Educational Posters for Sale

Colleagues have been asking me for some time whether they can have copies of the various visualisations that I have produced over the years. These were usually developed as posters, from A3 to A1 sizes, for workshops and events. I am happy to share high-quality originals for colleagues to include in publications but I think it appropriate to charge for the majority of them.

The updated 2022 version of my comprehensive taxonomies of educational objectives poster is available. This and future versions will be available as high-quality downloads to be printed locally. This saves a fortune in packaging and postage and allows you to decide whether you want it board-mounted, matte or gloss, and so on.

In the setting up phase of this new ‘storefront‘, here is a discount code for 20% off the price. Just put in the code G4G5EURM at checkout. Look out for more useful visualisations and resources being posted over the coming months.

Guidance for Educators: Avoiding Burnout

Transcript:

Welcome all. Please feel free to share this video with colleagues if you think they’d find it of interest.

Want to talk today about burnout. Being a teacher, being a lecturer, being an academic, very often leads to periods of intense pressure, and very often we see colleagues burning out. They leave the profession.

They literally just find the ongoing pressure too much to bear, and I think it’s really important that we support each other, but we also have to preserve ourselves and avoid exhaustion. We do that by setting boundaries. You need to learn to say no. You need to learn that your responsibilities have a limit.

Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to, take on all of the pressures, all of the responsibilities that our students expect the entire institution to provide for them, and it’s important that we make time for relationships, for relaxation, for recreation. 

Education is a team game or a theatrical piece. It’s not a single performance. It’s not a solo game, nor are you actually a solo performer. You’re not a stand-up comedian standing alone on your stage. It’s a team effort. So if you do feel yourself under oppression. If you feel overly stressed, turn to a colleague and ask them for support. If those colleagues aren’t available for you to lean on, then you need to learn to escalate because it’s not your responsibility to run the entire college or the entire university or to run the entire school sector.

You need to be able to escalate your own stress just in order to avoid burnout. So if you feel the pressure lean on a colleague, if there’s no colleague to lead on, escalate.

Be well.

Guidance to Educators: Developing professional relationships

Transcript:

Welcome all, please feel free to share this video with colleagues if you think they would find it of interest. 

Let’s talk today about building professional relationships. Teaching can be quite a lonely experience. Depends a little bit on the organization that you teach in. You might be teaching in a very isolated part of the world, or you might be teaching a very specialist discipline. You might be the only person teaching that particular subject in your school, even in your area. 

And having good connections with other practitioners that understand you, understand your context, definitely do serve to lower the level of anxiety that you might feel. There’s evidence to suggest that well- connected educators do suffer less anxiety.

So reaching out now is much easier. There are any number of digital platforms that you can engage with and connect with other people. And in doing so you benefit not just that level of human connectivity, but you’re also using them as a source of new ideas, new sources, new perspectives. 

It’s very important if you do get involved in any of these platforms that you do become a contributor, as well as a consumer. That’s not just because that’s fair. It’s just, it’s also that echoing your voice is really important, using your voice to mirror the practice of others is part of the process of building those relationships.

Even if it’s just to go back to someone who’s posted something, you found a value to just say “I’ve used what you suggested. It worked very well for me” or it didn’t and I made this adjustment, and I did it this way. Having that level of feedback is really important. 

So, I’m on a number of different platforms. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Twitter. I’m on Instagram. I’m on Tik Tok. I’m on YouTube and I’ve got my own website, but I think the two that everyone needs to start with are Twitter and LinkedIn. Build a profile on LinkedIn, doesn’t have to be expansive, but at least something that gives people a sense of who you are as a person.

And then Twitter is a great way of just picking up ideas, sources, perspectives, re-tweeting things that you think are of interest, identifying things more widely, and posting them and share that community experience. You’d be surprised how quickly it does build and giving you a solid network to lean on will undoubtedly reduce your anxiety. 

So you might want to try some of those platforms for yourself. See how it goes. 

Let me know. Be well.

Guidance for Educators: Post-session reflection

Guidance to Educators: Reflecting after sessions

#teachers #learning #educators #education #university #tutors #lecture Visit http://www.sijen.com for transcripts and links. Please share, like and follow.

Transcript:

Welcome all. Please feel free to share this with colleagues. If you think they’ll find it of interest. 

Let’s talk today about how you handle a session that doesn’t go so well. Any problems that crop up can be quite demoralizing. Sometimes you walk out of a session thinking either I dropped the ball or the students didn’t respond. Something just didn’t work in any given session. 

Now not every session is going to go well. It could be something you have failed to plan for, it may be that you misjudged the receptivity of the students. It may be that they just were very resistant to what it was you’re asking them to engage with in the session and how you manage that system dynamic is obviously very problematic.

So after any session, educators really need to sit back and reflect if it, even if it just takes a few minutes, even if they’re just doing it in their heads, they need to be thinking about what went well, what didn’t go so well. If it doesn’t go well, there’s a particular problem in any given session, it’s a really good idea to journal it, write something down, even just a few notes on the back of your notes are fine, but to write something down as soon as possible after the session. To discuss it with colleagues, just to literally go back to the, whatever the virtual coffee room is, or the staff room and talk to your colleagues about why something didn’t go well and be open about that. You won’t be judged for it if you’re honest about it. 

And thirdly, to reflect, and how deeply you reflect will depend a little bit on whether it was a serious issue or, or relatively minor issue. You maybe want to think about, from a positive perspective what you would do differently if you had it again.

And if you were faced with those similar circumstances in the future, how you might plan to do it differently. So it’s really important that you do reflect at some level, either using notes, conversation or indeed just thinking about it. I always try and make some notes after a session, particularly if it hasn’t gone well, but even if it’s gone well, I might want to make a note as to why I think it might’ve gone well.

I think it’s really important, and I would encourage you to do that. So do try something like that, try something similar. 

Let me know how it goes. Be well.

Guidance for Educators: Session Planning

Transcript:

Welcome all. Please feel free to share this with colleagues. If you think it would be of interest to them. So, today I want to talk a little bit about why it’s important to plan your sessions. This is particularly pertinent if you’re delivering a stand-up lecture, that’s expected to keep students engaged for 40 minutes, 45 minutes, but even in a normal session, a normal seminar session, it’s still really important that you plan. Down your session. It’s really important that you don’t plan around the content. And rather you plan around the learning experiences. We can almost take them as synonyms. We would almost say content and experiences are the same, but it’s really important that you think about how the student is hearing that content, how they’re engaging with that content rather than just delivering them raw content.

I think it’s also really important as you plan out those linkages, those connections between the experiences in your lecture, that you don’t use a hundred percent of the time, certainly lecturers when they start their careers, if they’re not particularly confident, they will walk into a lecture theater, start delivering, keep talking and leave at the end, in order to possibly avoid confrontation, avoid questions.

And once you’ve found your feet, you will be able to use the time really effectively. And I think it’s important that you plan possibly for up to 80% of the session to be around the learning experiences, the guided experiences that you were expecting to share with students, and leave 20%. at the end. Sometimes people say, what do I do if people don’t have questions, if students don’t ask anything, how do I use that time?

There, there are a number of ways that you can use that, but it is important to have a, almost an Encore in the way that a musician is expecting to come back onto the stage and perform again. we don’t usually get, rounds of standing ovations for our teaching, but very often having an Encore is really important.

It’s almost the most important thing because it’s the last thing that the student is going to experience. So it can’t be something that is core. Can’t be core content or core content experience because you might not get your opportunity. The session might go long and it’s dangerous to leave the best to the end, but it has to be something that’s reinforcing something that’s empowering and it’s worth actually concentrating really on what that Encore is going to look like.

And then build the session back. If the session does go a little bit long, that Encore needs to be able to be prepared either as a short video interaction to go up on the website on your, virtual learning environment, or possibly. Yeah, featuring featured in a handout, but it’s really important that you plan out the experiences for 80% of the session, and link them together, conceptually through good planning.

There are some templates that you can use for planning sessions, a search on the web would find any number of them. I’ve also got one on my website as well. If you do want to access that.

Just give it a go. See how it goes. Let me know. Be well.

Teaching Enhancement Toolkit: Simple 5 Step Lesson Plan

‘Resilience’: the latest hyped up term being applied to education.

“If you managed to cover the absences of staff successfully last semester, are you maybe just over staffed?” If you managed to move all of your learning in a frantic fortnight with minimal support, well “how hard can it be, and do you really need all of that expensive support?”

There is a danger of being ‘successful’ in responding to a crisis. Senior management often don’t see the pain and sweat, the family disruption, the anxiety, and stress as it is happening. “Look how resilient you have all been in response to Covid-19, just carry on like that.”

Resilience is very in vogue at the moment. There are any number of workshops and seminars to empower you as an individual to recognise your own resilience. Some generously provide a ‘toolkit’. Others provide just a forum to share stories of resilience. I have been a participant in a number of these session in the last 12 months. To coin a Yogi-ism ‘It’s déjà vu all over again’. In the 2000s the same workshops were being run for us a managers using different buzz words, adaptability and self-awareness.

Adaptability requires a certain degree of intellectual flexibility, but above all it requires that an individual feel secure and trusted. Most individuals can be persuaded to try a different approach, provided if it turns out not to work, that they won’t be reproached. Most employees will find creative solutions, in collaboration with others, if they feel that their jobs don’t depend on them getting it right first time. Employers need to provide safe zones for failure. Employees need to understand their boundaries and self-imposed limitations. How far should you stretch outside of your current experiences, your ‘comfort zone’? This requires one to be self-aware. To know your limits and when it’s ok to step beyond them.

If senior management in tertiary institutions really want to ensure the resilience of their staff they need to empower even the most junior faculty or support person to make mistakes. To encourage them to be adaptable and responsive to changing circumstances. They must also ensure that staff are self-aware, willing to declare their own limitations and their own boundaries. Given the ability to recognise one’s own limits and being creative in adapting practices to stretch them is a practical definition of professional fulfilment.

I can cope with the evolution of language, it is one of the things I love about English. I recognise that running workshops encouraging staff to be adaptable and self-aware might sound a bit 2000s and language may need to be spiced up a bit. It just gets a bit tiresome to have old concepts repackaged and presented as something radically new. Personally I think it better to confront the underlying conditions in which ‘resilience’ is enabled.

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

 

Guidance for Educators: Finding the Passion

Transcript:

Welcome, all. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues, if you think it would be of value to them.

I want to talk today about passion. It’s really important that your passion for your subject is conveyed to your students. Even if there is something about your subject that you don’t particularly find interesting, you might find it a little bit dull, even, it’s really important that you look deep inside and find the nugget of passion for that particular topic or that particular lesson because if you don’t, you risk losing your students’ engagement with you.

So, think back to a situation where you have yourself had a teacher tutor, or lecturer, that you thought was exceptional. You may remember everything that happened in this session. You may have looked forward to going to those particular sessions. What was it about that particular lecturer, or tutor, sis that proved so effective? When I’ve done this exercise with, academics as part of academic professional development, almost without exception, they would say, actually it was the passion. It was the passion of the teacher for that particular discipline. Sometimes that specific lecture, sometimes that series of lectures, that course.

And so I think it’s really important that you do look to find that moment of passion within anything that you’re teaching. So, sometimes that can be quite difficult, and you may need to about, sometimes a very small, aspect of the entire topic that you think is a point of passion, and you build from that. Because it’s your passion for the subject that will allow you to get your students engaged. It will allow them to be more receptive to the enlightenment that you are going to share with them, and it’s also going to mean that you are more likely to be able to give them the empowerment, to go forward, to think about what they’re going to do with that learning later.

So your learning needs to engage, enlighten and empower. And, I personally found it quite hard on occasion to find that point of passion and it’s worth literally thinking, just before the session, “what’s the one thing that I’m going to share with my students in this session?” That sparks other people’s passions. What other researchers, other academics, whatever thinkers have spun off that particular point?. And if you don’t have anything, particularly that, you find passionate, you can convey the passion of others, but it’s really important that there is passion in any teaching session.

So you might want to try that. Let me know how it goes.

Please share, like, and follow.

Be well.

Guidance for Educators: From Simplicity to Complexity

Transcript:

Welcome all. Please feel free to share this with any of your colleagues who you think might benefit from it. Let’s talk today about complexity and simplicity. So, I think you can save yourself an enormous amount of time by carefully planning a session based on the complexity or simplicity of the argument that you’re trying to convey to your students.

It’s really important that we don’t stress the content of what we’re delivering. Rather the interrelationships of what it is we’re talking about or teaching about. Whether that’s a conceptual relationship, it might be a timeline. It might be a cause and effect, relationship, whatever the relationship is, whatever conceptually encapsulates the knowledge that’s being shared.

So, if you plan your lesson, it’ll depend a little bit on the nature of the discipline and the level which you’re teaching. But I think generally it’s quite a good idea to outline the complex picture as briefly as possible as a target that students are going to aim for, but rather than then try and make that your starting point and try and explore that you basically want to go right back to the beginning to the most simple building blocks of that complexity and build your way forward.

I think the reason to do that is it’s very easy sometimes to make assumptions that students have had the same life experiences you, or that they actually have the same linguistic ability, terminologies. That they understand the jargon, and there’s a real danger that you can trip over yourself.

If you start from a complex try and go to simple, you need to basically start with simple and build up. It’s really important to make sure that if you do think there is discipline jargon to be shared, that has to be unpicked and built into the session,  put up definitions alongside any jargon that you’re using.

So, I think it’s really important just to situate the complexity of the topic in their, in the student’s, landscape of learning, not in your own. And it’s very often, the case is that we almost, it’s not about showing off, but sometimes we literally just kind of feel that we need to start with what we’re most comfortable with, which is sometimes a very advanced level of knowledge.

So, it’s really important to just plan out your session in advance. I use a mind map to do that. I usually have a map sometimes on paper, sometimes using a bit of software that allows me. Map out the journey from simplicity to complexity. And when I do that, I can share that with my students as well.

You might want to try that, see how it goes. Please share like, and follow be well.

 

Why we need to change how we design courses.

There are many courses out there that do a great job of teaching manual, dexterity and physical capabilities. From bricklaying, hairdressing, to gas-fitting, there are course that are focussed around manual processes. However, there are huge numbers of graduates from tertiary programmes that cannot perform duties required of employers on day-one simply because they have not learnt how to do something. Their learning may have been told ‘why’, and even ‘what’ is expected, but it has not enabled them to perfect the skills associated with the ‘how’.

It remains remarkable to me that so many course and programme specification documents, replete with (sometimes well-formed) learning outcomes, have NO psychomotor outcomes. There are few courses that could not be improved by including an assessed outcome associated with using a tool or technology.

To prove the point I asked colleagues informally before Christmas whether they could think of a course where there was NO tool or technology use in play. Without further prompting, most agreed that Excel skills, SPSS, CAD tools, even library databases all required a degree of incremental competence but that these had not been in any way ‘taught’, let alone assessed, within their courses. One provocateur suggested that their course required only the ability to write and reflect. It took little effort to unpick this given that writing in this context requires a word-processing package, formatting, style sheets, spell-checking and in-text-citations, all of which are assumed graduates skills. This colleague stood their ground, suggesting that they were not employed to teach those skills; that was someone else’s responsibility.

This may be at the root of the challenge. Thirty years ago (when many of our current educational leadership graduated) your three to seven years spent at University was a valuable time spent in proximity to the sources of privileged knowledge, the esteemed Professor or the library. You had a whole life after graduation to develop the rounded skills associated with being whatever your chosen lifetime employment might be. That is simply no longer the case. The ‘academy’ no longer contains the privilege knowledge. We have democratised the information sources. Even those who embark on a lifelong vocation will find the landscape around them continuously changing.

Access to the LinkedIn Learning resources, and the cornucopia of free web resources, has allowed some institutions to negate whatever obligations for manual, dexterity and physical skills development they might feel towards their students. Some course weave these external resources into the learner’s experience, others totally abdicate responsibility and deem it part of the independent learning required of learners.

One reason for this lack of attention paid to the acquisition of psychomotor skills is because it is thought harder to assess someone’s psychomotor skill set that it is to test their knowledge, and by extension their intellectual or cognitive skills. If I can’t meaningfully assess it, I’ll just avoid teaching it. It is also a function of the ‘curse of knowledge’, given that faculty have acquired their psychomotor skills in a particular technology or tool over an extended period of time and they have failed to either document that learning or indeed to reflect on it.

There are some well designed courses out there. I hope you designed or teach on one. But there is still a significant deficit in the in-course provision of support for the acquisition of psychomotor skills associated with tools and technologies in a range of disciplines. We need to design courses across ALL disciplines that are rooted in the skills that graduates require to handle the uncertain information, technology, and socio-cultural environments they face. This means designing courses first around psychomotor skills, interpersonal and affective skills, then meta-cognitive and cognitive skills. Then, and only then, should we worry about the factual knowledge element. We need programme and course designers to be designing with different priorities if we want to make learning appropriate for the contemporary learner.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What are the four key skills required of learning designers or instructional designers?

Let’s talk about the skills required of learning designers, or instructional designers. 

Context makes all the difference. Learning design in a face-to-face University context looks very different from an online instructional designer working in a government department or commercial enterprise.

Roles using generic job titles can differ significantly. There are learning designers who guide academics in their practice (in the way ‘educational developers’ do), and others who interpret how-to notes into a short visually rich interactive screen based experience (more like a UX ‘user experience’ designer). And all points in between.

Job descriptions can be fairly meaningless.

Knowing the needs of the organisation is the best place to start. Knowing the difference between designing a series of courses as part of a University programme that is going to amount to 3,600 hours of student learning differs greatly from taking a manual and putting it into an e-learning unit that takes an hour to work through.

The nature of the organisation also determines the degree of autonomy and responsibility the designer is likely to be given. Turning a manual into e-learning may require no content knowledge at all. Just convert what’s there and you’re good. A course as part of a formal qualification either requires the designer to have some foundation in the discipline or the ability to research, corroborate, validate and extract knowledge,  and establish how best to ‘teach’ that. 

The only commonality across these roles and contexts is the ability to see things through learner’s eyes, whoever that learner is. 

That means empathy is the first key skill.

In the contexts in which I have worked in the last 25 years, the ability to overcome the ‘Curse of Knowledge’, the inability to remember what it means to be a beginner in any area of learning has been key. That means that for me, it has never been about building a team of discipline specialists. It has meant looking to build course teams that include those who possess knowledge and practical experience, and those who act as the ‘first learners’. These first learners, as designers, need to ask the simple questions, the ‘dumb’ questions, to make sure that the level at which we pitch the learning is appropriate.

This may seem obvious to you, but it’s remarkable how many designers are intimidated by specialist knowledge. Faced with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who is ‘cursed with knowledge’ and who cannot express learning intentions at the appropriate level, a good designer has to cajole, persuade and chorale the learning from the SME.

This means that the ability to listen and ask questions as though a ‘first learner’ is the second key skill.

Designing learning that works within a specific context, say a three hour face-to-face workshop, is unlikely to work in an online form without modification. This means designers need to combine their skills of empathy and listening, of understanding the institutional purpose and the perceptions of the learner, and adapt courseware accordingly.

In the last 18 months many organisations have been forced to learn this lesson the hard way. Faced with the challenge of sustaining learning under pandemic conditions, most have made a reasonable effort of getting it right. Those that held to their core values and listened to the needs of their students and teachers have done better than those that reached for process and systems driven approaches.

A good classroom teacher, with practice, can adapt their delivery from workshop to seminar, from lecture to discussion fora, when timetabling assigns them a different teaching space, learning designers need to adapt the ‘tools’ they use to suit the learning need. Digital tools come and go, upgrades can change the way tools behave significantly. A designer who is an expert at using Rise 360 may move into a role where that tool is not available, or they may use H5P like a pro only to find that their organisation prohibits its use on their platform. A good designer looks past the tool (or space) and can identify the essence of the learning experience and make it engaging.

Being adaptable to the means of communication and associated toolset is the third key skill.

You notice that there is nothing about intellectual skills or the ability to use any particular tool. I am making an assumption that you have at least a bare minimum of digital-literacy, that you have used more than one tool, and that you know what appropriate use looks like in a given context. I am also making the assumption that you are intellectually capable of some level of judgement and analysis. 

Most importantly, I am going to assume that you are, because you have read to the end of this post, sufficiently self-reflective to consider what your skill set is, and what it should or could be. That’s a great start. 

Being a reflective practitioner is the fourth key skill. Arguably, the most important one!

If you are thinking about building a career as a learning designer, of whichever guise, these are the four key foundational skills: being empathic, a listener, adaptable, and reflective.

 

 

Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

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