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Archive for the ‘Adult Learning Principles’ Category

Practicing? Or am I just talking to myself?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

It’s official. All this talking that I do to myself is good for me. When I drive to a new place, I talk to myself; when I buy a new gadget and try to figure out what all the buttons do, I talk to myself (sometimes out loud). I also talk to myself, out loud, when I practice my presentations.

Researchers are finding (see links below for two recent Time magazine articles) that talking to ourselves, known as self-talk or instructional self-talk in the literature, helps us focus on the task at hand so we can learn and use the new skill again without having to rely on talking to ourselves every time.

Speaking for myself (I think that might be a pun), when I practice out loud, I can almost feel the new pathways being forged in my brain. It’s sort of like acting. You have to learn the lines. Practicing helps you know what you are going to do and say.

So, whatever you call it, practicing your speech or presentation or instructional material out loud, helps the synapses in our brains to make connections between what we think and do.

Read more about the subject:

Time Magazine April 25, 2012

Time Magazine May 23, 2012

Ugly Learning. Now that caught my eye!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

A blog post written by Brian Bennett, a biology teacher in the public school system, talks about flipping a classroom for the first time; Flipping, as we have written about in the NTC blog, assigns the cognitively heavy portion of coursework for students to work on outside of the classroom, and then when they meet with the teacher again, students work on problems or homework with the teacher present. Mr. Bennett says to be prepared to see some less than wonderful evaluations from the students as they are introduced to the new format.

Read his blog post at:

Quiet Time

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Another suggestion from the Bob Pike webinar I attended recently:  give your students some “quiet time” to read or reflect.  As instructors, we often feel like we have to fill every minute with talking or interactive activities, especially during online classes.

During the webinar, the leader gave participants a few minutes to quietly read a particular section of the workbook.  When he asked if the participants appreciated that time, most said yes.  He suggested that we consider adding “quiet time” to our own training sessions.

Adult Learner Persistence and Feedback

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Recently I was interested in investigating two particular aspects of adult learning.

First of all I am interested in what keeps people coming back to a learning experience that involves more than just a single session.

It turns out there is something called adult learner persistence according to the New England Learner Persistence Findings from the New England Literary Resource Center (NELRC).  The following, from their website, lists six “drivers” that fulfill affective needs:

  1. Sense of belonging and community
  2. Agency
  3. Relevancy
  4. Clarity of purpose
  5. Competence
  6. Stability

Please view the NELRC short but effective summary at

Secondly since I hear the word “feedback” so often I wanted guidelines to define and flesh out my simple understanding. ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) has a chapter from, How to give effective feedback to Your students by Susan M. Brookhart at the link below

In summary the feedback should be about the:

  • Task
  • Processing of the task
  • Self-regulation
  • Self as a person

The emphasis should be on the strengths and weaknesses of the performance, to help create strategies that will help improve performance, to help the student connect their work with their intention, and to help position the student as the one who did and will do the work.

The breakdown of these principles of effective feedback seems quite straightforward. Imagine instructing someone on how to properly eat a whole lobster. Even when sitting on your hands and shutting your mouth while the learner figures out how to do it, it is so hard to be an encouraging cheerleader while giving effective prompts.  It is hard to resist taking the lobster apart yourself.  Giving good feedback is hard to do.

Talk to the Elephant

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Jonathan Haidt (pronounced ‘height’) is a Professor in the Social Psychology area of the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia []. He studies morality and emotion, and how the two ideas vary across cultures. In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt describes two parts of the brain. One part is rational and in charge, which he refers to as the rider, and the other part, the impulsive part, he refers to as the elephant. Dr. Haidt provides a free chapter from his book the Happiness Hypothesis where he talks about the parts of the brain in more detail []

Enter Julie Dirksen []. Julie holds a master’s degree in Instructional Systems Technology. In a recent post to the PeachPit blog (PeachPit Press is a publisher), Julie referred to Haidt’s ideas and suggested that we attribute too much power to the rider, in terms of how well the rider can control the elephant. Dirksen goes on to  apply Dr. Haidt’s views of the rider, the elephant and the human brain and came up with Nine Ways to Get and Keep Your Audience’s Attention. Julie writes about “talking to the elephant”.  Visit this URL to read Julie’s insightful and challenging suggestions for creating an engaging presentation [].

For more interesting talk about the brain, watch this TED Talk:

30 Ways to Motivate Adult Learners

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Connie Malamed, an eLearning, information and visual designer writes a blog called the eLearning Coach. I found an old post titled Get Your Audience Pumped: 30 Ways to Motivate Adult Learners. You can read the entire post at: 

Flipping the Classroom Part Deux

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Back in September I wrote a blog post titled Mobile Learning and the Inverted Classroom. The basic concept behind the inverted-classroom model is that students watch lectures at home (via video) and do exercises in class the next day, with the teacher present, so that questions can be answered and problems solved on the spot. The goal is to increase student interaction with the material while they are with the teacher, and as one educator put it, ‘shift the cognitive load’, the explaining part of teaching, to the homework portion of teaching, thereby freeing up the teacher to tend to the individual needs of students.

Some say the flipped model is flawed because of the digital divide; however I’m not sure that applies when we’re talking about training the trainers in an academic setting. You will often see the flipped classroom referenced in the context of K-12 education, particularly in math. One of the links below talks about the flipped webinar specifically.

Below you’ll find links to blog posts written by educators about their experiences with flipping. Many of the posts remind us that flipping is a tool, not a panacea.

The Flipped (or Social) Webinar

How the flipped Classroom Is Radically Transforming Learning

The Flipped Class is Here to Stay

The Flipped Class: Shedding light on the confusion, critique, and hype

Why YouTube Will Never Replace Teachers

The Flipped Class Manifesto

The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality

The Flipped Class Network

Wrap Your Content in a Story

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

A recent post on Connie Malamed’s eLearning Coach Blog [] included an interview with Nancy Duarte, an author and graphic designer who focuses on presentations.

Nancy talked about oral tradition as an ancient art, but goes on to say it is an effective way to transfer knowledge to listeners during a presentation. Here is a short excerpt from the blog post that describes how to develop your story:

She wrote, “As a story framework, the structure should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There needs to be two clear turning points: first when it transitions from beginning to middle and then from middle to end.

We call the first turning point a Call to Adventure, because you’re asking your audience to suspend their current position and join you on a journey toward your position. The second turning point is a Call to Action which should state what’s expected of the audience. The middle should structurally move back and forth between what is and what could be. This helps the audience see the transformation you’re asking them to take on—whether it’s a new belief or a new behavior.”

Read the entire interview at:

Learner Engagement Soars! Read All About It!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I can hear myself say it…Any questions?

From Elliott Masie’s Learning Trends blog: 9 seconds – The number of seconds between the time an instructor asks a question and the next sound that they make! Unfortunately, most teachers ask, “Any questions?” and, in less than 3 seconds, start to speak again.” It takes a learner many seconds to recognize that you have stopped teaching and asked for a question, review what you said, evaluate what they would like to ask, formulate the question, raise their hand and then ask it! Not possible in 3 seconds!! Masie suggests to extend your wait time to at least 9 seconds in order to give learners a chance to formulate a question and respond.

Storytelling as a Teaching and Learning Tool

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Have you taught a class and had someone ask, why is this important to me? Stories are a means of engaging students, and can create a memorable way to process new information. The following link will take you to a posting by Connie Malamed, an eLearning, information and visual designer, with a Masters Degree in Instructional Design & Technology. Connie has posted 10 reasons why stories are important for learning.

Click here to read the posting