Feb 16

Storytelling in the Classroom

Want to grab the attention of your students.  One of the best ways of doing this is to tell a story.  If you know your audience, it is sure to capture attention, and make the lesson you are giving more memorable.  In this 7 minute YouTube video you are going to learn some of the secrets of good storytelling.  The intended audience of this video is those who want to make good YouTube videos, but the lessons in this video carry over to education.

Now, I know what you’re thinking….I teach math.  How does this apply to me?

Let me tell you a story of my own.  I was in high school trigonometry, and I’m old enough to barely remember the high school I went to (haha)…. My math teacher, Mr. Jones, let us know about a former class he had that included some of the school’s football players and cheerleaders, and they were learning the quadratic equation.  He went to a Friday night game shortly after going over the concept in class, and during the game he heard a new cheer that the student body was yelling…yes, the whole school was yelling out the quadratic equation thanks to the cheerleaders in the class.  Apparently the class did quite well in that section of the class as they all had learned it, and memorized it through the football game cheering.  Mr. Jones told us he had “never been prouder!”  After his story our class then proceeded to “cheer” the quadratic equation – in class!

So did the cheerleading story really happen?  I actually don’t know, but the story was an effective tool to help my class learn, and one I still remember more than 30 years later.  Yes, stories can have a big impact on learning retention and engagement.  So, grab your student’s attention with a good story that connects them to the subject matter, and have some fun with it!

Feb 02

Motivating Your Students

How do you motivate Learners?  Here is a video (less than 10 minutes) that helps answer some of the questions on motivation.

Listen for these ideas when you watch:

  • Embracing Change
  • Collaboration
  • Desire to try something new
  • Willingness to try and fail, and try again
  • Community of Practice
  • Learning through experience
  • Increase performance through personal connection to learning
  • Importance of play
  • Tinkering

Going beyond the subject area and remembering collaboration, and a sense of place, are very important, especially to on-line students.  When building on-line courses we also need to remember to develop the intrinsic motivation that the student needs to keep moving forward through the course.

Keep an eye on the FLC for more information on motivation!!

Jan 26

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

Did you hear about the banker who was recently arrested for embezzling $100,000 to pay for his daughter’s college education?

As the policeman (who also had a daughter in college) was leading him away in handcuffs, he said to the banker, “I have just one question for you. Where were you going to get the rest of the money?”

OK, I know it’s a bad joke, but the reality is that if you have a recent college degree, you are probably paying on a student loan.  If you are employed by a government or a not-for-profit organization, you may be able to save money through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).  I know, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is…but not in this case.  This is a Federal Government program that is still in operation.  It allows you to make 120 payments, and any balance after this time is forgiven.  So if you work at a public university, for example, you may be able to save a substantial amount of money on your student loan payments as compared to paying the entire loan off in full.

Here is the link to the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Loan Forgiveness page!  Check it out to see if you qualify!


Jan 19

Applying Behaviorism to E-Learning

When we look at e-learning, there are a few different ways of approaching the subject.  The three main ways of designing multimedia learning are:


  1. Response Strengthening,
  2. Information Acquisition, and
  3. Knowledge Construction

In this post I’m going to concentrate on the first way – response strengthening, which can be looked at as part of behaviorist learning theory.  In this approach we are concentrating on the connection between stimulus and response.  Behaviorism is centered on the idea that learning is based on building connections between the learning situation and the response.  In this case the learner needs to make a response, and receive feedback on the response, while the instructor is to help the student by giving feedback and reinforcement, whether the response is positive or negative.

Behaviorist learning is mainly for use in “drill and practice” and shouldn’t be used when teaching concepts and strategies.  It’s best used for teaching specific skills.

Here’s an article on applying behaviorism principles to e-learning:


Dec 12

Learning Outcomes – Part 3

I know, the anticipation has been great; just like waiting for the last movie in the Star Wars trilogy!  In this final episode of Learning Outcomes we are going to look a bit more at verbs (including ones you shouldn’t use), we’ll identify learning outcomes, and we’ll take a look at “conditions” and “criteria” of a good learning outcome.  This goes by pretty fast, so you are welcome to back-up, watch again, or visit with your instructional designer!

Thanks for watching!!

Here is a link to Action Verbs that you can use:

Want more?  Here is an article that you can look at:

Dec 08

Learning Outcomes – Part 2

Well, here it is, as promised…Part 2 of this three part series.  In this episode we will briefly look at alignment, taxonomy, and a bit more about verbs used in creating Learning Outcomes.

This is a pretty quick overview.  Do you still have questions?  If so contact your campuses instructional designer!!!

Thanks, and I will see you on Tuesday for part 3!

Dec 06

Learning Outcomes

In this post I wanted to tell you a bit about Learning Outcomes.  This turned into a project that was somewhat bigger than I thought it was going to be.  This is partially due to the length of the presentation.  Because of this I knew that I was going to need to “chunk” this up (a subject for a future FLC presentation).

What I did was I broke my presentation into 3 parts that are just over 6 minutes each.

  • Part 1 is today (12/6/17),
  • Part 2 will come out on Friday (12/8/17), and then
  • Part 3 on Tuesday of next week (12/12/17), so prepare yourself for that!   😎

Enjoy Part 1!

Nov 08


When looking at learning motivation, an idea that you may keep hearing about is gamification.  As technology and gaming evolves, the use of games as a standard teaching mechanism becomes closer to reality, especially with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) devices.

Two factors in effective e-learning are motivation and community building, both of which coincide nicely with gamification.  Games and simulations can have a motivational effect, as most use a story-line and have some type of reward for winning or completing a task.

Games can also be used to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Studies have shown that there is a good level of acceptance by ASD students, and that gaming can help behaviors related to social initiation.  Also, in cases where the student demonstrates repetitive tendencies, games can increase exploratory behaviors.  (Malinverni, 2017)

So how do you gamify your curriculum?   An important element involves integrating your game’s storyline with your instructional objectives.  You want to be certain that the game is aligned with your student goals, so students are concentrating on the correct information.

You also want to incorporate feedback directly into the game, in order to determine whether students are getting the correct message.  This is even more effective if the feedback is explanatory.  It should also be noted that rapid response games work well for automating skills through drill and practice exercises, but may not be effective when pursuing cognitive learning outcomes.  (Clark & Mayer, 2011)

Another tip is to make sure your game contains cognitive activity and not just discovery learning.  Exploring without cognitive activity has been shown to be ineffective, and may produce unintended learning results. (Clark & Mayer, 2011)

Still on the fence as to whether or not gamification has educational value?  Watch this 20 minute Ted Talk!


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-Learning and the Science of Instruction (Third Edition ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Malinverni, L. M.-G. (2017, June). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers In Human Behavior, pp. 535-549.

Oct 23

Pause, Play, Repeat

Here is an interesting article from Faculty Focus

Pause, Play, Repeat: Using Pause Procedure in Online Microlectures
By: Judith Dutill, MA, and Melissa Wehler, PhD

The article advocates combining microlectures with pauses for interactive activities that allow students to review, process and clarify their understanding.  The can include responding to brief writing prompts, playing “Devils Advocate” or pausing for short check-for-knowledge quizzes.

While it easy to see how this can be done in a face-to-face class, how would these pauses be incorporated in an online environment? Recorded lectures can be paused (either automatically if using a program like Adobe Presenter or by asking the student to pause a video) and then the student can be asked to think about a particular question, respond to short quiz questions etc. before continuing.

Dec 13

Audio feedback for student assignments

Here is a pretty good 8 minute video on using audio feedback for student assignments.  It shows how you can use Audacity to record mp3 audio files and return them to students.  If you are using Blackboard you can return them as a file attached to their graded assignment – just use the paperclip icon in the feedback box.

This video shows not only how one instructor creates audio feedback but the reactions of a student.


Audacity is not the only tool you can use to create audio – but it is easy to use on both Mac and Windows platforms. Find audacity at http://www.audacityteam.org/