Opening General Session: From Teaching to Learning: A Best Practices Instructional Model

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At 9:30am on 11/12/19 at the Scott North Campus of Wake Technical Community College, I attended the Opening General Session: From Teaching to Learning: A Best Practices Instructional Model presented by Dr. Mark Taylor of Taylor Programs.

Opening General Session: From Teaching to Learning: A Best Practices Instructional Model

Dr. Taylor is dedicated to helping faculty and staff better understand and improve their skills in working with students for learning, development, persistence and workplace readiness. While he makes his literature available and offer links to other resources, he feels he is most effective when offering programs and workshops at schools and conferences. He has visited community and technical colleges, universities, private and professional schools from Massachusetts to California, Minnesota to Texas, and in Canada, as well as presenting at conferences across the country and in Australia, Canada, Ireland and Denmark.

This workshop intends to help faculty understand and transition to a researched, informed, best practices model of teaching and learning designed to help students more effectively reach learning outcomes across a range of cognitive and affective domains, especially around higher order reasoning skills. Methods to increase student activity, engagement, investment, responsibility for their own learning and ownership of desired class outcomes will be discussed, described, and demonstrated. The focus on improving persistence and workplace readiness, as well as learning will be paramount to this presentation.

Our presentation will be a summation of a full-day presentation. It will be the best lecture on not giving lectures that we may ever hear. Milenials initial press was so wrong. Current Millenials are entitled and teaching is our responsibility while learning is not their responsibility.

The Generation NeXt writings have been very well received by people. They might be worth reading.

Many millenials graduates find that school is hard, and some need 8 months to sit and recover. Children who grow up being told they’re important only want to work for companies that say that they are important, and changing the world.

His latest pieces on pedagogy of milennial theories and practices constitute a single idea but was broken into 3 pieces to be effective.


What is Our Place?

Community college is required to the ecosystem of education. We are the statue of liberty of education: give us the poor, academically weak or unready, your first generation, your EFL & ESL… we will meet them and help them to achieve.

  1. Access to higher education
    1. open admissions / welcoming to all / affordable
    2. this place or no place
  2. High expectations / academic rigor
    1. comparable academic standards
    2. workplace readiness
  3. support / nurturing environment
    1. They need to hear it. They need to know it
    2. They need services that meet their needs
    3. Then need people who care about their needs

Colleges are structured to provide instructions. They should not be. They should be structured to bring about learning. we need to switch our thinking from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. Its less about us, and more about the students

College teaching is the strangest profession. We train people to do so many different tasks, but then we ask some of them to teach what they have learned. When hired, we’re often asked to “give us a show”. We do what we’re not trained to do. we do what teaching looked like when they were taught. Faculty people are folks of good will who want students to learn, and doing their best to bring about that learning.

We are not discussing what most classes do. MOst classes are an active teacher talking to a passive student. WHo does the work and learns the material? the faculty person. It is not a traditional “faith-based instruction”, but instead do what research tells us works.

If a doctor said: “You have the flu, and I’m gonna bleed ya!” we’d want to know if that’s really the most effective way to solve it. In higher ed, the most effective instruction is happening in Community colleges. Because we care and act passionately. lowest learning comes from research-based institutions, because best teachers are researching.

Most learning is just regurgitation. We need students who do more reasoning and less remembering.


“Whoever Does The Work, Does The Learning”

Teaching is not delivery or transfer. we cannot put learning in the head, but in fact we can only give it to students. We must direct, help, and motivate students to do the hard, cognitive work of their own learning. If improves responsibility, agency, efficacy.

Millenials feel its our job to teach them, and that its not their job to learn. Learning is their job. They develop the traits from recipient to active learner. From extrinsic learner to intrinsic learning.

vocational education is so skills based that youre probably putting the responsibility on the student already. However, the learning and knowledge portion should enjoy as much informative learning.

  • Learning based on student activity / Engagement. What work or activity did you do to come to class today?
  • Efforts to develop student investment.
  • Everything is in the service of higher level outcomes. I teach beyond the context of what you need to do a single skill
  • Learning should look like the outcome.
  • Non-negotiable compliance. Everybody plays, opting out is not a n option or choice. there are academic expectations.
  • Leverage a range of tools to keep learning active and up to date.

Some teachers say that teaching is not a priority. some classes are actively resisting new teaching and methods.


Pedagogy of Formation

takeaway knowledge information (remembering understanding)

skills should be improved or professional (apply, analyze, evaluate)

values should be achieved and held dear (producing quality protfolio-level work, self-worth, caring about these and willing to do this)


What the workplace wants

Looking at what workplaces want/need. You won’t see remember on here anywhere. Hart research for aacu 2016. All items wanted are higher order thinking.

  1. critical thinking and analytical reasonsing
  2. apply knolwedge and skill to real work provlems
  3. effective oral communication
  4. work effectively in teams
  5. communicate effectively in writing…


Why Best Practices?

  • lasting remembering.
  • skills development
  • reasoning evluation and critical thinking
  • increases student persistence
  • from static to growth mindset

NeXT Pedagogy for today’s learners

  1. improve students future orientation
    1. Don’t talk to students; talk to the professional they aspire to become
  2. identify class goals/link to students’ goals
    1. help student understand the why/benefits fo the course
    2. affective engagement/investments/motivation
    3. menu of benefits. Write what you want to do for a living. Find 3 items that are important to you. add 1 that isn’t on the list. Turn to your neighbor, find out what you agree on, and come to an agreement. They will talk themselves into valuing your class.
    4. Come to the understanding of cognizance dissonance. Activity in learning allows our students to value the course and believe more.
  3. improve student understanding of class expectations
    1. Teach each student how to be effective, self-responsive learning
  4. Move the learning out of class
    1. I cannot do the work for you, but I will help you to do the work and learn the skills so that you succeed.
    2. Any reading or remembering component can be moved out of the classroom. Any video can be created and given to students
    3. The easiest way to get started is to just get started.
  5. Create the necessity of preparing for and attending class
    1. student must prepare for my class
    2. students are mostly prepared
    3. students can succeed without preparation
    4. I check homework for completion

Ensuring preparation and attendance

Check student’s preparation before each class. Check materials at the door, give points for preparation.

Did you know WHAT to do? Are you ABLE to do it? are you WILLING to do what it takes to be successful?

Email absent students. Anything we can do to make you successful in the classroom?

When you get to class, get them working. Guide students to the hard work of their own learning. They need to actively learn, apply analyze and evaluate, and then cover affective worthy choices. Practice effectively, and demonstrate that activity and/or procedure. They will have more understanding, especially if they see how it will effect them in the future.

Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT

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On 3/7/19 at 9:00am, I attended the North Carolina Computer Instructors Association Conference Session Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT at the SCITECH Building at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC presented by Jill West, instructor at Georgia Northwestern community college.


Training UP: Lifelong Learning In IT

JIll West mentioned in the opening that she was very pleased with the NCCIA, and was interested in grabbing a similar conference in their area. Not quite sure how to do so, but she was very interested in making that happen.

Mostly, she is teaching intro to computers. It deals with a range of students from “no idea how to right-click” and others who “have built their own computers”. She can bring both psychology and cognitive psych to the table on thinking, learning, how do we process, learn and experience the world differently.

We started with some quick informational questions.

Myth or Truth?


Different learning styles and we learn best when taught to our best style.



If we continue to teach to the students, that’s how they learn. If you teach to the best way for the content, and also include several different modalities, you’ll find greater success. Especially if you’re using multiple different modalities.



Left-brained people think more logically?



People use one side of the brain more for specific tasks. Neither our personality characteristics nor cognition are determined by dominance.


Intelligence is fluid and can change based on mindset and environment?



Acknowledging a genuine effort and progress rather than their inborn talent encourages students to try harder and take more risks, which increases performance success.

Its important to see education as a journey, not a destination. View mistakes and setbacks as catalysts for growth without ignoring the need for standards of achievement.

Slide8Progression of technology. We’ve been teaching about technology that is older than the classes we’re teaching. Students that we’ve taught 10 years ago or 5 years ago are already outdated. How can we future-proof our students?

Learned some new techniques by practicing or using natural curiosity. What skills were I using? Audio, visual cues, experimentation, trial and error.


Are we learning things outside of our teaching-specific activities? What is it like getting back into the shoes of our students? Remember what its like for our students. As you’re looking at the class material, remember. When you leave here today, try to learn something new.


How do we get past those humps?

Monitor your own learning. Step back and say “here’s what I’m learning”, “what don’t I know”, “what do I need to learn what I don’t know?”. We need to be able to teach our students how to do this.

What did it feel like for you to learn. Why were you learning it? What worked best for you to learn it.


Progression of learning

We need to keep this learning going.


We learned a new skill in the class, an incapacitating hand grab

What was it like us?

Was it awkward to stand up? Was it awkward to touch anouther person? Was it awkward to learn an awkward skill set? How about walking through the steps? Who’s a germaphobe? Sometimes we couldn’t see what was happening. Sometimes there was a disconnect between what you wanted to do and what you saw or could do. Some people found it to be fun, engaging, and exciting. One said that they would not even know that they could do that. All these ideas could be seen in the classroom.

Was this something you wanted to learn? For some of us, yes. For others, not really. When the opportunity presents itself, it becomes fun. Did it take things outside of our comfort zone? Some of this becomes uncomfortable for others.


Stages of Competence

In the beginning, we don’t even know what we don’t know. From Naïve, we discover, and begin learning and putting in effort. It is here that we know we don’t know enough. From knowing things, we practice and move into competence (I know what I know and am improving) and eventually  it becomes muscle memory or second nature. That said, the hard part is that what we really need to do is use self-study and peer review to understand that I don’t know what I don’t know. This process of discovery allows us to repeat the learning process for ourselves.

How can I get the students to be motivated to get over the hump? Especially if they aren’t motivated.

“I was excited. My students, however, cannot be forced to be motivated and excited”

For some students, its overwhelming. When there is too much to know, learn, absorb, what should we do? In chemistry, this is called “tightering”. Make things easier and bring in materials a small piece at a time. Consider reframing this for students. It’s a great deal of information, it brings information, reframing this as a positive action.


Creating Momentum

How do we create momentum?

Share your passion. Why are you in IT? I like to learn, I like to see how things work? Why is it important to learn this material? Why should they be excited if they are not excited? Don’t be upset if you’re in it for the money. What is the motivation of the money? Successful? Provide for the kids and family? Keep taxes and society moving? You’ll make more money if you get better grades.

Help student develop their passion. Ask your students to go out and find out for themselves. Research shows that If you approach the problem as ”I’m going to help you tap into your skills and develop YOUR passion”.

Let students solve REAL problems. The best problems are the ones you don’t know the answers to. Here’s a real problem, I need a real solution. How did you do that? How can I ask the right questions to get to the right answers.

Highlight our purpose in IT (or design). Build up the people around us. Put this in a community context  and the purpose will help attract women to IT. If you can frame IT as a way to help people. This can draw more women



Fixed mindset is really about performance goals and showing off the abilities you have. Instead, use a growth mindset. Learning goals matter. Increase ability as a choice to increase what you know. Attribution teaory is  a major factor. To what do you attribute the loss or victory? How can you improve that?


How do you think?

Images, words, pictures, cause and effect. Picture your bedroom at home. What does it look like? If you cannot look at your room in your mind, you may have affentasia. Can you think what it would look like on the other side of the room? What if it were on the ceiling? What if all your walls were dark purple? Relying on pictures in your mind can be normal. Hyper affentasion is an awareness but not knowing how to see pictures which might be changing as above. Its not a disability, its just different.




Thinking about thinking. Students do not naturally know how to do this on the whole. Some students will have to be taught how to do this. The way to do this is to be really brutally honest with yourself.  How do I find my blindspots? How do I know how to do this?

Become aware of thoughts, make decisions about that information. Take ownership of the learning process: identify confusion along the way and at the end. Make informed decisions: think in terms of cause and effect.

What did you really think about this. Really think about it. What did you learn? Why did you learn that? How could you improve your learning of that?

Consider encouraging your students to take a myers-briggs test to get to know themselves. http://Personalityhacker.com has a free one. http://brainbench.com does also.

For some students this can be an eye opening experience. Do you like working with people, how do you actually start thinking about things differently.

Engage courageously.


Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The farther we get in the understanding and context. The words tell us how deeply they need to know the material. Students need to know the different depths of understanding. We need to start helping them to understand that there are different ways and different depths of ways to know and understand materials.


How to teach metacognition.

Awareness:L explain metacognition and draw attention to thinking. Self Reflection: Ask students how they think. Ownership of learning: Ask students how they learn.

At what age does metacognition develop?

No piaget age can be given, but at age 4-5 they learn with questions, but at 4th grade, there is a large shift where they engage at an awareness level.  At the teen level, they may not have the full ability to understand everything. They can engage with the idea and let that build on the idea themselves. Give them the language and it will feed itself.


Desirable difficulties

Learning isn’t always easy ,and always shouldn’t be easy. Pre-testing- knowledge begets knowledge. They cannot pass the pretest, but prime the pump and help them to see that they don’t know everuthing, and help them to see what they don’t know. Concept a and concept b in the brain are related. If one is connected to the other, you can go forward and backward to make the connnecitons clear. They must have the connections. A few pieces fall into place, and while its uncomfortable at first, it will clean up and fall into place later. Knowledge begets knowledge.

Make mistakes.

Forgetting- and then remembering and restoring (learning loop) is a positive thing, it makes things better to learn

Procrastination (except absolute last minute) is the same as incubation

Interruption (especially at the worst time) is the same as percolation (zeigarnik effect). It is worked on items in the back of your brain and this allows you to move on to complete the materials more succinctly. Those who are interrupted often do better on the final.



Teach Critical Thinking Skills

Socratic questioning. Understand their thinking. Real your own questions. Answer back with questions.

Culture of curiosity. Problem-based learning. Never know it all

Self explanation. Link new learning to old knowledge. What is it that I still don’t understand.



Distributed Practice.

Spread studying over longer periods of time. Schedule repetitions, not every day, but spaced longer as time goes by. http://supermemo.com schedule re-exposure to information based on Wozniak’s calculation.


Interleaved Practice

It better to do a little of each thing, and spread the items out a little at a time. Learning needs to be connected to other ideas. As pieces are learned, they are connected in pieces and more is learned over time. Switching items back and forth are very helpful.


Self Testing

Students who tested themselves did better than those who studied fully and then tested. Put info in and practice taking it out.


Contextual Clues

Context both internal and external. Consistency vs. variety. These items allow us a backdoor connection to the material. If you’re tested in the same room, study in the room. Those who studied in different rooms, were able to test better in different rooms. Study in different places- home, coffee shop, school.


Becoming An Expert.


Set students on a path. Teach them to find themselves on the cutting edge by:

Reading the materials which are breaking news, and constantly updating their knowledge base by investigating materials on the internet.

Consider Certifications in their discipline. There are lots of different ways in which your students can learn, test their knowledge, get recognized as an expert, and otherwise seek out ways to test themselves and seek approval from outside sources in an effort to set yourself apart from the competition.

Seeking Involvement with the Community. Within each discipline, there is a community. Some are randoms and others are partially interested in the community. Others are movers and shakers, professionals working in the field, on top of the industry, and otherwise deeply involved in the industry. Still others are geeks, a thorough and distinct knowledge of the material to the Nth degree. Teach your students to interact with this community- through forums, websites, reddit, Q&A forums, discord servers, etc.

If they aren’t petrified of doing so, have them visit with some! Go to meetups, leads groups, and other items where people meet to discuss the best of their industry.

Go to Conventions. Conventions are places in which professionals from many industries get together to discuss items in their bailiwick. Mostly these are attended by industry professionals. This is the perfect way for students to hobnob with individuals on the cutting edge, hear about items of knowledge given to those people, and learn about new technologies which should be considered. This is a great way to go where the movers and shakers gather (for getting hired), and learn about skills which are being suggested as new standards. Its a great place to network!


From Ideas to Action: Tools for Implementing Learning Innovation

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On 4/18/18 at 8:30am, I attended the Online Learning Conference Session From Ideas to Action: Tools for Implementing Learning Innovation. This was co-presented by Stacy Southerland of the University of Central Oklahoma and Bucky Dodd of the University of Central Oklahoma Institute for Learning Environment Design.

From Ideas to Action: Tools for Implementing Learning Innovation

Brief Abstract

Innovation is a hot topic in education, but how do we make it happen on a practical level? This hands-on, interactive workshop introduces approaches to identifying personal and organizational drivers of innovation and visual mapping techniques for planning and developing successful and sustainable results.

Attendees interested in this session are invited to complete the Learning Environment Innovation Inventory prior to the conference. Of course, you don’t have to complete it to participate in the workshop, and don’t have to attend the workshop if you do complete it; we know plans change! The Inventory can be accessed here until April 11, 2018.


Lead Presenter: Stacy Southerland, University of Central Oklahoma

Stacy Southerland, PhD, is a Professor of Spanish and Faculty Liaison for the Center for eLearning and Connected Environments at the University of Central Oklahoma where she also designs and coordinates UCO’s online Spanish courses. Her research focuses on learning innovation and learner success. She has received international recognition for iniatives in these areas and for her online teaching practices. Dr. Southerland completed her PhD and MA in Spanish literature from Indiana University-Bloomington and her BA in Music and Spanish at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Leveraging The Learning Environment

Innovation is a hot topic in education, but many who aspire to reimagine, renew, even revolutionize  learning, projects, and processes at the personal, team, or organizational level find it challenging to make innovation happen on a practical level. This is due not only to the many components in the innovation landscape that need to be understood, but also to the need for an effective, strategic approach for communicating one’s vision and for decision-making for mapping, planning, and implementing new ideas.

This interactive workshop used many visuals and hands-on demonstrations to guide us through the process of profiling Learning Environment Innovation (LEI) landscapes in order to identify drivers of innovation, promote abundant ideation, and manage promising concepts and move them through the innovation cycle from ideas to action.

We will begin this session by completing a Learning Environment Innovation Inventory (LEii), so I think that’ll be kind of fun..

Our presenter guided us through an exploration of how LEi2 findings inform and influence the innovation cycle of generating and identifying promising ideas and moving them through experimental and development phases that culminate in successful and sustainable operations.

LEI2 Assessment

Here’s a quick screenshot of one assessment screen. I was a little busy, and managing the normal screens, the online presentaition screens viewing, the snipping tools, etc. became very tedious.


The Learning Environment Innovation Inventory (LEI2) is used to help teams and organizations better understand their capacity for innovation specifically related to creating and adopting new ways of learning.

The inventory includes an online assessment used to measure capacity for learning and innovation within a team or organization.

The LEI2 helps to manage the innovation process by measuring the mindset, values, and activities for learning and innovation. It also provides insights into how new approaches to learning move through an innovation lifecycle. The inventory can be administered to teams or across entire organizations.

Here is an example of the data, and how it can be reviewed from a large pool of data (say 10-20 individuals).

The Landscape Report

Breaking down this landscape, we see that there are 3 major items being noted here, the Mindset, and the Values of the organization, and the cycle which can then be used implement the change and innovation which will be most conducive and effective for the group.

The results of the Learning Environment Innovation Inventory are reported in the Learning Environment Innovation Landscape report (example above). This visual report displays the aggregate results of the inventory in three major categories: Mindset, Values, and Cycle.

This report is used exclusively during a live, facilitated design sessions to make decisions about the future of learning environments. It is important to note that while this is available AFTER the initial meeting, the results are discussed directly with clients. Without the human interactions and understanding on the part of  the UCO team, there is a great possibility for distraction, misinterpretation, and incorrect assumptions. Personalized meetings are a MUST.

The results are displayed using color indicators to draw attention to areas that may require planning or discussion.


Interpreting Results

In addition to displaying results of the inventory, the Landscape provides a visual way of interpreting and managing learning innovation.

The example report above shows how insight and potential actions can be developed through interpreting and using the document.

Hovering over these items individually, we see interpretations are revealed transparently. Specifically, in the data organization above, from a mindset perspective, we see that the Efficiency section is very highly noted, and so, Efficiency is a major driver of change and innovation. In this way, organizational change which is communicated as making the organization more efficient will likely be the most acceptable way to see change occur. Similarly, from an organizational and individual values perspective, Information tends to be valued over other learning functions, so clearly presenting the information in a way which is accessible to all will be most effective for this group. In this case, perhaps a central repository of knowledge would be helpful in generating buy-in for change and innovation. Classroom and Online-Asynchronus values were highly associated with this group. Blended learning environments with discussions, year-long journals, and reflective metacognition or performance would likely be an area in which employees would find themselves open to direction.

Looking at Organizational Mindset

Mindset in the Learning Environment Innovation Inventory addresses philosophies of learning, drivers of innovation, and general attitudes towards risk.

The following four elements make up the innovation “DNA” for a learning environment, specifically the strength that cognitive, behavioral, affective, and social aspects of learning bring to the table with your organization, we can learn your organization’s:

  • Assumptions about Learning
  • Innovation Drivers
  • Risk Tolerance
  • Readiness


Looking at Organizational Values

The Values section measures what people naturally value about a learning environment.

This insight can be useful when determining the likelihood a new idea about learning will be accepted or rejected within a particular setting.

There are 2 areas in the Values section: One for looking at values in action and communication, another in learning styles.

Action and Communication

  • Information
  • Dialogue
  • Practice
  • Feedback
  • Evidence

Learning Styles

  • Classroom Learning
  • Online-Asynchronous Learning
  • Online-Synchronus Learning
  • Experimental Learning

The Learning and Implementation Cycle

The Cycle section of the Learning Environment Innovation Inventory measures capacity for growing and advancing learning innovations.

Every learning innovation follows a predictable, four-phased lifecycle. A successful innovation flows through the cycle as it evolves through the idea, experiment, development, and operation stages.

Successful innovations not only complete the cycle, but constantly move around it as they develop and grow.

In the example shown above, we find that experimentation is highly valued, with the control being in the hands of educators. Similarly, moving from a developed solution to operation will be an open and exciting proposition for your team. Unfortunately, moving from a working organizational model to new ideation may be a difficult move for your organization. You should anticipate challenges when implementing a continuous improvement model. It would seem that values are high for items which work and are comfortable. It would likely be highly recommended that this organization implement a greater use and understanding of professional development in an effort to quickly generate new innovative ideas which have worked and can identify pifalls to mitigate risk and find useful experimentation in the business or classroom settings.


What Can We Learn?

By showing us how to leverage their innovation landscape profile to maximize capacity for innovation, and bridge potential barriers identified in the LE2,  I think we gathered some good information on how to plan effective implementation strategies for new ideas.

The Learning Environment Innovation Inventory provides a unique window into understanding and managing innovation within learning environments. This tool offers the most benefit when applied strategically during innovative learning projects.

Generally, it can be used early in a project to help teams and organizations identify their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to advancing new ways of helping people learn. This might occur before implementing a new learning technology or before making major investments in developing a new program.

LEM is a revolutionary visual technique for reimagining and innovating learning environment design. It offers a unique approach that provides education & business organizations with a tool to innovate and energize learning in any environment—online, traditional, or blended, academic or corporate. LEM is engaging, enjoyable, and easy to learn from, but its a proprietary system, so it cannot be learned.

This system uses visualization methods to communicate key components in learning environment models, in the way architectural blueprints communicate building plans. It presents us with a solution to the everyday challenge of communicating effectively about learning design. But, is it an effective technique for envisioning, creating, innovating, or even implementing successful learning experiences?

LEM offers a solution like no other to these challenges. It disrupts the flow of inefficient miscommunication and opens the door to effective idea sharing by way of a simplified language—LEML, a visual, interactive, and engaging process for design.

This design approach serves as a catalyst for effective communication, decision making, and collaboration and fosters innovation. LEM is immensely effective for capturing the essence of instructional designs, bridging communication gaps, and eliminating innovation barriers. It allows designers to present thoughts on an idea canvas and welcome others to engage in the design experience by rearranging and adding to the model to capture ideas as they evolve, all the while inspiring creativity and innovation.

This inclusivity and diversity in collaboration invites valuable insights that might otherwise be missed and enriches the design innovation experience and outcomes. It also enables efficient recording of learning environments and logical, clear presentation of an environment’s context and story. Once a learning environment is modeled, its LEM can be stored and shared, adapted, customized, and enhanced over time. Intentional, strategic, coordinated implementation of LEM can assist educators in advancing the overarching design goal of creating engaging learning experiences and improving learner success. This can only advance growth and innovation in learning environment design.

During this workshop participants I learned how to view and somewhat interpret LEML, a visual toolkit used in LEM. It consisted of four primary features that can be assembled in different configurations to represent learning environments:

  1. Building Blocks: describe the what and how of elements in a learning environment–information, dialogue, feedback, practice, and evidence
  2. Contexts: identify the time, space, and formality of learning spaces—physical, online asynchronous or synchronous, and experiential
  3. Actions: depict three types of connective relationships and flow between building blocks and indicate learner, instructor, or system initiation of actions
  4. Notations: specify supplemental information as needed, such as learning objectives and prerequisites


LEM is iscalable. Its concepts can be easily understood and its use is again, proprietary. New users have a firm grasp of LEM within a few minutes and understand the impact and importance of the innovation just as quickly, because it is presented on a personal level with interpretation. The system’s flexibility allows for adding, removing, or rearranging building blocks with ease, bringing an interactive element to the system that engages and energizes all participants in the design collaboration.


This was a nice show-and-tell, and had some open areas for learning, but it seems an expensive process for some institutions. It was a bit infomercial, a bit informative, but I felt it was a nice product. I don’t think it would work at our institution, but if everyone could participate and then find the results broken down by school-wide, divisional, departmental, staff area, and administration, it could be good. We’re looking at 800 faculty and many more staff, and 74,000 students, so it would probably be too expensive to work with.

Active workshop components gave us an opportunity to:

  • Complete a Learning Environment Innovation Inventory
  • Learn a fun, easy-to-learn and easy-to-use international award-winning visual design technique for clarifying and communicating a vision for and planning innovative learning environments
  • See examples of proven models for innovation
  • Apply LEM and LEML to develop an idea for innovation
  • Obtain feedback on their ideas and LEMs from workshop participants and facilitators
  • Exchange ideas with fellow workshop participants and facilitators

In addition, we obtained access to Learning Environment Modeling Language materials and instructional videos via the presenter websites.


Did it fall short? One of the goals here was to:

This workshop will empower participants to:

  • Determine personal, team, and organization capacities for learning innovation
  • Identify drivers of and barriers to innovation in learning environments
  • Use Learning Environment Modeling to map, plan, and develop innovation initiatives
  • Assess learning innovation operations and outcomes

This was not actually done. I think the problem here comes from the words “Empowered To”. If you are “Empowered To” do something, it does not mean that you can do so, just that you have the power to do it. For instance, I am “Empowered To” fly to Hawaii, I just cannot afford to do so. We were “Empowered To” purchase this system and use it, and I think that this is fair.

All in all, I felt this was a nice presentation and a good use of time.

StoryTelling and Growing Expert Instructors

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On 4/18/16 at 10:30am, I attended the Online Learning Consortium Conference Session Commuity College Summit—StoryTelling and Growing Expert Instructors online session, NC co-presented by Nicolette van der Lee of Hawaii Maui College, Maria Fieth of CSU-MERLOT, and Brenda M. Perea, Director of Educational and Workforce Strategies at Credly

Community College Summit – StoryTelling and Growing Expert Instructors

StoryTelling and Growing Expert Instructors
Community colleges face many challenges and we will address two distinct and persistent ones:

First, communicating the power of educational innovations takes more than a 30 page report – it takes a good story that engages your audience and gets them to care about your innovation.  How do we craft good stories for career and technical training programs?

Second, industry experts are essential subject matter experts that deliver the “job-driven” curriculum in community colleges and prepares our students for success in the workforce.  But frequently, being an industry expert doesn’t translate into an expert instructor.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s SkillsCommons project has produced free and open tools, templates, and strategies that everyone can use to address these challenges. In this session, we will briefly review the strategies and resources, and walk through how these two tools have been applied in higher education and at the industry level.

Collaborative Ideation Challenges

At this point, the presenters had us use the chat tool to discuss one of the topics. This was a bit awkward, as several different conversations were happening at once and I do not type very fast. Some conversations were very animated, others were not responded to quickly enough, and got pushed offscreen. After finding some posts to answer to by scrolling up to find them, and typing slowly, the conversation was actually gone already. It was a little chaotic, and probably worked better in a seated session.
The presenting panel asked participants to consider and choose one of the two challenges, and to explore the SkillsCommons resources on their own devices, giving out the URL for us to explore on our own. They then began a short discussion on how to deliver the right tools, at the right time to faculty and staff to successfully overcome the challenges and increase collaboration across their participants institution.

How do we craft good stories for career and technical training programs?

I’ll try to sum up the communications which were happening about these conversations here:

Communicating the power of educational innovations is tough. Usually this is handed down to us in a slick sheet— this is a graphic design term for a single-page description of a new, exciting item. It isn’t an in-depth tutorial. These sheets try to sell the sexiness of the product without a major focus on the practical methods.

As an instructor, we really have a dual role: We have to educate the class, but we have to capture their imaginations and impress upon them how these tools we are teaching are essential OR at least will help you in a successful career. In many cases, we have to walk a fine line: We have to explain as much as possible in an effort to clearly make the use and practicality know, but we also have to motivate students to learn to do this on their own, capturing their imaginations and encouraging them to discover the materials on their own.

We love stories of practical experience where things go very right, and stories were things go very wrong, and times when we pulled a project back from the brink.

being an industry expert doesn’t translate into being an expert instructor.

I’ll try to sum up the communications which were happening about these conversations here:

Many community college instructors (most really, and I know because I’m one of them) are lateral-entry. Specifically, this means that we enter teaching from a job in the field, rather than entering teaching directly from school. What makes us into good instructors— lets leave behind the idea of expert just for a moment.

Coming from the workplace, we’re used to business communications where we’re speaking to a group of industry experts and workers: the vocabulary is known, the audience is clear, and vision is pinpoint, and everyone is working toward a similar if not the same goal: profitability. There is no need to talk basic concepts, no need to discuss fundamentals, no need to check anyone’s work. Poor performers are corrected and/or let go, and new workers are chosen because they are the best of the pool. In most community colleges, there is no barrier for entry: anyone can enter without many basic skills in reading, writing or mathematics, etc. Basic communication skills or a determination to complete are not required to take a course. If you’re working in a marketing firm, you’re not expected to have to reread every single proposal for spelling and grammatical errors, or determining whether or not the addition of charges adds up— these come with the territory. Without the realization of change being needed, many lateral entry teachers end up being coached, and they can find that to be demoralizing and offputting, detrimental to their careers.

Many lateral entry employees give their talks and discussions in matter-of-fact ways, and this doesn’t really capture the hearts and minds of our student populations. However, when sharing the stories of the client that just wouldn’t quit, the big budget issues, the project which was saved by spellchecking, the employee who was fired for procrastination, etc., students are very quickly entranced. Sharing your experiences and stories can really give extra emphasis to the materials you are bringing to bear in the classroom.

Coming from an academic-only environment, many instructors also feel that they are dealing with students similar to those they’ve left behind- interested, motivated students with a clear goal in mind. Unfortunately, not all students are motivated, have goals, interested in their education, or directed. Some students need direction, goals, and commiseration. Stories relating the teacher’s experience to theirs can be really helpful and creating the connections, but stories are great for adding direction. Many students find that they “get by”. They “got by” in high school, jobs, etc., but now they are in college and they are not “getting by” anymore. Experience is a great teacher, but demonstration alongside a story of how large obstacles can be overtaken is even better.

If education-based teachers focused on how they were able to complete, there would be a far greater emphasis on motivation. A teacher who discusses how their student group was formed and then split into categories might help others to do so. A teacher who tells that they “stayed up so many nights working from 8pm to the wee hours of the morning that their neighbors knew if the lights in her house were out… then the neighbors needed to go to bed too!” might encourage students to give that ongoing, continuous effort that really brings things together. Discussing how one teacher breaks down an assignment to research and write a paper can be helpful to a whole population. Share your knowledge!


Challenge Questions:

  • In why ways would storytelling benefit your college’s initiatives?
  • What is the first story that needs to be told and to whom?
  • Imagine your college implemented the IE2EI course with industry experts. After one year, what are the targeted outcomes. How do you celebrate?
  • What did you hear today that you could use in the next 3 months. What are the first 3 steps toward making that a reality?
These questions were nice, but the answers were really ones which should come from within. Of course, the chat exploded, and the presenters hit on major talking points.

Scheming Time, Applying StoryTelling and Expert Teaching in Your Setting

Panelists showcased an example of selecting one story and discussing it. It was a math example for real-life situations about the size of a fence perimeter. They then showed one module from the IE2EI course and the audience was asked if they had considered something like it. This was helpful to many but had little relevance to me, because we do something similar but a bit more advanced at Wake Technical Community College.

Wrap-Up and Summary

There was a minor Question and Answer session. Relative to SkillsCommons IMPACTcommunities Panel, there were few questions. Most participants did not want to leave the session to view the materials. The co-presenters all ended with a brief summary of highlights and resources from each of their perspectives.


Lead Presenter: Nicolette van der Lee, University of Hawaii Maui College

Nicolette van der Lee is a Program Coordinator at the Office of Continuing Education & Training for workforce, sustainability and contract training programs at University of Hawaii Maui College. Through the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui, she coordinates non-credit based community outreach and development activities in sustainability across disciplines including clean energy, sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart sustainable communities, and green workforce and education. She is also a StoryTelling Ambassador for the StoryTelling Network at SkillsCommons, supporting community colleges to share solutions addressing the challenges of offering industry-aligned education and job-driven workforce development. Her current doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University focuses on the sustainability of innovations, and developing strategies to build social networks, successfully engage stakeholders, and achieve sustainable outcomes in higher education.

Co-presenter: Maria Fieth, MERLOT

Maria Fieth, M.A.2, RTC. Maria currently serves as program manager responsible for communications and community building for CSU-MERLOT SkillsCommons. During the last 26 years, Maria has worked with businesses and PK-20 educators providing guidance for refining and sustaining healthy learning and working environments and building partnerships and community among stakeholders. Maria’s background in federally funded project management provides a strong backdrop for national level accountability and performance. Her work has received honors for building exemplary educational settings and community partnerships from Kevin Jennings of the U.S. Department of Education and Auburn University among others. Maria holds a dual Master’s degree in English and in Education, a Master’s degree in Psychodynamics and certifications in Reality Therapy and from the National Institute for School Leadership. She has numerous certifications as national trainer for organizations such as Ruby Payne’s Poverty Framework, Olweus Bullying Prevention, Discovery Communication Model, and Crucial Conversations. She and her husband, Andy, have three grown sons, a lovely daughter in-law, and one beautiful grandbaby.

Co-presenter: Brenda Perea, Credly Inc. & SkillsCommons

Brenda M. Perea, Director of Educational and Workforce Strategies at Credly, brings twenty-five years of experience spanning secondary, postsecondary and workforce educational fields to help learners identify and target workforce skills not apparent in traditional credentials. She successfully led CCCS to implement a system-wide badge initiative. She believes identifying competencies is critical to establish career and educational pathways in conjunction with business and industry to ensure to post-secondary education and career training is relevant for today’s workforce. She works with the international Open Recognition Alliance and IMS Global to shape the national conversation on recognizing learning where it happens, industry and business engagement in post-secondary education and workforce credentialing. Brenda is also a SkillsCommons community Ambassador whose mission is create affordable innovations in workforce education and workforce development programs to be easily and widely adopted and adapted by teachers, learners, industries, and professional organizations. Brenda also speaks nationally on open educational resources, data analytics improving student success and digital badges.

You Too Can Learn To Teach On YouTube

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At 9:00am on 3/22/2018, I attended the presentation “You Too Can Learn To Teach On YouTube”, Presented by Brad Swearingen, at the 2018 North Carolina Computer Instruction Association Conference in At Asheville-Buncomb Technical Community College in Asheville, NC.


After getting started, we’ll talk about Brad’s recommendations. Brad mentioned that the reasons he moved to lectures on video was because of a duplication of q/a with students. They can quickly break down what they want to know, re-watch it, view only small sections, etc.

We’ll talk about getting started, managing your account, recording tips, whether you can make money, and of course resources to help you out. SO, to start at the beginning.

  • Getting started
  • My recommendations for hardware and software
  • How to open an account
  • Managing your account
  • Recording tips
  • Can I make money?
  • Resources to help you
  • Q and A


There are many benefits to having YouTube videos. Let me outline those below:

  • Repetition
  • Retention
  • Perpetual Resource
  • Visual learners
  • Learn at their own pace
  • Read industry jargon on cc


Having material on YouTube gives you the power of repetition which you can bring to bear. Firstly, you have the ability to reference the older material yourself in the classroom. This allows you use it as a reference and also to use it to recreate and update the materials you’ve posted in the past. Secondly, students can use the repetition to assist them. The repetition element allows student to watch and rewatch the entire video, pieces of the video, and pass the materials as necessary to others. Students will have access to the material 24/7/365. This gives them the freedom to view and review the material at their will.


Students find that the use of videos in the class increases retention. Students in online classes like the videos and video announcements because it gives a stronger connection to the teacher. Online students can see the teacher and their mannerisms, personality, and place a face with a name and a voice. Students in the online classes feel less disconnected to their class, part of a team, and less like they are being taught by an inhuman robot. This makes the students feel more strongly about being in the class, and retention rates are higher. Since students can revisit the videos (Above) retention rates are also higher because students can bone up on the materials that normally might trip them up. This keeps grades higher and allows students to feel more confident and more successful.

Perpetual Resource

Its no secret that things posted to the internet are never truly gone. The materials are available after the test, after the lesson, after the class, and even after graduation. The material can be shared, revisited, in some cases even downloaded. As a perpetual resource, students can find those after they’ve found their way into the workforce.

Visual learners

Some students learn by listening, others by hands-on learning, but many people learn visually. Visual learners are able to learn by watching, seeing examples, and watching videos. Video of course is a great way to show the actions you’d like students to see, they can watch the process of implementation or creation, and they can watch each step. Also, as noted above, the students can watch and rewatch, in whole or in part, any pieces of the process which can be problematic.

Learn at their own pace

Some students learn the first time, others do not. Some read slowly and others need to truly digest their materials. Video allows students to learn at their own pace and absorb the materials as the pace they need. Also, those students who retain the information better at night can watch in the evenings, some can watch in the mornings before work or travel, and any student can revisit the video material during breaks or downtime in their study sessions. Video truly allows students to study at the time and place of their choosing.

Read industry jargon on cc

Most teachers at Wake Technical Community College are steeped in EPIC, a system of accessibility and e-Learning compatibility with an emphasis on creating truly accessible materials. As such, all videos used in our curriculum are Closed Captioned for hearing impaired and subtitled even for those who are not. This is teacher-approved and NOT google-content. As the google content is often poorly worded, their teacher-made captions allow for accurate portrayal of the materials covered. While this is a win in its own right, it also means that our students can have access to Jargon terms in clearly defined type. No longer will students in the class room fail to know terms- OK, well, will no longer have an excuse for why they don’t know the terms provided in class. With every term outlined clearly, and transcripts available to our students to use as written notes, students have the ability to know and revisit industry Jargon so that they are not only informed and aware, but able to investigate on their own to deepen and enrich their own understanding.

My Recommendations on Recording Software

There are several options for recording software.

Many people teaching today use Camtasia. Camtasia is a great screen recording software which can integrate video, audio, and screengrabbing. For individuals, there is a $165 entrance fee, but many teachers have a campus license which can be used to install the material directly onto the computer as needed.

For those without those means, OBS is a fine solution. OBS stands for the Open Broadcaster Software, and open source software which can be downloaded from OBS PROJECT ( http://www.obsproject.com will open in another window). OBS project is free, easy to use, and offers a fine list of features.

My Recommendations On Microphones

Rather than describe each one here, I’ll just include the image with names and prices. You can look into these as you wish. Brad was speaking a little quickly, but the gist of it was quite simple: get the best microphone you can, and don’t make a bunch of hissing SSSS sounds and detonations of Popping P noises should of course be avoided.

I’m personally interested in getting one of those microphones which have the honeycomb guard over the mic. Guess I’ll have to be on the lookout on my own!

Easy vs. Easier

So what do we need to know about YouTube anyway? There are a few things to separate the easy from the easier methods of using it:

  • Easiest if you get a gmail account
  • Google owns YouTube
  • Lots of other goodies as well
  • If you have an Android phone, even better
  • If you have an Apple, don’t despair

The Process

I’ve done several videos on my own (about 40) so this process is fairly simple and understandable. However, I’ll outline it here for ease of understanding

  • Record your video in Camtasia or OBS
  • Edit the video if desired or needed
  • Remember where you saved it
  • Go to YouTube and sign in
  • Press the upload button
  • Follow instructions

Practical Advice

So what is some practical advice that you can bring to your YouTube endeavors?

  • Keep It Moving
  • Keep It Upbeat
  • Keep It Interesting
  • Keep It Short 5-15 minutes
  • Keep It To the point: don’t try to stretch out your videos needlessly to get your hours up
  • Keep It informative

Keep It Moving

Its easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of what we’re doing, and easy to pontificate and expand. However, for what our students need, getting down to the best parts is what we’re interested in. Keep the video moving with a good script, a clear timeline, get to the point and make it relevant to your content and your audience.

Keep It Upbeat

A nice, uptempo number is always well-received. Except at a funeral. Keep the video focused on how the students can do the work, how its an achievable goal, and how useful it will be in real-world application. Ensure them that it can be done in the time they have, and that they can revisit the links and rewatch as necessary. Don’t dwell on poor grades, but note common pitfalls, issues which could be avoided, and the important parts of each lesson. Remember, if you’re confident, they will be too.

Keep It Interesting

Don’t actually do this. Just kidding. Keep the video interesting. Remember, once a student decides their no longer interested in watching the video, it doesn’t matter how interesting it is, the video content is missed. As a result, keep the content moving forward and not only on pace but on script. Once you’ve lost them, you’ve lost them.

Keep It Short (5-15 minutes)

I don’t agree with this one. Personally, I listen to a lot of youtubers while driving to work. If the video is too short, Its not worth my time unless I’m in a rush. And when I want to learn, I want to learn the content. Students like to have short videos, often dropping off heavily in the 9-12 minute mark. If you have short snippets which are not lecture related, make it work for you.

Keep It To the point: don’t try to stretch out your videos needlessly to get your hours up

If you have a long lecture, and its not working for you, just divide that up into smaller segments. Again, if people aren’t listening, a long video won’t help. Remember, the videos aren’t for us, they are for the students and you need to ensure that the students are being served with those videos. Don’t tailor them to your needs, meet the student needs.

Keep It informative

Keep this material packed, and chock full of nuts.

Practical Tips for YouTube Videos

  • Market yourself at the beginning and the end
  • Say your name
  • Subscribe to YouTube channel
  • Like on Facebook
  • If you mess up, keep going and edit later
  • Use a good quality microphone
  • Save all your videos to the same folder on your hard drive
  • Stay logged in on your computer if you are the only user
  • Record in True HD or higher resolution
  • Add some energy to your voice
  • Add videos as often as possible: weekly

Final Tips for Success: 6 Easy Steps

  • Create a YouTube account
  • Record your video lessons
  • Upload videos
  • Create a Facebook page
  • Invite friends and students to like
  • Post your YouTube links to FB

Brad moved through this presentation in an efficient manner and pushing the basics of youtube videos with one simple motif in mind for the entire way: You can do it, and its easy enough to achieve.

No doubt, Brad uses the same methodology when creating his videos with a strong message, a clear goal and an underlaying message which can be easily absorbed and revisited: You Can Do It.

Using Social Media to Enhance your Teaching Learning and Practice

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On March 10th 2016, I attended the NCCIA presentation at 9:00pm with Andy McPhee, Senior Acquisitions Editor with F.A. Davis, in RM219 in the 600 building at Rowan Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, NC.

Tyler Dockery working with social media masters
Materials can be found at: bit.ly/1QGs45o

Using Social Media to Enhance your Teaching Learning and Practice

We would like to focus more on teaching rather than personal use, because we’re mostly familiar with that.
1.2 Billion on facebook, 1 billion on youtube, 150m on snapchat, 70m on pinterest, 232m on twitter. Now those numbers were from 2013.

WHy use social media? Spread infomation, educate students, interact with teachers and business owners, bloggers and community. Gain info and group collaboration. Never lose sight of the fact that you are always open and vulnerable. Keep everything on or above board. By and Large, hackers aren’t interested in us. We are unchallenging, and that’s our best security.

facebook.com/stella.bellman is a resusitation dummy. She is the face of a nursing program. Its a way to interact with students on social media without compromising privacy. Students interact like she’s real.

Main types of social media: Social network, microblogging, etc.

It is difficult to do facebook just for business. As soon as you open an account, they require you to add school, etc. Contacts come out of the woodwork. Its so easy to respond to a comment from the wrong accounts. It becomes difficult to keep the two worlds separate. Classmates create a group – a secret group so no one can see – only friend students and then unfriend students at the end of the semester. The profile becomes the problem.

Since community is built and small you get some nice stuff.

Its a good source for up to the minute news source and information-giving device. Andy is mainly using IFTTT to flip facebook posts to twitter.

Trying to become facebook. Losing some of its mission. Its still a fine way to network and find work. JOBS is a great feature if posting. Its a job networking site and SPAMMERS are coming on to become a connection.

all collect URL and show based on your interests. It will populate with information that are shared or digged most.

vimeo, youtube, instagram, Vine
THere are a million of these. Periscope for example is new, and there will be millions within the next few years.

Student project: Watch one, Do one, Teach one. It engages students in the process, and builds a community. They know they’re being recorded and the know they want to do it right. How do you know a video is reliable? The info is out there, but is it right? do you know anything about the host? What are your parameters and understanding.

Pinterest is an oddball. You’re sharing only images – they link in the background, but goes well for fashion, shoes, jewelry, and recipe. Its mostly pushing for women, but that isn’t the only audience. Andy uses it for books. He gets lots of re-pins. Does it help the business? it is unknown. How might it be used in the classroom? For graphic design and social media statistics, it makes a nice research site available for students.

Wordpress, Blogger, Goodreads. Ongoing copywriting, ideas, representation, explanation. Getting students started is more than half the job.

Seven Basic Learning Styles

Learners come in 7 basics styles: Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social, Solitary. Visual: items in space. Aural: sound and music. Verbal: speech and writing. Physical: using body, hands, sense of touch. Logical: logic, reasoning, systems. Social: learning in groups or with people. Solitary: Prefering to work alone or self-study.

Real interactivity should look to children’s e-book! Most publishing companiestake a book and retrofit to a digital platform. Consider starting with a chapters summary: what’s the final takeaway. Students should then be able to wind their way through the learning pattern to assemble the material. Test them on the summary. Retrofitting does not solve this issue. Children’s books do this, because content is so limited.

Areas of the brain are involved in this. look to Occipital Lobe for graphic designers. Parietal lobe, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, cerebellum. [see slide for more information above at bit.ly address] In addition to this, there are learning styles

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Teaching, Learning, and Practice

Visual Learners
I learn by seeing.

Aural Learners
I listen and learn
audio backed PPT

Social Learners
I enjoy learning in groups.
Google Docs or other simultanous-editing apps
Chat rooms
Synchronous or asynchronous discussion boards

Physical Learners
I learn by doing
Difficult on social media
demonstrate for video outlet

Logical Learners
I’m thankful for technology
scripting for youtube video (sequencing)
pinterest (grouping)

Verbal Learners
I enjoy learning in groups
google docs or simultaneous editing apps
chat rooms
synchronous or synchronus discussion baords
blogs and wiki

SOlitary Learners
I learn best on my own

Working with Social Media
Plan, Produce, Give Back. Plan from the very beginning. What do you want SM to do for you? You literally can’t be in everything. Choose your battles.

  • Communicate with colleagues
  • Stay current
  • Promote self in professional community

Choose your outlets, and get everyone on board. Build Follow/Friend lists. Do this slowly. Search for the content that you like. Follow them. Set your accounts to follow an RT of every follower. Check outlets regularly to increase lists. Build your community. You cannot set this up to run on its own.

Produce with Social Media
Write and Share your knowledge. You are teachers, provide the content, but don’t get into arguments. Communicate, Listen and respond. Experiment

Give Back
Don’t just read, post
Help, don’t push
Follow the “rules”

11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette

  • Give more than you receive
  • Don’t be an idle chatterbox
  • Add value
  • Don’t interfere with other’s efforts
  • Remember that cheaters never win
  • Build quality relationships
  • Stop being too aggressive
  • Respect the community
  • Listen to others
  • Be accountable for your actions
  • Be nice

Words to the Wise

Be Careful With YOur Personal Information. Would you want your boss to see whatever you’re posting? If not, don’t bother writing it. NEVER post or repost student information. Never, Ever post a negative piece about a student, in fact, just post positive materials. No swearing. No criticizing individuals by name or other descriptors. Always professional, courteous, helpful

Above all… Have Fun. Play with it. The more you engage, the more you’ll be able to

What questions do you have?

FASP16 Reflective Practice in Teaching

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Reflective Practice In Teaching

What is reflective practice?

The process of reflection is a cycle which needs to be repeated.

  • Teach
  • Self-assess the effect your teaching has had on learning
  • Consider new ways of teaching which can improve the quality of learning
  • Try these ideas in practice
  • Repeat the process

Reflective practice is ‘learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice’ (Finlay, 2008).

Reflection is a systematic reviewing process for all teachers which allows you to make links from one experience to the next, making sure your students make maximum progress.

Reflection is a basic part of teaching and learning. It aims to make you more aware of your own professional knowledge and action by ‘challenging assumptions of everyday practice and critically evaluating practitioners’ own responses to practice situations’ (Finlay, 2008). The reflective process encourages you to work with others as you can share best practice and draw on others for support. Ultimately, reflection makes sure all students learn more effectively as learning can be tailored to them.

In the rest of this unit, we will look at the basics of reflective practice in more detail. We will look at the research behind reflective practice, discuss the benefits and explore some practical examples. Throughout the unit, we will encourage you to think about how you can include reflective practice in your own classroom practice.

Listen to these educators discussing what reflective practice means for them. How do their ideas about reflective practice compare with yours?

What are the benefits of reflective practice?

Reflective practice helps create confident teachers
Reflective practice develops your ability to understand how your students learn and the best ways to teach them. By reflecting on your teaching, you identify any barriers to learning that your students have. You then create lessons which reteach any content which your students have not been able to access to allow them to overcome any obstacles and develop.

Being reflective will also make sure you have a wider range of skills as you find new ways to teach. This will develop your confidence in the classroom as you find the best ways to deliver your knowledge of a subject.

By reflecting, you will develop abilities to solve problems. Through questioning and changing the way you deliver your lessons, you will find new solutions and become more flexible with your teaching. It allows you to take time to assess and appreciate your own teaching.

Reflective practice also helps create confident students. As a result of reflecting, students are challenged as you use new methods in the classroom. From reflection, you should encourage your students to take new challenges in learning, developing a secure and confident knowledge base.

Reflective practice makes sure you are responsible for yourself and your students
Reflecting on your teaching will help you to understand how your students best learn and will allow you to be accountable for their progress. By assessing the strengths and weaknesses in your own teaching, you will develop an awareness of the factors that control and prevent learning.

The reflection process will also help you to understand yourself and the way you teach. By asking yourself questions and self-assessing, you will understand what your strengths are and any areas where development might be needed. Reflecting allows you to understand how you have helped others to achieve and what this looks like in a practical learning environment.

By asking your students for their thoughts and feelings on the learning, they play an active part in the learning cycle. This allows them to take ownership of their learning and also work with you and give feedback, which creates self-aware and responsible students.

Once the student starts to play an active part in the learning cycle, they become more aware of different learning styles and tasks. They become more aware of how they learn and they develop key skills and strategies to become lifelong learners.

Reflective practice encourages innovation
Reflective practice allows you to adapt lessons to suit your classes. You can create and experiment with new ideas and approaches to your teaching to gain maximum success.
By varying learning and experimenting with new approaches, students have a richer learning experience. They will think more creatively, imaginatively and resourcefully, and be ready to adapt to new ways and methods of thinking.

Reflective practice encourages engagement
Being reflective helps you challenge your own practice as you will justify decisions and rationalise choices you have made.
It encourages you to develop an understanding of different perspectives and viewpoints. These viewpoints might be those of students, focusing on their strengths, preferences and developments, or those of other colleagues, sharing best practice and different strategies.

When you become more aware of your students’ preferences and strengths, learning becomes more tailored to their needs and so they are more curious and are equipped to explore more deeply.

Reflective practice benefits all
By reflecting, you create an environment which centres on the learner. This environment will support students and teachers all around you to become innovative, confident, engaged and responsible.

Once you start the reflective process, your quality of teaching and learning will improve. You will take account of students’ various learning styles and individual needs, and plan new lessons based on these. Reflection helps focus on the learning process, so learning outcomes and results will improve as you reflect on how your learners are learning.

By getting involved in the reflective process, you will create an environment of partnership-working as you question and adapt both your own practice and that of your students and other colleagues. The learning process then becomes an active one as you are more aware of what you want your students to achieve, delivering results which can be shared throughout the institution.

By working with other colleagues and students, relationships become positive and demonstrate mutual respect. Students feel part of the learning cycle and are more self-aware. Colleagues can ‘team up’, drawing on expertise and support. This will develop the whole institution’s best practice. All of these things together result in a productive working environment.

Listen to these educators giving their views on the benefits of reflective practice. Which of the benefits are most relevant to you and your colleagues?

What is the research behind reflective practice?

Educational researchers have long promoted the importance of reflecting on practice to support student learning and staff development.

There are many different models of reflective practice. However, they all share the same basic aim: to get the best results from the learning, for both the teacher and students.
Each model of reflection aims to unpick learning to make links between the ‘doing’ and the ‘thinking’.

Kolb’s learning cycle
David Kolb, educational researcher, developed a four-stage reflective model. Kolb’s Learning Cycle (1984) highlights reflective practice as a tool to gain conclusions and ideas from an experience. The aim is to take the learning into new experiences, completing the cycle. Kolb’s cycle follows four stages.

  1. First, practitioners have a concrete experience. This means experiencing something new for the first time in the classroom. The experience should be an active one, used to test out new ideas and teaching methods.
    This is followed by…
  2. Observation of the concrete experience, then reflecting on the experience. Here practitioners should consider the strengths of the experience and areas of development. Practitioners need to form an understanding of what helped students’ learning and what hindered it.
    This should lead to…
  3. The formation of abstract concepts. The practitioner needs to make sense of what has happened. They should do this through making links between what they have done, what they already know and what they need to learn. The practitioner should draw on ideas from research and textbooks to help support development and understanding. They could also draw on support from other colleagues and their previous knowledge. Practitioners should modify their ideas or devise new approaches, based on what they have learnt from their observations and wider research.
    The final stage of this cycle is when…
  4. The practitioner considers how they are going to put what they have learnt into practice. The practitioner’s abstract concepts are made concrete as they use these to test ideas in future situations, resulting in new experiences. The ideas from the observations and conceptualisations are made into active experimentation as they are implemented into future teaching. The cycle is then repeated on this new method.

Kolb’s model aims to draw on the importance of using both our own everyday experiences and educational research to help us improve. It is not simply enough for you to reflect. This reflection must drive a change which is rooted in educational research.

Gibbs’ reflective cycle

The theoretical approach of reflection as a cyclical model was further developed by Gibbs (1998). This model is based on a six-stage approach, leading from a description of the experience through to conclusions and considerations for future events. While most of the core principles are similar to Kolb’s, Gibbs’ model is broken down further to encourage the teacher to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.

Gibbs’ model is an effective tool to help you reflect after the experience, and is a useful model if you are new to reflection as it is broken down into clearly defined sections.

  1. Description
    In this section, the practitioner should clearly outline the experience. This needs to be a factual account of what happened in the classroom. It should not be analytical at this stage.
  2. Feelings
    This section encourages the practitioner to explore any thoughts or feelings they had at the time of the event. Here the practitioner should explain feelings and give examples which directly reference the teaching experience. It is important the practitioner is honest with how they feel, even if these feelings might be negative. Only once the feelings have been identified can the practitioner implement strategies to overcome these barriers.
  3. Evaluation
    The evaluation section gives the opportunity for the practitioner to discuss what went well and analyse practice. It is also important to consider areas needed for development and things that did not work out as initially planned. This evaluation should consider both the practitioner’s learning and the students’ learning.
  4. Analysis
    This section is where the practitioner makes sense of the experience. They consider what might have helped the learning or hindered it. It is in this stage that the practitioner refers to any relevant literature or research to help make sense of the experience. For example, if you felt the instructions you gave were not clear, you could consult educational research on how to communicate effectively.
  5. Conclusion
    At this stage, the practitioner draws all the ideas together. They should now understand what they need to improve on and have some ideas on how to do this based on their wider research.
  6. Action plan
    During this final stage, the practitioner sums up all previous elements of this cycle. They create a step-by-step plan for the new learning experience. The practitioner identifies what they will keep, what they will develop and what they will do differently. The action plan might also outline the next steps needed to overcome any barriers, for example enrolling on a course or observing another colleague.

In Gibbs’ model the first three sections are concerned with what happened. The final three sections relate to making sense of the experience and how you, as the teacher, can improve on the situation.

‘Reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-on-action’

Another approach to reflection is the work by Schön. Schön (1991) distinguishes between reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action.

Reflection-in-action is reflection during the ‘doing’ stage (that is, reflecting on the incident while it can still benefit the learning). This is carried out during the lesson rather than reflecting on how you would do things differently in the future. This is an extremely efficient method of reflection as it allows you to react and change an event at the time it happens. For example, in the classroom you may be teaching a topic which you can see the students are not understanding. Your reflection-in-action allows you to understand why this has happened and how to respond to overcome this situation.

Reflection-in-action allows you to deal with surprising incidents that may happen in a learning environment. It allows you to be responsible and resourceful, drawing on your own knowledge and allowing you to apply it to new experiences. It also allows for personalised learning as, rather than using preconceived ideas about what you should do in a particular situation, you decide what works best at that time for that unique experience and student.

Reflection-on-action, on the other hand, involves reflecting on how practice can be developed after the lesson has been taught. Schön recognises the importance of reflecting back ‘in order to discover how our knowing-in-action may have contributed to an unexpected outcome’ (Schön, 1983).

Reflection-on-action means you reflect after the event on how your knowledge of previous teaching may have directed you to the experience you had.

Reflection-on-action should encourage ideas on what you need to change for the future. You carry out reflection-on-action outside the classroom, where you consider the situation again. This requires deeper thought, for example, as to why the students did not understand the topic. It encourages you to consider causes and options, which should be informed by a wider network of understanding from research.

By following any of the above models of reflection, you will have a questioning approach to teaching. You will consider why things are as they are, and how they could be. You will consider the strengths and areas of development in your own practice, questioning why learning experiences might be this way and considering how to develop them. As a result, what you do in the classroom will be carefully planned, informed by research and previous experience, and focused, with logical reasons. All of these models stress the importance of repeating the cycle to make sure knowledge is secure and progression is continued.

Common misconceptions about reflective practice?

‘It doesn’t directly impact my teaching if I think about things after I have done them’
Reflection is a cyclical process: do, analyse, adapt and repeat. The reflections you make will directly affect the next lesson or block of teaching as you plan to rework and reteach ideas.
Ask yourself:
What did not work?
How can I adapt this idea for next time?
This might mean redesigning a task, changing from group to paired work or reordering the lesson.

‘Reflection takes too long; I do not have the time’
Reflection can be done on the spot (Schön: reflection-in-action). You should be reflecting on things as they happen in the classroom.
Ask yourself:
What is working well? How? Why?
What are the students struggling with? Why?
Do the students fully understand my instructions? If not, why not?
Do the students fully understand the task? If not, why not?

Do your students ultimately understand what success looks like in the task or activity? Can they express this for themselves?

‘Reflection is only focused on me, it does not directly affect my students’
Reflecting and responding to your reflections will directly affect your students as you change and adapt your teaching. You will reteach and reassess the lessons you have taught, and this will allow students the chance to gain new skills and strengthen learning. Creating evaluation models will help you to know whether the actions you have taken have had the intended effect.

‘Reflection is a negative process’
Reflection is a cyclical process, meaning you grow and adapt. You should plan to draw on your own strengths and the best practice of colleagues, which you then apply to your own teaching. Try any of the reflection models listed in this unit to help you progress. By getting involved in a supportive network everyone will develop.

‘Reflection is a solo process, so how will I know I’ve improved?’
Reflection is best carried out when part of a supportive network. You can draw on the support of colleagues by asking them to observe and give feedback. You can also draw on student feedback. Reflection should trigger discussion and co-operation.

Putting Reflective practice into practice

As a reflective practitioner you will continuously review the learning process to make sure all students make maximum progress. While working through this document you may have identified a model which appeals to you.

As well as using a model of reflection, you can carry out other reflective activities to develop your practice. These can include the following.

Asking yourself questions can help you understand the effect and efficiency of your teaching.

Experimenting with new ideas
Trying out new methods or approaches in the classroom can create new learning opportunities. These changes can be as simple as varying a small activity or as adventurous as changing your whole approach or plan.

Discussing with other colleagues
Drawing on support from colleagues will allow you to cement understanding and get involved with others’ ideas and best practice.

Discussing with students
Drawing on student feedback will make sure your reflections are focused on your students. By reflecting with students, you allow them to play an active part in their learning and gain insight into what needs to improve to support student development.

Observations and feedback
Being observed by colleagues will allow you to gain others’ perspectives into your practice and provide feedback and ideas on how to improve. Observing your colleagues can also provide new ideas and approaches which you can try in your own practice.

All these approaches are explained in the ‘Next steps’ section and provide a guide of how to carry out reflective practice, using the following.
• Learning journal
• Lesson evaluations
• Observations
• Student dialogue
• Shared planning

Listen to these educators talking about how they reflect. How could you use their techniques in your practice?


There are five main principles that will make sure you get the most out of your reflections − reacting, recording, reviewing, revising, reworking and reassessing. These are sometimes referred to as the five Rs.

If you are new to reflective practice, it will help to ask yourself the following questions.

How will I decide what area of my practice I need to focus on?
Will this be decided by looking at data, each learner’s performance or an aspect of the curriculum?

Recording (logging your reflections)
How will I assess my performance?
Will this take the form of an observation, discussion or shared planning?

How will I record this?
Will this be recorded by yourself, a peer or a student?

How will I log this?
What documents will you use to record your reflections? For example, a journal, notebook or form provided by your school or institution.

When will I log this?
Will your reflections be logged straight after the lesson, during or before the lesson?
How often will you record these reflections?

Reviewing (understanding your current teaching methods)
What worked well and how do I know this?
Consider what the students really understood and enjoyed about the lesson, and why. How do you know improvements have been made?

What did not work as planned?
Consider what the students did not get involved with or find challenging, and why.

What could I try next time? How could you adapt the activity?
Some practical ideas include introducing a different task, clearer instructions, time-based activities and activities which appeal to different learning styles.

Revising (adapting your teaching by trying new strategies)
What will I change or adapt?
This could be a whole task or something specific about a task. Some practical ideas include changing the task from independent work to paired work, adding a scaffold to a challenging task, providing instructions step by step, and making activities time based.

Reworking (action plan of how you can put these ideas in place in a practical way)
How will I put this in place?
Consider what will you need to do before and during the lesson to make sure your changes happen. What will the students be doing differently to make sure they make progress?

What materials do I need?
What things will you need to put your revised ideas into practice?
Some practical examples include coloured pens, larger paper, handouts, cut-up activities, specialised equipment.

Reassessing (understanding how these new strategies affected learning)
How successful were the new strategies?
Once you have redelivered the lesson, consider how engaged the students were. How well did they understand this time?

What changed?
Consider the following areas of potential change: delivery, planning and assessment.

Next steps

Here are some activities to help you to further explore reflective practice.

Learning journal
What is it?
A learning journal is a collection of notes, observations, thoughts and other relevant materials built up over a period of time and recorded together.

What happens?
After each lesson you record your thoughts and feelings regarding the lesson. Use the five Rs in the Checklist section to help focus your journal.

Lesson evaluations
What are they?
Evaluations require you to think back on the lesson, assessing its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development.

To help focus your evaluation, consider the following questions:
• What went well in this lesson? Why?
• What problems did I experience? Why?
• How engaged and active were the students?
• How much learning took place? How do I know?
• What could I have done differently?
• What did I learn from this experience that will help me in future lessons?

What happens?
Once you have taught your lesson, record your reflections on the lesson as soon as possible. This will help you keep track of your progress as a developing reflective practitioner and also help you track your students’ progress.

What are they?
Observations are when someone assesses your practice through watching it in action. These observations should have a very specific focus, for example the quality of questioning or the quality of student-led activities. This focus can then be specific, measured, reflected upon and revised to make sure your students make progress.

What happens?
Once you have set the specific focus or target area, a colleague will watch you deliver the lesson and give feedback on the strengths of your practice or some possible ideas for development. These observations could also be carried out over a block of lessons to show progression.

Student dialogue
What is it?
This is where you make sure students play an active part in their learning. You will ask them to carry out a short reflection on how well they felt the lesson went and to assess the lesson’s strengths and possible ideas for development.

What happens?
Ask a student to keep a learning journal of their lessons. This journal could include what they enjoyed, how they felt in the lesson, what they understood and engaged with, what they still need more help with, what they liked about the lesson and things they thought could have been better.

Shared planning
What is it?
Shared planning is where you draw on support from colleagues to plan lessons together. You draw on each other’s best practice to help create innovative and improved lessons.

What happens?
Shared planning can take many forms:
• Planning a lesson with another colleague together from start to finish.
• Using a lesson a colleague has produced and adapting it to suit your style and class.
• Planning a lesson and asking another colleague to review it.

The shared-planning process should encourage talking and co-operation. You should draw on support from colleagues to help develop practice and share ideas.