Archive for the ‘Training Tips’ Category
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?
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
It sounds counter-intuitive, “Don’t Make Learners Think!”, but that is what Karla Gutierrez of Shift!’s eLearning blog wrote. It isn’t what you might be thinking though. Karla’s statement “don’t make learners think” refers to navigating through an online course. Learners shouldn’t have to spend their time figuring out how to get from one section to the next.
Here are the 7 principles of the Don’t Make Them Think approach to design and a short comment about each principle.
1) Use Visual Cues: Think breadcrumbs. Create a trail so people can easily get where they want to go.
2) Make It Too Obvious: Use standard conventions for icons and buttons.
3) Minimize Your Design: Use white space to give learners room to find what they are looking for. In other words, don’t crowd the page.
4) Reduce Cognitive Load: Cut out unnecessary words. Edit, edit, edit.
5) Be Consistent: Need I say more?
6) Follow Real World Conventions: Use the vocabulary/jargon of the group you are training. When in Rome…
7) Usable Navigation: When a user gets to the end of a section, they shouldn’t have to guess where to go next and how to get there.
To read the entire post by Gutierrez, go to: http://goo.gl/pJXgQY
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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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, October 14th, 2013
So, you’re about to give a presentation or lead a training session and like a good instructional designer you have a list of learning objectives that you want to cover. However, reading the list of objectives from a PowerPoint slide can be a dry way to start off. While you have everyone’s attention, make the most of it. I recently read an article called: 10 Ways to Yawn Proof Your eLearning. While many of us do not do eLearning per se, these 2 suggestions can work in a face-to-face setting as well.
Two ways to make learning objectives sound less boring and even possibly fun:
1) Frame your objectives as questions, eg., How can I find citations in PubMed that have been indexed as Review articles? Can’t you hear the crowd now? Woohoo!! We’re going to learn how to find Review articles. I can’t wait!
2) Sell the objective as a benefit and turn it into a one sentence promotion, eg., You’ll learn how to find evidence-based literature for all the requests from year-one medical students.
Read all 10 suggestions at:
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?
Monday, September 30th, 2013
Olivia Mitchell, of Speaking about Presenting, suggests that you let your audience know (with a flag) what you are about to say in order to help them focus on the information.
Here are her 3 suggestions (or flags):
- Here’s the most important thing I want you to get.
- There are three reasons why we should do this.
- Here’s a question to think about.
This technique can be used when you provide a class handout with fill-in-the-blanks. Let people know when you are about to answer one of the questions on the handout.
Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I have wanted to use the fast-forward button to skip to a certain part of a presentation and I imagine that some people have wanted to use the fast-forward button on me. What am I talking about? Keep reading!
In a recent post by Tony Burns on the Speaking about Presenting blog [www.speakingaboutpresenting.com], Tony asks the question: “Does your audience want to fast forward you?” Do people want you to skip to the good stuff, the meat of the information and leave out the rest?
Here are 3 suggestions so people don’t want to press the fast-forward button on your presentation:
- Don’t give too much background in the beginning.
- Not everything is rocket science. Don’t spend a lot of time on the easy stuff.
- People know the problem. They want solutions. Try to give them what they want.
Read the full post at: www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/audience-fast-forward/
Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Are there any questions? I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it. As I near the end of a presentation, one of the things on my to do list is to ask the audience if they have any questions. Often, there is silence from the group (hopefully, I’ve already answered their questions), which can leave me feeling a little awkward.
Olivia Mitchell, of the Speaking About Presenting blog, suggests that you ask for questions (one last time) before your final summary. This way, if there are no questions, you don’t end on a flat note. After you address questions, you can do your final summary and wrap-up.
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.