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Archive for the ‘Instructional Design’ Category

Teach Back

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Two women discussing

What do you do when you have a difficult concept to teach your students? Do you give the best possible explanation and then ask if there are any questions? If you’ve tried that method, chances are you’ve been met with a few blank stares.

One strategy we like and use is the teach-back method. The teach-back method is often used in the healthcare setting to check in with patients that they have clearly understood the healthcare professional’s instructions. It’s not used as a test or a quiz, but rather to gauge if the teacher’s explanation was effective and if there are any points that need to be clarified or reemphasized.

You can use this tool in your classes by partnering students in groups of two or three to have them explain or recap any material you have introduced. You might say, “Turn to the person next to you and take turns explaining what we just talked about.”

A few examples:

  • When would you use X instead of Y for your search?
  • What’s the difference between Database X and Database Y?
  • How do you get the full-text of an article?

While students are teaching each other, you can circulate to listen for misconceptions. At the end, you can ask the class for any points of confusion that came up during their discussion, for volunteers to relate their explanations, or for students to then apply the concept to an example.

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:  http://ow.ly/vyDs5

Bloom’s Taxonomy Tool

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

When designing a class, it’s important to have learning objectives that indicate to the student what they will be expected to learn and how you will assess their achievement. Bloom’s taxonomy is one of the most commonly used methods for writing clear learning objectives and the NTC often refers to it when writing objectives for our own classes.

Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School has designed an interactive online tool based on the updated version of Bloom’s taxonomy to help you choose outcome verbs and match instructional to assessment questions for each level of the pyramid.

Take a minute to explore Bloom’s Taxonomy in Action, and I think you’ll find it useful the next time you are preparing a class.

Bloom's Taxonomy in Action

Bloom’s Taxonomy in Action

 

And many thanks to a student in one of our classes for alerting us to this great tool!

4 Ways to Add Interactivity

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Man interacting with a large touchscreen.

In January, I attended a presentation called Making Interactivity Count by Cammy Bean, Vice President of Learning Design at Kineo. You can find her slide deck on Slideshare and I recommend looking at her other presentations as well. Here are a few of my takeaways from her talk. Though her points were geared to the elearning environment, they are highly applicable to the face-to-face classroom as well.

When designing instruction, we try to incorporate interactivity. But what is interactivity? Interactivity occurs on a spectrum and can be human-to-human, or human-to-thing. Even thinking meaningfully can be interactive. Her four strategies for incorporating interactivity are:

1. Get them reflecting! Have your students practice integrating the content into their own mental schema. Ask a question to get them to stop, think, and apply what they have just learned. For example, what are you going to start doing, stop doing, or continue doing with this new knowledge?

2. Get them feeling! Make your stories or examples about real people or put the learner in the story. Ask them questions about the story or why it matters.

3. Get them acting! Build in worksheets or have students assess what’s going right or wrong with a scenario. For example, if you demonstrate a search that returns zero results, have your students determine why and how to fix it. Ask students what they would do in a given situation.

4. Get them connecting! Have your students talk to each other. Use a survey and share the results.

A few other words of caution from Cammy Bean:

  • Don’t add interactivity just for the sake of interactivity (or as Cammy put it, Beware the clicky clicky, bling bling!)
  • Be sure that the interactive elements have context
  • Don’t allow the interactivity to overwhelm the content

What are some new ways you might add interactivity to your classes?

 

Get Their Attention with These 3 Steps

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Group of students paying attention

Don’t you wish that any time you taught, your students were completely captivated by what you had to say?

As teachers and trainers, you know it’s important to grab the audience’s attention right away. Whether you teach busy clinicians, exhausted students, or distracted researchers, getting and keeping the audience’s attention can be a real challenge. So how do you do it?

A recent post over at CopyBlogger describes three steps that you can apply to capture the attention of your students. Their post really addresses blog writing, but I think they can be applied to the classroom as well. By applying these steps, you just might find that you have gained ground in the competition for your audience’s attention.

Step 1: Empathize with your student’s struggle. Show them that you understand their needs and the accompanying challenges. For example, you might indicate that you know how important it is to have the most recent literature for their research, but how difficult it can be to make sure you have the best sources.

Step 2: Promise your students a benefit. Let them know right away how they will be rewarded for their attention and why they should pay attention. Will it take them less time to find what they need? Will they impress their attendings with their ability to find the best evidence?

Step 3: Provide reassurance. Let them know it’s not going to be too hard because you’re going to let them in on a few secrets or a simple trick that will elevate their skill. This really doesn’t have to take long, but by using these steps to slightly revamp your introduction, you may find that you have a more attentive class.

Did you notice any of these steps at work in this post?

 

 

 

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?

Look at Me!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

In lieu of demanding that people look at your online course, here are a few things to consider when you’re trying to create an attention getting online course.

1.Our brain likes shiny and new. Display content in a new way or use off-beat examples that are more likely to be remembered.

2.People make snap judgments. Think of your online course as your living room. Arrange the components in an appealing way so people want to stay.

3. I’ve mentioned it before in this blog. People read a computer screen differently than they read a book. People tend to scan the screen from top left to bottom right; they also tend not to read an entire article online. When designing a course page, place important elements in the upper left of a page and arrange the text in small bite-sized chunks.

4.The brain remembers better when items are placed in contrast to other items. So, a larger font or an important piece of information can be bolded or in a different color. If I gave you a list of terms, which do you think you might remember later? car, bus, hybrid car, electric car.

Read the original article at: http://goo.gl/BIwuzJ

Should you flip it?

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

If you’re at all connected to teaching and training, you’ve likely been hearing more and more about the flipped classroom. The basic idea of the flipped class is to switch how students and teachers spend their time. In the flipped model, teachers prepare and record videos or lectures for the students to view on their own time and then class time is used for solving problems together or other active and collaborative exercises.

Group at computer

If you’re considering the pros and cons of flipping some of your classes, Teach Thought has a short article that you might find helpful. Although it’s geared more toward the elementary and secondary school classrooms, there are still valuable points to consider. For example, the flipped model gives students more control (an important principle of adult learning, as well) and allows them to easily repeat lessons if needed. On the other hand, it can require significant work on the front end to prepare for the class.

The good news is that a flipped classroom doesn’t have to be all or none. You can deploy elements of the flipped classroom without completely changing your course or class. The NTC has experimented with employing elements of a flipped classroom in some of our classes. For example, we might assign a video to watch and then use more of our time together for practice exercises or addressing difficult questions. While we have by no means entirely flipped the classes, we have received some positive feedback on having more time for doing hands-on work together.

Let us know if and how you’ve employed elements of a flipped teaching by commenting on Facebook or Twitter.

Bank of Examples

Friday, November 15th, 2013

When you’re teaching a class, do you use example searches that you know work well to demonstrate a concept or topic, or do you incorporate participant suggestions as you go?

I like to start with one or two examples that I know can demonstrate the concept, then use a student search topic. It’s important to me to have a clear example first, but demonstrating with student topics can make the class feel more relevant and authentic. Even so, students might be hesitant to share their questions or might not have a current assignment, so it’s important to have a few searches to demonstrate.

Sometimes coming up with good examples can be the most challenging part of designing a class. Because I don’t want to spend time devising new examples each time, I’ve started keeping an example bank. My example bank is really just a spreadsheet with four columns. The columns are labeled: objective, audience, example, and notes. In the objective column I list the objective I’m trying to achieve. In the audience column, I list the audiences with whom I’d use the example. I try to come up with relevant examples for different audiences, such as nurses, pharmacists, or medical students. Even if the objective is the same, I’ll use a new row for each audience so I can sort the table by audience. In the example column, I list the specific example I’ll use. Finally, in the notes column, I write anything that I want to point out about this example.

Now, when I’m piecing together a class, I have a bank of examples that I can sort by objective or audience and quickly pull into my class outline. I make sure to try the sample search before each class, just to be sure it still works to demonstrate the concept.

Do you have an example bank? What else would you add to the table I’ve described?

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?