Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About NTC | Contact NTC | NTC Feedback |NTC Sitemap | Help | Bookmark and Share

Archive for the ‘Design’ 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.

What We’re Reading: February Edition

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

It’s tough to keep up with new and interesting articles, blog posts and resources, but here are a few things that have caught our attention lately.



Engaging the Unengaged: Part 2

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


Four stones stacked

Last week I gave a few tips for engaging your learners, based on this e-book from Shift eLearning.  The final tip was to use good course design. But what does that mean?

According to Shift eLearning, “Well-designed courses help your learners to understand what they are seeing. When every element on screen has a deliberate function, and is in the right place, everything seems more clear.” While this is focused on the online learning environment, I think it’s true for traditional classes as well. Here are six key principles for good design.

1. Don’t unnecessarily complicate things. Keep the course simple with usable navigation and readable fonts. Focus on communicating with the user and making it easy to accomplish what they want to do.

2. Allow for inquiry and exploration. Isn’t it more engaging when you discover information on your own? Giving choices or trying scenarios can bring curiosity to the content.

3. Keep the content to a minimum. Focus on what they truly need to know and avoid extra information that can clutter the experience and get in the way of the main goals.

4. Pay attention to the visual elements. Check that your typography, color, texture, icons, symbols, pictures and animations or videos add to the experience and do not detract from it.

5. Less is more. This is a variation of keeping it simple. Make sure that it can load quickly and takes as few steps as possible to get to the content they should learn.

6. Mix it up. A variety of activities or formats can challenge the learners to think in new ways. Will a case study, game, or animation best help the students to learn?

Find several other tips for engaging your learners in the downloadable e-book!

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