Successful Online Education with Pat Wagner

The State Library of Kansas and System Consultants participated today in a Wimba training session, “Improve Successful Use of Online Education Opportunities” with Pat Wagner (presenting from home in pink silk pajamas).   Pat works as a consultant and trainer with the University of North Texas LE@D program (Lifelong Education @ Desktop) and was invited to present by Cindi Hickey, my KU-obsessed friend at the State Library in charge of Library Development and WebJunction Kansas.  I tweeted some of this today, but thought I would try to improve my retention by blogging about it…and then I’ll take this and rework it next month into a newsletter article…because I’m efficient like that.

What we did NOT focus on was ‘for-credit’ and academic education, mentoring, and face-to-face training.  Instead, the scope was continuing and professional education, formal online classes, workplace skills and knowledge and the fact that ANYTHING can count as online, including watching a video or downloading a handout to print out!  Baby steps like that build confidence and make ‘online class’ a less intimidating undertaking.

What are some of the impediments to having a successful online learning experience?

  • Lack of bandwidth & technology
  • Lack of time – everyone chooses how to spend their time, is online learning a priority?
  • Lack of experience with online learning
  • Poor history with online classes – one failure is all it takes to scare folks away
  • Resistance from educators (I guess some trainers don’t like to provide online training…go figure)
  • Poor support from the workplace – we need to sell it to the top and encourage the ‘top’ to join the fun

How is it different teaching adults from teens or children?

  • Training for adults needs to be pertinent to their lives – they (we) need context, so the training builds on associative memory – let the learner make the skills/knowledge there own, even if this means letting them use their own (incorrect) vocabulary.
  • Adults need applicability – Make a point to show how the training content can be used immediately.
  • Failure haunts many learners.  Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce and set them up for success.

What do Adult learners value?

  • Collaborative training, where the learners create and add to the content – pull from their experiences and allow the learners to share, thus becoming co-teachers!  Include the audience and encourage feedback.
  • Participatory – most folks like to write and speak
  • Interactive – folks also need to listen and respond
  • Egalitarian – refrain from using that bad teacher voice and realize that in many ways, the students know a lot more than the teacher – treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve as adult learners and peers.
  • Productive – how can the lessons be used in the workplace?
  • My addition: entertaining!  Humor makes everything easier and less intimidating.

The Six ‘Difficult’ Learners

  • passive learner – pour the knowledge into my head with no effort from me
  • lone eagle learner – I need no one, I can learn alone (and teamwork feels like cheating)
  • pass-the-test learner – They do only what they have to do to get credit for the class for the certificate for the raise
  • perfect learner – Perfectionists need reassurance that it’s OK to not get it all right the first time
  • competitive learner – It’s all about the status

What We Want Instead

  • active learners
  • team learners – play well with others
  • knowing learners – apply what is learned
  • brave learner
  • resourceful learner
  • learner as teacher – “students learn better from each other than the teacher” and “the more important conversations are between students than between the student and the teacher.”  Pat argues that Web 2.0 conversations count – so start blogging, tweeting, and having back channel IM discussions!

[Aside – I have this poster on my wall because I think it’s important to remember, although I admit I often don’t.]

How the Brain Learns

How the Brain Learns – retention after 24 hours
Lecture = 5%
Reading = 10%
Audio-Visual = 20%
Demonstration = 30%
Discussion = 50%
Practice by doing = 75%
Teaching others = 90%

Before We Learn Online

  • Get back to basics
  • Take education seriously
  • Communicate the who, what, when, where, and why
  • Promote intrinsic value – Learning is Fun!
  • Model what we believe – the Director best be doing some online learning along with the staff!  Do as I do.
  • Provide environment & tools – as in, time and a computer OFF THE DESK.  Ok, I was guilty of this, but at 7 pm on a Thursday, the desk was pretty darn quiet and conducive to online training…
  • Follow-up is required – without follow up, using online tools and interactions – the learning goes away in 3 months according to Dr. Phil Turner (Dean of UNT’s SLIS program)

If We Were In Charge…what would we change?

  • schedule time for staff learning
  • Support use of Web 2.0 social networking tools
  • Make folks feel safe
  • See the archive for more – this collaboration bit is hard to keep track of with notes!

The 7 Myths of Online Education

  • E-learning means expedient – It’s not quick and dirty – take time to do the job well, read, learn, participate, digest
  • Needs no preparation
  • Most adults are self-directed
  • Learning takes place in class – Not…the learning takes place with the student teaches the skills to someone else!
  • Needs no budget or time
  • Needs no supervision – Pat argues that supervisors need to be teachers and coaches
  • Needs no follow-up – Follow up is necessary for retention and application

Online Research Profile

  • Who are your typical students?  older, self-taught on technology, overworked, underpaid
  • Some online education research uses:  college settings, younger subjects, an environment where classes are about credit (not learning) and use subjects with a LOT of online exprience
  • How do yours compare?  The point being, they don’t!

Reports from the Field

  • Pat shared the Amarillo experiment with LE@D online classes – they found that while participants reported 90% completion rates, the data showed that only 10% of the participants were finishing the online courses!
  • Leadership resistance makes it difficult to promote online education – time and a commitment from the ‘Gate Keepers’ is needed.
  • “Just hit the return key” – folks are just going through the motions without absorbing the knowledge
  • “It’s only about the credits!”
  • Self-directed is mostly a myth: if we mean behavior change – There has to be follow up and involvement from a supervisor if the skills are to be retained and used (both soft and hard).
  • Our truths:
    • learners are habitual
    • there has to be interest in the subject from the learner
    • online learning has a ‘human interaction’ element akin to online dating
    • once a person has found the answer, they quit the class!  Especially true with software-related online classes
    • learning should be fun (mine)
    • sometimes, you have to learn the same thing more than once

Why Online is Worth Using?

  • Riches beyond your fingertips – especially for rural librarians isolated from many CE opportunities
  • Accommodates many learning styles – visual, auditory, participatory
  • Networking around the world
  • Self-paced – go as slow or as fast as YOU want to go
  • Don’t have to compete in class – know-it-all’s like me are neutralized 😉
  • Quality at a great price
  • It is the 21st Century, after all

This next part had to do with roles and responsibilities – much of which was directed to large organizations with a lot of bueracracy and layers of management.

  • Regional Library Leaders – talk with, not at, people, provide and promote online training, and Association leaders need to take a role, too (i.e. PLS Fall Retreat)
  • Individual Library Leaders – Take it seriously, take time to take a class WITH staff and then talk about what you’ve ALL learned, and provide time to take online training (especially if you require it)
  • HR Experts and Trainers – Provide live support to help with tech issues, use a LE@D video at a staff meeting or for the basis of staff training and follow up with discussion/demonstrations/etc. and reward participation
  • Managers and Supervisors – Notice – give feedback, be a teacher, give group classes – pay attention and SAY something when you see skills/knowledge from an online class being utilized and reinforce that great behavior by commenting on it.  Have a ‘sharing session’ where the students can teach
  • The Online Participants (aka Students) – Are they held accountable and find the class content applicable?  If students want a challenge, go find some college courses to take for the sheer fun of it – ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’
    • 7-11 minute videos are optimal for retention
    • “do it in your pajamas”
    • “Enter to win”
    • “Find a specific problem that can be addressed with an online course (ex., Excel problem)”

Online Learning Tricks

  • Create written goals: what
  • Create a curriculum: how
  • Three times is the charm:  1. Scan for an overview, 2. Take the class, and 3. Revisit the key points
  • Find a study buddy – make it interactive
  • Yes, you can take notes – with online learning, you can stop, rewind, take notes – take time to think and write DURING the course
  • Seek out other versions – online sites, articles, books, experts (explore those tangents as discussed in danah boyd’s blog Apophenia I want my cyborg life)
  • Teach to someone else
  • What would you add?
    • 1. Tell what you’ll teach, 2. Present the content, 3. Tell what was taught and 4. Have them explain what they learned (from Richard)

Cool Cheap/Free Resources

  • Librarything – library-relevant and book-based
  • TED – Based on video presentations, important ideas from everywhere (Heather recommends)
  • Slideshare – Stockpiled presentations – I’ve used one of these for WordPress training before.
  • TalkShoe – find some library-related audio conversations (need to explore this one)
  • ALAConnect – free to nonmembers with registration, based on online communities (again, need to explore this)
  • WebJunction – WJ rocks, I’ve used this for the basis NEKLS Tech Work Days in the lab

The plus/delta model

  • Pick a skill set list (core competencies) that people may need to learn
  • Go through list asking – “What do you do well” and “What could you do better”
  • Build further training from there – an easy assessment tool

I’ll link to the archive, just as soon as it’s posted.


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