Monday, September 15, 2014

Three Creative Techniques for Teaching Technical Content

If you are an educator teaching technical content such as Microsoft Excel or other software, many of your students may have had learning experiences that are lecture based or had teachers that employ "show and go" methods.  These students may be so familiar with these passive training approaches that they begin to prefer passive approaches to more effective training approaches which ask the students to explain of technical information and provides opportunities for practicing the new skills.

The question is......

How do you accommodate students' preferences and still use creative facilitation techniques to make the learning active?


Here are three ideas:

1. Acknowledge students' comfort level with lecture and demonstration

Tell students that you plan to use a lighter, shorter version of a lecture in the beginning of the class.  In other words, you will avoid long boring lecture by encouraging participation and offering variety when you must deliver information.  Use demonstrations to introduce technical information and processes.  Remember, your demonstrations also will include practice so that students get a chance to try and apply new skills for themselves.  A good practice for teaching technical content is the 20-80 rule where 20% lecture and 80% demonstration and practices.

2. Recognize the importance of students' roles in acquiring the new knowledge and skills

Share "what's in it for them" with students.  Communicating clearly the benefits of active learning will encourage students to remain involved in the class.  One benefit is that people remember a lot more of what they say and do than what you say and do.  It's called active learning.  The more you involve student throughout the class, the more they will remember and be able to apply after the class.  Students must relate the new material to concepts they already understand.  Teachers must give students a chance to connect the new experiences to previous ones in order to help them learn.  The connections are often made during demonstration, practice and active experiences.

3. Use technical exercises that are relevant to students' environment

One style of exercise is a troubleshooting challenge.  You can set up technology that students use during the class.  This could be a machine, simulation, or software program - essentially anything technical that requires using a successful process to complete a task.  Then invite and ask participants to break the technical item, either by using an approach provided by the teacher in a handout or by relying on their own experience for challenges with the technology.  Once the technology is broken, students work individually to fix the situation.

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Article credits: ASTD Press 2011: Creative Facilitation Techniques for Training

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eight Steps of Learning Journey

Learning does not happen just in a class or a single event.  Learning is a journey.  An effective learning is supported by various steps.  I called it the "Learning Journey".  This learning journey includes eight essential steps.  I shared the first step "Prepare Me to Learn" in details in my previous post.  Click here to check it out.

I created this infographic below to show what the "Learning Journey" looks like for a learner. This applies to all subject matters. This is what I use to create my lesson plans, e-learning courses and instructor-led classes.  Feel free to download this infographic and share with other educators.  I'll share more details about each step in the future posts, so stay tuned!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

How to prepare my student to learn?

In my previous posts, I discussed how people learn.  

Have you ever wondered how to prepare the student, so he or she can learn and retain the most out of a teaching or tutoring session?

How to prepare my student to learn?
That is what we are going to talk about today – prepare my student to learn.  Of course, it can also apply to ourselves (as learners) when we need to learn something new.  The preparation phase for a teaching or tutoring session should contain these three elements:

  • Set expectations, or simply let students know in advance what they are going to learn in the class.  Refer to my post about “Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Learning Objective” to learn more about writing effective learning objects to set the stage right.

  • Obtain commitment.  Communicate the benefits the student will receive when he or she has mastered the new skills.  This creates an openness to learning because the learner perceives a potential personal gain in applying the knowledge and/or skills you want him or her to master.

  • Preparatory skills. Indicate any prerequisite the student needs before taking the class.  In addition, have student complete any pre-assessment and pre-assignment prior to attending the class.

The preparation for learning affects the attitude with which the student regards the discomfort of change, so next time, don’t forget to include these in preparing the student to learn!

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Art of Asking Questions

Asking good questions are powerful in unleashing wisdom and curiosity

I think this statement applies to many situations, especially tutoring.  Quality questions that you ask your students have a multiplier effect on learning.  Asking an understanding-seeking question will help you unleash a more powerful chain of events.  

So how can educators or tutors start this insight-curiosity-wisdom chain?

One major starter is the understanding-seeking question.  Here are some tips:


Pause

Silence can be golden.  Pause after asking a question.  However, if the student does not answer your question in 10 seconds, he or she may need you to redirect or clarify the questions.  In addition, know that eye contact can also be important in conveying an in the student's answers.

Think

Think before you ask.  Determine what you seek to learn from your student, and then choose questions that will take you there.  You may have a tendency to craft questions that give you the answer you were looking for.  Ensure your approach does not make the student feel as though he or she is on trial.

Start with a setup statement

Before you ask a question to your student, it is a good practice to start with a setup statement.  This simple change will make your questions more powerful because it helps sender and receive to be on the same page.

Ask Questions that require higher-level thinking

The goal is to create insight, not just to share information.  The main objective is to nurture understanding and growth, not just exchange facts.  Prepare questions that require the student to dig deep.

Avoid questions that begin with "why"

A question that begins with "why" may be perceived as judgmental for some cultures.  Try use "what are the reasons......" or "walk me through your though process about......" to unveil the hidden facts or reasons.

Example

One of my students told me that he failed the math quiz.  The conversation went like this:

  • Student: I studied so hard but I still failed the quiz last friday!
  • Me: So can you please show me what questions you got wrong?
  • Student: Sure. Here are the questions...
  • Me: Can you walk me through how you got your answer for question #2?
  • Student: Sure.  Here are the steps......
  • Me: Great.  Can you please explain the reasons of taking these steps?

You get the idea.  As you can see, the goal here is to dig deeper and facilitate understanding-seeking questions and answers.  This will help students to think further and dig deeper.

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Source: Talent Management Magazine, August 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Instructor-led or Virtual Classroom?

Some of you (fellow educators) may wonder which delivery method is best for your students when it comes down to instructor-led classroom versus virtual classroom.  It is a valid question and there is no right or wrong answer for choosing one over another.

In this post, I'll be sharing when I choose instructor-led versus virtual classroom.

Use Instructor-led classroom (Face-to-face)


when......

  • The learning objectives require hands-on work process observation.
  • Participant motivation is low.
  • There is a low development budget.
  • Nonverbal communication, leadership, interpersonal skills, or in-person group interaction is required.
  • The content is politically sensitive.
  • The class seeks to change attitudes in addition to skills and/or knowledge. Click here to learn more about skills, knowledge and attitudes.

Use Virtual classroom (WebEx, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, etc)


when......

  • The audience is geographically dispersed.
  • There are few facilitators available, or you are the only teacher.
  • The participant population is rather homogeneous in knowledge of the content area.
  • There are a moderate number of participants.
  • Participants would benefit from interaction with other participant.
  • The training is a combination of knowledge and skills. Click here to learn more about skills, knowledge and attitudes.

So which method do you use?


Source from ASTD Designing Learning Program

Monday, August 4, 2014

$1,250-an-hour Tutor

Believe it or not, this tutor makes up to $1,250 an hour


I just saw this news from NBC today: A 33-year-old Indiana native who went to Notre Dame and got his masters at Oxford in philosophy and geology before becoming a high school teach in Washington, D.C.  His name is Nathaniel Hannan.  He makes up to $1,250 an hour.  (Click here to read the original news)


He loves to teach (just like me!) and he tutors the children of wealthy families.  Did I mention?  He makes up to $1,250 an hour.  It's the same tutoring business, but different clients.  His clients are millionaires and billionaires who are seeking at-home teachers to give their children a hand in the increasingly competitive and vital education race.  As the number of rich people grows around the world and as they split their time between different countries, they are creating their own home schools.

Before reading this news, I had never heard of this tutoring agency that hires and places tutors in the U.S. for rich families, but now I know!  The agency is called Tutors International, a London-based agency.  I can't believe the typical salary for a full-time tutor today is between $70,000 and $120,000 depending on the requirements.  What sounds outrageous is that Tutors International has placed one tutor who is making $400,000 a year and another who was paid $80,000 for just 16 weeks of work.  

What's even better? These tutors also get free housing, cars or drivers, paid travel and meals, and occasionally even a private cook and personal assistant.  I often thought I was in the wrong business - education. Boy, I was not totally wrong.  We tutors still have hope!

You know what's next? I am going to check out this tutoring agency and see what we tutors can do to help the rich kids across the globe.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Articulate Replay Testing

Yesterday I installed a trial version of Articulate Reply (part of Articulate Storyline download) and tested several features such as audio, video and timeline.  The program is pretty straight forward and fun.  However, it only provides two tracks of audio and/or video editing.  Therefore, I have to use iMovie to add the music background to the video.


Feel free to check out the following video I created using Articulate Replay and iMovie.  If you happen to be learning Chinese, this video show you how to say "How much is it?" in Chinese!  Enjoy.



Have you used Articulate Replay before?  What do you think of the program