Bibliography & bookmarks…

webimageCalling all classmates of 602… I think it would be nice to build a bibliography (and bookmarks) on adult education, instructional design, eLearning and usability.  Do you have favorite books, authors, websites and thought-leaders?  Any interest?



Professional organization… ADAPT

adapt_meeting_smallIt is pure coincidence that the topic of networking and connectivism occurs within the time-frame as an organization called ADAPT’s bi-monthly meeting will be held.  ADAPT, a local New England training professional non-profit association has been in existence since the 1970’s.  Over the past few years, not only I have become an active member, but I am even currently on the Board of Directors.  The value as a professional networking organization is incalculable.  I’ve met so many wonderful professional trainers, instructional designers, facilitators and consultants all of whom share their expertise and experience. I would like to share what it means, where it’s going, and invite anyone to join and participate.

ADAPT is a non-profit organization providing training professionals with a forum to exchange ideas, network with each other, and share industry best practices while bridging the gap between learning and technology.

There are so many benefits to belonging to a professional non-profit organization.  The website highlights them:AdaptAdvantage

  • Meetings
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Professional networking
  • Career growth
  • Products and services
  • Shared website communication tool

Next week, Thursday, May 9, 2013, ADAPT is pleased to host both a “live” meeting and virtual meeting with reknown expert, Cynthia Clay. She is well known in training circles for her company Netspeed Learning Solutions.  Her topic is:  Great Webinars: Crossing the Chasm to High Performance Virtual Delivery Getting to High-performance in Webinar Delivery.

She will be covering:

  • Avoid the 3 most common errors that make webinars dull
  • Apply 5 techniques to transform your virtual classroom
  • Adopt 3 practices to reduce the impact of technology snafus
  • Take away a white paper describing the competencies of a skilled virtual trainer

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.  Joining an organization, armed with your newly acquired ID skills, will surely enhance your career and networking!


Communities of Practice… Emergency Preparedness

It wouldn’t surprise anyone to say the Boston Marathon bombings and all the events subsequent have overwhelmed the entire metropolitan Boston area.  We were engulfed in the events, glued to the radio or TV or web.


Not only was the event a distraction, but I can make a smooth transition between Communities of Practice in the healthcare world – specifically emergency preparedness because that happened to be my topic of the “intervention paper.”

Emergency Preparedness culls together the planning, identification of disaster (natural or man-made), severity (catastrophic or routine), risk assessment (low to high risk) and command center responsiveness.  The impact on the hospital, staff – and community in general – looms large.  Being prepared in the event of a disaster forces the hospital to be prepared and respond to disasters and to help existing and potential patients should a disaster occur.

“To differentiate between traditional adult learning which bases itself on the assumption that learning is something adult individuals do, Lave and Wenger’s theory heralds learning which takes place in a social group setting.  As well, learning, in the traditional sense, has a finite duration.  Classes or courses start at the beginning, include activities and assessments, and in the end, the learner will be taught the new skill.  However, both Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger overturned the focus to learning as a social experience which germinates from daily living.  (Wengner, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Retrieved from Communities of Practice:

Even with the utmost careful planning, integration among various government agencies and hospital staff, no one can predict the devastation a bomb hurled during the Boston Marathon.

photo:  Boston Globe (4/19/2013)

Alphabet soup: CEUs are SDL

Doctor typing on PC

My example of self-directed learning is about my husband.  He is the Director of Medical Records at a Family Clinic.  His profession requires a strict set of Continuing Education Credits in order to maintain his credentials.  He’s been in the profession for over twenty years.  The credential RHIA (Registered Health Information Administration) follows his name. Headquartered in Chicago, the governing body AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) mandates 30 credits within 2 years.

All that said, CEUs are self-propelled and it’s incumbent on the person to maintain the current knowledge to stay abreast of the latest software, coding, trends and governmental policies. 

Keeping on top of the Continuing Education Credits is a form of Self-Directed Learning because there are no specific rules.  The person must be responsible for his/her own CEUs. They can take the appropriate courses via online, conferences, written material, courses or workshops.  I can see the benefits of keeping on top of the current trends.  Many professions require CEUs….but not Instructional Design?

Theories, types & models

There’s no shortage of theories to explain personality types and models.  Common among them, of course, is the Briggs Meyers (or is Meyers Briggs?).  It seems to be the theory of choice in many corporate-wide organizations.  Rooted in Carl Jung’s theory, it’s a straight-forward theory allowing for classification for working in teams, understanding strengths and weaknesses, as well as developing an understanding of other’s motivations and behavior.  I would imagine many people could recite their own classification:  Me=ESFJ, my husband= ISFJ.

Kolb-learning stylesWith David Kolb’s Learning Style Model, I see myself :  CE/AE  What I like about this model is its two layered approach.  The outer circle Concrete, Reflective, Abstract and Active while the inner circle is Diverging, Assimilating, Converging and Accommodating.  So, while it’s easy to classify oneself into a category, it’s interesting to see that it can be fluid.  Sometimes I am active; other times accommodating.  Sometimes assimilating.  I’m sure others weave between the categories.

Murder Mystery… Solved through Experiential Learning

I’ve watched my share of TV crime shows from Mission Impossible to Prime Suspect to L&O (which I haven’t watched for at least five years).  There’s one thing good detectives have in common:  the ability to solve a crime by following the evidence.  Good detectives have experience, share the knowledge, analyze the situation, generalize, process and apply the evidence. Good detectives look for motive, access and opportunity.  Isn’t there a parallel between solving crimes and experiential learning?

I’m sure our classmates won’t apply crime solving to experiential learning!  

When the MKO is the student…

proofOur group in Adult Learning Theory has been culling together the complexities of Constructivism, Social Constructivism and Activity Theory.  It is fascinating to see Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and More Knowledge Others (MKO) become clear.

Here’s an example: over the weekend, my husband and I saw the play, Proof, as part of our theater subscription.   The story, which began as a play by David Auburn, and later became a movie in 2005 with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, is about a brilliant mathematician whose life spiraled into madness before he died left his bereft (but also brilliant) daughter, to pick up the pieces.

The connection between the play and our topic on Constructivism and Social Constructivism is fascinating since the MKO is the student.  The play is about the “fragility of intellectual brilliance.”  Not to spoil the story, the More Knowledgeable Other becomes the daughter.  It is a fascinating twist in Vygotsky’s ZPD where the acquisition of knowledge comes from parents, teachers and peers.  Here, the daughter’s brilliance precedes her father.

See the play; it’s well done.

Taking time to learn something new

IMG_0457Some knitting projects take me a weekend; others several months. I have just finished this small blanket. It is made with various hues of deep blue, purple and gray with accents in black. I think it’s an analogy about adult learning and how it takes time to absorb new material.

Here’s where I’m going with this: Last week I was teaching a software application of a patient database. The workshops weren’t long, but the goal was to show existing employees the upgraded features of the software. While the feedback of the classes was very good, many said they had to practice with the new software to feel comfortable. This made me think of “cognitive load.” Some topics are very dense and take time to comprehend. Throwing a lot of new information within the span of a short class showing dozens of screens can be daunting.

I gently told the learners that the material itself is not new. They still have to enter demographics or clinical data, or progress notes. It’s just that the buttons or icons or menus have changed. I didn’t teach processes; just mechanics. In truth, I empathize with the learners. A new software interface takes time to comprehend even if their work doesn’t change.

So, whether a knitting project can take an afternoon or several months, sometimes after working on it a long time, that’s the best reward.

Asking for Directions (or how much Cognitive Load?)

directionsGPS is a life saver.  It’s fast and efficient.  You can ask your GPS to take you the scenic route or the fast route via the major highways.  You can ask your GPS to speak in a woman’s voice or a man’s voice.  Some GPS devices have the option to speak in a British accent.

I recently heard a National Public Radio episode about people’s experience with GPS.  Callers chimed in with a whole host of stories.  One caller named his GPS, “Sweetheart.”  He would say, “OK Sweetheart, we’re going to Jessie’s apartment today.”  What a hoot.  Likewise, people cited their frustrations when sometimes things go awry.  The GPS would send people down side streets only to end up 3 miles extra from their destination. Plus, who hasn’t had the “Recalculating” message sound when you overshoot an exit.  It goes on excessively.

This whole episode comes to mind as I am on a business trip this week.  I’ve never been to this particular city, so of course, I had my GPS.  How handy.  It got me directly to the hotel and the site where I will be training all week.

So, here’s the rub.  Cognitive load.  Working memory and long term memory.  I found it difficult to get a handle on two lefts, straight through a light, then the next left.  I forgot it the moment I got to my destination.  “Consider the “rule of 7.” George Miller, an early researcher in cognitive load theory, who suggested that the largest number of discrete pieces of information the brain could manage was seven, plus or minus 2” as quoted by Jane Bozarth’s article “Nuts and Bolts: Brain Bandwidth – Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design, Learning Solutions, 2010.

I’ll never forget some sage advice a real estate broker once told me.  Learn two or three main streets in a town or city and know how they intersect or bisect.  That’s how you’ll learn a new town.

How true.  Main Street to King Street, Main Street to Prince Street and Main Street to Pleasant Street.  That’s downtown Northampton!

Reactions to the Blizzard of 2013

blizzard2013streetThere was an interesting story in the Boston Sunday Globe recently about a family who lost power during the Blizzard last month. The electricity didn’t work for three days and the entire family was at a loss of what to do.  No TV, no internet, no gameboy.  Cellphones worked until the battery was drained.

The author, a deputy business editor from the Globe, Mark Pothier recounted his story about being powerless in this “hyperconnected” world.  While he and his family suffered no heat and light, it was the connectivity to the outside world that he felt at a loss.  There’s no doubt that, comparatively, natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy whose hardships lost more than “dormant flatscreens and missed Facebook updates” (his quote not mine).  A blizzard of 30 inches of snow with the loss of power for two or three days is minor event.

But all this makes me think of the generational differences as we discussed and read in Adult Learning Theory.  “One of the key tenets of sound online course design (and implementation) is that courses should be learner-centered.”  (Kaminski & Currie “Education for a Digital World, p 196).  This can be a challenge since learners come from a variety of age groups, sociological backgrounds and lifestyles.  In any given class, a participant or learner can be one from Gen X or Gen Y or a Baby Boomer.  In a perfect world, design of online courses would benefit both the individual and the collective group.  Kaminski goes on to say that the generational concept was introduced by Karl Mannheim (1936) who said groups of individuals born within the same age period share a commonality – a similar world view.

As a Baby Boomer, we remember the Blizzard of 1978.  Although I was in college at the time and safely sequestered on campus, my husband remembers getting stuck on Route 128.  No cellphones.  People were stuck on the highway.  We remember blizzards.  They were not detrimental.  “The storms never damaged our spirits.  We weren’t dependent on instant access to 24-hour entertainment,” Pothier writes.

So, sorry Gen X and Gen Y if we remember previous blizzards.  We remember the disasters, but we didn’t have cellphones to help us in an emergency.  We were at the mercy of time.