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 Students that we’ve taught 10 years ago or 5 years ago are already outdated.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. has a free one. 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. 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!


Great Teachers Conference Session 1 and 2

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On 11/10/18 at 7:00pm, I attended the Great Teacher’s Conference presentation Skills, Skills, Skills Session at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, NC presented by Wake Technical Community College

Skills Skills Skills

Study skills

Study skills are an integral part of teaching and learning. In this session, we covered ways in which we could encourage students to work hard, study hard, and improve their study skills.

Birds of A Feather

Grouping people together allow study skills and results to move together. Students can teach one another, pointing out flaws in thinking and expanding knowledge with examples which make sense to other students. You will find that students almost always cluster together, but that can be hurtful.

Some people take the limelight or try to remove themselves from the group, or will work alone. Try to combat this by assigning groups or by building in a contract. Prior to assigning groups, have your students take a free DISC assessment or Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Use the scores from the test first to talk about what the students learned and how accurate it was, and last to use it to help put your groups together. Just like you wouldn’t want a group of all followers, you don’t want a group of all leaders either. You know your students, so split them into groups with at least one strong leader and don’t double up if you have students who drag behind. Use a contract to clearly point out who will be doing what jobs. There is not a question as to who is responsible for what items, and encourage your students to help one another or “vote a member off the island”. Make it known that a member voted off the island by their teammates can make a maximum of 70%. Many will step up their game.

Last Minute Mastery?

Cramming in some courses is a really big problem. If this continues to be an issue, consider watching the videos by Dr. Chew about using metacognition. Integrating these into your classes can be a one-shot assignment or it can be part of your course resources section and available to all students.

Guided questions are very helpful as a reflective assignment. Asking students what they’ve learned, and what was difficult is fairly boilerplate. That doesn’t leave you without other solid questions like: How will you adjust your plan to avoid this next time? How can you do better? What study methods will you use to do better next time?

Consider using scaffolding. Rather than a single paper worth 30% of their grade, break it into sections under review. Also revisiting the study habits about a week after the exam— what did you do to study for the exam, how long did you study, and based on your grade, did it help you? Mixing this with Metacognition will be a strong asset for you.

Quizzes are used to gauge student understanding. Consider a consistent delivery methods, such as having a quiz every Friday, and always over the same material— things covered in the class that week. With 10% of your final grade based on homework and another 10% set for quizzes, students are not engaged to push themselves. Failing these, a student can always get a B- or pass. Consider bumping up these items. Often, its great to point out that 3-4 hours of study time over the semester will save you 4 months of your time by not having to take the whole class again. Sometimes you can revisit the idea that low stakes doesn’t exactly mean “low stakes”. Every missed item is like a missing block in a jenga tower. (It could end up getting you right in the face, see below).

Soft skills

Many people in the business industries we serve feel that students are missing soft skills— the unspoken items and ideas which are part of every person’s working world. What do our students know? What don’t they know? What do they know they don’t quite know well enough? What do then not know that they don’t know? It is often the Unknown Unknowns that bite us the hardest, because we cannot conceive that we have a gap in our knowledge.

What do they need to know?

What’s the workplace-appropriate attire for the industry and for the workplace? Are they the same? What soft skills will be appropriate for students to have? Career Services are called in to assist students when writing cover letters, conducting mock interviews in later classes, working with us on online and hardcopy portfolios. What does a designer or worker do in the classroom, and how can we work in those preparations in our own classrooms?

What About in YOUR Classes?

For students in my classes personally, they are pushed very hard. Their work needs to include technical mastery as well as strong conceptual work, a high attention to detail, and an excellent understanding of how these things are done. Many students consider me to be an arch-nemesis in early classes, and when they notice their level of control and understanding in later classes, consider me to have been right on schedule. In my mind, if a student is pushed to the brink, but delivers… they’re exactly in the right spot. If the workplace is as bad as a “bad day in a Dockery Class”… for them its just another day on the job. On the other hand, when an employer expects some good work, but they consistently provide above-excellent level care and performance… you have an employee who’ll be moving up in the world.

How Can We Be More Helpful?

Sometimes failure is the best thing that we can do for our students—we need to value these items more in the classroom. Business Administration has a course called “People Skills”. (in discussing this with Mark Monsky later, that program had already been discontinued). English 114 has a business writing class which can be used to enrich our students’ business vocabulary. Culinary has an etiquette class that outlines how to talk to others and clients, etc. Consider mock interviews with clients, and how do you phrase questions and things to help clients be clearer without overdoing it and upsetting people. Communicating clearly in collegiate environment is key. Speaking to them about emails titled “Question, Um…” are not appropriately, and materials need to be easy to read and very easy to communicate the materials. If you’re squinting at your own notes, you have some serious problems. We can stress the importance of writing and readable notes. One teacher noted that in low-stakes assignment she clearly says that “any pieces not using common writing conventions will lose AT LEAST half credit. Its a good wake up call in a low-stakes environment.

Rapid Fire Session

At this point, we had to break through with a rapid-fire session. The rapid-fire session went over some of the minor points while empowering teachers. I was talking and listening, and failed to take accurate notes, but we touched on:

  • success skills


  • student respect issues


  • instructor boredom
  • death by powerpoint
  • games

Can you hear me now?

  • collaboration
  • lack of community

Techie-tech at Wake TEch

  • teaching with video
  • tech tricks


Walk the line


How can you manage the amount of work coming home? Use the leeway the school has given you to ensure the amount of work you do.

You Lost Me

This was very vague. One of these items: Use the leeway the school gives us really seems to have missed the mark. Many of us teach 5+ classes in a semester, and have contracts with high numbers. Mine has 52 contact hours on the schedule and I’m not the only one maxed out in our department. We are paid for 5 office hours, but required to have many more which are unpaid.  We attend some school events as a courtesy and others as a volunteer and are required to attend other events annually (such as recruiting efforts, open houses, booths, and industry events). We undertake involved benchmarking projects, go to several conventions each year, and take well over 100 hours of professional development hours. Our classes take time, prepping old classes to reflect new software and new trends in the industry takes time, committee work takes time, answering email takes time, and we’re forced to work nights and weekends.

When I see that the school is giving us leeway, but I see that the school is really trying to have us seated 30 hours a week in our office, taking away our vacation and break days, it seems like you’re talking about something which isn’t accurate. This might be like saying “Eat all the cake your students bring you.” If there is no cake coming in, it doesn’t make much sense…

Back On Target

Use the time you need. Email is a rabbit hole, but it can easily be a problem. If you schedule the grading and email to certain times of the day, you may find you have more time than you thought. Consider not even looking at email until 3pm (cannot happen as I know it). Consider turning things off as soon as you walk out the door.

One Person noted (name redacted): Its in the policy that you do not have to contact with students on the weekend.

Multiple People responded: Evenings and weekends are par for the course in online classes. Weekend and night emails or often appeals and questions. If those go unanswered, its a complaint to the dean, and so should be answered. Online students with problems and blackboard issues are not easy to answer. Ensure students that you will address the issue after you have talked with IT or BB and give us the trouble ticket and response.

Another responder: If students cannot go on board with solving the problem themselves, why should we look into these issues.

Should we have 2 due dates per week or 1 due date per week? There is no standard. Many people find that emailing at a certain time is healthy and sets a good balance. Students must have concise efforts. Anything which is too drastic gets pushed off too late, and has a chance of failing.

Be Open and Honest About Responsivitiy— Especially with yourself.

Perhaps taking a 10 minute walk every 50 minutes can reset your productivity. Don’t be afraid to tell students that you will not be responding. Share and be open. Students will be available and open to give you some space. After all, that’s what they want too!

Using Metacognition Strategies to Increase Student Success and Completions

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At 1:50pm on 10/19/2018, I attended the professional development session: Using Metacognition Strategies to Increase Student Success and Completions presented by Denise Barton, PhD, as an ongoing pathway of professional development in an online class at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC.


Using Metacognition Strategies to Increase Student Success and Completions

So, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. I have been using metacognition to support students in improving their work in several of my classes, in helping them understand how to draw and design more effectively, and helping them to listen better during student and faculty critiques.

There are some videos shown in this course while I haven’t seen, along with the share and pair exercises listed on the video website, so this should be a great experience.

This course teaches you about metacognition, and while reviewing our thoughts and feelings on our progress, and how we might improve this (ah.. ah… get it!?) we can always feel free to email me at Denise Barton to gain assistance answering any questions we may have. I have also heard that perhaps in summer 2019 they might be offering a metacognition professional development course for faculty who want to use it to improve their teaching and students’ learning. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.


How to get the most out of studying

There are 5 videos located at This website (text url:

After I viewed each one, I took a break before taking any notes to ensure that I heard all the information.

Developing a Mindset for Successful Learning

This video gives an overview of the information presented in the video series. The information is organized into 10 Principles of Effective Studying that students should understand if they wish to maximize learning from their study time

Beliefs That Make You Fail…Or Succeed

The first video examines common mistaken beliefs students often possess that undermine their learning. The video tries to correct those misconceptions with accurate beliefs about learning.

What Students Should Understand About How People Learn

The second video introduces a simple but powerful theory of memory, Levels of Processing, that can help students improve their study.

Cognitive Principles for Optimizing Learning

The third video operationalizes the concept of level of processing into four principles that students can use to develop effective study strategies.

Putting the Principles for Optimizing Learning into Practice

The fourth video applies the principles of deep processing to common study situations, including note taking and highlighting while reading.

“I Blew the Exam, Now What?”

This video addresses what students should and should not do when they earn a bad grade on an exam.


Final Thoughts on Metacognition

It was a little exciting to revisit this work. I incorporate this into my classes, but its always nice to see the great effect this can have on students and other individuals. I felt this was great training, and I’ll be incorporating more of this in my classes.

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.