thereafter, only increasing when the end of the course is in sight.”

Here are a few suggestions for course builders to keep motivation and interest up:

    1. Offer Choice: Break content into smaller modules and allow students to choose only those modules that are most important to them.
    2. Within the smaller modules, offer even more options to access the material. For example, you can include a short video, hands-on exercises, a follow-along tutorial. Bite-sized lessons allow students to get a sense of accomplishment, which in turn may spur them on to do more work.
    3. Provide feedback; because cyberspace can be lonely and we never really know what happened to that homework we uploaded. As the instructor, set a goal for yourself: I will grade and respond to students within X amount of days.  Turn this goal into a class policy and include it in the “about this course” section.

Universal Design for Learning

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Have you heard of Universal Design for Learning? At the Annual Conference for Distance Teaching and Learning, I attended a few session with a focus on this principle. Here’s a primer video on Universal Design for Learning that will help you become acquainted. If you want to learn more, check out

Personal Motivation and Online Course Design

Monday, April 14th, 2014

From SHIFT’s eLearning blog: Designing for Motivation: Three Theories eLearning Designers Can Use 

1) Self-Determination Theory

This theory operates on the premise that learners are motivated by an inner belief that learning, in and of itself, is important. In this theory, learners tend to want some degree of control over their learning experience.

Applied to course design: Provide choices, opportunities to succeed and interaction options.

2) Flow Theory

Student motivation is intrinsic and drives learner behavior.

Applied to course design: Consistent and user-friendly course format; state clear objectives so learner can feel sense of achievement, reduce confusion so students can focus on the essentials.

3) Path-Goal Theory

In this theory, the teacher develops a user-friendly course that provides a path to success. The teacher provides student support and creates opportunities for the student to participate with meaningful content that encourages the student to persevere.

Applied to course design: Provide clear instructions; create a blueprint for students to follow to achieve success.

Read the full article here:

Human Factors

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Technology; most of us have a love/hate relationship with it.  But wouldn’t it be great if we had a love/love relationship with technology? Specifically, love for an online course we might take or even develop. Karla Gutierrez of SHIFT’s eLearning Blog recently posted an article titled: Bridging the Gap Between Human Learners and eLearning Technology. Gutierrez pointed to 4 “human factors” to consider when designing an online class. Also, as students, we intrinsically want these factors to be present.

I’ve pulled some excerpts from Gutierrez’s article. Just reading about human centered design made me feel more at ease.

1) The human brain prefers to recognize, not recall. Learners should not have to spend more time trying to remember how to navigate from one page to another, than they do engaging in learning the material.

2) The human brain likes chunking by seven. Requiring learners to grasp too many concepts at one time can cause them to “drop” that information.

3) The human brain likes to organize information.The proper placement of information can help learners recall knowledge when they need it.

4) The human brain likes patterns.  Use consistent screen design.

The U.S. government has a website about user experience design principles called:

Here is a link to a section called User Experience Basics: 

Read the entire article here




Effective Teaching Behaviors

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

What are some effective teaching behaviors that we can incorporate into our classes for learners of all types?  A post from the “Tomorrow’s Professor” mailing list, sponsored by the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning, discussed eight behaviors to consider.   The behaviors that particularly intrigued me were:

“Teach for Understanding Rather Than Exposure”:  determine the “big ideas” behind the class

“Explicit Instruction”:  Tell students what they are going to learn, the rationale for learning the material, and how new material relates to what they already learned.

Scaffolded Instruction”:  The three stages of scaffolded instruction are:  1) Students watch the teacher perform a task; 2) teacher and student do the task together; 3) student does it alone.

“Errorless Learning”: Present the material using smaller steps so that students can achieve success without errors.

You can read the full article here.


Flipping the Flipped Classroom

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The flipped classroom has been all over education news for the past few years, but a recent study presents a new finding on flipping the classroom.

In the current model of a flipped classroom, students read or watch videos about a topic and then apply what they learned to solve problems or complete projects. A new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education says that we might just have that backwards. In this study of graduate and undergraduate students, half the students first read about the neuroscience of vision, while the other half first used a simulation tool to manipulate and explore neural networks. Then, each group of students did the other task. At the end, the students took a test and researchers found at 25-percent increase in performance in those who had the opportunity for exploration first. 

Paulo Blikstein, one of the study authors, says, “”We are showing that exploration, inquiry and problem solving are not just ‘nice to have’ things in classrooms. They are powerful learning mechanisms that increase performance by every measure we have.”

What do you think? Have you ever considered starting a class with some open-ended exploration? How did it work?

What would you like to see on the NTC blog?

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Here’s your chance to tell us what type of content you’d like to see here on the NTC blog! Please take a minute to answer this two question survey to help us keep the NTC blog filled with content that’s most useful to you. Thank you for your time.