ASTD TechKnowledge 2012 Learning Reflection

The attendance of this conference provided a great deal of perspective of the direction for our university’s online team and curriculum in the crucial next year or so as we realize a new growth through our two new masters degrees and now bachelors of science in nursing for current RNs. Undergraduate degrees have become patterned for us to develop quickly, but the BSN-RN provides a new challenge with a special practicing field that has an audience with much more specific expectations and needs than general degrees. With new concentrations popping up everywhere, a transition to a new learning management system, and a new approach for motivating and engaging adjunct faculty, there was a lot on both of our minds. (Both refers to myself as director of online education and Scott as lead instructional designer of the online programs at Ohio Christian University.)

The bottom line is that we walked away excited, freaked, and motivated to bring our programs to a new level of effective design and delivery methods for our learners and faculty. Here are some of the major takaways I found in sessions.

Dr. Clark: Evidence-based Training

  • Dr. Clark helped me understand that we have no evidence for relationships between learning styles. They are preferences only, so we should not dump resources to expand on learning styles with students. Awareness is all right, but it should not be a major focus. The prior knowledge is the key value that should be the focus, not the learning styles.
  • She also provided invaluable tips on effective graphic visuals; when they should be basic, complex, and how they should be partnered with text. I am very excited about effective graphics potential in our curriculum and am sensing the need for a contractual graphic artist in the near future to really flesh out this potential. Just the realization of the difference between graphics (representational, organizational, relational, transformational, interpretive, and decorative) tells me that we need an expert to help.
  • Another fascinating insight by Dr. Clark was that the relationship between ratings and learning is too small to assess effectiveness of the course. Ratings on students’ satisfaction and other items are perfectly acceptable, but it has been shown that they do not have the knowledge to assess true learning effectiveness.
  • The session cannot be possibly be done justice in these short snippets, but a final key point for me was a study that Dr. Clark shared that the statistical significance between human 1-1 tutoring and step-intelligence tutoring (computer) was only .03, with both having an incredible statistical significance for assisting students with a .79 and .76 respectively. Compared to the .31 result for computer based training, it’s time to lose that method entirely! (Please note that this is the context of STEM courses).

Dr. Allen: Agile Dev (Leaving the ADDIE Model Behind)

  • My hero! Scott’s and my own effort with dumping ADDIE for a much more effective agile model loosely based on SCRUM (see paper and Agile 2011 presentation here) motivated me strongly to hear this particular session, and it was well worth my while. After he effectively demonstrated the poor value that ADDIE causes, he presented his own methodology called Successive Approximation. In essence, it was SCRUM, but after speaking to him later, he had no idea until recently when he discovered Agile and some of the frameworks within the Agile philosophy. It was very interesting how much different industries re-invent what other industries have, solidifying my belief that we need better cross-disciplinary and cross-industry communities.

Sherri Jeavons and Cindy Dunlow: Virtual Conference

  • These ladies demonstrated a fascinating success story of providing leadership training globally through a virtual conference. It removed a financial and travel constraint, and avoided the inevitable ‘brain dump’ that occurs when packing in a great deal of information in such a short period of time. This three-partial day virtual conference took place over a quarter with weekly cohort meetings for reinforcement resulted in a demand for more.
  • Another viewpoint shared was how to develop presentations that were effective and engaging for participants. It was shared that visual engagement or stimulation should occur every 30-60 seconds, whether it’s through sharing applications, creating movement, or using tools. Also, physical interaction is necessary to prevent the watcher from multi-tasking. This should occur every 2-3 slides or 3-5 minutes, and can be done by offering polls, open phone lines, allowing annotation, raising hand actions, and active chats. There should be a focus on short sessions, and anything longer than 90 minutes should have breakouts and chats. The idea of presentation golden rules was dismissed with only these questions to focus on: is it one clear concept and is it interesting.

Michelle Lentz and Stevie Rocco: Copyright Challenges

  • This insanely informative session opened my eyes to what’s available, and what’s /not/ available! After putting the fear of God into you with some examples of copyright laws, they shared the differences between public domain, GNU, and Creative Commons. While linking out to the Internet is never a problem, that is not always a viable or good solution, so they covered these items, plus the six licences available through Creative Commons. Going through these alone was well worth the entire session.
  • There was clarification of rights between a service and cost center provider, and then a wonderful list of amazing resources, including (use at will with no attribution required), (CC licence music for your project), (sound clips with CC licence),,, and many more.
  • A hugely valuable insight was that Google pictures do not search according to the CC filters (use and if YouTube has closed captioning, the CC is not included in the licence. You must note to click on the link for closed captioning if you are embedding.

Deborah Stone and Steven Villachica: Immersive Learning Simulations (Immersive Simulation PPT) (Immersive Simulation Handout)

  • This session was about effective development and use of immersive learning simulations, something of which we want to provide for our nursing programme. Interesting, a huge takeaway for me was that the process is identical to classic instructional design development; it’s just learning the technology and specific practices needed for effective delivery. My intimidation was greatly reduced by this session, and I think it motivated Scott! Even better, a huge point with these types of simulations is that good development is based on constructivism, the philosophy we use for adult learning curriculum development. Indexing the experiences to apply them later corresponds perfectly with our current models, and was a major point of effective simulations.

During Scott’s and my reflection period after the conference, we found eight major issues to address, create, implement, or whatever the best illustrative verb was for that action. Let the continuous improvement continue!

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.