Friday, June 5, 2015

Free Professional Development Event for Facilitators: June 30th! (and learn about ATD)

(Logo from the ATD STL chapter site)

Connect with Facilitators across Saint Louis!

The Association of Talent Development (ATD) Saint Louis chapter is hosting an event to form a Facilitator's Special Interest Group (SIG).

Registration is free and you do not need to be a member to attend.

When: 30 June 2015 from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Anheuser-Busch Biergarten, South 12th and Lynch Street, St. Louis, MO 63118

Click here for more event details and to register.

What is ATD?
"The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)."
The ATD national website has a number of (mostly free) educational resources to support your development. While their focus is on talent development, the concepts and resources they share are applicable to support anyone who is creating or facilitating learning experiences.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Use Graphics Wisely: Questions to help build up your visual literacy skills

Image from: Veer via Edutopia

We want any visuals that accompany our work to work for us, not against us.

Cultivating an understanding of how visuals support learning is a skill that can be developed. I recently read an article by Blair Rorani titled Visual Literacy for Project Teams in the Austrialian Training and Development Magazine that introduced me to the term of "visual literacy".

Visual literacy is the ability to understand and communicate with visuals. Visuals can be an effective way for connecting with an audience and conveying a concept. I've posted before about the power of visuals and graphics in learning (Graphics for Learning and 3 elearning websites to follow to learn about graphics).

The ability to communicate effectively with visuals is like a muscle that requires exercise. The exercises to develop include the conceptual ability to imagine ideas as images and then the technical skill to create an image.

Blair's short article provides a process that helps with developing your conceptual abilities. He breaks the process into three parts: people (who is affected by the process), places (where does this occur), and things (what objects are included). You could use his questions to help identify visual components that connect to your topic. Consider creating a mind map to help you brainstorm answers to the questions. You then can use your ideas to help you create or collect relevant graphics for your presentation or handouts.

Check out Rorani's blog with lots of others short essays about instructional design and how to create meaningful learning experiences.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take Stock: What do you believe to be true about learning? (AND a free online course to help you figure it out!)

Image from:

What do you believe to be true about learning?

Theorists have long discussed and wrestled with the process of learning and formed various schools of thought over the years (you can read about the core paradigms of learning theory here). Wherever you are in your theoretical knowledge of learning, you have ideas of what motivates and engages people to learn and how you like to engage others. Typically, when you formulate these ideas into a statement, you may refer to it as your "teaching and learning philosophy". Within academia and K-12 education you will find many resources for writing such a statement (here or here). Taking stock of what you believe helps to identify opportunities for growth and celebration.

In addition to the resources shared above, you may consider a free course from EdX (a free online course creator, like Coursera) called "Leaders of Learning" designed by Richard Elmer from Harvard University's graduate school of education. This course is relevant to this conversation as it seeks to engage learners to identify their own theory of learning and compare it to the current and future learning landscape for education and organizations. Taking stock of where we are and where we are headed helps us to make strategic choices about the present.

Take stock of your current belief system using the resources shared here. What do you believe about learning? How can you remain relevant and future-focused with your ideas and efforts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free, online class: Introduction to Public Speaking

Do you want to develop your public speaking skills?

Coursera is an online repository for courses designed and facilitated by faculty from Universities all over the world. They have an open course on public speaking, which covers impromptu, informative, and persuasive speaking by Dr. Matt Garrity from the University of Washington. Check out the class here.

How could this benefit you?

Impromptu speaking: When you're facilitating a group, you never know what questions will come up. Practicing impromptu comments will help you feel confident that you can respond on the fly.

Informative speaking: Informative speaking could be another term for "lecture". Any time you are explaining or describing a concept, you are informing your audience.

Persuasive speaking: The opening moments of a class are when you want to hook your audience. Persuasive speaking can be used to motivate and energize your group to be fully present for the class.

Check out the class! Share what you've gleaned from the content by emailing me at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is your facilitation style?

What is your facilitation style? How do you see yourself in the role of facilitator?

My personal teaching philosophy is that people learn through collaboration, reflection, and real life experiences. To that end, I see myself as a facilitator of a learning experience and design my learning experiences to heavily use interactive strategies like small group discussion, individual reflection time, and real-world problems to solve. While I value my own competence and expertise on a subject, I value more allowing learners to intentionally examine their previous experiences against new ideas.

In short, I view any class I teach as a "workshop" and most of the time, I want to "get out of the way" of the participants' learning.

What do you believe about your role in the classroom?

A resource to help you think about this: Grasha's teaching styles.

Grasha describes four different teaching styles:

  1. Expert/Formal Authority
  2. Personal Model
  3. Facilitator
  4. Delegator
Take his short quiz to discover your style. Read more from his book Teaching with Style. Each style has its strengths and challenges. You may have a primary style, however, developing other styles allows you to flex, when needed, to meet the needs of your learners.

Taking some time to reflect on your beliefs and values as a facilitator allows you to be more aware of the choices you make in the design of your session and the environment you create with your presence.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Collaborating with Prezi

By now, you’re practically a Prezi pro!  In the last two blog posts, PowerPoint vs. Prezi and Prezi: Taking the Next Step, you’ve learned the different benefits that Prezi and Microsoft PowerPoint offer, as well as how to use Prezi’s templates, workflow, and various editing options.

There’s one last step to learn - collaborating with Prezi.

Collaborating allows multiple employees to contribute their expertise in order for a presentation or project to be the very best it can be.  Not only do employees generally feel happier working together to reach a common goal, but collaborating allows different departments of an organization to give their input, thus, benefiting a greater number of people.
Collaborating through Prezi could not be easier!  Once a Prezi is shared with all contributors, it can be accessed by anyone from any location at any time.  Additionally, presentations can be edited in real-time by any contributor.
To begin collaborating, simply share your Prezi with your desired collaborators:
When you’re ready to present your Prezi, don’t worry if all your contributors aren’t there!  With Prezi, each contributor can take the reins at specific presentation points by choosing to “hand over the presentation.”
Your audience doesn’t need to be present, either!  Prezi users can easily access presentations from the convenience of their office, home, or Metro car.
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To learn more about collaborating with Prezi, click here.

As we wrap up our discussion on Prezi, we feel confident that you’re ready to use this great resource, and can’t wait to hear about your future presentations!

Written by Catherine Busam, Learning & Development Student Worker

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prezi: Taking the Next Step


You’ve read our earlier postPrezi vs. PowerPoint” and after reviewing your presentation tool options, you’ve decided to give Prezi a shot!

However, while you may have gotten your toes wet, you might not be ready to jump right in.  Prezi has a lot of unique features that can really contribute to making your presentation memorable, but learning how to use them all together can be daunting.

Fear not!  We’ve compiled some additional resources that will help you learn about the many amazing features Prezi offers!

A word of advice:  be patient - with yourself, with your presentation, and with your computer.  Like all new concepts, Prezi takes time to learn how to use all the different transitions and effects like a pro.

With a little practice, though, you’ll be a Prezi expert in no time!

Prezi’s official YouTube tutorial explains the very basic functions of Prezi in just over a minute.

Here, Prezi describes how to create a good presentation workflow, as well as other tips to make even a basic presentation stand out.

This video will walk you through creating your first Prezi, from choosing your template, adding your content, and publishing your finished project.  

Want more Prezi tutorial videos?  Click here to visit Prezi’s official YouTube page.

This is the all-inclusive article, which teaches users everything from how to choose a template, framing content correctly, and customizing to your heart’s content!

This article explains the concepts of frames, layering, sizes, transitions, and much more.

Here, users can learn about choosing a theme for their presentations as well as customizing colors, fonts, backgrounds, and custom logos.

Written by Catherine Busam, Learning & Development Student Worker