The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: December 2014

My Student Experience

By: Ingah Davis-Crawford, Student in the M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology program

The fall semester 2014, was my first semester at Brandeis GPS.  The last time I had attended grad school was in 2009, when working on my Master’s in Distance Education from the University of Maryland University College.

Believe me when I say that I had no plans to return to school.  But, in the five intervening years I began to think that maybe I should advance my knowledge explorerof instructional design. At the same time I did very much enjoy not having to spend time studying.  I had gotten back into the swing of having a social life and just being able to watch television or read when I wanted was great and let’s not even mention sleep.  Still, every now and again I would surf the net looking for an online grad instructional design program.

That’s what I was doing when I found the Online Instructional Design and Technology program at Brandeis.  I saw it was a new program and that the first cohort would begin studies in the fall.  It was one of those “now you don’t have any excuses” moments for me. If I didn’t apply who could I blame?  My friends and family would understand.  I could dvr my favorite TV shows.  And sleep, well I have gone without it before and survived.

I enrolled in two courses, Principles of Online Instructional Design and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. I was beginning to get the hang of things when real life intervened.  During the third and fe-Learning Concept. Computer Keyboardourth weeks of the semester , our father, who had been sick for quite some time, was taken into hospice care and began his journey home.  Needless to say that meant I had to put my classes on the back burner, Dad was the priority.  Of course, I messaged my professors to inform them of my circumstances and they were both very understanding. However professor Salerno was particularly kind and encouraging.  In the end after returning my attention to studying, I made the decision to drop Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in favor of concentrating on Principles of Online Instructional Design (ID).

I really enjoyed the ID course, and it was no walk in the park either.  The course offered an education on two levels – first, it was a thorough overview of the methodology behind instructional design.  Second, it was very enlightening to be able to observe and experience professor Salerno’s teaching method and how he structured the course, respectively.  For instance with respect to teaching method, I noticed that he would use the discussion forum topics to get us to think about or practice a specific instructional design technique prior to the assigning a task that would incorporate that technique on a broader scale.  This I found to be quite useful for my own development throughout the course and I also view it as a practical example of best practices.  The course layout within the classroom was very easy to follow.  Course materials for the weekly modules were clearly placed.  Instructions for discussion forum topics and course assignments were clear and concise.  And, professor Salerno was always available to answer questions or offer feedback on a timely basis.  So, there again he was teaching by example.

In closing, I found the course to be challenging, but I know that I learned a lot and I’m glad to have had the experience.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with the learning experience I have had so far at Brandeis GPS, and I’m looking forward to next semester.

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One mistake presenters should never make and 8 strategies to avoid it

by: Lisa Nielsen

Whether workshops, panels, keynotes, or classes there is one mistake presenters should never make. It is a mistake I learned to never ever do from a wise lady early in my career. I’ve heeded this advice and seen the negative ramifications of those who do not. Ramifications such as a frustrated, unsatisfied, and anxious audience as well as less than favorable reviews and feedback. Additionally, when presenters, don’t heed this advice, the chances of their audience incorporating what they’ve learned into their work, decreases.

Fortunately, if you remember this one piece of advice, your future presentations will be brighter and your audience will leave more satisfied.

The advice is…

Always make sure your audience feel “they have everything they need to be successful.”

Presenters fail when they say things like:

  • “We have a lot to get through today.”
  • “I am speaking quickly so we have time to cover everything.”
  • “We’re already behind schedule.”
  • “In the interest of time…”

Or do thinks like:

  • Require participants to take down everything you say, because you haven’t provided it to them. They’re focused on the low level task of copying, instead of the higher level thinking of making meaning.
  • Not provide a detailed, timed agenda that could be turn-keyed.
  • Not tell up front and remind participants in the middle and end what goals are and that they are making strides in accomplishing the goals of the session.
  1. Build in extra time at the beginning
    Start out by putting your audience at ease. Create a collegial atmosphere as folks arrive. Perhaps a simple do/now ice breaker where you ask participants to talk to the people around them and find out what they hoped to get out of the day. This gets minds flowing and allows for a relaxed start with a networked room.
  2. Plan for latecomers  
    Latecomers can throw off and delay a presentation. When you address the audience ask them to be the ones to fill in a latecomer should they sit next to them and let them know what to share.
  3. Provide ALL materials
    Speaking of what to share, keep it simple. Create a link where participants can access EVERYTHING you’ve shared. This way they don’t worry about missing anything and you don’t have to worry if they didn’t get something down.
  4. Ensure Materials Can Be Re-purposed Don’t share materials in PDF. Don’t give access without copy ability. Provide materials to participants so that it is easy for them to make their own, customize, and bring back to their work. This is a wonderful gift for teachers (time!) and students (great new learning materials).
  5. Smart Name Tags
    You know that link I mentioned above? Don’t worry about saying it over and over or having to keep putting it back on the projector. Provide name tags or cards with all the information participants will need i.e. a link to the presentation, Twitter hashtag, how to connect to the internet, etc. This way, the answer to every question is “It’s on your name tag.”
  6. Sum up the learning
    At the end of your time share all the new things participants will be able to do as a result of your time together. This way you’re focusing on what they have learned. The audience is assured that they got what they came for out of your time together.
  7. Take backs
    Ask participants to share (verbally or via Twitter, text, post it) in 140 characters or less one thing they’ll take back to their work. This reinforces their learning.
  8. Use reassuring statements
    Let the audience you know you are right on track with statements like:
    • “After our time together you’ll know exactly how to…”
    • “We are right on time.”
  9. Have two plans
    Have one plan if the class moves slowly. Have an additional plan if they move quickly. If they do, let them know that they were so on point they get bonus learning. If they move slowly, they’ll still know exactly what you told them they would learn.

So what do you think? Have you experienced presenters who try to rush through information? Have any of these strategies worked for you? Are these strategies you would try when you present?

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