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Archive for the ‘Adult Learning Principles’ Category


Monday, May 9th, 2016

Anyone who has done teaching or taken classes in teaching methods has likely heard the term “pedagogy.” This term is most widely used currently to mean “the art and science … of teaching,” although the original meaning was actually more specific to teaching children. As librarians, we strive to create instructional materials that are appropriate for the learning needs of our students. For this reason, andragogy may be a better alternative and approach, especially for adult and online learners.

Andragogy as a methodology has its roots as far back as 1833 with a German teacher named Alexander Kapp, although its current usage is attributed to Malcolm Knowles, who adopted the word to describe the differences in the ways individuals – especially adults – learn.

Pedagogy and andragogy are very different teaching models. For example, pedagogy is considered a content model, whereas andragogy is a process model. The process model aims to provide the skills and resources needed to acquire information, rather than simply presenting information. Andragogy encourages the teacher as facilitator, where the emphasis in on enabling the student to learn. For adult learners and online students, andragogy may provide a more suitable teaching model. And, with the increasing tendency toward online classes, students are increasingly self-directed.

This table illustrates key differences between pedagogical and andragogical design.

Pedagogy vs Andragogy
It should be noted that these two methods are not mutually exclusive. It is always up to the the teacher or facilitator to determine the best approach for his or her students.

For more information, please see the full article, “Keeping Up With … Andragogy”

What We’re Reading – Instructional Design

Monday, March 21st, 2016

book pileThe month of March means “spring break” for many academic institutions. And that may mean a break from instruction, but we wanted to give you a short “reading list” in case you are looking for something to occupy any extra time you might have!Here are three titles which the NTC staff have been reading and using in our training recently. In fact, if you’ve been in PubMed for Trainers within the past several months, you may have heard us mention at least one of them.

    1. The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age by Cammy Bean. Here’s a blurb from the back cover: “We’ve all been taught to think that training is always the solution and that just about anyone can figure out how to do it. And as technology-based learning continues to slip into the mainstream, managers will continue to tap heads to turn regular people, who know the content or show some talent at creating a PowerPoint deck, into instructional designers and trainers. This means that we’ll see accidents – in the form of accidental instructional designers – happening more and more.”
    2. Telling Ain’t Training by Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps. Here’s a brief summary from This book is an entertaining and practical guide for every trainer and performance improvement professional as it tackles the three universal and persistent questions of the profession―how do learners learn, why do learners learn, and how do you ensure that learning sticks. Playful illustrations demonstrate the solid research that back up the authors’ contentions and help readers separate learning myth from fact to dispel beliefs and practices that often harm the instructional process.
    3.  The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training by Karl M. Kapp. Here’s what one reviewer said: “Kapp argues convincingly that gamification is not just about adding points, levels and badges to an eLearning program, but about fundamentally rethinking learning design. He has put together a brilliant primer for learning professionals on how to gamify learning, packed with useful advice and examples (Anders Gronstedt, president, Gronstedt Group via

Hope there is something here that sparks your interest. Happy reading!

Photo credit:

How Many Attendees are Enough?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

stockfresh_5559584_reaching-for-a-star_sizeS-203x300Note: The NTC wishes to thank Karen Vargas and the NN/LM OERC for permission to repost this blog from . It seemed especially relevant to what we as the NTC are about and do, as well as to the OERC.

I enjoyed reading an article in Public Libraries titled “The Grass Is Always Greener” by Melanie A. Lyttle and Shawn D. Walsh.  They discuss the complexities of deciding whether a program was “well attended” or “nobody came.”  Sometimes a program that seems well attended in one situation is the same as a poorly attended program in another.

I can think of a lot of times I’ve experienced this exact situation. When I was a branch manager at a public library, the program manager at the main library would ask if she could send authors to speak at our branch library.  When I said, “maybe you should send them somewhere else – we only had ten people come to the last one,” she replied “ten is a lot – ten is more than we get anywhere else.”

When I worked at the NN/LM South Central Region, in some parts of the region 30 people could be expected to attend training sessions.  In other parts of the region, we considered 6 people a successfully attended program.  These differences often corresponded to urban vs. rural, or the travel distance needed to get to the training, or whether the librarians were largely solo librarians or worked in multi-librarian organizations, or whether their institutions supported taking time off for training.  Other considerations include whether the trainers had already built an audience over time that would regularly attend the programs. Or on the other hand, whether the trainers had saturated their market and there were very few new people to learn about the topic.

So how can you decide what a good target participation level should be, or maybe more importantly, how can you explain your participation targets to your funder or parent organization?

Tying your participation level to your intermediate and long-term intended outcomes is one way to do that.  Let me give you an example of a program in Houston that was funded by the NN/LM South Central Region. The Greater Houston AHEC received funding many years ago to do an in-depth training project with a small number of seniors in the most underserved areas of Houston.  The goals were to teach these seniors how to use computers, how to get on the Internet, how to use email, and then how to use MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth to look up health information.  They planned for the seniors to take 2-3 classes a week, and each class lasted several hours. It was a big commitment, but they intended for these seniors to really know how to use the Internet at the end of the series.  There were so few seniors who saw the need to learn to use computers that they had to persuade about 10 people from each location to sign up.  However, the classes were so good and the seniors so enthusiastic, that after a couple of weeks, the other seniors wanted to take classes too.  This led to a phase 2 project which included funding for a permanent computer and coffee area in a senior center where students could practice their Internet skills. There is now a third phase of the program called M-SEARCH which teaches seniors to use mobile devices to look up their health information.

At the beginning, Greater Houston AHEC may not have envisioned these specific outcomes.  However, if they were trying to convince a funder that 10 person classes were a reasonable use of the funder’s money, it might be good to show that small in-depth classes could lead to a long-term outcome like “seniors in even the poorest neighborhoods in Houston will be able to research their health conditions on NIHSeniorHealth.”  In addition, it would be important to bring in other factors, such as your intended goals for the project, for example whether you hope to have a small group of these seniors that you can train to really use the Internet for health research or whether you want to reach a lot of seniors in underserved areas to let them know that it’s possible to find great health information using NLM resources (see the Kirkpatrick Model of training evaluation for more information on evaluating your training goals).

For more on creating long-term outcomes, see Booklet 2 of the OERC’s booklets: Planning Outcomes-based Outreach Projects

February 17 is Digital Learning Day #DLD

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

The National Training Center (NTC) is all about training and learning. We use a variety of methods to provide training related to National Library of Medicine products and services. And, we strive to provide leadership to the NN/LM related to e-learning delivery methods and instructional best practices for adult learners. Today we celebrate Digital Learning Day #DLD! This event, now in its fifth year, is sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, and offers educators (and students) an opportunity to reflect and tell the story about how digital tools are empowering learning in classrooms, schools, homes, and communities.

Based on feedback from our own evaluations, we have a sense that these online training courses and webinars have been beneficial to you in your work. One of the ways to celebrate #DLD is to tell the story of how you have benefited from digital learning environments. While much of the focus of #DLD is around K-12 schools and learning, we know that increasing numbers of adult learners are taking advantage of digital learning opportunities through webinars, twitter chats, Google hangouts, MOOCs, and more.

To participate in a Digital Learning Day activity, learn more, or tell your own story visit the Edutopia or Digital Learning Day website. Or, join in on some of the conversation via Twitter, using #DLD or #DigitalLearningDay. Digital Learning Day 2016

5 Learning Tech Trends to Watch in the Next 5 Years

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

LittleTWTBecause we’re all about training, we try to keep up with what professionals in the areas of learning, training, and technologies are saying. This week,in the Learning Technologies Blog from ATD (Association for Talent Development), Karl M. Kapp identified “a list of five trends learning professionals should consider when mapping out strategies for the next five of years.”

According to Kapp, “When mapping out learning strategies for your organization, you need to carefully consider the elements of technology, learning science, and societal influences to ensure that you have a strategy that is on target, scalable, and meets the needs of your learners to help them achieve organizational goals and objectives.” Here’s a brief look at the top five he identifies:

  1. Microlearning: delivering content to learners in small, specific bursts over time or just when needed.
  2. Gamification: the goal is engagement of learners, not just trying to make things “fun.”
  3. Social Learning: critical for exchanging ideas and getting questions answered from people you’ve never met.
  4. Adaptive Learning: instruction that adapts and changes based on individual learner inputs and actions.
  5. Immersive Learning: different facets of the same concept which make learning more immersive.

To read the full article, go to:

The Cycle of Reflective Teaching

Friday, October 30th, 2015

As the National Library of Medicine Training Center, we think a lot about things like: how can we make this presentation better; are we really reaching our audience; are we teaching or training; and other similar topics. In fact, every time we get ready to teach another session of a class we’ve taught multiple times before, we make revisions and tweaks to (hopefully) keep making it better.

This week, I came across a blog post by two writers who have been guest experts for Twitter chats sponsored by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development entitled, “The Cycle of Reflective Teaching.” This first sentence jumped out at me: “The more reflective you are, the more effective you are.” If this is true, and self-reflection is a skill that can and should be developed, how do we do that? While authors Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral target primarily those who teach in K-12 settings, there might be something here for all of us who do any type of training or teaching.

Here’s a summary of their key points:

1.) Stop. “We’re doing without really thinking about what we’re doing.”

2.) Practice. “Thinking about your work, as an act unto itself, will not singlehandedly make you a more reflective and effective educator.” Hall and Simeral outline the four steps of the Reflective Cycle.

3. ) Collaborate. “This work is far too complex, and far too important, to go it alone.”

If this topic piques your interest, read more in the full blog post or check out their book titled, Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom.”

For me, I think I’ll keep thinking about my next class when I take my walk today.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
top-100-tools-for-learning-2015-1-638NTC staff follow a number of blogs, online forums, listservs, and Twitter feeds related to learning and instruction. Jane Hart is a well-regarded international speaker and writer on modern approaches to workplace learning. Jane is the also the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world’s most visited learning sites on the Web, where she also compiles the very popular annual Top 100 Tools for Learning list from the votes of learning professionals worldwide.  Her blog, Learning in the Social Workplace, was recently rated top of the 50 most socially shared Learning and Development blogs.

Recently, the blog published the Top 100 Tools for Learning for 2015. For the seventh year running Twitter is the Number 1 tool on the list, although this year it is very closely followed by YouTube, and, once again, the list is dominated by free online tools and services. Jane observes, “I can also see some interesting new trends in the tools that are being used for both personal learning and for creating learning content and experiences for others.”

Some “Big Movers” on the 2015 list – moved up sixteen or more places – including Skype, OneNote, SharePoint, and Kahoot. To read the full blog post, including the complete presentation of the 2015 list, visit:Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015.

What We’re Reading: December Edition

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Here are a few things we’ve been reading lately:

Did you find any of these particularly useful? Read anything lately that we should add to our “To Read” stack?


Online Learning and Motivation: 3 Ways to Keep them Coming Back

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

We’ve all been there. We sign up for an online class with every intention of completing the class, but somewhere along the way things get in the way and we don’t finish the class. They call it the U-Shaped Curve: “Novelty and enthusiasm produce high drive at the beginning, but it drops off sharply thereafter, only increasing when the end of the course is in sight.”

Here are a few suggestions for course builders to keep motivation and interest up:

    1. Offer Choice: Break content into smaller modules and allow students to choose only those modules that are most important to them.
    2. Within the smaller modules, offer even more options to access the material. For example, you can include a short video, hands-on exercises, a follow-along tutorial. Bite-sized lessons allow students to get a sense of accomplishment, which in turn may spur them on to do more work.
    3. Provide feedback; because cyberspace can be lonely and we never really know what happened to that homework we uploaded. As the instructor, set a goal for yourself: I will grade and respond to students within X amount of days.  Turn this goal into a class policy and include it in the “about this course” section.

Universal Design for Learning

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Have you heard of Universal Design for Learning? At the Annual Conference for Distance Teaching and Learning, I attended a few session with a focus on this principle. Here’s a primer video on Universal Design for Learning that will help you become acquainted. If you want to learn more, check out