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Archive for the ‘Instructional Design’ Category

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?

Technical Training Techniques to Try

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Last month I attended an online training from The Bob Pike Group, called  No More Boring Technical Training. In just an hour, the instructor led an interactive session with several ideas for enlivening training that could be highly technical. Here are few examples of techniques you could try.

  • If you’re using scenario-based training, make the scenarios realistic and offer multiple choices of scenarios. Presenting the learner with a choice, gives them control and leads to better engagement.
  • If what you’re teaching is abstract or complex, use metaphors, analogies, or images to aid in your explanation.
  • Use a find-and-fix. Show students an example in which something (or several things) is incorrect. Ask them to identify the problems and suggest solutions.
  • In computer-based training, try guided exploration. If they can’t break it, what neat shortcuts or functions can they find? (For an example, type “tilt” or “do a barrel roll” into the Google search box).

Have you tried any of these techniques? Which one would best fit in to the classes you are currently teaching?

Exploration Before Studying

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A recent study done at Stanford University looked at the impact of providing students with the opportunity for open-ended exploration before delving into the reading material on a particular subject. The study found that students who had used an interactive tool to explore the subject prior to reading about it tested higher than those students who read text on the subject first.

Read the complete story at: http://goo.gl/xIxREY

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

Work with Working Memory

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

From Connie Malamed’s Blog:

“People can typically hold around 4 or 5 pieces of information in working memory at one time. As you design interactions, limit the number of elements, instructions or moving parts that the learner will need to simultaneously keep in mind. In addition, limit the number of choices. It’s easier for people to make decisions when there are fewer choices compared to many choices.”

Is it Real or is it Memorex?

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A 2007 Stanford University study asked: “Do you learn more if you interact with a live person, or if you interact with a computer?” The conclusion was that people do better when they believe that they are interacting with a person. But what if that person is really an avatar? And what are the implications for eLearning?

Read a short discussion at Learning Solutions Magazine:
http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1021/research-for-practitioners-social-interaction-belief-and-learning

The Stanford Study:
http://aaalab.stanford.edu/papers/cogsci07_okita_id_7451.pdf