The Word of the Day is “Engagement”

Student engagement, engaged learning, community engagement, outreach and engagement…. Some form of the word “engagement” is all around us.  It was the focus of the main speaker at OSU’s University Day 2010 with a topic entitled: Engaged Learning: Fostering Success for All Students. It was the topic at our recent annual NIEHS meetings with discussions on changing our core name from Community Education to Community Engagement.

I think it’s a great way to go.  So how can we be successful in our engagement efforts?

I think engagement builds on the momentum of great communication and solid relationships.  This come first for our programs. If we are not engaged in our work, it will be hard for us to create engaging activities that have a ripple effect on our learners and stakeholders.

So now that we are passionate about our work and engaged with others on creating a program that will have great impact, what comes next?  Incorporate high impact purposeful activities into your program. An obvious one for our outreach programs is to provide a platform for students to do service-learning projects. I came across the Journal of Community Engagement in Higher Education. There is an interesting article on a service learning project for pharmacy students. Another interesting article was on a course for students on Engaged Citizenship, which is an important topic for creating healthy environments and healthy communities.


The Word of the Day is “Communication”

The word of the day is “C-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-i-o-n”.  We think we know what it is, and sometimes we think we know how to do it.

Communication can be even more challenging when working with partners.  I compiled a list of communication reminders (especially for me)  from the book, Harnessing Innovative Technology in Higher Education edited by Kathleeen P. King and Joan K Griggs

  1. Having a clear communication plan from the onset of a partnership is just as important as having an evaluation plan. The plan should identify responsibilities.
  2. Do not assume that communication actually occurred when you send an email.
  3. Avoid selective communication that may splinter a group.
  4. Acknowledge that problems occur and they must be communicated.
  5. Consider setting up a staff function with specific responsibility of communication.

Also related to communication is a past post on Being a Gifted Speaker

Organizing and Evaluating Professional Development Workshops

Earlier this year we piloted EH@Home in-person workshops. Creating a model for organization and evaluation was a very important part of this project.

Organizing each workshop involved a series of cyclic steps outlined below. From each workshop came feedback that was incorporated in future workshops. This enabled us to have near real-time improvement and help us meet the needs of participants.  Community engagement is key to effective workshops.

Conclusions to Share

  • The majority of participants learned about the workshops from friends and colleagues. Therefore, an effective way to promote workshops is through listservs, professional organizations, and networking.
  • Using pre and post quizes was very valuable in showing participants immediately how much knowledge they gained in the course.  Across workshops locations, the pre-workshop quiz average was 57% correct and post-workshop quiz resulted in 90% correct, demonstrating a significant increase in knowledge on workshop topics. This also indicated a need for additional professional development on these environmental health topics.
  • The use of a commercially available on-line recruitment, registration and survey instrument (Constant Contact) proved to be highly successful and effective in reaching audiences and facilitating follow-up information collection.
    • Most workshops were filled to capacity because of the convenience of on-line registration, ability to promote registration via web and email and for ease of sharing between colleagues.
    • 84% of participants completed the on-line pre-survey, which contributed toward workshop planning.
    • 51% of participants completed a post-follow-up survey two months after the workshop. Questions related to the extent they incorporated their new knowledge into their professional and personal lives and effective methods for future communication and professional development.
    • When asked about the preferred method for professional development in the future, 54% wanted a mix between in-person workshops and on-line education.
    • Almost all participants recognized they shared content and knowledge from the workshop with their friends and family. Therefore, the impact of workshops go beyond their professions and into their personal lives.
    • By far, the majority of workshop participants wanted to stay informed through our eNewsletters via Constant Contact.

The New Lingo for Educators

We decided to create on-line learning for our audiences. What’s next? As I’m searching the web looking for “best practices”, I’m sensing that first we want to be clear about what we’re doing.  There are many terms flying around out there, and I decided to get some definitions to make distinctions.  Note that my chosen definitions below could be discussed, tweaked, and argued by colleagues, which certainly would be a fun activity.
Through my search for answers, I  became aware that papers can be written in search of defining each one of these terms.  In fact, it may be beneficial to revisit your definition periodically and see if it still works for your program.  So my definitions are really just to start people thinking.
  1. Education:The transfer of knowledge
  2. Training: The transfer of ability
  3. Faculty development:The broad range of activities that institutions use to renew or help faculty members in their multiple roles. Faculty development activities include programs to enhance teaching and education, research and scholarly activity, academic leadership and management, and faculty affairs, including faculty recruitment, advancement, retention, and vitality. The intent of these activities is to aid faculty members in their roles as teachers, educators, leaders, administrators and researchers.
  4. Professional development: To improve and broaden knowledge and skills and develop the personal qualities required in their professional lives. (a more detailed definition depends on your program’ audience. Defining it will help you identify your learning outcomes)
  5. Teacher development: The process of which teachers attitudes to their work are modified and teacher’s professional performance may be improved. Teacher development activities may include new theoretical and teaching suggestions, critical reflection on their practice and commitment to teaching, and receiving support and feedback.
  6. Teacher training: Formal activities or classes that either train students to be teachers, or train teachers on specific curricula to further and deepen their practice of teaching and add activities and lesson plan possibilities.
  7. Train-the-trainer: Specific type of training that empowers and prepares learners to have the ability to train others. Instruction is designed to serve as a model for the learners. Learning outcomes would include (but are not limited to) not only the topic, but also facilitation techniques, organization, educational technology, resources, and ways to assess.
  8. Web-based learning: Associated with learning materials delivered in a Web browser, including when the materials are packaged on CD-ROM or other media.
  9. Online learning: Associated with content readily accessible on a computer. The content may be on the Web or the Internet, or simply installed on a CD-ROM or the computer hard disk.
  10. Educational technology: An array of tools that might be helpful in advancing student learning. Tools may include, but is not limited to, software, hardware, internet applications, mobile devices, and activities.  Educational technology takes instructional and learning theory into consideration, so that proper tools and techniques are selected to match learning outcomes and students’ needs.
  11. Instructional technology: “The theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning,” according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee.
  12. Instructional design: A systematic process that is employed to develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion” (Reiser & Dempsey, 2007). In addition, Instructional Design models or theories may be thought of as frameworks for developing modules or lessons that 1) increase and/or enhance the possibility of learning and 2) encourage the engagement of learners so that they learn faster and gain deeper levels of understanding.
  13. Distance education: A method of teaching in which the students are not required to be physically present at a specific location during the term.
  14. Distance learning: Involves interaction at a distance between instructor and learners, and enables timely instructor reaction to learners. Simply posting or broadcasting learning materials to learners is not distance learning. Instructors must be involved in receiving feedback from learners.
  15. Podelation: Oh wait, that’s not a word…..yet!

Monday Gladness, Not Madness

It’s the day after Halloween. Raise your hand if you would rather have stayed home watching a movie cuddled up on the couch eating leftover candy. What would make today better than that here at work…..Sharing some cool ideas.

I continually think about how our Community Outreach and Education Program can make a difference here on campus with students.  One of our specialties is podcasting. In July 2008,  I wrote on
Lessons from Student Podcasting. There is much more now that has been done in this area.

To give you some idea, I have posted six ISTE NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) for Students. The same benefits come to adult learners. When students produce podcasts,  there is:

  1. Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  2. Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
  4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
  5. Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
  6. Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

Now it is easy to include video production for students with Flip Cameras and iPhones, and not just audio podcasting.  My idea is to c0-facilitate a class for students in which they create and produce a product that can make a difference for others around health.  We can help them take their final product to communities via the web.

My latest idea came this morning when I read the Spare Change Blog on Social Marketing and since the author Nedra shows her Delicious Bookmarks (thanks!),  I made my way to the article on Ideas for a Flip Camera Virtual Scavenger Hunt with clear instructions for students.

Why not…

  • Have student’s work in teams of two
  • Allow them to choose a topic that interests them with Thematic categories relevant to the course. The brainstorming process and working as a team to come up with a topic is a worthwhile process.
  • Allow them to use a FlipCam or Digital Audio Recorder
  • Create a Scavenger Hunt in which they find, record, and explain or interview specific events, items, or roles of people on campus or within the community,  OR
  • Take the topic and create a product for the EHSC web site that will be worthwhile to others on the topic of environmental health

Ok, back to “Monday Gladness”.

What’s Next

I took a break from adding posts to this blog. Perhaps that was a mistake. As I look back on past posts, I’m empowered. I forget all what we have done and the unlimited number of possibilities of where we can go.

The posts remind me of why I am working and how I can we make a difference.

I recently attended the NIEHS Annual Meeting in Louisville. When I put together our poster on “A Framework for Evaluating and Organizing Professional Development Workshops”, I was able to see one important finding: When we educate health professionals and empower them to help others, they use the information first and foremost on themselves and their family. And If we are motivated, inspired, and empowered personally, we can make more of a difference in our work.

I think I need to brainstorm on what’s next. Every Monday, I will post new ideas to incorporate in our outreach effort.   I hope they motivate me. I don’t want to forget anymore about the unlimited possibilities. Let’s see. What should I call it??

  • “Monday Gladness” – New Ideas to Start a Happy Week
  • PODela -Brain- tion Day: Getting the Brain Pumped Up for the Week
  • “Podelate To Be Great” – A Weekly Post to Keep You Away from the Monday Blues

Ok, I don’t want a name to stop me.  Any ideas?

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