How Do We Learn

In looking for meaningful learning we have to remember that it is the brain that gives us the mental models needed for understanding.  When we recognize the brains role, we will be in a better place to help students grasp and master the lessons we give them.  Cognitive learning is a huge subject, so expect more FLC posts on this subject as we breakdown the brains role in the process.

Until then, enjoy this 6 minute Ted Talk “teaser” on the subject of cognitive learning.

It’s Friday!

Has it been a long week?  Well, I thought I’d finally add a “Fried Friday” post to the Faculty Learning Corner.  Have a great weekend, and dance like no one is watching!!!

Happy April Fool’s Day

April 1st is here this weekend, and that mean’s it’s April Fool’s Day.  Being a baseball fan in the 80’s I was totally fooled by Sport’s Illustrated’s story of Sidd Finch, who could throw a baseball over 160 mph, with a boot on one foot, and the other barefooted.  Drafted by the New York Met’s, and unknown to anyone else, this young man was going to single-handedly change baseball, except for one problem…he wasn’t real.

If you are a fan of good April Fool’s jokes, there is a website that lists 100 of the greatest pranks and hoaxes.  I’m happy to say that Sitka’s own Oliver “Porky” Bickar, made the list at #3 for the 1974 Mt. Edgecumbe volcano eruption prank.  Read about it here:

And just to keep the tie to education, here is a fantastic April Fool’s presentation by Matthew Weathers at Biola University in Los Angeles County, California.

Do you have a favorite April Fool’s Joke?  Share it in the comments!


Motivation is a critical, yet somewhat unknown component in successful teaching.  Although this video is geared toward corporate organizations, there are many interesting points that can be applied to education.  The video narrated by Dan Pink is 11 minute video long.

Important points from the video

  • When Rudimentary Cognitive Skill is needed, a larger reward leads to poorer performance
  • Incentives can have an opposite effect than expected – Students concentrating on grades will do worse than those concentrating on subject matter.
  • 3 Factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction are:
    • Autonomy – Self Direction
    • Mastery – We like to get better at stuff
    • Purpose – We are animated and driven by what we do

When motivating students, you want to avoid “extrinsic” motivators such as rewards, and make sure they are not concentrating on grades, scholarships, or the brownies that have been brought in to reward students.

Instead use “intrinsic” motivators, such as making lessons as interesting as possible, and helping students to feel good about what they are learning.  Humor in the classroom will go further to motivate a student than donuts!

Go ahead and comment and tell us what you do in the classroom to motivate students!!

St. Patrick Video

This Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, which we may think of as a day of parades and green beer.  But do you know the story of St. Patrick?  To tell the story, I’ve chosen a video (below).  This method of delivery is not only fun, but also helps to demonstrate multimedia learning with video!

Not only is animation an attractive way of teaching a lesson online, it is also engaging to the student.   There are four features of video hat help make it a good choice for on-line learning:

  1. Technological Infrastructure – Easy to edit and annotate, and allows students to pause, fast forward, and rewind at their convenience.
  2. Video Content – Content can highlight best practices, and has the ability to illustrate “complex teaching dilemmas” in which students can then do further analysis.
  3. Task Structure – Potential for learning revolves around teacher interaction and understanding of the videos used.  Can be used to enhance, recall, and deepen understanding of the topic, or as a basis for problem solving.
  4. Social Structure – Video can be used as a basis for online class participation, as the teacher creates social structure using video as a catalyst for discussion.

Video supports learning and helps students to acquire knowledge and support new skills.  It can also illustrate class activities and interactions, and does so in an engaging and positive way.

That being said, you now have the chance to find out more about St. Patrick.  Enjoy the video, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

‘Ask Me’

As we look at student needs, it is important to remember that we grow through diversity, and every student has an important contribution to make.  Title IX policy’s are in place to protect students from discrimination, but we shouldn’t follow these policies because they’re the rule, we should follow them because it is absolutely the right thing to do.  The following 12 minute video is from The Chronicle of Higher Education, originally published in September 2015.  Please take the time to watch, and thank you for helping every student feel welcome!

Link to article and video:  Ask-Me-What-LGBTQ-Students Want Their Professors to Know


  • Ask them how they identify
  • Ask them about respect
  • Ask them if they feel safe
  • Ask them about LGBTQ resources
  • Ask them what gets them excited to learn
  • Ask them who they are

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!

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!!

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!

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: