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Archive for the ‘In-Person Classes’ Category

Start the Music!

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Playing music during training?  If you’re never experienced this, it might seem like an odd idea.  I’ve had this experience during some of the training sessions at the Bob Pike annual conference I attended last year.  The instructors played music as people were filtering in to the classroom.  The rationale, as this article discusses, is “to alleviate their tension and create a relaxed learning atmosphere.”  I’m happy to report that it worked!

Other ideas for music in training are to use it for transitioning from one activity to another (in short bits) and to use song parodies to revisit training content.  (If you can sing the exact words to any TV opening credits from your childhood, or sing the words to a French song from the 1970’s when you don’t know any other French, you know how powerful music is as a memory aid!)

Where to find the music?  Look for royalty-free music web sites.  If you try incorporating music into your training, let us know how it worked!

 

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.

 

People, Stories, and Surprises – Training Tips

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?

Ice Breakers Can Be Meaningful

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.

Ideas for Training the “Gaming Generation”

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

How can we adapt training for the “gaming generation”?  Becky Pike discusses a few ideas for incorporating games into training, whether in-person or online, high tech or low tech.  Ideas include a matching game, simulations, quizzes with “points” awarded, or having students blog questions and answers.  If the games are tied directly to the content being presented, even those not part of the “gaming generation” may find game activities fun and rewarding.

Fun Opening Activity: “A-Z” Word Game

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Ideally, an opening class activity should allow class participants to get acquainted with one another and to remove pre-class distractions. It’s always challenging to design an opener that is related to the content of the class.

The “A-Z” word game is one possibility for a group activity: divide the class into groups of 3-4. Using large post-it notes on the wall, ask each group to come up with a word for each letter of alphabet that relates to the class content. Give each group 3-5 minutes and instruct them to work as fast as possible.

Can you think of words related to PubMed for each letter of the alphabet (not including PubMed, MEDLINE, or specific search terms)? “Z” can be difficult, but a recent group in one of our classes came up with an answer (see the photo).

a-zpic_enhanced

I’ve Got a Question…20 of them

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Teaching and Learning has created a page dedicated to using games in the classroom. Below is one example that can be used in-person or online as an ice breaker or a review.

http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/powerpoint/games/index.html#twenty

FlashClass

Friday, December 14th, 2012

The University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System is trying a new approach to offering library instruction classes called FlashClass. FlashClass is based on the growing daily deal phenomenon of Groupon, Deal of the Day, CrowdSaving, Living Social, etc.

Read about it at: http://info.hsls.pitt.edu/updatereport/?p=5977

Boredom Busters

Friday, December 7th, 2012

The title of the article I’ve linked to here is 5 Great eLearning Boredom Busters, however, I think the suggestions work for in-person presentations as well. I’ve listed the 5 suggestions below. Follow the link to read more and about each item and solutions.

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/248676/5-great-elearning-boredom-busters

  • Avoid content-centered design
  • When talking about content…make it “sticky”
  • Show, don’t tell!
  • Spell out the famous WIFM (What’s in it for me)
  • Avoid “busy work” interactivity
  • Training “Killers” and How to Avoid Them

    Friday, June 29th, 2012

    You’ve carefully prepared for and rehearsed your content for a class and you’re ready to go… but what are some training errors that can “kill” the training regardless of how much you’ve prepared?  In a recent blog post Bob Pike lists four training killers:  1) slow start; 2) a late ending; 3) asking “are there any questions?” and 4) using illegible graphics (the infamous, “you probably can’t see this, but…”).

    Read more about those training killers and ways to avoid them:  “Some Training Room Errors are Excusable…“, by Bob Pike, published on May 4, 2012.