Reflection on the final presentation

Posted November 7, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: PPOCCID

I am currently enrolled in my concluding course to complete the Professional Certificate in Training from NYU.  The course is Practices and Principles of Online Course Creation and Instructional Design.  For the final presentation I will be team teaching a 30 minute online synchronous course with a classmate.  This will be my first attempt to teach an online course with another person and I am pretty excited about it.

When we were given the option to work on the final presentation with another person I almost instinctively thought it was a good idea.  Throughout my career, some of my most fulfilling and successful projects have been where I have worked collaboratively with a team.  There are many aspects of a collaboration that appeal to me.  I enjoy the dialog, the feedback, the combination of skill sets, the different perspectives, and the common objective.  I am a “people person” and I am energized by the opportunity to collaborate with a colleague.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the topic of ‘Online Team Teaching’ was discussed in our course text Discussion-Based Online Teaching To Enhance Student Learning by Tisha Bender.  Bender talks about the advantages and the potential problems to be considered when team teaching.  She suggests, (referring to Cranmer’s Team Teaching (1999)) “ideally, there should be an easy-going give and take, so that teachers can switch back and forth from being in the metaphorical driver’s seat to being in the back”.

Another idea Bender highlights regarding online team teaching is the ability for the teachers to simultaneously lead independent group discussions.  This is definitely something I am interested in experimenting with.  I think this would be a great way to facilitate debate and really engage an online classroom at an advanced level.

Another area that Bender discovered which needs to be carefully approached in online team teaching is grading.  Prior to the course the teaching team should discuss and decide on a method how they will evaluate the participants.  I hadn’t considered this at all.  Thanks Bender.

The design and development of our final presentation has transpired very smoothly.  We seem to make a good team.  Will we be as successful in the implementation of the instruction?  I have a hunch, but I’ll reserve my final evaluation for after our 30 minutes have come to pass.

What do you think about online team teaching?  Does the concept inspire you?  Or is it something you wouldn’t dare attempt?

Experience and Learning

Posted October 10, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: PPOCCID

I find myself coming to a certain conclusion a lot lately – that it’s all about awareness.  In the case of Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences, this is the key for me.  An instructor can be more effective when they are aware that the learners in their classrooms are a mixed group of learning styles.  I believe that creating instruction that engages the 7 different intelligences is essential to its success.  The instructor must be aware of their own learning biases as well.  Understanding of one’s personal intelligences will lead to an increased sensitivity and understanding of others.

Another inventory is Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory:

Kolb’s Inventory is based on Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) and uncovers 4 categories of learners: Accommodating, Assimilating, Converging and Diverging.  The following link provides the technical specifications for the actual LSI as well as a more in depth description of the 4 modes that are considered to determine an outcome for this inventory.

LSI Technical Specifications

According to Kolb, “Experiential learning is a process of constructing knowledge that involves a creative tension among the 4 learning modes that is responsive to contextual demands”.  I like this idea.  I believe that different learning styles should be attended to and I also believe that a learner can be “stretched” if engaged in activities that might not be presented in their fundamental learning style.

Do you think that the LSI provides valid assessments of learning styles?  Where might this inventory be best applied or most difficult to implement?  How does the LSI compare to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences when considering online learning?

Roles In Online Learning

Posted October 3, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: PPOCCID

Recently, a friend of mine pointed me toward the website of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).  Here I found a collection of compelling speeches that had been enhanced with a visual ‘white-board animation’ component.  I came across one called “The Secret Powers of Time” by Professor Philip Zimbardo.  Professor Zimbardo talks about how our brains are getting “digitally re-wired” by the long hours spent playing video games, and our daily interactions with computers.  He argues that traditional classrooms are failing (“in America, a child drops out of school every 9 seconds”) because classrooms tend to be passive and these kids have no control over what they are learning as opposed to the computer environment where they have absolute control.

He starts talking about education @ 5:40 if you want to skip right to it.  If you have 10:09 I recommend watching it from the beginning.  Very Interesting stuff.

During our discussion in class about the roles of the instructor, the learner and the content in online education I immediately thought about this video.  I wasn’t able to verbalize my thoughts completely in class, but I remember saying something to the effect of “people spend lots of time in front of their computers and that it just makes sense for education to take advantage of the same technology that we utilize for work and leisure”.

The next generation of our workforce will be this generation that has this active and instant relationship with assimilating information through technology.  We need to get a handle on how to make training and education successful for the next generation.  This might seem like jumping far ahead, but I think that this is where the online classroom needs to be headed.  Utilizing the technology to make the instruction increasingly engaging, flexible, and interactive will be essential to reaching the next generations of learners.

What do you think?  Will the instruction of tomorrow look like the World of Warcraft?  Will we still have some of our training and instruction led by real people?  Also, please comment on the issue of gender in regard to what is mentioned in the video – -is the idea of becoming “digitally re-wired” more a phenomenon in white middle class males or is this effecting a wider population?

Tell me why.

Posted June 17, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: Fundamentals of Training 1

About a year ago, I took an undergrad level Psychology 101 course and upon it’s completion I was ‘jazzed’!  It felt like I had an entirely new perspective and understanding of the way humans function.

I remember thinking that this kind of introduction to human psychology should be a required class for seniors in high school.  I was convinced that this basic understanding of brain function was crucial for a young person (who was about to be let loose on the world) to be aware of.

However, my next thought was that I was sure I wasn’t the first person ever to suggest this and that there must be a reason why a course like this wasn’t mandatory, or even an option, for me as a high school student.

Question:

Taking into consideration what we have been learning regarding the differences between adult and childhood learning, do you think the subject of psychology would be lost on the majority of high school adolescents?  If so, why?  Also, do you think that having a jump start on this information would increase the level of emotional intelligence of a newly graduated high school student?

A critical question.

Posted June 15, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: Fundamentals of Training 1

As a learner, I usually need to understand the rationale behind a task before I wholeheartedly embrace it.  I consider myself a skeptic.  I’ve often felt that the word ‘skeptic’ had a negative connotation attached to it.  I’ve come to realize that my skepticism is just another way to describe my analytical nature and my tendency for thinking critically.

When asked to participate in surveys like the CIQ, I move unconsciously toward my inner skeptic.  What is the motivation behind this questionnaire?  Who will benefit from its data?  What are the short-term or long-term goals associated with it?  What are the consequences of my non-participation?  WHY CAN’T I SEEM TO THINK OF ANYTHING TO WRITE ON THIS PIECE OF PAPER RIGHT NOW!

By the time I finish a CIQ (lately that’s in the last few minutes of a 3 to 8 hour class) I am in no mood for reflection.  Without a deliberate analysis of the CIQ, its greater meaning might have remained lost my analytical mind forever.

After reading and reflecting on Brookfield’s analysis of the CIQ, I am beginning to comprehend the depth of its potential from both a teacher’s perspective as well as a learner’s perspective.  The CIQ can be a very effective tool to encourage learners to think critically and be reflective of their learning experience.  For teachers it can be a way to build trust through adapting to learner’s needs and to be alerted of any disconnect that might be happening with the group.

Question:

After closer analysis of the CIQ, were you surprised by its potential?  Which aspects could you most effectively utilize in your work as a trainer (or as an adult learner)?

This is critical!

Posted June 10, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: Fundamentals of Training 1

I’ve been reading this book, Learning in Adulthood by Merriam et al., and things have been moving along pretty smoothly.  Nothing really jumping out at me, . . . . UNTIL!

I get to a heading called CRITICAL THEORY AND ADULT LEARNING.  I read about seven “learning tasks” that comprise one of Brookfield’s learning theories.  Check this out.  This is how it goes:

1. Challenging ideology, 2. Contesting hegemony, 3. Umasking power, 4. Overcoming alienation, 5. Learning liberation, 6. Reclaiming reason, and 7. Practicing democracy.

Is this a tall order or what???  I mean, really. Overcoming alienation!  Learning liberation!?

Personally, I think that this is some great stuff to think about.

Here’s my question:

Do you think that these learning tasks are valid in what you do on a daily basis?  Are there some that get presented more than others?  How might you incorporate other aspects of critical theory in your work?

Learning to snowboard . . . again!

Posted June 3, 2010 by frontrangetrainer
Categories: Fundamentals of Training 1

My first snowboard season as a Coloradan came to an end as I left the parking lot of Summit County’s Arapahoe Basin last week.  A-Basin (as it is referred to by locals) isn’t one of the bigger ski areas, but with it’s base elevation at 10,780 feet it has one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado.  (To put the elevation into perspective, the base elevation is almost 2,000 feet higher than larger, more well known ski areas like Breckenridge and Vail)  This season I made the trip out to the slopes 12 times.  It was the most days I had ever ridden in a single year.

At the beginning of the season I thought that it would be a good idea to take some lessons as I was mainly a self taught snowboarder.  My skill level had never really been an issue because I had a natural knack for the sport and I rarely ever rode more than 4 times a year.  With the knowledge that I would be riding more than I ever had, I was afraid that I might start to develop bad form or reinforce hard to break bad habits.  A friend told me about a special lessons package, but by the time I called to sign up, the special deal was no longer available.  I proceeded to ride the entire season, sans lessons.

I made a conscious effort to observe riders that displayed good form and I would ask fellow riders I met on the ski lift about what they knew of technique.  In retrospect I think I did pretty well.  I didn’t once get injured and I believe that I improved as a rider.

In anticipation for next season, I have signed up for the special lessons package already.

Here’s a question that I hope you will comment on:

Do you think that by snowboarding these 12 days this past season I actually improved my long term ability and skill in the sport or do you think that I will find that I have made it more difficult for myself to learn from an instructor next season and tougher to break any bad habits I might have developed?