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Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

If you’ve received a Google Wave invite, perhaps you were overwhelmed and confused the first time you logged in like I was. Or maybe you’ve never even heard of Google Wave. Either way, I recently found a great FREE resource to get you up to speed on Google Wave.

Appropriately titled “The Complete Guide to Google Wave,” this online guide describes everything in simple terms. They start with the basics like what Google Wave is and how to sign up, then build up to Wave-specific terminology, possible use cases, and advanced features. I especially liked this video explaining how Wave is different from and improves on email:

Don’t let the prominent “$6 Buy Now” graphic throw you off – that’s for the PDF version download. Not that 6 bucks is a lot, but you can read the whole guide on their site for free; just scroll down and click on the chapters.

I’m still exploring and tinkering with Wave myself, but it has a lot of potential to improve communication and collaboration – for work and play. So get yourself signed up for a free invite and read the free guide while you’re waiting. Then you’ll be ready to wave like a pro when you’re given the green light.

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Peer Learning

We deal with lots of forms of knowledge transfer.  Our classic forms of ILT, e-Learning and other types of performance support are great formats for delivering structured knowledge to meet well-defined objectives.  That said, peer groups formed to facilitate learning and knowledge sharing are a method that has tremendous value.

For the past two years I’ve facilitated a monthly roundtable of small business owners in a peer-based learning format and the power of the approach is pretty significant.  First, it allows for more real-time learning to occur since participants can address specific issues or areas of business that they need more knowledge on at the given time.  Second, it allows learners to learn from other practitioners, people dealing with very real challenges similar to their own.  Third, the format allows for a great deal of reflection; often we know how to solve our own issues, we just need a forum for working through them.  Finally, it relies heavily on a tried and true method of story-based or experiential learning.

Heare are some suggestions for running an effective peer learning group:

  1. Develop a format for identifying issues and topics for discussion.  Our format includes a brief update from each participant where topics and current issues are put on a white board and then prioritized for discussion.
  2. Develop a format for addressing topics or issues.  This can include a limited presentation by one member; question and answer sessions; experience sharing; a “lightning round” to share best practices; or other structured techniques that draw participation and balance the discussion.
  3. Use a timekeeper to structure discussions.  After a format or structure has been identified, develop time guidelines to keep participants from dominating a discussion.
  4. Focus on experiences.  The sharing of experiences and stories drives a great deal of learning.  It causes other participants to reflect on their own situations and to re-apply lessons and ideas to their own world.  Ultimately the transfer of ideas and concepts from one context to another drives both learning and innovation.
  5. Hold each other accountable to discussions and actions.
  6. Develop a plan for subsequent meetings and topics.
  7. Monitor the health of the group.  Keeping a peer group vibrant and growing is important to foster continued learning.

Ultimately one of the best ways to develop yourself personally and professionally is by learning from peers.  Whether it’s in a formal setting as outlined here, or informally by networking with peers in your field and drawing on their thoughts, ideas and experiences, peer-based learning is an invaluable (and also cost effective) way to continue your own development.

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Stop Putting Your Class To Sleep And Engage The LearnerEdutainment. In some circles this is a dirty word. Some teachers may respond, “I am not in class (or online) to entertain, I am there to teach!” Well, let me ask you, have you ever looked out over your class and seen people asleep? Have you ever felt like you were the only one interested in the topic you were teaching?

Unfortunately, many teaching lectures and classes fail to engage the learner. I vividly remember experiences in Elementary School, High School, and College where the difference between teachers that showed up for class and teachers that engaged the class stood out in glaring contrast.

Elementary School Comparison
One teacher was a “screamer”. She called all her students by their last name (which is typically a sign of contempt). I honestly cannot think of a thing I learned while in her class. Contrast her with a teacher I had the year before and it was night and day difference. This teacher was much more compassionate. Called all her students by their first names and made sure to say “hello” and “good bye” to every student each day with a hug. She was creative and energetic in her approach to teaching. Did I learn in her class? You bet I did. I listened to everything she taught me. Why? Because she engaged me and each of her students on a personal level.

High School Comparison
Granted, High School is not the easiest season of life to try and engage students in learning. Many students would rather be hanging out with their friends. Many of my teachers were good. But good can be the enemy of great. I remember one great teacher who engaged his classes. This man would take time out of his day if he saw you needed help. He had the kind of creativity and character that you wanted to aspire to and kids wanted to hang around him. Not because he was their “buddy”, but because he cared about what he taught, who he taught to, and how he taught it.

See a pattern emerging?

College
Similar situations — professors who were excited about their subjects passed that enthusiasm onto their classes in entertaining ways. Other prof’s that were more interested in their own research/grants seemed to see classes as interruptions in their personal schedules.

Know The Audience
So, what does all this have to do with edutainment? In order to engage the learner you need to know who they are — know your audience. Do your homework. Listen to focus groups, students, and customers.

Also, ask yourself if you enjoy what you do? Maybe teaching is not for you. It could be you have more interest in research. If you are not genuinely excited about what you’re teaching then it will be obvious to everyone — but you.

Tips

  • Be yourself – use humor if that comes naturally to you.
  • Be honest and open – when you’re transparent your class can better relate to you and will listen to what you have to say.
  • Use props – strong visual reminders can do wonders for cementing concepts in the minds of your class/audience.
  • Activities – to be used only when it makes sense and reinforces.
  • Participation – engage members in participating what you are teaching.
  • Remove distractions – whether in the room or any annoying habits you have picked up, remove them.

Edutainment is not a dirty word. We need to engage the learner. We need to engage them on a personal level and academic level. We need to help them understand why the knowledge and information we are conveying is relevant. If not, we have lost their attention and, consequently, lost any opportunity to truly teach.

If you have others ideas let me know in the comments section below.

Additional Reading
Entertainment And The Educational Impact
NextGen eLearning And World Of Warcraft®
Are There Benefits to Online Games And Learning?

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