Thursday, December 18, 2014

Storytelling for Learning: Part 2


This is part 2 of a three part series on storytelling as part of the learning experience.

Questions I'd like to address about storytelling in this three-part series:
1.     Who benefits the most from a good story? (See Part 1)
2.     How do you build a powerful story to illustrate a concept?
3.     What guidelines should I use for using stories?

How do you build a powerful story to illustrate a concept?

Brainstorm all of these relationships using some form of a concept map. Let your ideas flow freely, without critique, and you will find stories among your thoughts.

Start with your ah-ha moments from your learning experience.
If you can recall, when did the topic or concept click for you? What was happening? Sharing how we made sense of a topic can help others find their own way to understanding.

Talk to others who know the topic well. Ask them about how they have come to make sense of certain concepts. How do they explain the topic to someone new to learning it?

Consider what you know about the people who will be attending your session. What kinds of pop culture may they relate to? What experiences could you connect with that relate to the story?

Connect your inspiration together into a beginning or "hook", middle, and end. Your entire session may center around a single story with pauses or breaks for providing information to the audience for how to interpret the story's events or to discuss how they may apply what they have learned to this point in the story. You may use your story as a brief aside or anecdote to clarify understanding.

Even if you chose not to center your class or workshop around a single story, this activity of priming yourself to consider how you and your learners connect to a topic will help you anticipate challenges that your audience may have with understanding the concept. Anticipating these stumbling blocks allows you to adjust your lecture and activities to best help your audience learn.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free e-Books for the Holidays

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to become an elearning pro by reading these free ebooks
Free e-Books for the Holidays

The E-Learning Heroes website is one of my favorite resources for learning about using technology for designing learning experiences. Their website has a host of free downloads including a new series of e-books. Even though the website has a focus on e-learning, their content is applicable to in-person workshops and presentations.

The books are brief (the two I have read were 21 pages in total each) and highlight key lessons with visual examples.

If you want to create engaging scenarios that involve lots of decision-making, read "Building Compelling Interactions".

If you want to work on your PowerPoint skills, read "Essential Guide to Visual Design".

You can find all of these books here: https://community.articulate.com/e-books

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Storytelling for Learning: Part 1


Storytelling is a powerful learning tool.

By using a metaphor or analogy as part of our story, we engage in what the learner may already know in order to help them build a bridge to a new concept.

Disclaimer: I have difficulty distinguishing between the two (metaphor vs. analogy) and need to remind myself from time to time (Read Metaphor, Simile, and Analogy: What's the difference?). For the purposes of this post, I will use "story" and "analogy" interchangeable.

Questions I'd like to address about story telling in this three-part series:
1.     Who benefits the most from a good story?
2.     How do you build a powerful story to illustrate a concept?
3.     What guidelines should I consider for using stories?

Who benefits the most from a good story?
In short... everyone! The facilitator and the students gain different things from a good story.

For the facilitator:
A story or analogy can serve as an integrative anchor for a topic.
Example: If you had no knowledge of city life, but you were from the jungle, we could use the analogy that a city is like a jungle... bustling life on the sidewalks below with sky scrapers, like trees, filling the sky.

A facilitator can then use the imagery of the metaphor or analogy to inspire a cohesive visual environment for all graphics within the presentation.

When participants get stuck, additional layers of the analogy can be used to help participants make connections.

For the learner:
An analogy or story that relates to personal experience helps to more easily make bridges between concepts.

Learners who are novices within the topic, find metaphors and analogies to be especially helpful for making connections.


Creating analogies or metaphors as a learning activity helps participants confirm what they know as a well as identify gaps in their learning. Critiquing or evaluating the effectiveness of the analogies with their peers is a helpful way to address misunderstandings or misapplication of a topic.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Prezi vs. PowerPoint: Points to Ponder

We’ve all been in this position – we have an upcoming presentation and we’re trying desperately to come up with an interesting and innovative way to present the information so our audience stays engaged.  When we ask a co-worker (or classmate) for any ideas, he suggests Prezi.  Oh, Prezi – the word is becoming more familiar, but the concept is still so distant to us.  And we can’t forget about PowerPoint, can we?  Which program are we supposed to use?

Truthfully, Prezi and Microsoft PowerPoint are not that different.  One might be an apple while the other is an orange, but at the end of the day they’re both a part of the fruit family. They both serve the basic function of aiding in your presentation.   In most cases it comes down to a matter of personal preference, but here are the top three benefits of each program:

PowerPoint:
  1. Extremely user friendly – Many people have grown up learning how to use PowerPoint throughout school.  Your audience and you are probably already familiar with PowerPoint, and  the saying is true – don’t fix what isn’t broken.
  2. Give your audience a hard copy – PowerPoint allows its users to easily print the presentation slides in a way that is organized and easy to read.
  3. Design – With PowerPoint, users can choose from endless editing options such as fonts, backgrounds, and transitions, as well as easily insert graphs and tables, while the program itself keeps the basic linear foundation easy to edit.
Prezi:
  1. Zoom – Unlike a PowerPoint presentation, which consists of a set number of slides, a Prezi presentation is essentially designed on a large canvas.  By viewing the canvas as a whole, the presenter can give the clear, overall message of the presentation, and can then zoom in to explain points in greater detail.
  2. Freedom to edit – Videos can be added to any part of the presentation, and images can be adjusted and angled any way you’d like!  Be careful, though – you also control the path your presentation takes, and if your path is full of loops and sharp turns, your viewers will notice!
  3. Web based – Because Prezi is a web based program, it is easy to embed a Prezi presentation straight to another website, blog, or YouTube account.

One last tip:  Take a minute before you begin to review your topic, content, and intended audience.  Prezi allows users to easily compare and contrast information, and then go into greater detail by “zooming” in on more specific pieces.  Every good presenter should think about his or her audience before beginning to prepare the presentation.  Some audiences prefer the familiarity and consistency of PowerPoint, while others like the interesting and attention-grabbing transitions and images that Prezi offers.  Prezi might take some time getting used to at first, so make sure you allow yourself the time and patience to learn something new!

Check out the following links for more information on how to use Prezi:
or visit www.prezi.com for more information

Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post with more details and direction on how to use Prezi!

Written by Catherine Busam, Learning & Development Intern

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Learning Activity: The Learner and The Advisor

In this post I wanted to do a spotlight on an activity that I hadn't seen before, but was led through at a recent workshop I attended. Like all activities, it can be adapted to meet the learning goals of your session. Email me at kberes1@slu.edu to let me know if and how you use it!

The Learner and The Advisor
Purpose of this activity: Allow participants to leverage previous experiences and apply new concepts through problem-solving with a partner. This activity can also be used to help practice advising or consulting skills.
Overview: Participants identify a dilemma to discuss. Each participant plays the role of Learner or Advisor. Each person will be the Learner for two rounds and the Advisor for two rounds.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Participants will need paper and writing implement to take notes
  1. Participants identify a dilemma related to your topic. (3 minutes)
    1. Examples:
      1. Identify a question you want help answering
      2. Write out a scenario you do not know how to address
      3. What would you ask an expert in (your field/this topic)? Write out your question.
  2. Part 1: Round 1 of advising (5 minutes)
    1. Ask the group to form two circles, one inside the other (like speed dating or networking). Each participant is to pair up with the person across from them. The inner circle acts as the Learners, the outer, the Advisors.
    2. Instructions to the group:
    3. "You will form pairs--one advisor and one learner. The learner will share his/her dilemma/question with the advisor. The advisor will listen, ask questions, and help generate solutions."
    4. Facilitator gives the group about 5 minutes to pair up and discuss.
  3. Part 2: Round 2 of advising (5 minutes)
    1. Instruct the inner circle to rotate two spaces (any number is fine) to find new advisor.
    2. Repeat the sharing and advising process from Round 1. 
  4. Part 3: Round 3 of advising (5 minutes)
    1. The Learners and Advisors switch roles: the outer circle becomes the Learners and the inner circle the Advisors. Ask the outside circle to rotate a 3 people to their right.
    2. The new learner shares their dilemma/question with the new advisor
  5. Part 4: Round 4 of advising (5 minutes)
    1. Final round. The outer circle rotates one last time to find a new Advisor. The Learners discuss and share their dilemma.
  6. Debrief (7 minutes)
    1. Who heard something new? (show of hands)
    2. Who had their ideas validated by their advisor? (show of hands)
    3. What connections do you see between what you discussed and [insert the topic of the session]?
Possible Variation to Reduce Time:
Reduce the number of rounds to two. Instruct the group to form pairs. Each person has one round to act as the Learner and one round to act as the Advisor.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What is Active Learning?

What is active learning?

I define "active learning" as stimulus that engages the learner to actively apply a concept. For a visual, this concept would like like this:
There are endless activities that you could use. They go by different names, too. Examples might be "discussion techniques", "reflection activities", "structured experiences", etc.

Here's one of my favorite lists compiled by the University of Indiana's Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning called the Discussion Techniques for Active Learning: Dictionary of Methods and Strategies.

In upcoming posts, I will give examples of different activities you may use to engage your learners.

What's one of your favorite active learning activities?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Update: What happened to Microsoft Clip Art?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Microsoft Clip Art appeared to be disappearing; using the search option in PowerPoint wasn't yielding much.

Today, I noticed that the search in PowerPoint yielded the same results as searching on the Microsoft clip art website. It appears that Microsoft has  linked their images to their programs through their website rather than allowing you to keep images locally on your computer.

What does this mean for you?

When you go to Insert Clip Art, make sure that the "Include Office.com content" box is checked. I took a screen shot for you:



If you do that, you will a lot more clip art to choose from! Enjoy!