Archive for the ‘Distance Education’ Category
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
I recently attended the American Society for Training and Development‘s TechKnowledge conference. It was a great opportunity to see new training technologies and learn from others about their challenges and strategies in training. ASTD’s membership is quite diverse and includes those who do compliance training, technical and software training, workforce development, and many other areas. In all the sessions, I found myself looking for ways to apply techniques from other areas to what we do here at the NTC. In the next few blog posts I’ll share some of the tips and tricks I learned in these sessions.
One of the first sessions I attended was about identifying and avoid pitfalls in the virtual classroom. As we (and many others) move more of our classes online, this seemed particularly relevant.
The instructor first described the difference between webinars and a virtual classroom. For her, a virtual classroom uses web conferencing software to facilitate synchronous learning with a high degree of interaction. A webinar, on the other hand, is more one-way communication or simply presentation of information. Here are some of her tips:
- Tip #1: Make sure participants understand what a virtual classroom is and establish right away that it is an active, not passive, learning environment. Use opinion questions at the beginning to engage participants from the outset and clearly communicate that the virtual classroom is for building skills.
- Tip #2: Know the platform you’re delivering in, practice in it, and have someone else as a “producer” when instructing. The role of the producer is to set up the room, assist participants with technical difficulties, answer questions, and help make sure transitions are smooth. Although we don’t really refer to it as a producer, we at the NTC always make sure that another trainer is available to help with these issues. If you deliver classes over the web, I highly recommend it.
- Tip #3: Have a plan for how you will distribute materials. If you have handouts or other materials, how will the students get them?
- Tip #4: Never have more than 2 “tell” slides in a row. Break it up with some kind of interaction.
- Tip #5: Pilot and Practice!
Monday, November 25th, 2013
In October, the Pew Internet & American Life Project posted a new report on the use of online video. You can read the full report here or, conveniently, you can watch an online video summary on the rise of online video:
Here are a few highlights:
- 78% of American adult internet users watch or download online videos
- The most widely viewed video types are comedy, education, and how-to videos
- The percent of American adult internet users who upload or post videos online has doubled in the past 4 years from 14% in 2009 to 31% today
Do you use videos in teaching and training, or are you planning to? Many users expect to find answers precisely when they need them, and videos can be a good way to address these just-in-time needs. Knowing that education and how-to videos are among the top three types of videos viewed, your efforts to create videos will likely be appreciated by your users. You could use videos to address frequently asked questions, take virtual visitors a tour of the library, or provide tutorials on how to accomplish common tasks.
A few tips to consider in making videos:
- Keep it short
- Make them shareable and post them on your social media channels
- Be sure they are easy to find
- Ensure that they work on mobile devices
- Make them accessible
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Recently the NTC has been trying out a new tool for creating tutorials, called Guide on the Side.
Guide on the Side was developed at the University of Arizona, and it received the ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award and an award from the American Library Association for cutting-edge technology. Guide on the Side is free tool that allows you to create tutorials with an interactive instruction panel on the left side and a live website on the right side. In the instruction panel you can give directions for interacting with the website, embed quiz questions, and link to additional resources. The content can be divided into chapters to make it easy to return to a particular point in the tutorial. The two panel tutorial makes it easy try out what you’re learning right away and avoids the inconvenience of flipping between instructions and a website. Creating the tutorials is simple — it uses a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.
Those who have tested the NTC Guide on the Side tutorials have indicated that it’s a fun and easy way to learn about a database.
You can view a sample tutorial from the University of Arizona Libraries, or the ChemIDplus tutorial from the NTC.
For more information on how to install Guide on the Side or the technical requirements, visit the Guide on the Side site.
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Recently, the Shift eLearning Blog had a post entitled “Understanding People is the Most Important Thing in eLearning Design.”
I think that many of their tips can be applied to both online and face-to-face environments. Below are a few of my take-aways, but the full post is linked above if you’d like to click over to it.
Their first principle is: people like people. They suggest that in designing e-learning, you should incorporate images or videos of people to make the lesson more engaging. I think whenever possible, we should go further and try to provide opportunities for people to interact with each other. When I think about the last class or conference I attended, one of my favorites aspects is talking with others about new techniques or ways to solve problems. You might add discussion or polls to your classes to take advantage of this principle.
Secondly, people like stories. This is probably not a surprise if you reflect on presenters you’ve seen – it always seems more memorable if they’ve used a story to illustrate an important idea. Can you create a realistic scenario or recall a story to make the message stick in your classes? Maybe you have a story about a time research changed a diagnosis or treatment decision? Consider adding stories like these to your classes to make the content of the class easier to understand or recall.
Shift also states that people like both organization and surprises. At first, this might seem a bit contradictory. The overall course should have a clear and logical flow, but an occasional surprise can be fun and really help information to stick. Like a plot twist in a great novel, a surprise can re-engage the learner and show a novel way to look at the information, especially if it’s something they may have encountered previously. Thinking about something you often teach, how can you incorporate something unexpected?
Monday, July 29th, 2013
You may have attended a training session that started with an ice breaker (sometimes called an Opener) such as: If you were a candy bar, what kind would you be? OR Tell two truths and one lie about yourself (and then the group tries to figure out the lie). Ice breakers, as the name implies, are meant to break the ice between workshop attendees. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ice breaker was relevant to the content of the training?
Here are a couple of ideas that you can try…
For online training, where you want everyone to talk using either their microphone or a telephone, ask a simple question (ex. In what state were you born?). This will require everyone to test their equipment (microphone or telephone) so they’re ready to participate later.
For in-person training, hang large sheets of paper on the wall (they make poster sized post-it notes), break people into groups and have them think of words that are related to the course content. Group members will meet each other before class officially starts and they’ll remain on task while doing it. If you were teaching a class about PubMed for example, B stands for Boolean Operators.
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
What does it mean to be a “networked student” in today’s learning environment? How can students use technology to connect with others? Watch this fun video (5 minutes 10 seconds) to follow along with a student as he builds his knowledge base through tools like Google Scholar, social bookmarking, blog posts, RSS readers, podcasts, and video conferencing with experts around the world. Along the way he must evaluate the information he finds and then share his “virtual textbook” with others.
(Thanks to Jessi Van Der Volgen for pointing out this video).
Friday, November 9th, 2012
Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, gave a TED talk about redefining education when he and a colleague offered a freely available online class to the world. 160,000 people signed up and 20,000 completed the class (That’s actually a pretty good completion rate for this type of offering). However, his re-definition actually created “a classroom much more like a traditional class”. Watch the 6 minute video at: http://youtu.be/tYclUdcsdeo
Monday, September 24th, 2012
Join the National Library of Medicine Training Center (NTC) trainers as they share “aha moments,” tips, techniques and research-based recommendations from three recent professional development conferences. We will discuss:
- Presentation skills, including better PowerPoint design
- Tips for creating participant-centered training activities
- Distance learning recommendations
Date: November 7, 2012
Time: 3 – 4 pm ET
Place: Adobe Connect; web address will be sent to registrants
Register here: http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/schedule.html#class501
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
In a recent presentation I attended there was a discussion was about about two groups of students, one undergraduate, the other graduate, who were asked to name the 10 most important qualities of behavior of the teacher during an online course. The top two qualities named they named?
Number one: Communication (that we understand)
Number two: Instructor disposition (we might need help with that)
Teacher disposition can be defined as having empathy, positive view of self, positive view of others, honesty, genuineness, meaningful purpose and vision.
Teacher disposition may lead to better student success with increased learning outcomes.
How do we make sure we are demonstrating the desired disposition during an online course?
Some key qualities:
• Be very present from the start.
• Personalize to each student.
• When a question is asked respond as quickly as possible, if possible immediately.
• Use the person’s name when communicating and if possible write a personal note.
• Provide positive feedback.
• Your tone can and will be detected. Present with positive, high-energy.
Monday, September 10th, 2012
Join us for an online class taught from October 8 – November 9, 2012: “Teaching with Technology: Tips, Techniques and Tools”!
In this class, you will learn about using technology tools for teaching distance learning courses. We will discuss options and best practices for asynchronous and synchronous distance classes, as well as “blended” classes that offer both in-person and online options. Adult learning principles will be reviewed. We will examine and discuss examples of software and website tools in teaching.
The class is taught “asynchronously” using the Moodle course management system, so you can complete the classwork at a time convenient for you. Allow approximately 2 hours per week for independent classwork. There are 4 weeks of assignments, readings, and discussions, with the 5th week saved for a “catch-up” week. Upon completion of the class you will receive 8 MLA CE credits.
The class is free and open to residents of the U.S. Class enrollment is limited, so we do ask that you check your schedule to be sure you have time to complete the class.
To register: http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/schedule.html