In Support of Excellence

It's all about the students

Immersive Learning: Resilience Training?

Resilience graphicThis episode has been way too long waiting for publishing and I am apologizing publicly to Ken Spero and to those who are following my podcasting and blogging. 2014 was a year of great change for me.  I have been transitioning from a full time position as a Learning Designer with the University of Adelaide to running my own learning and teaching consultancy.  There has been much time away from the computer for personal reasons as well.  Now in 2015 I am intending to publish once a month I hope.  This episode is way too important to go unpublished and I hope Ken will record more episodes in 2015 as we explore Immersive Learning and simulations to help transformational learning.

In this fourth episode  with Ken we explore more about Immersive Learning and something I had never heard of called a Resilience Report. When he challenged me before it started with “What is it that keeps people from making good decisions and in fact what is a good decision … it was quite a challenge.  If we use simulations as a pedagogy to train can we simulate experience.

Ken SperoKen asks us to focus on troublesome decision not the easy ones. They are things we need to focus on with simulation development.

He gives example of a colleague or friend may have behaved inappropriately (bullying) and explains if you focus only on the student of course you have to report it, but there are other points of view needing weight. What do we do? How do we wrestle with this?  With simulations we can show the choices and consequences. There is a lot to think about in this episode.

The difference between Assessment and Development

Ken talks about this difference, explaining that perception often connects the term “Score card” with Assessment. He talks about how simulations so effectively help development. They give people the opportunity to fail. Ken says as learning designers building simulations we should design really tough decisions so the learner will struggle with these decisions – if we choose the poorer pathways then we will only get “wacked by the virtual 4×4 rather than real life consequences.

Simulation provides an opportunity for participants to have to think critically and exercise judgment in realistic scenarios, to create muscle memory around thinking and not being mindless. It then provides an opportunity for the student to experience consequences so that they can expand their experience portfolios with meaningful experiences that they can draw upon in real life.

keepgoingKen really nails the definition of resilience as to roll with the punches. He shares much wisdom about educational leadership in the day by day running of a school.

The following content is extracted from Ken’s excellent article in the Winter of 2014 Focus Magazine. I have included an extract of this for download at the end of the post.

With simulations we want to provide students with the practice of making those difficult decisions where they know that even if they make the optimal choice, parts of the outcome will be bad. Simulation provides a context for this kind of meaningful learning-by-doing and the resilience report provides:

  1. The insight and understanding of the issues at play.
  2. The trade offs/cause & effect that manifest in the scenario and/or broader context.
  3. Insight into the stakeholders, beyond the obvious ones, that are affected by the context.
  4. Demonstrations of the impact of time and what can make the students successful in the future.

The resilience report helps us to concretise the learning in decision making so that the student can literally see the issues that are at play in the issue even when the decision does not lead to the best outcome. This is a key enabler for learning of greater impact than that of instruction because it encourages students to try things out, to explore and discover. Even if they fail, they will be able to gain valuable insight into why and in that way add to their experience portfolios that they can draw upon when they face similar situations in real life

Ken wraps up this podcast episode with another major “ah aha” for a teacher wanting to build simulations.  Simulations are powerful but one thing developers have trouble getting their heads around is they never need to get the simulation “right”.  Simulation is a tool to drive critical thinking which means we can address learning in so many different ways Please listen to the interview all the way to the end and hear all the challenges and “ah ahas” for teachers to help students transform with their learning .. to empower them to make a difference.

Podcast Episode:

Life needs Resilience

I discovered this video on YouTube.  I was excited when I found one that was a student’s project no less. Covers the subject well and also starts with one of my favourite pieces of music from the movie Rocky.  Then talks about the life of someone who has impacted my personal life significantly during some serious life threatening illnesses.  I want to share it with you

Take note of some of the great quotes in the video

Resilience is when a person never gives up, never loses hope, and accepts failure as part of the road to success.

Resilience does not eliminate stress or ease life’s difficulties. Instead, it gives people the strength to tackle problems head on, overcome adversity and move on with their lives in the wake of traumas.

This video highlights the characteristics of resilience and goes on to give a story of a really resilient guy.  Nick Vujicic is truly a survivor and not a victim.  Sure he is an Aussie, so I am biased, but his story has impacted hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  Learn from Nick’s life and the concepts highlighted in this video. It also gives keys on how to improve your resilience.

A final challenge to you as a teacher and learning designer:  If we can build simulations which develop people with resilience like Nick …. Let’s go for it.

Online Resources

  • Ed Leadership SIMS (ELS): This is Ken’s Educational Consultancy Website specializing in the development of simulations Please visit.
  • Measuring Experience: Scorecards and Simulations is an extracted article from the Winter 2014 edition of Focus Magazine published in the USA.
  • Scenario-Based E-Learning: Ken Spero, ASTD INFOline series Oct 2012
    Allan’s comment: This is a 16 pg. booklet published by ASTD targeted at and priced for the corporate marketplace. It sells for U$25.00. Ken mentioned a one off entry.  I was not able to check that for when I went to this search page, I visited a different one of the results and am now locked out.  Please take care on your first visit if you want to see the book
  • Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools: Addressing Transactional Need Through Experiential Simulation: In this article Ken talks about a model he calls “Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools  and models it on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs … well worth a read
  • Three Keys to Designing Good Scenarios: This is a short article but touches on three important tips for designing good scenarios
  • ASTD Philadelphia E-Learning SIG Presentation Capturing and Deploying Experience Through Simulations with Ken Spero:  This was a presentation Ken made at the ASTD in Philadelphia on Thu Sept 20th 2012. There are a good set of PowerPoint slides here for downloading.
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Do it then teach it: learning from and building on experience

Ken Spero and Allan in SkypeThe more I share with Ken Spero about immersive learning and building e-simulations, the more I am convinced that the creative hard work end of building these powerful learning objects happens before anyone starts using any sort of software. This is the second of three podcast episodes we are doing to lay the pedagogical foundations and practical guidelines to help learning designers and teachers build Immersive Learning Micro Simulations (ILMS).  Following on from the seven “Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning … the New Instructional Design” Ken highlighted in our first episode, I asked him about how we can identify the lessons from experience and build them into learning opportunities. We discussed how to capture experience and three components of experience design – consequences, narrative feedback and the scorecard.

We explored where to start building a scenario and Ken unpacks the seven basic building blocks of good experience design

  1. Learning objectives: how objectives tie to the scorecard what we are trying to capture in the scenarios
  2. Settings: From the boundaries, we need to create the setting.  Ken visits the dynamics of reality TV and how people respond.
  3. Characters: we talk about stakeholders
  4. Plot: What is the story driven by the experience. Ken describes the plot as an apprenticeship in 30-45 minutes and interesting perspective.
  5. Scorecard: Ken explains this important part of experience design. He introduces the idea of learned helplessness and suggests we have forgotten how to win
  6. Decision Alternatives: We discuss the importance of building important decision alternatives and how they help the learner to critically think.
  7. Branching: This links the choices and propels the story.

The next question exploded into a really important discussion which we realized was the making of it’s own episode. It was about how to build collaboration into the modules and then manage that process.

The final subject for this episode was about moving beyond the decision tree. Ken surprised me by saying that when designing simulations, the decision tree becomes a key stumbling block and often leads to a poor result.  This was an important “ah aha” for me as I thought it was an integral step in planning the story.  Listen to how he explains it can be avoided and please ask any questions in the comment area below and Ken will answer them.

In the next podcast episode with Ken we will talk about how you can get started developing a Simulation. We will give you a six step practical framework and provide a Job Aid for Scenario and Simulation Authoring, which will be very helpful in managing your experience design projects.  Please subscribe and check it out when published.

Also you will learn much from the YouTube embedded webcast below. It is a recording of a webinar Ken gave recently called “Why Smart People Make Not Smart Decisions“. In it Ken speaks about critical thinking and two ends of a spectrum “mindfulness and mindlessness” and how scenarios encourage mindfulness.

Podcast Episode:

Online Resources

  • Scenario-Based E-Learning: Ken Spero, ASTD INFOline series Oct 2012
    Allan’s comment: This is a 16 pg. booklet published by ASTD targeted at and priced for the corporate marketplace. It sells for U$25.00. Ken mentioned a one off entry.  I was not able to check that for when I went to this search page, I visited a different one of the results and am now locked out.  Please take care on your first visit if you want to see the book
  • Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools: Addressing Transactional Need Through Experiential Simulation: In this article Ken talks about a model he calls “Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools  and models it on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs … well worth a read
  • Three Keys to Designing Good Scenarios: This is a short article but touches on three important tips for designing good scenarios
  • ASTD Philadelphia E-Learning SIG Presentation Capturing and Deploying Experience Through Simulations with Ken Spero:  This was a presentation Ken made at the ASTD in Philadelphia on Thu Sept 20th 2012. There are a good set of PowerPoint slides here for downloading.
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Images are not Illustrations they are ILMs

An explanation of the Cytoskeleton

Learning is all about the students. Teachers need to move along a Continuum of Shift. They need to move from content-centred teaching to activity-centred and from teacher-centred to student-centred.  21st century teaching is about interactivity and student engagement.

I have been working with two colleagues here at the University of Adelaide, Ms Sophie Karanicholas and Ms Cathy Snelling who are prize winning teachers in Oral Health. Sophie and Cathy do some creative and different pedagogy which usually takes place in an on-campus coffee shop …. my sort of classroom.  Students have to create posters or illustrations to interpret an aspect of biology or a concept of their discipline.  When they first started doing this a few  years ago, they put this student work up on the walls near their office and some other colleagues asked them to take them down as they were unprofessional….. they just didn’t get it!  These posters are all about engagement and the student experience, they are where the learning takes place.

I have included above a photo of a recent poster and from the course blog a student says:

“I am so proud of us girls!! From having a very basic understanding of what a cytoskelaton is to knowing it’s function, the elements involved and their structure and function! I think the posters were a great idea. We needed to research the topic ourselves and we had a chance to talk and discuss it over with each other which gave me a much better understanding of the cytoskelaton! It’s a good feeling not just text book learning but having a hands on way to learn and actually understand what you have learnt and therefore I am actually going to remember it!  I’m very proud of our teamwork in this poster and really happy with the way it turned out and our presentation :)”

Thanks to some Apple Distinguished Educator colleagues, I have just discovered Thinglink a slick new way of turning images into Interactive Learning Modules (ILMs) or objects. ThingLink’s exclusive Rich Media Tags feature popular media players and apps from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Google Maps, Spotify, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, iTunes, Etsy, Mailchimp and FanBridge.

The possibilities for teachers wanting to use images as interactive content is exciting and I know Sophie and Cathy will dive on this to take the posters to new online heights of interactive student engagement .  If you are interested in using Thinglink for learning and teaching, then please contact me using the email link at the bottom of this blog page, as there is a significant educational discount available.

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Student Mentoring Unpacked

Carol Freemand Bethany School of MissionsCan we do this using elearning?

One of the highlights of our visit to Bethany International was meeting Carol Freeman, Dean of Student Mentoring. Carol explained the school’s mentoring program that all students participate in as they move through their undergraduate experience.  It’s really intense as you will hear in the podcast episode.  The result is a truly transformational experience for the student.  Their hearts as well as their heads are being seriously impacted.

The question for me as a learning designer using elearning methods and technologies is:  “How do we impact the virtual student at the heart level so that values are informed along with knowledge and skill development?  What do you think – please add your comments below?

Richard Morris
MAFLT

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