I did it! I just turned in my last assignment for my Masters degree. What an amazing experience it has been. I am feeling such a deep sense of accomplishment. The last two years have been a whirlwind of deadlines and projects. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go back to school, to make so many new wonderful friends, and to have grown so much professionally and personally. Now onto the graduation ceremony!

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A great way to assess learning, when you can’t perform a formal assessment, is to demonstrate learner improvement via a pre- and post- Likert Scale strategy. You just take the objectives of the course, and have the student self-report their own knowledge in a quick survey. It takes very little time to design (since it’s based off of the course objectives), very little time to participate in (3-7 questions with no wrong answers), and if you have the student fill it out in class, you will have 100% participation.

genericLikert

Ideally, you would be able to perform a formal assessment of the learner’s knowledge. When you are unable to, at the very least you should perform a Likert pre- and post- assessment to demonstrate to the learner their personal development.

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I recently had a conversation with a huge corporation about their needs assessment and course development process. I was happily surprised to hear that they perform a formal needs assessment which includes onsite assessment, and a focus group process. I’ve spent the last few weeks pondering why that came as a surprise to me. It’s such an important part of the instructional design process, and is one that I’ve been taught should be the basis for all course development efforts.

I realize we are often given very little time to do our work, but the power behind the feedback you can get from a focus group is just that…it’s powerful. In addition to critiquing several courses, I’ve had the pleasure to facilitate a couple of focus groups now: one especially comes to mind. We had been giving the same basic course for years, and just as a checkin, we decided to hold a quick focus group after the last day. We asked for volunteers, and had three students offer to stay a bit later the last day, bribing them with pastries.

Overview of Our Questions for the Group

  • What was their overall view of the course?
  • Was it of value to them?
  • How did they feel about the instructor’s teaching style?
  • What activity had the most impact?
  • Would they remove an activity?
  • Did they find anything lacking, or glossed over?
  • How could we add to the course to make it more meaningful?

The suggestions we walked away with helped to support the learners in that recent class, as well as future students. The number one thing the participants were asking for was procedural knowledge; enabling them to act and do things, or perform tasks. The general leadership course was too high level, and not detailed enough on actual steps for how to perform in their new roles. The result was we developed a new course on performance management for the new leaders to take in conjunction with the more general course.

We all know that post-course surveys are very seldom filled out. That’s one of the things that was so great about doing the in-person focus group right after class. The course was fresh in their minds, and was on a volunteer basis. We actually had more people participate in that focus group than we were getting via the online likert scales.

 

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This term I’m taking a class on Facilitating Live Events. We’ve been asked to discuss CARP (Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity) in its relation to presentation design.

Contrast: This can take many forms. Whether it’s contrasting color, size, shade, or even font choice, you want a good deal of contrast in your layouts.

Alignment: You can bring focus to an element by changing it’s alignment, or naturally guide the viewer’s attention by keeping a nice alignment to your slide. I always design on a grid layout with columns.

Repetition: I actually prefer the word consistency here. There should be one style for headlines, and a complimentary readable body font treatment. There should be a consistent layout to your slides, rather than each looking like their own presentation.

Proximity: This is grouping things that belong together, and keeping the illustration or diagram with the topic.

While I employ all of these approaches in my layouts, I think that proximity is probably the most important aspect in presentations. It is really difficult to understand the point, when the supporting graphics do not appear with the lesson. Think back to any school book you read in K12. Did you have to search for a diagram or chart? That disruption to the learning is tiresome, and you’ve lost your audience if you employ that method. Most learners don’t appreciate having to search for the information.

Initially I had searched for a good and bad example to illustrate a bad PowerPoint screen. Ultimately I decided to create my own.

Here is a very, very, very bad design example. If you’re talented enough to read any of it, then you’ll likely have a giggle:

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 9.37.45 AM

And here would be a much better solution:

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 10.05.47 AM

I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of “Death by Powerpoint” by now. If you aren’t, check out this funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbSPPFYxx3o

 

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