Monday, December 29, 2008

Advance Organizer


There are many advantages as well as disadvantages of using Advance Organizers.

It facilitates them make connections and/or the relationship between pieces of information. Also helps students to allocate time for a particular lesson.
We can use it interactive lessons in classroom lectures and for elearning courses.

For example you can ask a question about what is an amphitheatre before teaching about Greek or Roman architecture. Or for instance you need to teach about guidelines for a healthy diet. So you can start the topic by giving a build up like this:

Build up: “We all know that we should eat healthy food. For most of us, healthy food means no pizza, no fries, no colas, and no burgers. Healthy food is boring and tasteless. But no that’s not so. We can make food choices. Food can be healthy and tasty”.

Scholars and educational psychologists have divided opinion about the use of Advance Organizers.

Carol Story (1998), a research scholar concluded that “Instructional designers can feel confident that Advanced organizer are important part of their instructional designs, that the organizers are needed whatever the media of instruction, and that organizers themselves can be delivered by a variety of media.”
Some researchers believe that Advance Organizers helps students to recall information and make connection between already known concepts and the forthcoming learning materials.

However, researcher scholars like McEneany (1990) suggested that it serves no purpose or have limited effect in promoting learning or recall of learning.
Whereas Lawton and Johnson (1992) believe that Advance Organizers are effective.

According to Ausubel, the Advanced organizer provides the “hierarchical framework” for students so that they can move information into long-term memory efficiently and effectively and in a connected manner.

To conclude, we can say that:

• It is an educational strategy.

• Teachers have been using it for classroom lectures.

• It helps learners to build a cognitive structure.

• Instructional designers are using it for elearning courses.

• Depending on the content, the subject matter, on the pre-existing knowledge of the learners.

However, some questions like why this teaching strategy is called as Advance Organizer and not simply Organizer is still unknown.

References:
http://tip.psychology.org/ausubel.html
http://web.cortland.edu/frieda/ID/IDtheories/10.html

Advance Organizers


In this article we are going to look at what is an advance organizer. Where can we make use of it, its forms and phases?

Advance Organizer is a cognitive instructional strategy used to promote the learning and retention of new information (Ausubel, 1960).

According to Joyce et al. (2000), the Advance Organizer model has three phases of activity.

Let’s look at the three phases:

Phase-1

includes presentation of the Advanced Organizer

clarifies the aim of the lesson

creates an awareness of the info

Phase- 2

sequencing the content

presenting the material

Phase- 3

strengthening of the cognitive organization

“integrative reconciliation” (ability to make interconnections between concepts)

For eg: teacher can ask students to summarize the info

Now let’s look at the four types of Advance Organizers.

Expository

provides new content


provide basic concepts of the material


provides a background of unknown material

Comparative

Highlight difference between old and new concepts.

Helps to mark out the differences and similarity between old and new concepts.

Graphic

A graphic organizer is a visual display.

Helps depict the relationship between terms, ideas, or concepts.

Uses pictographs, graphs, charts, or concept maps

Narrative

oral presentation, stories, and handouts are used

helps recall and retain info

Though you may find that we use the above advance organizer as instructional tools, they might have been derived from some educational theory.


To be continued......


Thursday, December 25, 2008

How Fast is Your Internet?

Well few days back I got internet connection. I had applied for a plan that promised to provide around 440Kbps. Isn't that amazing? But lo! the internet connection was damn slow. I was reveling in the fact that at last I got hi-speed net connection. But when I came across this site http://us.mcafee.com/root/speedometer/default.asp, I was surprised to see the actual speed of the internet connection. The speed promised as per the plan was 440Kbps, but in reality it was actually some 43Kbps.

So if you want to check the internet speed, visit http://us.mcafee.com.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Should IDs Acquire the Knowledge of GDs

I have been thinking this for a long time whether instructional designers should learn to use software tools like captivate files and flash? I've come across many blogs where it has been debated that the role of instructional designers (ID) should not overlap the role of the graphic designers (GD).

But I strongly believe that if an ID has the knowledge of software programs like Flash, Captivate, SnagIT, Photoshop and such technical writing software tools, it can double the productivity of an ID.

But the question that arises here is that one needs to spend dedicated time in order to master these tools. If you are really keen on honing these skills then am sure you need to spend time, money, and energy and join an institute offering training on these tools.

Another way is to download the trial version and practice on your own. Recently, I had to edit some videos for a certain project, using captivate. And I really enjoyed doing it because that gave me an opportunity to learn something new. But I wonder whether training on these software tools should be made mandatory as part of OJT or whether one needs to take formal training for the same altogether?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cell Phone - Synonym for Memory!

Have you ever realized what will happen if you forget your cell phone when you venture out? Well, it happened to me a couple of times. And I remember I felt so crippled. I didn't remember anybody's cell phone number. I not only feed phone numbers in my cell, but I store the dates that I need to remember. For instance, the date when I got my internet connection, the date when I filled in and submitted my passport form and numerous other dates.

Imagine if you are stuck somewhere and you need to call somebody urgently, how you will do that without your cell phone. Also the growing use of computers and cell phones has replaced the habit of putting down everything on a piece of paper. I think of the day when cell phone and laptops will completely take over the habit of using writing pads.

Day in and day out we keep on creating documents, and store them in our computer and laptops. We take back up so as to ensure that we don't lose any important data. But I think a time is not too far when we won't be able to remember anything else other than our names.


Human memory has three phases, working memory, short term memory (STM) and long term memory (LTM). It is theorized that things that we read, hear or come across is stored for a brief amount of time in our working memory, after a point of time we filter things and store the information that we require in out STM. And only after constant drilling it moves into our LTM. But if we don't attempt to remember even a 10 digit cell phone number, how on earth are we going to remember anything else. I am skeptical about the fact whether technological advancement is doing only good or it has a down side to it as well!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Comic Strips: Fun Way to Put your Message Across

I came across this interesting site http://www.bitstrips.com, where you can create comic characters, and comic strips of your own. I guess it gives you ample opportunity to even teach children through comic strips.

You can also use it to put your message across in an interesting and funny way. It need not be related to academics, but it can range from a variety of topics like humor, politics, drama, news, pop culture, and so on.

Take a look at the one I created!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

ToonDoo- Creating Animation of Your Own

I came across this site http://www.toondoo.com in one of the blogs that I read. I found it quite interesting. This site gives us a platform to create, modify the existing animations to suit according to our needs. All you need to do is to create an account and go on adding images to your gallery. Just try it out, explore, and have fun.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

History of Instructional Design

This article would look at the emergence of Instructional Design as a discipline. To know about this we need to go back to its history. Let’s look at the chronological events that happened in the field of education.

1905- The educators saw the importance of visual instruction.

1913- Thomas Edison proclaimed that “books will soon obsolete in schools. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture.”

1930- Educators proposed the importance of objectives for a curriculum according to student behavior. Also formative evaluation was used for the first time during this time.

1940- This was a period when the role of the instructional technologist emerged. This period was marked by military training needs. The idea for an instructional development team was conceived during this period.

1950- Programmed instruction was started.
Skinner propounded that human learning can be conditioned.
Benjamin Bloom (1956) came up with the taxonomy of educational objectives.
Behaviorism also emerged as a learning theory.

1960- Robert Gagne introduced the concept of task analysis and came up with nine events of instructions.
Norman Crowder developed intrinsic programming.
Cognitive theories of learning also emerged during this time.

1970- This period was marked by the emergence of instructional strategies and instructional theories in the full swing.

1980- During this period CBI (Computer Based Instruction) flourished. Also focus was on designing interactivity.

1990- This period marked a shift from cognitive theory to constructivist theories.
This article would look at the emergence of Instructional Design as a discipline. To know about this we need to go back to its history. Let’s look at the chronological events that happened in the field of education.

1905- The educators saw the importance of visual instruction.

1913- Thomas Edison proclaimed that “books will soon obsolete in schools. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture.”

1930- Educators proposed the importance of objectives for a curriculum according to student behavior. Also formative evaluation was used for the first time during this time.

1940- This was a period when the role of the instructional technologist emerged. This period was marked by military training needs. The idea for an instructional development team was conceived during this period.

1950- Programmed instruction was started.
Skinner propounded that human learning can be conditioned.
Benjamin Bloom (1956) came up with the taxonomy of educational objectives.
Behaviorism also emerged as a learning theory.

1960- Robert Gagne introduced the concept of task analysis and came up with nine events of instructions.
Norman Crowder developed intrinsic programming.
Cognitive theories of learning also emerged during this time.

1970- This period was marked by the emergence of instructional strategies and instructional theories in the full swing.

1980- During this period CBI (Computer Based Instruction) flourished. Also focus was on designing interactivity.

1990- This period marked a shift from cognitive theory to constructivist theories.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Virtual World

I came across this article in the newspaper where teenagers in America spend real money to get things done in the virtual world called Gaia. Now that's sounds a little weird. Now I would love to create an avatar and make a space for myself in the virtual world if it’s free of cost. But why would I spend money just to use virtual world as a platform for social networking.

Well I agree that online education and V-education have a long way to go. But some where I feel that it takes a lot of your time to get familiar with the whole interface. So if getting familiar with the interface is not included within the learning curve then it’s fine. But say I’m asked to spend not more than 3 hours on a certain section or course material, how am I to justify that I got stuck somewhere and I was lost. Well these are some of the issues that need to be highlighted or made clear before we actually join the bandwagon of V-education.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blog Readability Test

I was reading a blog called the writer's gateway and I came across this interesting article where the author had mentioned that we can check the readability of our blog. Isn't that interesting?

If it serves the same purpose like the readability statistics in a word processor, then it is quite interesting to know the readability level of our blog articles. But as far as I know the grade level in the readability statistics should not exceed K-8 level. If the same holds good for blog readability test then I wonder whether being rated as a "genius" is a good thing or is it a disgrace in disguise. Well so much for it, if you guys want to try out and check the readability of your blog articles, just click http://www.criticsrant.com/bb/reading_level.aspx. Enter your blog's URL and see for your self. :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to stay focused at your work?

This article is devoted to staying focused at workplace. I came across an article on “18 ways to stay focused at work”. There are few things that I liked and there are a couple of things that I didn’t agree with. Let me list down what I liked and think it can prove useful for other people.

1) Write out a daily task list and plan your day- At Kern we have a status call called “Heads up”. It is good way to keep each other informed of what each of us are doing. It also helps us prioritize our tasks for the day.

2) Allocate time to various task on your to do list- Allotting time for task will not only make you productive but you can use the rest of the time in reading up articles or writing blogs.

3) Avoid checking personal mails first thing in the morning- You don’t realize but it takes a good amount of your time in the morning.

4) Change your status in the IM- Set the status in the IM as busy if your do not want to get disturbed. While working this is a major distraction that can hinder your work and can make you less productive.

5) Clean your desk- Keep your desk clean. Do not pile up too many things on your desk. A dirty desk might be irritating.

6) Close multiple windows-Avoid working in multiple windows. Close the one’s which you don’t require.

7) Avoid taking long and extended breaks- Taking break from work and sipping tea or coffee can energize you, but if you indulge in extended breaks it might break the flow of your work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gagne's Nine Events of Instructions


Robert Mills Gagne (August 21, 1916– April 28, 2002), an American educational psychologist (best known for his "Conditions of Learning“---1965) came up with these nine events of instructions.

Gagne believed that the results of learning are measurable and it can be achieved through testing, drill, practice, and by providing immediate feedback.

1) Gain Attention:
Use an Interesting Fact
Do you know that an ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
Do you know that it's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
We spend 1/3rd of our life sleeping.


Pose a Question
Name the seven lettered word that contains nine words, without re-arranging any of its alphabets.
Answer: "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, and herein.


Use an Interesting Sound, Video or Image
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkeLpvgSHYI
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=kfvvDkaVv2U&feature=related

2) Inform the Objectives:

o Helps the learner know what topics will be covered.
o Forms the basis for assessment
Example:
At the end of this session you will be able to:
§ State Gagne’s nine events of instructions.
§ Explain each event of instruction.

3) Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning:

Ask questions about previous experiences.
Helps determine students’ knowledge level.
Example:
You have to teach a student how to brush his teeth. You can narrate a story about another kid who did not brush his teeth properly. You can then explain the advantages and disadvantages of brushing teeth.

4) Present Stimulus Material:

A variety of media should be used if possible—
o Text
o Graphics
o Audio
o Narration
o Video
You can combine either or all of these media or you can you some of it depending on your learner types.

5) Provide Learner Guidance:

By giving-----
o examples
o non-examples
o case studies
o graphical representations
o mnemonics
o analogies

Example: If you are teaching math or algebra You can ask the students to remember BODMAS.
Take a look at this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fver2UDaR5s

Suppose you have to teach a child how to brush his teeth? You can you videos like the one given below to reinforce the importance of brushing one’s teeth.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdhptrhn2tM&NR=1


6) Elicit Performance:

Helps confirm correct understanding of learner.
Summarizing and further repetition enhances retention.
It is like formative assessment, where you do not test the learner but try to reinforce the learning that is being provided.

7) Provide Feedback:

Additional guidance provided at this stage is called formative feedback.
Provide consistent feedback.
Let the learner know whether he is correct/ incorrect and why?

8) Assess Performance:

This is to ensure the effectiveness of the course.
Also many a times certification is provided based on the results of the performance.
It is like summative assessment, where you test the over all understanding of the learner on a particular subject.

9) Enhance Retention and Transfer:

Aids retention
Helps to memorize things
Summarizing helps reinforce new material.

This is where you put the learning into actual practice.

Watch these videos.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=14TD-TZkauE
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=tneN4A8XzkY




Sunday, September 14, 2008

Common Design Errors

This article is devoted to bad designs that we come across in our day-to-day life. I've tried to show images of bad designs rather than writing it down in words.







This handle serves no purpose, as it is not used to open the drawer. Rather it confuses the user.





Now look at these images?
How to use any of these faucets?



Why bus numbers are not displayed on all the sides of a bus? How do I get to know which is the one for me?














Presently I am using MS-Office 2007. Why do I need to save the document in compatibility mode every time? The software should save the file in compatibility mode on its own without waiting for my instruction!


I commute by a bus, but look at the hand grip. It moves and sways constantly when in motion. Why can’t it be made static?











I pour 1/4 th of the oil outside the container. Why should i use a funnel when it can be made more user-friendly?
Why
can’t the manufacturers design it like this!











Well I guess most of us are familiar with this red ice-cream box. But the problem with it is that you won’t be able to figure out how to open it at the first attempt.




The seal over here is broken, but when you get a new box you need to open the seal. You notice this only when you experiment a little.



At first glance you might feel that you can open the cap of the spray perfume. But if you are thinking so, you are wrong.

Look at the image given below. You need not open the cap, but the design is not intuitive, at least that’s what I felt!

These are some of the day-to- day design issues that we come across. You must have come across many such instances too. I should acknowledge the fact that I gathered some of the images from various sites that specifically talk about design issues. But I feel even if people are aware of what works and what does not, the design issues are never corrected.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Creativity! What’s That?

“ Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ---- Albert Einstein

“Imagination properly employed is our greatest friend; it goes beyond reason and is the only light that takes us everywhere.”
----Swami Vivekananda

What does creativity mean?
I think creativity means thinking out of the box. Now that sounds cliché. ;) If you want to be creative you have to be original. I feel one can be creative with ideas, thoughts, and with anything around. Being creative does not necessarily mean thinking something new, but it can also mean tweaking an existing idea or a thing to make it better. Creativity means breaking the walls of one’s imagination. Creativity means manifesting ideas into reality. Creativity means envisioning that does not exist and how to bring it to pass. People have tried to be creative with things around them. The German artist Joseph Beuys claimed that "Every human-being is an artist", with the implication that we are all creative beings.


There are numerous instances to cite as apt examples of creativity. The best example of creativity is the famous Rock Garden in Chandigarh. The material used to set up the whole garden is glass bangles and things which people might have considered waste. Another example could be to make use of a day to day object differently.
A sales woman or a sale man who manages to sell a product or any article can be said as a creative person, in terms of the way he persuades the customer. A teacher who teaches in a class of fourty students manages to get her or his point across at least to a handful of students, that’s being creative. Another teacher teaching the same thing may not be able to do so with even 2 students. Being creative does not necessarily mean one should have aesthetic sense but how differently a job is carried out. The images below can be considered as live examples of creativity.





So how to keep the creative lamp burning?


I read somewhere that if one wants to become creative one has to spend a lot of time in learning about the subject one wants to show one’s creativity. I completely agree with this statement because if I don’t know how to say make paratha (Indian bread) on the first place I won’t be able to try and make various kinds of parathas (Indian bread). To wrap up I would say that creativity is a skill that is developed over time and with practice.
Inspiration and the quest for knowledge, to keep learning things that I do not know seems to be my main source of creativity. I believe everyone has the potential to be creative, but certain people seem to be more in tune with that part of themselves than others.


Credits:
Creative Ways to Recycle Ordinary Objects posted by ecoble

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy

Let us look at the taxonomy in detail.
Level 1--Knowledge Explanation: Knowledge level is used to recall or state the information.
Keywords/Question Cues: Arrange, Define, Duplicate, Label, List, Memorize, Name, Order, Recognize, Relate, Recall, Repeat, Reproduce, State
Example of Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson you should be able to:Describe the process of photosynthesis.
Example of Assessment Question: Describe the process of photosynthesis.

Level 2--Comprehension
Explanation: Comprehension entails the ability to give meaning to information.
Keywords/Question Cues: Classify, Describe, Discuss, Explain, Express, Identify, Indicate, Locate, Recognize, Report, Restate, Review, Select, Translate
Example of Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson you should be able to:Explain the term economics.
Example of Assessment Question: Explain in your own words what do you mean by the term economics?

Level 3--Application
Explanation: This level leads to the use of knowledge or principles in new or real-life situations. For example a programmer making use of his prior knowledge to write programs for a new application.
Keywords/Question Cues: Apply, Choose, Demonstrate, Dramatize, Employ, Illustrate, Interpret, Operate, Practice, Schedule, Sketch, Solve, Use, Write
Example of Learning Objective: Apply the concepts of theory of demand and supply.
Example of Assessment Question: Applying the concepts of demand theory state which demand curve indicates higher demand.

Level 4--Analysis
Explanation: It is breaking a complex thing into simpler things. For example during math class the teacher would solve a problem. And she would give some other task as a class work. The testing skill the learner applies here to solve the problem is analysis.
Keywords/Question Cues: Analyze, Appraise, Calculate, Categorize, Compare, Contrast, Criticize, Differentiate, Discriminate, Distinguish, Examine, Experiment, Question
Example of Learning Objective: Differentiate micro economics from macro economics.
Example of Assessment Question: Distinguish between micro and macro economics.

Level 5--Synthesis
Explanation: In this level the main objective is to use the knowledge gathered to create something new. For example when a uses his knowledge to create something totally new then they make use of synthesis skills.
Keywords/Question Cues: Arrange, Assemble, Collect, Compose, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Formulate, Manage, Organize, Plan, Prepare, Propose, Set Up, Write
Example of Learning Objective: Write an essay in active voice.
Example of Assessment Question: Write an essay in not more than 250 words about India and Technological Advancement. Use active voice as much as possible.

Level 6--Evaluation
Explanation: Evaluation entails the ability to make judgments based on certain guidelines.
Keywords/Question Cues: Appraise, Argue, Assess, Attach, Choose Compare, Defend, Estimate, Judge, Predict, Rate, Core, Select, Support, Value, Evaluate
Example of Learning Objective: Evaluate any written document/article based on the principles of composition.
Example of Assessment Question: Evaluate your own or a peer's essay in terms of the principles of composition discussed during the semester.

To conclude, I would say that Bloom’s taxonomy is important to write learning objectives. It is also useful to create assessment questions. We should also keep in mind it may not be possible to use the same keywords that is used to write learning objectives to create assessment questions, but they should be at the same level.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Writing Learning Objectives

While writing the objectives we should remember the A.B.C.D method ---Heinich et al. 1996. Robert Heinich is one of the proponents of instructional technology.
A --- Audience----- Who? Who are your learners?

B--- Behavior----- What? What do you expect them to be able to do after the completion of the course?

C---Condition---- How? Under what circumstances or context will the learning occur? What will the student be given or already be expected to know to accomplish the learning?

D---Degree---- How much? How much will be accomplished, or how much the students are expected to learn, what level?

Example of A.B.C.D method

Comprehension Level:

A (Audience) ---Student (student of class IV)

B (Behavior) ---Should be able to identify noun and verb in a sentence/ paragraph

C (Condition) ---A paragraph in the newspaper article

D (Degree) ---For all the sentences given in the article More to come....

More to come...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bloom’s Taxonomy

"Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence"
--- Abigail Adams, 1780

Benjamin S Bloom proposed taxonomy in 1956. He was an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago. Educators used it to define the learning objectives for students. In this article am only going to focus on the cognitive objective and not affective or psychomotor objectives of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Cognition means information processing. And taxonomy means a hierarchical structure.
This taxonomy is used to write learning objectives. There are six levels in the taxonomy, moving through the lower order objectives to the higher order objectives.

Let’s us take a look at the levels of the taxonomy.















Lower order processes or thinking does not mean that they are less important as compared to higher order processes but it means that learners must master lower level objectives first before they can build on them to reach higher level objectives.

Few years later Anderson revised Bloom’s taxonomy who was a former student of Benjamin Bloom.
If you notice the keywords used for the 6 levels of taxonomy are nouns. But in the revised version it is verb.
The reason being, that the taxonomy reflects different forms of thinking and thinking is an active process. Verbs describe actions, and not nouns, hence the taxonomy is revised.
Old v/s Revised
Knowledge----Remembering
Comprehension----Understanding
Application----Applying
Analysis----Analyzing
Synthesis----Creating
Evaluation----Evaluating

Need for Bloom’s Taxonomy
Bloom’s taxonomy is used for:
1) Writing learning objectives
2) Preparing the curriculum
3) Creating assessment questions.

We should always try and create assessment questions on the same level according to the level of learning objective used in the course.
Assessment questions should map to learning objectives. It ensures that we have covered every learning objective while assessing the learner.
Defining learning objective help define what the learner is going to learn at the end of the course.
Learning objective is created based on the knowledge level of the learners and what they need to know in the forthcoming course.

More to come....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Importance of Feedback at Workplace

Well this article is not about E-learning, rather learning at my work place. We at our place of work are encouraged to constantly hone are skills. We make presentations, share knowledge by taking sessions of various kinds and take up exercise on grammar/editing to perfect ourselves. In addition, we get feedback on all the assignments or work we do. The term, “feedback” implies criticism. Criticism can be both positive and negative. However, it differs from person to person, how they react to it.

I feel criticism both positive and negative can help us improve in many ways. Most of the times when we get feedback on our work, presentation or exercises and are expected to implement the learning in the future. I make an effort to do so as far as possible. However, sometimes I fail to meet the expectations of my superiors. Nevertheless, what makes me feel happy is that I never give up or lose heart. In addition, the fact that my superiors take pains to share the knowledge they have makes me feel elated. I have seen many a times that people often point out the mistakes one commits but they never disclose how to correct it, which is irksome. At Kern, my superiors always guide me when I falter. I like the way we get our feedback. People here know how to provide feedback and they try to highlight specific areas that need improvement.

I feel that feedback can prove beneficial if only I make an effort not to repeat the past mistakes. Of course, I cannot claim that I will never commit mistakes in the future but I feel that if I get constant feedback and support from my superiors, I will improve gradually.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do Colors Impact Learning?

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”


But this may not be true in case of eLearning courses, tutorials or PowerPoint presentations. If we include too many colors in any of these then it is sure to spoil its look. Like they say “Too many cooks spoil the broth’, in the same way too many colors spoil the look!

Colors that appear pleasing to my eyes may not look so when you view it. But then the question arises which color should we use? I may not be an expert in this field, but I have attempted to put forth my view and understanding on the use of colors and their impact on learning after doing loads of research on the information super highway a.k.a internet.

Let’s look at the co-relation between colors and learning in detail.

Color is an element of design that is used to create ideas, convey messages, evoke feelings, and accentuate areas of interest (Groff, 1990). Choosing an appropriate color for any PowerPoint presentation or any tutorial is as important as adding salt to any dish. Too much or too little of it can spoil the whole thing. Before we move on to using colors, let us know what the different types of colors are. Color can be classified as:

Primary: Those colors that can be combined to make a range of other colors is known as primary colors. Primary colors can not be created using other colors hence they are known as primary colors.
Example: Red, Blue, and Green

Secondary: A secondary color is a color made by mixing two primary colors.
Example: Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan

Tertiary: A tertiary color is a color made by mixing one primary color with one secondary color.
Example: Orange, Violet, and Aquamarine
A color wheel is also referred to as a color circle, which is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship.











A color wheel is also referred to as a color circle, which is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship.

Apart from these three types there are complementary and analogous colors.
Complementary Colors: Colors located opposite each other on a color wheel are known as complementary colors.
Blue and Orange are complementary colors.

Analogous Colors: Colors located close together on a color wheel are known as analogous colors. Violet, Blue and Azure are analogous colors.

Let us know the principles of using color.
Use of good colors can provide good visual effect where as use of bad colors can mar the visual effect altogether. There are four principles which govern good visual effect.


Principle 1: Use of Strong and Bright Colors
Very strong or bright colors should be used sparingly or between dull background tones. This allows the strong colors to draw attention to a particular feature of a graphic you want to focus on.
Example:






Principle 2: Combine Light and Dark Colors
Using a combination of light and dark colors means that we should make use of contrasting colors in any presentation or course. This helps the audience to read the text without having to strain their eyes.
Example:







Principle 3: Background colors
For background one should use soft, dull or neutral colors that allow smaller, bright text or images to stand out vividly. When two or more colors are used for a background it tends to distract the viewer from the important objects you want him/her to focus on.
Example:











Principle 4: Unity
When we use an image with multiple colors we should keep in mind that diverse colors should intermingle with each other.
Example:











Why do we need colors at all?
If we look around ourselves we will find colors of all shades. So how can we ignore colors? In fact colors form a major part of our lives, in the sense that if the whole world becomes black or white probably we would end up confusing one object with another.


Colors help us distinguish different objects. It is often said “variety is the spice of life”. And colors add variety to most of the things around us. Color is a powerful tool, which has many uses. It can be used to get attention, create a mood, enhance clarity, establish a code, label things in nature, and differentiate items. Let us look at each of these reasons in detail.

Color is used to attract attention
Colors can be used to emphasize a particular thing. For example in the given example only some words in the instruction is highlighted to show that it is important.
“Select only one option from the options given below”






Similarly you must have noticed that models or dummies in jewelry shops are black. It is done so as to make the jewelry stand out.

Colors may turn on or turn off your mood.
This background glares and causes eye strain
This does not cause eye strainBright colors may tire you and you may have to strain your eyes. Whereas soft colors make it easy for us to spend longer duration of time to read things.






Color enhances clarity
We use color to enhance clarity and readability in the text and graphic elements.
Take a look at this picture where different languages spoken in different parts of our country are indicated using various
colors.












Color helps us establish a code
Color can be used to code items, locations, regions, and so on. Colors come in handy to make graphical representation.












Colors have particular connotations
We generally use certain colors to symbolize a particular thing. For example red symbolizes danger, black is generally associated with evil where as white denotes purity. Blue is often used to show sky and water bodies and green is used to illustrate flora and fauna. Of course these connotations differ with culture.

How does color facilitate or impede learning?
Research proves that colors have a psychological impact on learning environment. The choice of color can have a positive or a negative impact on students’ performance and behavior in class. Also colors should be used on the basis of age group the students belong to. Students in lower class respond better in a brightly colored classroom.


I remember when I was in kinder garten the classroom used to be brightly colored, mostly yellow or red color was used. But as I got promoted to higher grades, the color of the classroom changed from yellow or red to green.

Teachers have also used various colors to influence learning outcomes. For example in school we were asked to stick to blue or black ink. And the red ink was supposed to be used by teachers to correct assignments, notebooks, and class works. It was definitely done to draw our attention to the mistake we made. In one way red was threatening but in another way it made us feel anxious and enhanced our learning outcomes, in the sense that we will remember not to repeat the points highlighted in red.

Also while showing the differences between two or three concepts teachers generally make use of colored chalks so as to make the differences prominent. Furthermore in school writing board is black in color so that white color will be easily visible. Another example can be the use of a highlighter to mark an important piece of information in a text book. Color facilitates to memorize and identify different things.

To conclude I would say, colors are most influential aspect of our lives. Without color we cannot see traffic signals or enjoy scenic beauty, and learning techniques would be much more difficult. These signals require perception of color in order to be effective. So colors used in the right proportion can enhance learning and benefit us in a number of ways whereas it will have exactly the opposite if we use too much of it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Teaching Adults: Is it Different?

In this article, we are going to see how adult learning is different from the way children learn. How is pedagogy different from androgogy? What are the four principles of adult learning and how to put these theories into practice?
First, let us see who is as an adult learner. Wikipedia says an adult learner is a socially accepted person who is involved in any learning process. Learning process can be any type of formal education, informal education or corporate-sponsored education. Teaching includes four elements learner, educator, subject matter and technique.

Let us see why adults learn. There can be very many reasons. Some of them are listed below:
· To keep up with the growing competition
· As part of job training
· For financial growth and benefits
· For self-improvement
· To acquire new skills

Now let us know about adult learning theory, Malcolm Knowles (1978, 1990) is the theorist who brought the concept of adult learning to the fore. He determined the principles of androgogy. Let us quickly know the differences between androgogy and pedagogy.
What are the principles of adult learning?
• Adults need to know why they need to learn something
• Adults need to learn experientially
• Adults approach learning as problem-solving
• Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value
In simple words, learning material for the adults should be motivating, it should be experiential or practical, and it should have problem solving approach and should be of immediate value. Now let us look at each of the principles with examples to make it more precise and clear.

Motivational Learning:
• Learning should be meaningful
• The learner should be able to see the end-result of any training program
Example: You might attend a certain training program because if you perform better you might get a hike in your salary.
Look at this scenario to understand it better.
You are working in ABC Company. A training program has been scheduled, where you will be trained on MS-Word Application. Let us see the reaction of different employees who are short listed to attend the training program. These people had the following opinion for the training program as shown in the image below.
Experiential Learning:
• Learners should be asked to learn by exploring
• It is highly effective in corporate training
• Learners learn by doing
Example: A new application has been launched. You need to familiarize with it. You learn by exploring.
Look at this scenario to understand it better.
Rita works as a front office executive in a mobile store. She has to attend a training program where she will be taught how to handle customers. Two of the participants are asked to volunteer to role-play, one as front office executive and the other as a customer. The following piece of conversation took place between both of them.

Problem solving:
• Solving any problem drives learning
• This principle works best for medical students
• A problem is posed so that the students discover that they need to learn something new before they can solve the problem
Example: Medical students are asked to practice operating on dead bodies and then they actually operate live beings.
Look at this scenario to understand it better.
You are working as a trainee call centre executive in a certain company and as part of training program you have to learn how to handle complaints of various customers. To proceed further with this you need to know what do you know, what are you being asked? Now look at the problem-solving cycle to gain a better understanding.

As given in the diagram, you need to take the required action. That is you need to deal with the customer, listen to his/her problem. In the second step, you need to plan how to resolve the problem. In the third step, you need to reply the customer but you also need to check with your superior whether you are heading into the right direction or not before actually performing it.

Immediate value:
• The training program should have direct bearing upon their job
• The training program should be able to step-up the job search process
Example: You would learn certain application only when you will benefit from it immediately.
Look at this scenario to understand it better.
Assume that you and your colleagues are part of a training program, which involves receiving training on typing lesson. Look at what some of the people in that organization had to say.


Now let us see how to put these principles into practice:
• Lay down clear objectives of the course (need and motivation)
• Inform how they can make the most of training (motivation/immediate value)
• Just do not present learning materials but pose problems so as to induce learning (problem-solving)
• Include assessment and provide immediate feedback
• Offer reward or certificates after the successful completion of the course (immediate value)
• Give real life examples, simulation (experiential)
• Use diagrams wherever needed
To wrap up:
• Learning is a continuous process and is motivation driven
• Adults learn to keep up with the growing need of the industry and to compete
• Adults learn better where they are asked to express their experiences and prior knowledge