What’s Your Learning Style?

Auditory, visual, hands-on? These are a few learning styles you gravitate towards.

In an interesting TedX linked below, it’s possible personal preference for learning styles is not as significant for learning as originally thought.

It is worth thinking about what we are teaching and the best medium to share it.

When learning a new language, reading will have minimal benefit – we must practice. Similarly, seeing a mechanism of action for a medication – an animated or picture explanation of it, is much more useful than only reading about it in text.

When creating a presentation, in PowerPoint or otherwise, being mindful of what is taught and the medium – listening, seeing, or hand-on – will help learners better connect with what you are teaching.

TedX Talk on Learning Styles

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What to do with 600 Hours?

Interestingly enough, for a pharmacist who needs 15 hours of continuing education per year, this equates to roughly 600 hours of education over the course of a typical career. In 600 hours, we would also have 15 week long vacations checked off.

This 600 hours, as 15 weeks is really only 4 months long. It seems like a small amount of time that can have such a significant impact on your career.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

– Abraham Lincoln

What if we spent even a quarter of the time planning what education to take (or create) as we do for planning our vacations?

Seems like time well spent.

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Diversifying Our Education

If I were to venture a guess, most continuing education (CE) is likely to be in written form and live didactic presentations.

The CE system creates a clear structure and these two mediums are at the forefront of our education.

However, there are a few other formats. For pharmacists, there are application and practice based courses, which are more hands on and interactive. A practice based CE is typically at least 15 hours and often referred to as a certificate program.

But wait – there’s more! You can also find home studies, which could be written, audio, or voice over powerpoint presentations. Under home study, you can also find podcasts.

The tricky part is that when you ask your audience which of these they prefer, you’ll get a wide range of responses. Some of these are mandatory and people will say they want to do them, despite the fact that they aren’t excited about it and would enjoy another way to do it.

As educators, it is important to know which medium to use for what type of course you are teaching. Some are better written or listening on your own schedule, while some would be better seeing visually and working through case studies with your peers. When in doubt – ask them!

Either way, a good mix of courses will provide learners to enjoy the type of learning they are looking for.

What type of education does your audience prefer? Please let me know in the comments.

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Connecting to Your Audience

What is the 20% of effort which can bring you 80% of your results?

Building a better connection to your audience.

In the past, our conference would send advertising to prior attendees when the conference was open for registration. We never sent anything meaningful in between conferences – merely interrupted them when we were ready.

This Summer is a good time to transition to a different way forward. A different path with consistent, relevant emails to help pharmacists provide safer and more optimized medication use, to meet the needs of their patients.

Our new steps start next week. I hope you consider starting your own new path too.

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Post Conference Questions

Next week is an exciting time! We have a post-con meeting to discuss what we thought about our conference.

In preparing for the meeting, there are a host of questions to ask and work through.

One key step is the posture – bringing curiosity and generosity to the conversation. Being able to hone in on what’s it for and who’s it for will make a big difference as you make forward progress.

First, it’s important to celebrate the wins, small and large. Some questions to bring out those ideas are:

  • What worked well?
  • What did attendees enjoy?
  • What was the “best” part of the conference?
  • What would we include again next year that you wouldn’t want to miss? Or alternatively;
  • If we removed “x” next year, would you still attend?

The second piece, which most of us focus on primarily, is what could be improved. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • If you could improve one thing next year, what would you improve?
  • What part of the conference did not work?
  • Is there something from the conference this year, if included next year, would stop you from attending again?

Start off looking at the big picture will be helpful. Then you can zoom in on specific areas, such as:

  • Planning committee & responsibilities
  • Speakers & topics
  • Venue
  • Food/beverage
  • Breaks
  • Marketing
  • Attendee feedback
  • Attendee interaction

What other questions would you explore? Please let me know in the comments.

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Accountable Learning

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty – a buzz word that often is used as a punitive measure. “We need to keep people accountable.”

However, accountable can be distilled to being responsible for something. As educators, we are responsible for what someone will learn.

That’s where accountable learning comes in. Where the education provider offers additional learning opportunities at different time points AFTER the conference or program. These touch points provide takeaways and a check-in to verify learners have maximized what should be learned from the program and to double check how the learner can better apply the information that was covered in the course. 

With the limited time that we have for learning, the full experience should be optimized to help healthcare professionals learn more effectively, thus being accountable for their learning.

The inaugural takeaways from a program I’m involved in will be out next week – I’ll keep you posted on the response!

Keep Learning!

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Key Takeaways and The Forgetting Curve

Part of creating an educational conference is to help attendees learn.

However, it is well documented, from Herman Ebbinghaus in 1885, that we forget a significant part of what we learn. Between days 2 to 7, we’ve already forgot upwards of 80% of what we learned!

Work that was completed in Australia shows that just small increments of time over the first 2-30 days after learning something new can have result in a significant improvement in content retention.

One of the key pieces to add to your communication with learners, specifically after a program, is sending bite size takeaways within 7 days of the conference and then at 30 days.

Even better is to get key takeaways from other attendees and share them with everyone. This adds connection between attendees and adds some status to those that get to share their takeaways.

For additional info on The Forgetting Curve, you can find it at Wikipedia:

(The original uploader was Icez at English Wikipedia. – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain)

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Another Annual Conference in the Books

Phew! What a day.

We finished up a full day conference yesterday at MGM Springfield and it was a blast! The speakers were amazing, the venue was great, and the food was fantastic.

MGM Springfield – Aria Ballroom
photo by Brian Pelletier

The purpose was to create specialized education for a smaller group of pharmacists. Hearing from an attendee who came from a few States away – that it was the specialty sessions and the exact type of education she needed made it feel like it was the right topics.

There’s a significant amount of tension to start planning for next year. In fact, we already have a few discussions about it. But it’s equally (if not more) important to take a moment and celebrate all the great work everyone did to plan and deliver this program.

For everyone who was part of the planning – thank you!

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Hidden Curriculum

While reading some interesting articles about Visible Thinking, I came across an idea I’ve seen in practice but hadn’t thought much about – hidden curriculum.

The idea is while you are teaching the content – you are also teaching a specific skill. This skill might not be what the student is expecting to learn but you incorporate opportunities for them to develop it within the overall content.

There could be many different skills you are building and some ideas are:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Participation
  • Listening

Another way to think about it is you are teaching listening skills by using the content. In this case, the skill you are developing – listening – is clear and the content is more hidden, as a secondary gain a student would learn.

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Rate Limiting Step Series: Part 2 – Mandatory Education

Here is the second part on rate limiting steps in continuing education (CE). The first post covered thoughts on didactic lectures.

Mandatory education is the focus here. It is another aspect of CE that can limit engagement. Often the perspective is “we have to do this education” – and that’s where the limit comes in.

Most of us resist being told what to do. If we feel we have to complete education we run into procrastination and resistance.

It’s a slightly different vantage point compared to what an education provider does to create a program. This program can have great speakers, be at a great venue, and an attendee can still be unhappy. The small shift in this case is from the learner’s perspective.

Here is a key shift on how you can approach this:

Model a new posture by focusing on getting to do what you do instead of having to do it.

Sharing the idea of saying “I get to” instead of “I have to” is a small shift that can change our mindset.

We know CE will continue to be mandatory for many healthcare professionals, as it should be. Adding this reframe helps provide agency to our choices. By modeling the posture you can empower other professionals to do the same.

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