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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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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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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Metacognition

Thinking about thinking – or metacognition – is a fascinating topic. It is an awareness of one’s own thinking or learning processes.

In a great summary of metacognition, Nancy Chick from Vanderbilt University lists important categories and questions (based on an article from Kimberly Tanner) for assessing and reflecting on one’s learning. These questions are great prompts for education providers to think about when creating educational sessions/programs.

  • Preassessment: What do I already know about this topic that could guide my learning?
  • Identifying Confusions: What was most confusing to me about the material explored today?
  • Restrospective Postassessments: How is my thinking changing (or not changing) over time?
  • Reflective Journals: What did not work so well that I should not do next time or that I should change?

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