Couple cool shots from today.
Couple cool shots from today.
Too bad it’s supposed to snow the next couple of days. Spring is in full effect today.
Cleaning out a soap container, and the bubbles made this really pretty complex shape.
Played around with effects in camera. Kinda fun.
I’ve been trying for years to get a good shot of a raven. Now I’ve got three!
Noticed this corroded parking marker the other day, and it spoke to me. Is accessibility broken? Something to ponder…
Took a little day trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. If you haven’t already been there, you should definitely check it out. They have refurbished the visitors center, and it is free to all visitors.
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!
Loving the gorgeous flowers Murphy and I see on our daily walk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a final project, in Planning and Facilitating Live Events (INTE 5670), I’m hosting a free webinar May 3, 2018 at 6pm MST. I will send the link to the event to the first 5 people that email me. firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you soon!
Just received my new business cards and holder from Moo.com. Gorgeous!
I recently held a 15 minute webinar on how to make a layer mask in Photoshop. It’s amazing how quickly 15 minutes passes. Here is the recording:
Just watched this TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson on teaching creatively. I especially loved his story about Death Valley. That even when things look dead, or absent, they are just dormant; waiting for the right conditions to flourish.
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:
And here would be a much better solution:
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
I am an avid consumer of online educational materials, and one of the common delivery methods is a webinar. This (my last) term in my graduate program, we are learning about how to design and facilitate live online events, and about what makes certain webinars great, while others fall short. I decided to perform my review of a webinar that was presented by a well-known eLearning professional, whom I very much respect and admire.
The theme of this webinar was the creation of infographics. Here are the major topics that were to be addressed:
One of the downfalls of a webinar, is that it is difficult to get the audience’s attention. Often people will be checking their email, speaking with their coworkers, grabbing a cup of coffee, etc. Their are a few common methods for engaging the audience throughout the presentation: using polls, knowledge checks, breakout rooms, pre- and post-tests, encouraging chat functions, etc. This webinar included the following active learning strategies:
Your audience’s time is a precious thing, and so your presentation should be of value to their personal or professional development. In addition to including handouts at the end of your presentation, the webinar should include actionable methods. In this case, the speaker gave the following advice on designing infographics:
Since a webinar is an audio/visual presentation, it’s important to apply solid graphic design methods (such as CARP), as well as having clear audio. Here are my notes on the audio/visual layout:
Here are the aspects that I felt worked well, and would like to employ in my own webinar design and facilitation:
Here are my thoughts on what could have been improved:
Although I have worked on many teams throughout my life, I have never received any formal training/education on how to be a strong team leader, or member for that matter. As an extroverted, organized, and ambitious person, I have naturally fallen into a leadership role multiple times. I have been a project manager many times but have not been a manager of people directly reporting to me yet. One of my personal and professional development goals is to become a stronger leader: one that is persuasive, inclusive and motivating to others.
The following links are resources that I’ve found useful in my leadership journey. Rather than an abbreviated list, I’ve chosen to provide notes for each entry on why I chose the link, and what especially resonated with me.
Personality tests are a heated topic these days. In fact, I was just listening to NPR’s The Hidden Brain, and there was an episode discussing their merits and downfalls. Unfortunately, some people have been discriminated at work due to the outcome of tests such as these. They have missed out on opportunities because, “that’s just not your personality” reactions to assigning work. I do find value in introspection though, and suggest their use as a personal development tool. For example, the Myers Briggs test (MBTI) is one that describes me very well. The other two popular tests listed below were inconclusive when I took them.
Much of my findings revolved around the power of being positive and mindful. I had expected to learn a plethora of specific approaches to “rally the troops,” but instead there were many more suggestions on not only modeling the kind of behavior that you want your team to display, but also extending empathy, recognition, and trust as a powerful motivational tool. One of the quotes that most resonated with me is the opening quote for the Coaching for Leaders Podcast, “Great leaders are not born, they are made.” Having had quite a bit of leadership and teamwork practice on a wide variety of projects, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and about the power of great teamwork. I’m looking forward to one day becoming a manager/team leader in an organization with direct reports.
Bolton, R. (1979). People skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts. Simon & Schuster, New York, New York.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Penguin Random House, New York, New York.
Duarte, N. (2010). Resonate: Present visual stories that transform audiences. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization. Boston, Mass. Harvard Business School Press.
Kiewra, K. (2012). Idea Paper #51: Using graphic organizers to improve teaching and learning. IDEAedu.org, Manhattan, KS. Retrieved from: http://www.ideaedu.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/IDEA%20Papers/IDEA%20Papers/PaperIDEA_51.pdf
Keirsey, D. (1998). Please understand me II: Temperament, character, intelligence. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis.
Komisar, R. (2001). The monk and the riddle: The art of creating a life while making a living. Randy Komisar, US.
Lombardo, M. M, & Eichinger, R. W. (2009). FYI: For your improvement : a guide for development and coaching. 5th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Lominger Ltd.
Stachowiak, D. (2018). Coaching for Leaders Podcast: Episode 334: How to be a happier person. Retrieved from: https://coachingforleaders.com/podcast/334/
Stanley, A. (2017) Leadership Podcast: How to lead when you’re not in charge, Part 1. Retrieved from: http://andystanley.com/how-to-lead-when-youre-not-in-charge-part-1/
Found a stark white feather resting on some dormant winter grass this afternoon. So beautiful.
In order to address cost concerns from students, Boise State developed high enrollment online courses, in addition to their existing online courses. Their goal was to maintain a high level of learner engagement, address the realities of competition from other educational institutions and reduced State funding, and to reduce bottlenecking of student enrollment. It was a mixed-method study of 3 high enrollment online health studies classes.
When I first began reading this study, I thought the tone was one of maximizing the school’s profit. But as I read on, it was more about trying to deal with their explosive growth, and ensure that their students wouldn’t have their graduation delayed because they couldn’t enroll in a required course due to high enrollment.
Another strength was how thorough the college acted in rolling out the approach. The teachers of the courses and their TAs designed the courses, they partnered with experts at Blackboard to troubleshoot technical issues, each course was thoroughly reviewed by instructional design experts, and then reviewed again by instructors at the school before it was offered to students.
The course discussion, quizzes and study guides were designed to be self-graded. I wondered how the students could consider that engaging. I also think there is a good reason why the students thought the online course was better described: that as an online student you can go back and review materials as many times as you like, whereas ILT course understanding depends on initial comprehension and notes. As a student that strives to get A’s, I found it interesting that more students got A’s and less received B’s than usual. They explained this by addressing how online learning requires a higher level of participation and attention/study habits. Overall the online students reported spending less time in class online than suggested in the syllabus. That was also of interest to me, as I usually spend twice the recommended time in online courses. The biggest limitation, by far, was that the data was collected after the fact, not during.
I really loved that the courses were standardized in their layouts. Each course included a weekly summary of readings, quizzes, and learning materials. That’s been one of the issues I’ve had with our program, is the lack of consistency in course outline and expectations. It frustrates the learner when they have to spend (often) precious time searching for due dates and parameters.
Chen, K., Lowenthal, P. R., & Bauer, C. (2016). Effectiveness and student perceptions of high-enrolment health studies online courses. Health Education Journal, 75(3), 343-357. 10.1177/0017896915581060
The study was of 167 minority students in 6 different online undergraduate classes. The overall findings were, “learner–content interaction and learner–instructor interaction were significant predictors for student satisfaction in online settings in which group activities were not provided.” Providing interaction with the content, other students, and with the instructor seems to boost the perceived value of the course, and the learner outcome (ie. grade).
I haven’t found many reports on minority student studies for online learning, so I consider that to be a strength: that they approach a little-covered topic.
I found myself wondering about the learner-instructor interaction in this study. They emphasized the importance of that relationship for motivation and comprehension. I wanted them to quantify how much interaction was given in the online course vs. a comparable instructor-led course. There were many classes in my undergraduate program that provided very little interaction with the instructor. In contrast, I’ve actually had more interaction in this online graduate program.
This study argued that the two most important factors for positive student perception, and therefore learner success, were the learner-content and learner-instructor interactions, rather than learner-learner. With solid instructional design theory applied the content, rather than specific interactions such as games, the learner will be able to succeed. Equally important was that the instructor had quality and regular interaction with those in the course. Since the majority of the courses I develop are self-paced and asynchronous, I will look for opportunities to humanize the learning. Some of the ways I can do that: provide a video intro, use narration, provide robust feedback to testing and practice testing, to provide help and resource links, and continue to use a conversational tone in the instruction.
Kuo, Y., & Belland, B. R. (2016). An exploratory study of adult learners’ perceptions of online learning: Minority students in continuing education. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 661-680. 10.1007/s11423-016-9442-9
A common, and often accurate, perception of online courses is that they are boring for the learners. Recently, I was interviewing for a position, and at the end of the second hour I was asked, “What would you do in technical courses in order to make them more engaging for the learner?” It was actually the hardest question of the day to answer, as it can depend on the course itself. How I answered was by describing my process of aligning objectives, providing opportunities for practice, creating visually rich GUI’s and downloads. As I was answering, I was really thinking to myself, “But how do you ensure that the learners are engaged and aren’t bored out of their minds?” I haven’t stopped thinking about it, as it really is one of the most crucial questions an eLearning Developer can (and should) ask themselves.
There are many elements that I like to include in the courses that I build. For yearly compliance (such as Ethics) trainings, I prefer to allow the learner test out, rather than suffer through an hour long course. This isn’t always an option though, because most HR departments want legal proof that every employee has viewed each page, and passed the test. Supposing that’s the case, how would you make that course more engaging for the learners? My first inclination would be to suggest the use of professional, current photography; to use realistic scenarios that are specific to the company’s workplace; to provide a ‘choose your path’ style navigation so that the learners could see the repercussions of their choices; and to provide downloadable/printable resources of value for future reference.
Having had some experience with building engaging courses, and many that are less than, I was curious what other methods I would discover to engage my learners.
Having viewed the provided video tutorials, I searched the Auraria library for my topic. The search parameters I used were: online learner engagement; then I added adults; then I added asynchronous, 1/1/16-12/31/18, scholarly materials, discipline: education,
I feel as though I just discovered a whole new internet. This is my first course on research, and I didn’t realize how important peer reviewed materials were. I learned several things during my search. The first would be that you need to be pretty specific in what you are looking for, since there is such a massive amount of material to source from. I feel like the range of the 6 papers I downloaded was too wide, and I will need to narrow them a lot more for the final project. I read each of the papers completely, and found it interesting the wide range of tone. I had expected them to be quite stuffy. Perhaps because this is my field of interest, I didn’t struggle with digesting the majority of materials. There was one example that was written very conversationally (as compared to the rest), and another that was extremely technical. The second major thing I noticed was that all of the materials mentioned Constructivism Theory. I will be looking more into that theory with a renewed interest, as it appears to be the most popular approach when it comes to engaging online learners. While I didn’t learn any new methods for making my online courses more engaging (they touched on methods I am familiar with), I did learn a lot about the research process.