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Flipping the Classroom to engage learners

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In the forum discussions on The Flipped Classroom a TED Talk video by Joe Ruhl arrested my interest as I considered the current generation of learners and how to engage them.


In his TED Talk on “Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future” Ruhl shares the benefits of flipping things around in the classroom in order to inspire learning. He identifies Choice, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity as skills needed by students for inspiring, engaging and generating authentic learning.


As I watched and listened to the video, I was inspired by his passion and commitment to reflect on his own teaching strategies and adapt them to the needs of the students to achieve the desired learning outcomes as mentioned in his cafeteria scenario. He mentioned that “ he loves to lecture”, but his students don’t always learn from them nor find them inspiring. I thought, what a great example of student focus learning!

It made me question my own willingness to do whatever it takes to inspire students to “want to learn” in reference to Barkley (2010). I started thinking about the magnitude of work required by the teacher and whether or not it would be worth the while. It made me doubt my preparedness to take on the challenge and left me wondering, could the required work involved in flipping a classroom be a deterrent and the reason why more teachers are not utilizing this strategy today?

Although, I found myself questioning my own abilities to successfully implement a flipped classroom, I felt encouraged by the success he had achieved. I made peace with the thought that learning this or any other strategy would take time to master and cannot be achieved overnight. I realized that I would need to become a student as I pushed myself to find effective ways to engage students. During the process of reflecting, I had a wonderful ahh, ahh moment!

It was not so much the strategy that mattered but the motive behind the strategy. I determined that I would likely be as successful to the degree that I allowed myself to become engaged in inspiring the learners in my classroom (my true motive).


My initial concept of flipping the classroom on the surfaced looked simple and straight forward enough. I thought it would lighten the already heavy load of teachers and allow students an opportunity to take charge of their learning and focus on problematic issues in class.

However, upon perusal I see that engaging students goes way beyond flipping classrooms and requires a far greater commitment and understanding of the why we teach. The reason we teach is so students can learn and not just “regurgitate the materials on a test designed to show how much content they could remember”, as described by Ruhl.

Learning happens when the student is engaged. The presentation made clear the importance of planning, strategizing, analyzing and thinking outside the box when it comes to achieving student engagement. It takes hard work and overcoming challenges. I particularly enjoyed the pictures he shared of his biology class demonstrating the variety of learning choices students had in the classroom and the positive results as students engaged and interacted with the content.


Ruhl stated, “our brains are wired for the 5 ‘C’s”. What does he mean by this? He demonstrated very well how having Choices met the learning preferences and needs of students allowing for a synergy in the classroom facilitating Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity among the learners. He also makes reference to the fact that when the 5 “c’s” form the basis of the classroom environment, “authentic learning takes place” and “students enjoy and are inspired” by it.


In identifying how to achieve the 5 C’s, Ruhl speaks about the shift that teachers will need to make. A shift that removes them from the “center stage” of the learning and places them in a position on the sidelines where the student is the focus and the teacher then becomes the “guide” or the facilitator of the learning.


This shift is a decision I have considered. So I ask myself, how do I make the shift the embodiment of who I am as a teacher? I see the answer in what Ruhl refers to as 6th “C”, caring. Showing students that I care about them and their learning will be demonstrated in the 2 loves Ruhl mentions: the love and passion for the subject and the other is a love for the students and a desire to see them succeed.

Moving forward I make the decision to not just practice the 5 C’s but to show that I care for therein I believe lies the inspiration students need to become engaged and to learn.


  1. Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques – A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

  1. You tube TED Talk Video – Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future” by Joe Ruhl:

Balancing Introverts and Extroverts in the Classroom

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Allow me to share my thoughts on Susan Cain’s Power of Introverts TED Talk

In her presentation she  makes a distinction between introversion and shyness. She does this to underline the bias society often have against introverts. She outlines, there is a need to understand what introversion is. It’s different from being shy. Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about, how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments”.


As I listened to her clarify the definition it made so much sense to me and I began to feel guilty for the times I too had often misinterpreted shyness in individuals for introversion. While the presentation made me more appreciative and respectful of the effort introverts often make to “fit” into the world of us extroverts as I can only imagine the stress it does create for introverts when society sometimes imposes expectations for their social interactions, it left me somewhat confused and questioning. How then should I respond to the introverts in my own world? How do I engage them without creating additional stress? I was beginning to feel stressed myself!

I couldn’t help but feel defensive as she made overt statements that in my opinion reflected a certain level of discrimination against extroverts. Statements such as “our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces, they are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts’ need for lots of stimulation. And also we have this belief system right now that I call the new groupthink, which holds that all creativity and all productivity comes from a very oddly gregarious place”. What irony I thought!

This presentation has invoked a myriad of emotions and reflections for me but the one that lingers longest is the feeling of encouragement and inspiration to “look inside my own suitcase”, to understand and appreciate the need to be true to oneself. So whether that self is an introverted, extroverted or a somewhere in between self, to that self I must be true!

Cain in closing her presentation urged…. “Stop the madness for constant group work. Just stop it.”

As I listened it came clear to me that introverts are challenged when as instructors we favour group work as a primary strategy for engaging learners and build community within the classroom. This got me thinking…

So, what of the times when as an instructor, I may have in my own extroverted way probed and prodded the introverted student into reluctantly participating in a group discussion. Could I have contributed negatively to that students’ learning experience?

Is it possible that as a result, the class missed out on an opportunity to benefit from the creative ideas and thoughts of these learners?

What then is the best strategy for engaging the extroverted learners while maintaining the energy of extroverts? Cain suggests we have a balance by:

  • Giving both extroverts and introverts time to think on their own and then return to the group to share.
  • Providing latitude for introverts to be creative in finding solutions.
  • Allowing extroverts time and opportunity to experience the quite place where they can work and learn on their own. Developing the self-directed learner in them.
  • Creating an environment where both introverts and extroverts have a place to exchange ideas, a place where each feels valued and respected for who they are.

My practice has certainly been informed as a result of watching this video and journaling my experience and thoughts. I have learned of the challenges of both introverts and extroverts in the classroom which has lead me to the decision to be purposeful in my role as an instructor to create a balance for the benefit of both sets of learners in my classroom and world.

I will be careful in the future to create opportunities for both learners to share in the experience giving time for introverts to respond. Another approach I will utilize is to give learners a choice on whether they would to prefer to work in the group on their own. I look forward to the benefits and positive impact this approach will have in my classroom!


Reflections on Understanding How I Think?

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In my PIDP 3250 Class I find I am being challenged both technically and meta-cognically!! I wonder, am I the only one here?



In a recent forum post one of my fellow cohort posted an article on meta-cognition in response to the forum discussion topic: Meta-cognition, why is it important? I found myself thinking a lot about how I think. Truth be told I had never really given much thought to this prior to now although I will say that I have been quite successful in my studies, as I have developed and utilized strategies for learning over time.

So here I am including my post as this area is one I find fascinating as well as important for any learner who wants to achieve the excellence in their practice.

Let me start by sharing the article my cohort shared:

One key point that resonates with me is that the process of meta-cognition as a form of reflection is not a “static form”. As an adult learner, I am only now beginning to take note and evaluate how I am learning. What I do find most challenging of the 3 step process of: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating is the “monitoring”.

I have found that planning and setting the goals is a more natural process for me and of course, being able in the evaluation phase to say what worked and what didn’t is just as easy for me to do. I recently read an article that included an inventory for meta-cognition. I have committed to taking the inventory in my quest to “think” about how I learn and hone new skills in this area.

So in answering the question of why it is important to understand meta-cognitive process, Assistant Director of Center for Teaching, Nancy Chick in her article on Meta-cognition on Thinking of One’s Thinking” shares the following quote:

“Metacognitive practices help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, writers, readers, test-takers, group members, etc.  A key element is recognizing the limit of one’s knowledge or ability and then figuring out how to expand that knowledge or extend the ability. Those who know their strengths and weaknesses in these areas will be more likely to “actively monitor their learning strategies and resources and assess their readiness for particular tasks and performances” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, p. 67).

I embrace the process of meta-cognition as I believe it is important for my current as well as any future learning I will pursue as a life-long learner!


Thoughts on Learning Styles

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After much reading on this topic it has become clear that the theory of “learning styles” is still being debated and will remain an area of controversy in the field of education. Whilst one may disagree on whether learning styles are a myth or not? There is no denying that the way we view learning is changing.

Dave Ellis in his book ” Becoming a Master Student” describes learning style as “a term that takes into account differences in how people prefer to perceive and process information.” He further states, “knowing your preferred learning style helps you understand why some courses appeal to you while others seem dull or boring. Figuring out when to use your preferences and when it might be helpful to include another style of learning – can help create value from ANY class…..” (p 35).

This perspective places the onus on the student to discover and identify preferences regarding how they learn so they can be successful. This is interesting, as today there seem to be a lot of expectations surrounding the educator understanding the learning styles of the student. One might ask, it is reasonable to expect an instructor to be able to understand and adapt to the learning style of all the students in the class?

I have spent time thinking about it and taking my own learning inventory. I have even completed assessments to assist me in identifying my own learning styles….I have found that my preference is bent toward visual/auditory. That being said, I have learned a lot from lessons that demanded my “pound of flesh” as they were planned for the preferred kinesthetic learner!! Note to all …with the right attitude one can learn anything they put their minds to.

I have learned that the most effective “learning style”  is choosing to have  a positive mindset and an attitude that promotes learning and success!

The Meaning of Student Engagement

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PIDP 3250 – Instructional Strategies

Journal Entry #1- Reflection on “The Meaning of Student Engagement.”



It is clear that the key to unpacking student engagement lies in understanding the link between motivation and active learning. The following quote by Barkley (2010) makes this distinction clear: “A classroom filled with enthusiastic, motivated students is great, but it is educationally meaningless if the enthusiasm does not result in learning.” She further cites, “ student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning.” (p 6).

Reflecting on the aforementioned quotes brought perspective to my experience last week when I facilitated a workshop to a group of high school students on “How to effectively prepare for Job Interviews.” It was clear most were not interested and couldn’t care less and others paid just enough attention so they would be accredited participation and attendance in the class.

By the end of the class I had convinced myself that teaching high school students was not an option for me. I took little solace in the comments of the class teacher who sought to assure me that they had done substantially better with me in listening and participating than they normally would with him. His frustrations echoed the result of a group of students who were neither motivated nor actively engaged in the learning process. I left the class exhausted and wondering what to do in order to meet with some success the next time I had to facilitate.

As I thought more deeply of the experience I realized that to be successful I needed to change my strategy and recognize that I had in fact achieved some success as the teacher mentioned. Although I had held their attention the question I was asking myself was how sustainable would be the knowledge as the students were not motivated and clearly not actively learning? Here is where I am examining the situation to make changes.

As a result the readings, I now see that the challenge of engaging the students will only be accomplished by a strategy and deliberate efforts to creating an environment where the students “want to learn”, where they are invested, participative and challenged to keep learning. Failure to achieve this will mean that the learners are not engaged.

Having said that, I am left wondering how much of the responsibility of “student engagement” lies in the hands of the educator and how much in the hand of the student? Does it mean I have failed if students show no motivation despite planned efforts to create an environment conducive to active learning?

In chapter 4, Barkley (2010) outlines that there are 3 specific tasks that teachers can do to promote synergy between motivation and active learning. This can be accomplished by:

  1. Creating a sense of classroom community – students are encouraged to become a part of a community of learners and so learning becomes shared and students feel a sense of belonging. This helps meet a basic human need that Maslow referred to as the need of belonging. If this need is met they are more likely to engage.
  2. Helping students’ work at their optimal level. Here she discusses the empowerment of students to the point where they become “partners in the learning process.” She states, “ when students have the power to make decisions regarding their own learning, they can take steps to ensure they are working in their optimal challenge zone” (p 31). This “optimal” challenge zone is where they are not bored neither are they too defeated by the tasks or work to try.
  3. 3rdly by teaching students so that they can learn holistically – Here is where the 3 domains are integrated – the Cognative, Affective and the Psychomotor. When this happens I understand that engagement happens, for “the most effective –engaging – learning environments” integrate all the domains (p 37).

Moving forward I am now aware that in order to achieve the goal of students becoming engaged in the learning process I will need to change my mindset. I will aim to focus more on the learner and how they learn being careful as much as possible, to create the appropriate learning community where students are empowered and are motivated to learn. I will be sure to appropriately assess and provide feedback to the students by observing and analyzing their learning, enabling them to make improvements.


Works Cited

Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques – A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Reflections on the Role of Educators and Trends in Career Development

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Reflections on the role of Educators

What new insights have I gained in terms of the variety of roles that adult educators play?

In my research I read some articles viewed various videos and I have spent some time to reflect. I now see the need to consistently reflect on my ways of guiding learning. As Merriam explains, “educators who wish to work successfully with adult learners need to understand who adult learners are and how they learn (Merriam and Brockett 2007, p.158).

I see myself as more of a Facilitator who guides the learning of my learners. I realize that I need to be flexible and adaptable and work at ways to support the learners to become independent and effective in their thinking. I currently work at engaging them in meaningful dialogue and ask questions that will encourage them to think and identify and make sense of their new knowledge. This approach is in striking contrast to the traditional context where the teacher lectures from the front of the classroom and the learners would spend time taking copious notes in an effort to ensure that when time comes for them to be assessed they would score well. I now see that testing well is not an indication that one has truly learned but rather may be reflective of one’s ability to reproduce the information received.  

As I look in my own classroom, I see where my more mature learners sometimes struggle with this new way of teaching as they have graduated from the “old” school of the traditional learning environment.

I now have a much better appreciation for the role and recognize my personal need for continuous learning, reflecting, applying and make sense of my new knowledge. As the research showed, doing so will allow me to remain relevant.

The expectations placed on educators are indeed a tall order. As I continue to hone new skills, challenging myself to reach for excellence I believe I will be able to rise to the challenge and at least have somewhat of a  chance of fulfilling the demands of the learners on today’s educators.

Reflections on What’s Trending in Career Development

To answer the question, what’s trending in Career Development? The list is long!

Let me mention the top 3 I found.

Trend #1: Learning Takes Center Stage

Trend #2: A Culture of Connectivity

Trend #3: Shifting Demographics and Increasing Diversity

1. Learning – Employees need to be participating in learning, whether it is formal or informal. They need to be engaged in keeping their skills current with the fast changing 21st century workplace. Gone are the days when one would graduate post-secondary, land the job, get promoted based on seniority then retire. Today, the employees are even expected to create their own job security by keeping pace with the knowledge needed to do the job. Learning does include cooperating technology in the learning.

2. Connecting or Networking – One must make the time to keep in touch with like-minded professionals in order to keep current with the changes and advancements in their profession.

3. The Shifting Demographics and Increasing Diversity – For sure the face of the Workplace has evolved.  As baby boomers retire or find them self having to work longer they are meeting face to face and learning to collaborate and team with the younger generations in the workplace. Through globalization and the movement of peoples and talents the workplace is proving more culturally diverse and brings with it the need for individuals to be open, embracing and accommodating.

– See more Trends at:

How are you preparing to address these trends?

I am preparing to meet the trends by educating myself on the changes and ensuring that I am aware of the resources my Clients need. I also attend annual conferences for my profession and keep a network of like-minded professionals on my speed-dial.

I am also confident that taking the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma as well as the Bachelor’s in Leadership studies will help me hone relevant skills to meet the demands and trends that emerge in the field Career Development.

Emerging Trends in Career Development

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In order for Career Development Practitioners to be effective in their roles, we need to be ahead of the curve in knowing what the current trends are in the profession. For, how can we guide clients if we are not aware of what employers are looking for? Or, the educational requirements of the existing or future labour market demands? Being on “trend” is beneficial when guiding clients to make choices that will impact their careers and advising employers on how best to maximize their human resources to create true learning organizations.

Whilst, practitioners cannot always accurately predict the changes that lie on the horizons, it behooves us to go the extra mile. Author Caitlin Williams PhD, in her article dated September 1, 2013, titled: The Landscape of the 21st Century Workplace: Emerging Trends You Need To Know as a Career, Development Professional, speaks to this point. She states that, “simply knowing that the workplace is different isn’t enough. Knowing and understanding the impact of the changes on workers, and using this information to better assist those we work with on their career development are required”.

Williams cites the number one trend as Learning. She argues that the mindset of staff should be one of life-long learning. Learning formally as well as informally, ensuring that technology is a part of the learning as well as building relationships with others. She goes as far as saying, “if workers are not embracing learning, they are no longer seen as relevant.” I therefore suggest that if one is not relevant in their career they are making themselves targets for job loss. In today’s economy it is vital that learning takes center stage, not that it guarantees job security rather it prepares them one for new opportunities.

She poses the following provoking questions which have led me to reflect and to find answers to those questions. I will seek to address those questions in my reflections.

 She asks: As a practitioner:

  • Do you know the full range of learning options available to workers in your organization?
  • What conversations are you having with those you career coach/counsel to make certain they regularly participate in learning initiatives and stay current?

Below is a list of the 8 Trends she identified and a link to the article:

Trend #1: Learning Takes Center Stage

Trend #2: A Culture of Connectivity

Trend #3: Shifting Demographics and Increasing Diversity

Trend #4: Globalization 3.0

In the next article: (click here to read Part 2)

Trend #5: The Impact of Economic Turmoil and the Recession

Trend #6: The Talent Trifecta

Trend #7: The (R)evolution of the American Worker

Trend #8: New Work and the New Skills It Will Take To Do It