Virtuosity 11.11

Where words become worlds…

Archive for the category “Learning”

How Instructional Design Can Help With Teaching

People wonder about what I do, so I decided to make a short video on at least one aspect of my job: instructional design.

Instructional designers help people structure information in a way that makes it easier to understand. They also help instructors reframe how they teach so that their lessons are more interactive and relevant to students’ interest. While I don’t talk about it in this video (but I’m sure it will come up in others), I have a unique spin on instructional design because I think in terms of the ways that we learn; and, as we have all experienced, how people teach isn’t necessarily the same as how people learn. But, if you can structure information (and activities) to take advantage of natural learning processes, teaching becomes much easier, and the lessons are far more meaningful to students! Do you have a question about instructional design, or teaching that I can answer? Go ahead and put it in the comments.

Thank you, and happy designing!


Week 4 – Presentations, Proposals, and Conferences, Oh MY!

My apologies for not being able to keep up with my blog posts! With November 30th looming closer on the horizon, I feel like my work is funneling down, and I’ve had to quicken my pace just to keep up!

Last week was the first of many presentations that I am doing on the learning model derived from my dissertation study. As a hybrid between the folks at the University of Rochester’s Learning in the Digital Age (LiDA) community and a Zoom session with over 25 people from the Builder’s Brewery community in Second Life, it was an amazing collaborative experience! I walked away with many ideas as I continue to clarify my language, strengthen my arguments with evidence, and make modifications to my model. The exciting thing is that so far, it seems that I’m pretty much on target with what people are saying, and that my interpretations are in agreement with what people perceive. This is imperative for the qualitative work that I am doing!!!

This week, I’m completing the final edits to a manuscript (accepted for publication!) from my previous work with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s COMETs program. I’m also submitting two (of four intended) conference proposals about the findings from my dissertation. Additionally, I have one more full chapter to work on (yikes, it’s the big finale chapter!) before going back to do total revisions. So far, things look good, but it’s always going to be a scramble to get everything written in time!

Hopefully, I’ll be at a point where these updates come more often.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

LiDA talk

DIY Whiteboard Tutorial

I learned this little trick from my son’s 3rd grade teacher.  With just a pack of sheet protectors and paper, you can make an entire class set of “whiteboards” to use in the classroom or for your own personal use when studying (I’ll talk about that part next week).

You only need three things: paper, sheet protector and whiteboard markers.

IMG_2542 (1)

Really.  That’s it.  Put the paper (and this can be blank paper, lined, graph, etc) into the sheet protector.  Write on top of it with a whiteboard marker, and ta daaa!  Done.

  • To make the sheet protector last longer, I’d suggest using an old sock or rag to wipe as opposed to a piece of tissue.
  • Put a piece of hard cardboard in the back, and you can write on the surface anywhere.
  • Get a metal clipboard, clip the page protector onto it and you have a portable magnet board, too!

Do you have other variations?  Thoughts?  Ideas?  I’d love to hear from you!

Next Tuesday, I’ll show you how to use flash cards in conjunction with your white board to help you actively study.



Tuesday Tutorial – Evernote for Lectures, Snapshots, and Scans

Hi Everyone!

I have been doing small talks at the Non-Profit Commons in Second Life, where I have had the pleasure of connecting with a lot of passionate people.  This Friday, I’ll be interviewed by blog radio host, Marie, on her Talk! with Marie show about my work.  In the spirit of this upcoming show, I wanted to highlight an excellent suggestion that she gave me – that people would be interested in tutorials that show what I use in my grad school work!

Evernote is one of my first tools, because it is not only an electronic journal that keeps everything for me, but the paid subscription means that it makes everything SEARCHABLE!  Even my hand-written notes!

Below, I present a quick tutorial on how to get those  hand-written notes, and the notes instructors put on the board, into your Evernote in a fast and easy way.  Look on, and prepare to be amazed!  (Well, at least I was, when I first tried this trick!)

Using my nifty Camtasia program, if you view this on Youtube, you can actually click to the marked chapters – which might make viewing more pleasurable to you, if you have a short amount of time.

Enjoy, and let me know if there are other sorts of tutorials that you might be interested in seeing!

Hey, you! Teacher!

hooks quote

Everyone is a teacher.  However, our society has led us to believe that only specific subjects may be taught, and these subjects must be taught in a specific place, by specific people.  Yet, most of the skills we learn about being who we are, being better people, and being good at our jobs are not taught in a classroom.  Yes, formalized education gets our foot in the door for certain things, but our life mentors and teachers, like family, friends, and even strangers, teach us the most about living.

The current research on education challenges this notion that learning is a formalized activity, and that what gets learned should be an amalgamation of decontextualized facts and procedures that for many of us, lack any depth or relevance to our daily living.  In fact, this common notion of learning, and being a “good student” gets challenged in reform-based teaching every day!

For example, in online education, most instructional designers and educators build upon the theory of social constructivism (Mayes & De Freitas, 2004).  This theory says that we construct what we know and understand by actively engaging with others and with our environment (Phillips, 1995).  Now, if you think about how you, personally, have learned things, I bet this makes sense.  How did you learn how to cook?  How to ride a bike?  Or how to pick up a hobby that you love?  More than likely, these things were not learned through a lecture in a classroom.  It may start there, but for most experiences, we learn through doing, talking, trying and failing and trying again.  …and that’s natural!

When we think of learning in this way, then anyone we interact with who has taught us something (and this something could even be a new viewpoint or idea) has become our teacher.  Conversely, when you share your knowledge with others, you are a teacher.

So what are you waiting for?  Go out and teach!

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