To put it in more straight forward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works.

Common Problems Faced By Students In eLearning

How To Overcome Common Problems Faced By Students In eLearning

eLearning, being the latest wave of education, is already having a fair show despite posing challenges for both instructors and students. While instructors need to put in intensive work and time to design the instruction, students need to equip themselves with technical proficiency to decode the course material. There are 5 common problems faced by students in eLearning classes and which they need to be solved through proper initiatives for the students’ future benefits:

  1. Adaptability Struggle.  
    Switching from traditional classroom and face to face instructor training to computer-based training in a virtual classroom makes the learning experience entirely different for students. Their resistance to change doesn’t allow them to adapt to the online learning environment, whereas it takes time for them to get accustomed to Course Management Systems (CMS) and the methods of computer-based education. While passive listening and notes taking are expected in a traditional classroom, online discussions or creating a web page demand springing into action. Students with a “traditional” mindset find it difficult to adapt; however, they need to accept the new learning circumstances with an open mind and heart. Understanding the benefits of eLearning and even discussing them with their peers may change this mindset and better prepare students for online classes.
  2. Technical Issues.
    Many students are not provided with the high bandwidth or the strong internet connection that online courses require, and thus fail to catch up with their virtual classmates: Their weak monitors make it hard to follow the Course Management System and their learning experience becomes problematic. Moreover, most of them live off campus and find it difficult to keep in tune with the technical requirements of the chosen course. Some of them don’t even own computers and seek help in Learning Resource Centers for technical assistance. The only solution to this problem is knowing exactly what kind of technological support they will need for a certain course before enrolling in it, as well as properly equipping themselves for the course’s successful completion.
  3. Computer Literacy.
    Although students are generally tech savvy, and thus able to manage computers well, lack of computer literacy is a major issue among students today. Many of them cannot operate basic programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint and therefore are not able to handle their files. Furthermore, many students find fixing basic computer problems troublesome, as they have no knowledge in this area. However, technological proficiency is a must for following online courses, as it enables students to manage their assignments and courseware in an organized manner without struggling. Basic courses in computer literacy enhance students’ knowledge in the field; having a fundamental knowledge of computer hardware would help them participate in online classes without interruptions and hindrances.
  4. Time Management.
    Time management is a difficult task for eLearners, as online courses require a lot of time and intensive work. Furthermore, whereas it is mostly adults who prefer web-based learning programs for their place and time flexibility, they rarely have the time to take the courses due to their various everyday commitments. A regular schedule planner would be a significant help to these learners, as they could even set reminders for their courses and assignments.
  5. Self-Motivation.
    Self-motivation is an eLearning essential requirement; however, many online learners lack it, much to their surprise. After enrolling in distance learning courses, many learners fall behind and nurture the idea of giving up, as difficulties in handling a technological medium also seem insurmountable. Students need to find the motivation to follow the new educational trends and also properly equip themselves for future challenges in their education and careers. Only a positive attitude will help them overcome the challenges in eLearning; though this is hard to practice, students need to understand that it is necessary in order to reap the eLearning’s benefits in the future.

eLearning is good news, but at its initial stage it poses certain threats to students. Attitude change and technological literacy would help them gain confidence in order to succeed in their courses with a positive vibe.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

eLearning Incentives Program

How To Create An eLearning Incentives Program For Your Employees

eLearning is a powerful way to train your employees. The convenience, flexibility, and magnitude of possibilities that Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide can rocket employee productivity.

Incentive programs provide Learning Management System users rewards for what they accomplish in the system. For example, for every module a user completes, they receive a tangible reward. Since rewards are based on how many people use the system, your employees will be more likely to use it as much as possible.

8 Types Of eLearning Incentives Programs 

There are many options for incentive programs available. Actually, incentive programs can be as creative as you would like them to be. The goal is the incentive or reward to be worthwhile. The following are some options you may want to implement into your Learning Management System.

  1. Shout outs.
    Employees love praise, especially in front of their co-workers. When users complete a lesson, send a shout out to them during a meeting or even via email or an interoffice communication system. This will not only motivate users receiving the praise, but also their co-workers who also wish to win acclaim.
  2. Flexible work hours.
    Working from home is one of office employees’ greatest wishes. If your Learning Management System is accessible from your employees’ homes, that might be an incentive you can provide to users. If employees complete a module early in a workday, they can come to the office later in that day. This means employees can relax in the morning completing their training on their couch.
  3. Financial rewards.
    You can pay your employees to take advantage of the eLearning course you’re providing. For every lesson or module users complete, they will receive a bonus in their paycheck. This can be highly motivating, especially during holidays like Christmas.
  4. Days off.
    Employees receive a certain number of days of paid leave, but it’s usually not enough. Additional paid days off for completing sections of the Learning Management System can quickly get users to work on their training.
  5. Gamifying the Learning Management System.
    A gamified Learning Management System can be fun for users. For every module users complete, they will receive a certain number of points – i.e. 10 points. For every 50 points a user receives, he/she will receive a gift card; an hour off work or some other incentive. You could keep a list of incentive rewards that employees can redeem their points for.
  6. Incentivizing a good cause.
    Collaborating to raise money for a good cause can be an incredibly motivating goal. Follow the example of Harrisburg agency WebpageFX, whose employees surpassed their goals in order to raise funds to build a school in rural Guatemala. They were so motivated that they managed to raise the $25,000 needed in just seven months!
  7. Allowing Dress-down Day.
    Employees often like to trade in their suits for slacks and a nice shirt. Those who need to complete training, you can allow to dress down the days they will be working on it. Since they will be in front of the computer all day instead of in front of customers, the difference in work attire shouldn’t affect the company’s image.
  8. Assigning titles.
    Before a new employee completes training, he/she could have a title of Sales Trainee. Upon completion of the Learning Management System training, the employee can have the title Sales Associate. As employees complete lessons in the Learning Management System, their titles can change to ones that gain more prestige. For example, someone can go from Sales Associate to Sales Specialist to Sales Manager.

How To Choose The Best eLearning Incentives Program For Your Employees 

Think about your office’s culture to decide what will be the best eLearning incentives program for your employees. The goal of this type of program is to motivate Learning Management System users to use the system. If the program doesn’t provide anything the employees want, it won’t work.

Many organizations work with their employees in creating the incentives program. They ask them for feedback on what would help them learn more from the Learning Management System. Employees are usually quick to provide their suggestions, because they truly do want to learn but find it difficult to absorb the information when there are so many distractions around them. Focus becomes easier when there is a reward dangling in front of them.

It’s also possible to combine incentives to create a program that encourages everyone to use the system. You may offer choices to employees when they complete a lesson; they may choose a day off, a gift card, or the option to dress down the next day. Providing employees with the ability to choose what kind of reward they want will also empower them, which can increase morale.

Increasing incentives as employees make their way through training can also be highly motivating. You may want to give users a $500 bonus upon completion of all the modules, but for each module they complete, users will receive a smaller reward.

Create an eLearning incentives program today; the faster you have an incentives program in place, the quicker you’ll see your employees log into the system to start using it. Get started with your eLearning incentives program today!

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.


Gamification In eLearning

Gamification by definition is a concept of using artifacts and ideas known from games to stimulate desired behaviours. Check the short clip about one of the most popular gamification cases which is the Piano Stairs.

When we consider gamified eLearning we mostly think about limited number of such artifacts – usually various rewards (eg. badges) and credits (eg. points). Let’s take a look at more options which could help to build a gamified eLearning environment.

Gamification in eLearning


How To Build A Gamified Environment

Many of modern games (tabletop games, computer games, card games) let people play together. While playing they not only compete with each other, but they are also supporting and motivating themselves. Winning a badge for solving a quiz is no motivational at all in comparison with being better than the colleague from the next isle in the office. People like to interact with each other – like to cooperate or to compete. Winning with other people seems to be the highest reward.

  • Do you gamify your eLearning solutions by engaging people in interactions? Do you stimulate competition or cooperation? Do you reward winners of competition and leaders of cooperative actions?  How do you stimulate peer-to-peer learning in your eLearning solution?

Sometimes games are beautiful. Just take a look at games from Days of Wonder or check new productions of computer games. People like to use beautiful things – beauty brings positive emotions and motivates to interact with such a product.

  • Do you take care of aesthetics of your eLearning solution? Is your eLearning product visually designed with proper engagement?

Games have goals. So do eLearning courses. Games also have some rules which bring restrictions to the games’ worlds. These rules must be accepted by players. Existence of rules brings some kind of security – I know what are the consequences of taking or not taking some actions.

  • Do you clearly communicate goals of your eLearning solution? Do you contract with the learner for some rules? Do you create a secure, predictable learning environment for your target group?

In games goals are being reached by challenges and tasks. They bring emotions which engage and stimulate players. According to Flow Theory they have to be calibrated to be appropriate to one’s skill level. Challenges and tasks have to be concluded with feedback, which let players understand the issue and go to the next level of competency.

  • Do you provide well-calibrated challenges and tasks in your eLearning solution? Are their complexity grow to let learners climb on the competency ladder? Do you provide good feedback to your challenges giving people a chance to understand the learning issues?

Good games are well calibrated – they require effort to pass the next level. According to the Flow Theory – when the game is too easy it is boring. When it is too hard it is scary.The complexity of good game grows while player builds new abilities (both personal and connected with his/her avatar in the game).

  • Does you eLearning solution require some effort to complete? Or does it require only a competence of hitting the next button? How do you support learners in these efforts when they can’t move for any reason to the next level?

Games give choices. The player can choose the path. He/she can play one, or another card, can kill or show mercy. In the game the player is to some extent free – he/she can take decisions and bear the consequences. The player also can learn from successes and failures. These choices create uncertainty which brings excitement.

  • Do you open your eLearning solution for exploration by learners? Do you let them choose the path of development or do you provide a very strict way of consuming your eLearning product? Do you provide exciting environment which surprises them in every single moment?

Games usually tell stories. If you don’t believe – just take the manual to the most primitive tabletop game and read it. Even the Chess and the Angry Birds have their own stories… Probably the most complex stories are being told during role playing games (check my favourite Dragon Age by EA). The story builds world of the game (context). The story lets us play the role. When we have the story we can feel like a part of it. It could bring motivation and engagement to the highest level.

  • Do you tell stories in your eLearning solution? Do you create an educational, compact and coherent environment (the learning world)? Do you bring learners to some roles which help them master new competencies?

Games are connected with kinesthetic experience. The player moves with the ball, manipulates pawns, moves pieces and artifacts of the game. He/she holds cards, plays with the pad or moves in front of the XBox. These actions let the player experience things. Such an experience helps to encode new information in the brain by additional sensory channel.

  • Do you provide in your eLearning solution kinesthetic experiences? Do you include in it only some clickable elements (quizzes, interactions, navigation) or do you offer also some tasks which could detach the learner from the computer (implementation tasks, tasks on the job) and interact with other people (learners, mentor or supervisor)?

And, at the very end, games are providing rewards. Yes – you can give medals, cups and other trophees to players. You can assign points and badges. You can show development of player’s avatar or show a progress bar. You can announce the winner. Rewards, however, should be connected with effort. And result of this effort (state of satisfaction in reaching the goal) itself should be the most substantial element of the reward system. And, last but not least, the power of the reward will be much bigger if it will be trully appreciative – granted among people.

  • What is the reward system in your eLearning solution? Is it based only on a shallow, mechanistic approach of earning credits for consumption of the material? Or maybe it utilizes more complex approaches based on real efforts reaching new competences? Is it possible to reward a learner in front of other people?

There are many mechanisms of games which could be used to gamify your eLearning solution. As badges and points are the simplest to think about they became the most popular one. To create trully enjoyable, engaging and fun solution which stimulates desired behaviours we have to remember, however, about the complexity of games and situationally use all of their artifacts.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Design Captivating eLearning

Design Captivating eLearning

As is often the case, business needs and timescales for deployment outweigh considerations of enjoyment and entertainment. Sadly, this is a short-sighted approach and will ultimately impact your ROI, for as we all know, we are better able to retain information if it is relevant, engaging and exciting (see Thorndike’s “Principles of Learning”). So how do we achieve this within our eLearning so that we can create a captivating eLearning experience?

  1. Show, don’t tell. 
    What’s the difference between news coverage of a crime and a dramatization of that same event in Crimewatch? The same information may be imparted, but instead of a list of dry facts and statements you get to see that same event from the human perspective. This makes the story come alive, making it more memorable and interesting; which in turn makes it more effective in getting across the facts. That bank robbery that took place at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday evening in Bagshot Lane is now a visceral experience filled with characters, victims, and consequences. So make your learning come alive through the use of scenarios whether they’re video, text, or comic book style.
  2. Add humor.
    Okay, so we’re not asking you to be the next Russell Howard, but injecting a little light humor into your course can enhance your learning. By showing the human element, you are transferring one of the best aspects of good face-to-face training to the screen. It increases the learner’s connection to the content and creates an element of surprise that will get people talking after the course. Obviously don’t get too carried away here, or you’ll risk diverting your learners’ attention from the main focus of the learning.
  3. Gamify your interactions.
    Gamification of eLearning has been a buzz word for a little while now, but that’s not to say that, like yesterday’s news, it should be discarded. Bringing in elements that activate the brain’s reward mechanism (such as competition and viewable scoreboards, collecting achievements, challenges, and story-telling) incentivizes the learner and makes for stickier and more fun and captivating eLearning.
  4. Personalization.
    All of us enjoy those personality quizzes that tell us a little bit about ourselves – one glance at the majority of Facebook feeds shows how viral these types of Buzzfeed questionnaires can get. Everything from “What gender is your brain?” to “What movie character would you be?” are covered in these quizzes. But what if we could take this approach and put it to good use? We could then use this mechanism to allow learners to hold a mirror to their preconceptions about certain subject matters and offer a personalized learning plan. A good example of this could be a short diagnostic quiz to ascertain which unconscious bias your learner is most prone to. Or even, to diagnose what types of situations trigger a stress in the workplace event, accompanied by personalized tips for overcoming this problem. The course then becomes something that the learner can engage with knowing they have a genuinely useful tool that has uncovered a little more about them than they realized.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.


How To Engage Adult Learners


There are a number of tips and techniques that can help you to create meaningful educational experiences for adult learners, which can be applied to eLearning courses and online training events.

1- Make it relevant!
Adult learners need to be able to see the relevancy of what they are learning. How is this eLearning course going to offer them the skill sets they need to improve their work performance? How is the online training event you’re developing going to give them the information they need to master a particular task? When designing eLearning deliverables for adult learners, you have to keep in mind that the content has to be relevant, or else they will not be able see the real value in the educational experience you’re providing. While you are writing each block of text or choosing the perfect graphics and images, think about how these are going to serve the primary learning goals and objectives.

2- Include activities and assignments that encourage adult learners to explore.
Adult learners accumulate knowledge most effectively when they are active participants in their own learning process. Design activities or assignments that encourage them to explore a subject matter on their own and learn from personal experience. Pose a question or problem and then ask them to arrive at a solution on their own, or place them in groups and have them collaborate in order to discuss the issue at length and benefit from one another’s experience and skill sets. When they acquire knowledge on their own, they get inspired to pursue other avenues of self study and online education, and to become more fully engaged in the eLearning environment.

3- Consider the experience and educational background of the adult learners.
Adult learners have typically gathered more life experienced and accumulated a broader knowledge base than younger students. As such, when you’re designing your eLearning deliverables for adult audiences, you’ll want to take their experience and educational background into account. In other words, it is of high importance to assess your audience carefully. What is the highest level of education they’ve completed? Which particular tasks are they usually asked to perform while at work? Do they already know the technical jargon that is commonly used in their profession?

4- Offer immediate feedback to allow adult learners to learn from mistakes.
Make the educational experience more powerful and effective by offering immediate feedback when they make an error, or even when they need to know about an alternative problem solving approach. This will provide them with the opportunity to learn from mistakes by catching them at the moment they occur and seeing the direct consequences of that error, rather than waiting until the moment of need has passed to offer invaluable feedback.

5- Integrate emotionally-driven content.
Adult learning audiences often benefit from content that is emotionally-driven. If they feel emotionally connected to the subject matter, then they are more likely to be engaged, so that they will actually absorb and retain the information. Use images and graphics that are powerful and relevant, as well as written content that evokes a certain feeling. Even the font you use can convey a certain emotion. Positive emotional elements can also serve to inspire and motivate learners who may feel disconnected from the eLearning environment.

6- Emphasize the real-world benefits.
Can you concisely sum up the real world benefits that your eLearning course or online training event offers to its adult learners? The adult learners need to be informed of the real world benefits beforehand, and should be reminded of these benefits periodically. For example, you can add a side note to every module, explaining how the content will offer them real world benefits. This will allow them to realize the purpose behind the educational experience, so that they become motivated and excited.

7- Keep cognitive overload in mind when creating content.
Break your content up into smaller chunks to help avoid cognitive overload. Avoid using large blocks of text, and opt for bullet points or numbered lists instead. Also, you may want to consider designing smaller modules or eLearning courses that focus on specific subject matters, rather than lengthy eLearning courses that cover a wide range of topics.

8- Use avatars and storytelling to draw in adult learners.
Avatars can guide adult learners through modules to increase knowledge comprehension and retention, while storytelling makes the subject matter more interesting and relatable for them. Keep in mind, that when using characters or stories, you should add at least a touch of realism in order to make the content more immersive and effective.

9- Create deliverables that can be completed quickly and conveniently.
Adult learners often learn while they are on-the-go, meaning that they should be able to access the eLearning deliverables on their mobile devices. By creating eLearning deliverables that can be completed quickly and conveniently, you offer them the opportunity to absorb and retain the information anytime, anywhere and when they need it the most.

10- Remember that practice makes perfect.
Include plenty of practice exercises in your eLearning course to ensure that adult learners are able to fully absorb and remember the subject matter. Repetition is key, so develop tasks that require them to repeat certain steps over and over again and keep on reminding them of the important key points all throughout the eLearning course.

11- Use aesthetically pleasing design elements.
Aesthetically pleasing eLearning courses and modules can be more easily assimilated by adult learners, not to mention that can create a more interactive and visually stimulating experience. Include compelling and inspiring images, colorful fonts, and graphic elements that help to draw their attention to the core aspects of the modules.
Keep in mind this list of tips to engage adult learners, in order to create truly inspirational and powerful eLearning deliverables. However, if you are looking for additional tips on motivating adult learners, I suggest you to also read the article 17 Tips To Motivate Adult Learners.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Lateral Thinking Puzzles

The Top Ten Lateral Thinking Puzzles 

Lateral thinking puzzles are strange situations in which you are given a little information and then have to find the explanation. They are solved through a dialogue between the quizmaster who sets the puzzle and the solver or solvers who try to figure out the answer. The puzzles as stated generally do not contain sufficient information for the solver to uncover the solution. So a key part of the process is the asking of questions. The questions can receive one of only three possible answers – yes, no or irrelevant.

When one line of enquiry reaches an end then another approach is needed, often from a completely new direction. This is where the lateral thinking comes in.

Problem Solving & Effective Decision Making

You can take this course online with The Educators Academy

Some people find it frustrating that for any puzzle it is possible to construct various answers which fit the initial statement of the puzzle. However, for a good lateral thinking puzzle, the proper answer will be the best in the sense of the most apt and satisfying. When you hear the right answer to a good puzzle of this type you should want to kick yourself for not working it out!

This kind of puzzle teaches you to check your assumptions about any situation. You need to be open-minded, flexible and creative in your questioning and able to put lots of different clues and pieces of information together. Once you reach a viable solution you keep going in order to refine it or replace it with a better solution. This is lateral thinking!

This list contains some of the most renowned and representative lateral thinking puzzles:

1. The Man in the Elevator

A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to go down to the ground floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks up the stairs to reach his apartment on the tenth floor. He hates walking so why does he do it?

This is probably the best known and most celebrated of all lateral thinking puzzles. It is a true classic. Although there are many possible solutions which fit the initial conditions, only the canonical answer is truly satisfying.

2. The Man in the Bar

A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.

This puzzle has claims to be the best of the genre. It is simple in its statement, absolutely baffling and yet with a completely satisfying solution. Most people struggle very hard to solve this one yet they like the answer when they hear it or have the satisfaction of figuring it out.

3. The Man who Hanged Himself

There is a large wooden barn which is completely empty except for a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and his feet are three feet off the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away from the man. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man hanged himself. How did he do it?

4. Death in a Field

A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other creature in the field. How did he die?

5. The Deadly Dish

Two men went into a restaurant. They both ordered the same dish from the menu. After they tasted it, one of the men went outside the restaurant and shot himself. Why?

6. The Coal, Carrot and Scarf

Five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf are lying on the lawn. Nobody put them on the lawn but there is a perfectly logical reason why they should be there. What is it?

7. Trouble with Sons

A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so?

8. Push that Car

A man pushed his car. He stopped when he reached a hotel at which point he knew he was bankrupt. Why?

9. The Arm of the Postal Service

One day a man received a parcel in the post. Carefully packed inside was a human arm. He examined it, repacked it and then sent it on to another man. The second man also carefully examined the arm before taking it to the woods and burying it. Why did they do this?

This one probably has more variations than any other. A great one to puzzle out. It requires plenty of good questions.

10. Heaven

A man died and went to Heaven. There were thousands of other people there. They were all naked and all looked as they did at the age of 21. He looked around to see if there was anyone he recognised. He saw a couple and he knew immediately that they were Adam and Eve. How did he know?


The Answers 

Please read the questions  first before reading the answers:


1. The man in the Elevator

The man is (of course) a dwarf. Variants of this puzzle include the clue that on rainy days he goes up in the elevator to the tenth floor (he uses his umbrella!)

2. The Man in the Bar

The man had hiccups. The barman recognized this from his speech and drew the gun in order to give him a shock. It worked and cured the hiccups – so the man no longer needed the water.

The is a simple puzzle to state but a difficult one to solve. It is a perfect example of a seemingly irrational and incongruous situation having a simple and complete explanation. Amazingly this classic puzzle seems to work in different cultures and languages.

3. The Man who Hanged Himself

He climbed on a block of ice which has since melted.

This one is often stated with the clue of a puddle of water, but surely this is too much assistance. It is one of several problems which depend on the change of state of water (snow or ice to water or steam).

4. Death in a Field

The man had jumped from a plane but his parachute had failed to open. It is the unopened package.

This is sometimes given with the following rather elegant clue – as he approached the centre of the field he knew he was going to die. This is another of the top classics which is right up there with ‘The Man in the Bar’. If the solver is thinking along the wrong lines (i.e. in the two dimensions of the ground) then the lateral jump to the third dimension can be tough to make.

5. The Deadly Dish

The dish that the two men ordered was albatross. They had been stranded many years earlier on a desert island. When the man tasted albatross he realized that he had never tasted it before. This meant that the meat he had been given on the island was not albatross as he had been told. He correctly deduced that he had eaten the flesh of his son who had died when they first reached the island.

This has something in common with No. 9 below but is in my opinion even better. It is fiendishly difficult to figure out from a standing start. A beautiful aspect of this problem is the subtle fact that he shot himself because he did not recognise the taste of the dish!

6. The Coal, Carrot and Scarf

They were used by children who made a snowman. The snow has now melted.

Another change of state puzzle. After this you should be on the look-out for them!

7. Trouble with Sons

They were two of a set of triplets (or quadruplets etc.)

This simple little puzzle stumps many people. They try outlandish solutions involving test-tube babies or surrogate mothers. Why does the brain search for complex solutions when there is a much simpler one available?

8. Push that Car

He was playing Monopoly.

9. The Arm of the Postal Service

The three men had been stranded on a desert island. Desperate for food, they had agreed to amputate their left arms in order to eat them. They swore an oath that each would have his left arm cut off. One of them was a doctor and he cut the arms off his two companions. They were then rescued. But his oath was still binding so he later had to have his arm amputated and sent to his colleagues.

This is often told with a further twist whereby a doctor pays a tramp a large sum in order to amputate the tramp’s arm which the doctor then sends to another man who inspects it etc. This variation can make for a long night of questioning!

10. Heaven

He recognized Adam and Eve as the only people without navels. Because they were not born of women, they had never had umbilical cords and therefore they never had navels.

This one seems perfectly logical but it can sometimes spark fierce theological arguments!

How To Generate Good Ideas

 Stop Generating Useless Ideas, an article by: 

Generating ideas is wonderful. You remember those great EUREKA moments under the shower, while driving or just talking to others.

Unfortunately, the hangover comes always later when you present your ideas to others. They are often less enthusiast than you and raise a lot of ‘BUT’…… questions. Or everybody says it’s a great idea, and nothing happens after all. All of this is so frustrating. I haven been there, seen it , done it and got fed up with it.

Now why are most of the ideas turned down? You could point out that your colleagues, bosses or potential partners are so conservative. And although you might be right, you just don’t get your ideas accepted, if they think they are useless.

Coming up with a lot of ideas might make you a creative person but to be an effective innovator ideas need to get implemented.

After I overcame my frustrations (at later age) I got the feedback and insight that my ideas were useless to my bosses and managers because they were not relevant and didn’t fit their expectations. Sometimes my ideas were way too revolutionary, way too complex or just too big to handle.

How To Generate Good Ideas?

To be effective you have to bring to the table ideas which solve a problem or fulfill a dream in a new simple way and fit (or exceed) the expectations of your management, partners, or investors, otherwise nothing happens.

An essential question is: what do the decision-makers expect?

Most of the times the answer is that they don’t know. So, why don’t you take the initiative to make the expectations of your management explicit before you start generating ideas. This will make you a more effective innovator, because when you know their struggles you can provide them with new relevant solutions.

You even could start to formulate a clear a concrete idea-assignment which forces your management, from the start, to be concrete on the criteria your ideas must meet. You can formulate an idea-assignment with the help of the following six questions:

  1. Why do we need new ideas? (What’s the issue or challenge);
  2. Who will use the ideas? (Internal – external. Who is the target group);
  3. Where will the idea be used? (Which regions, countries, continents);
  4. What are we looking for? (Something evolutionary or revolutionary? Ideas for products, services, processes, business models?);
  5. When do we like to implement it? (Which year do we need this? 2014, 2015, 2016);
  6. Which criteria should new ideas meet? (Extra turnover; less costs; margin %; fits the strategy; investment budget,…..).

The best way to stop generating useless ideas is by ideating new simple solutions, which fit or exceed the expectations of the decision makers. So make their expectations and criteria explicit before you start. This will prevent a lot of personal frustration.

Ps. you can download a pdf with the 6W’s to make an idea-assignment here.

Wishing you lots of success generating more effective ideas!

Read also my own favorite post: 10 Insights to be an Effective Innovator

To read more from Gijs on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below.

Gijs van Wulfen recently published the bestseller : “The Innovation Expedition”. Order it at

Picture: photosteve101 on Flickr, under creative commons. Thanks, Steve!

Featured on: Big Ideas & Innovation



Things Successful People Never Say

You want to be one of those successful people. Everyone does. But your actual words might be undermining your chances of success. The things you say in the office, no matter how innocuous they seem to you, might be knocking you down the career ladder and putting the top position you dream about out of reach.

Your career is too important to be tanked by a few negative phrases. Here are the seven things you should strike from your workplace vocabulary if you want to achieve the success you richly deserve:

1. “That’s not in my job description.” When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. Throughout the months or years since you settled into your job, however, your role has expanded and changed shape. Some of these changes have probably been good, while others have made you wish for simpler times. When a boss or manager piles another responsibility on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance. The better option, however, is to schedule a time to talk to your boss about your role. A specific conversation about your place in the organization is a good time to bring up the particulars of your job description, not when you’re asked to get something accomplished. No matter how stressed you are or how valid the complaint, dropping this phrase only makes you look lazy and unmotivated.

2. “It can’t be done.” Throwing in the towel makes you look like a quitter — and quitters don’t get promoted. Instead of giving up on a project entirely, frame your response in terms of alternative ways to get the work accomplished. Very little is truly impossible, and most managers and executives want forward-thinking problem solvers to climb the corporate ladder. If you offer solutions instead of giving up, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.

3. “It’s not my fault.” No one wants to work with a blame shifter. After all, it’s just a matter of time before this person eventually shifts the blame onto you. Take ownership of your mistakes instead of pointing out where others have fallen short. Admitting to a mistake shows character and the ability to learn and grow from problems. Pointing the finger at someone else strongly implies you’ll never truly learn from your errors.

4. “This will just take a minute.” Unless something will literally take only 60 seconds, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Saying something will only take “a minute” also has the side effect of undermining your efforts. Most likely the reason the particular task won’t take long is due to the benefit of your professional experience and acumen. By saying it will “just” take a minute, you’re shortchanging what you bring to the table.

5. “I don’t need any help.” The rugged lone wolf type might be the hero of most action movies, but they’re unlikely to become the hero at your company. You might think you can go it alone on a project or in your career, but teamwork is essential. Being able to work with others is the hallmark of a good leader; you’re unlikely to climb your career ladder always flying solo.

6. “It’s not fair.” Life isn’t fair, and often your career won’t be as well. Instead of complaining, you should look for specific and actionable workarounds to the problems you encounter. Is it unfair a coworker got to run point on the project you wanted? Maybe, but instead of complaining, work harder and go the extra mile. Finding a solution will always be preferable in your professional life to whining about a problem.

7. “This is the way it’s always been done.” Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no way to run a business. Just ask some of the companies which toed the line, accepted the status quo, and went under. Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is really the only way to survive in an economy constantly being disrupted by the next big thing. You don’t have to be a slave to the trends, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal. Instead, come up with creative solutions to new problems and innovate, and you’ll soon be in the driver’s seat taking your organization into the future. Everyone wants to be successful, so make sure your words aren’t holding you back. These seven phrases are career kryptonite — by avoiding them, you can fly into your future and become a successful superstar.

What do you think? What phrases do you avoid on the job? 

Article by:

Real learning

We are constantly learning, regardless of how old we are. Or, let’s at least say we are trying hard to learn. The ways we are learning, though, seem not quite right when we consider what we are trying to achieve.

If you can’t apply it, you haven’t learned

In most cases, you are interested in using the new knowledge to accomplish something. Yet, you choose to learn in ways that don’t bring you anywhere close to applying what you learn. Maybe it is trigonometry for the SATs, or web design for the job interview on the horizon. Even the book you are reading on how humans form habits is probably tied to a change you wish to make happen in your life. So, you do learn for a reason: You are hoping to apply what you learn. And you want that to happen sooner than later.

Doing the wrong things more doesn’t make things right

Given this very clear goal, what do we do? We listen, watch videos, take notes, read… When we realize that we retained very little, we find out we haven’t learned; we have already forgotten most of it. Then we try harder. Read harder, listen harder, write harder. You know it.

Try testing

What we don’t include in our learning effort is testing. That’s the secret missing piece in the routines of billions of people as they strive to learn. At worst, the act of testing yourself to see if you learned is completely absent. At best, it is an afterthought; a 10-question quiz at the end of a 4-week long study plan. Think about it. When was the last time you tested yourself on what you learned?

The disconnect between what we respect and what we do

This is completely against what we know and value in life about practice and experience. We have utmost respect for people who practice a lot; if they have been tested extensively and repeatedly, they must be great at what they do. We prefer lawyers with a strong track record in court. We feel more confident with surgeons who have more experience operating on others. Professional athletes dry-run over, and over, and over long before they get their first glimpse of the competition. Countless more examples underline one fact: We believe extensive testing is the right way for others, and we respect the ones who do more. But when it comes to us, we stay in our comfort zones, never looking back to evaluate whether we actually learned.

This comfort zone of ours makes us give in to the false sense of completion when we finish a book. It makes us move to the next blog post as soon as we are done with one. It justifies the illusion of finishing a TED talk and assuming we now know how we will use the snippet of wisdom in that video. Once we think we “got” the information, we don’t look back, we don’t check whether we internalized it, we don’t see if we can apply that learning to a problem of our own.

In the US culture, testing in schools is sometimes perceived as evil; though a necessary one. Ask someone what testing means, and you will hear all the critics about labeling, grading, force-ranking people. But guess what. That is testing at its worst, and I believe that is what makes us miss the real learning opportunity today.

Testing shows the way

Tests, when done right, put us in the driver’s seat. They force us to make a judgment, give us deep awareness about what we are missing to make the right call in the future, when the right call will be of great importance. Tests reveal to us what we are strong at, and what we are weak at. Tests show us the path, so that we know what we know and what we don’t. Testing is the due diligence on our learning performance. When used as a learning method, there is almost no better way to learn something, anything, deeply.

I know what you just thought. When you heard the word test, you visualized the endless stream of multiple choice questions you once tackled to prove to others that you deserve whatever you were shooting for. While that is indeed a test, that is not the only one. Testing is a much broader concept. Practically, you are testing yourself whenever you force yourself to produce an answer, before you see the answer. And that moment is not about grading, not about labeling you. Plain and simple: that moment is all about confronting yourself to see whether you actually know stuff. That simple.

One thing I learned

Not convinced? Here’s my advice. Test this theory yourself, on your own terms. Make this post the first experiment and challenge yourself. Don’t just move to the next article. First, see if you acquired something from this post. I know you want to read a lot, and read fast, but just for once, do your reading differently, and embrace the thrill of cold calling.

Article by:


staff training

The Basics of Teaching Online

Teaching online can be very different from teaching in a traditional classroom. An instructor who accepts employment teaching online must be prepared to help students learn without face-to-face interaction and live discussion. Teaching online certainly isn’t for everyone. However, many instructors enjoy the freedom of virtual instruction and the opportunity to interact with students from around the nation. Is teaching online right for you? Explore the pros and cons of e-instruction, the requirements necessary for teaching online, and the ways you can find an online teaching job.

How to Qualify for Positions Teaching Online

In order to qualify for a position teaching online, applicants must generally meet the same requirements as traditional teachers. At the high school level, online teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. At the community college level, a master’s degree is the minimum requirement for teaching online. At the university level, a doctorate is generally required. In some cases, colleges accept adjunct online professors without requiring them to meet the same standards as traditional, tenure-track teachers. Working professionals may also be able to get a position teaching online in relation to their chosen field. At every level of teaching online, schools seek candidates who are familiar with the internet and content management systems such as Blackboard. Prior experience with teaching online and instructional design is highly desirable.

Pros of Teaching Online

There are many advantages to teaching online. Virtual instructors are often able to work from anywhere they choose. You could get a job teaching online for a prestigious school in another state and not have to worry about relocating. Since many e-courses are taught asynchronously, instructors are often able to set their own hours while teaching online. Additionally, instructors who make a living teaching online are able to interact with pupils from around the nation.

Cons of Teaching Online

Teaching online also comes with some notable drawbacks. Sometimes a pre-made curriculum is forced upon instructors teaching online, denying them the ability to use materials that have proved successful in their past courses. Teaching online can be isolating, and many instructors prefer interacting face-to-face with their pupils and peers. Some schools do not value online adjunct teachers, which can result in less pay and less respect in the academic community.

Find Jobs Teaching Online

Some colleges fill online teaching positions by selecting from the current faculty pool. Others post job descriptions specifically for instructors interested in teaching online. Below are some of the best places to find jobs teaching online. When looking for positions on websites without a distance learning focus, simply type “online instructor,” “online teacher,” “online adjunct,” or “distance learning,” into the search box. Jobs Teaching Online – General Focus

Jobs Teaching Online – Distance Learning Specific

More Links

Related Articles

Article by: Jamie Littlefield Distance Learning

Formative assessment

What is it?

‘Formative assessment describes all those processes by which teachers and learners use information about student’s achievement to improve their achievements. So it’s about using information to adapt your teaching, to adapt the work of your pupils to put the learning back on track … to make sure the learning is proceeding in the right direction and to support that learning. 

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of assessment used in education – summative and formative. They differ mainly in terms of their purpose, how the evidence gathered will be used and by whom.

  • Formative Assessment
  • Mainly about improvement – Key questions
  1. How well are you doing?
  2. What progress has he made?
  3. What does she need to do now?
  • Tends to be forward looking: part of the learning process, ongoing and continuous, used as an aid to future progress.
  • Mainly used to diagnose needs, to provide feedback to help learners learn and to help teachers improve teaching.
  • Casts teacher in the role of facilitator.
  • Favours the use of classroom assessment planned as part of the lesson. Tends to take more time, is relative to individual pupils, is less easily generalised and more subjective.
  • Summative Assessment
  • Mainly about accountability – Key questions
  1. How good are you?
  2. Is she at level E yet?
  3. Can he do his 6 times table?
  • Tends to be backward looking: to come at the end of a learning process, often separate from it and indicate present or past achievement.
  • Mainly used to provide information to others about how much learners have learned for certification and accountability.
  • Casts teacher in the role of judge.
  • Favours the use of formal standardised tests, usually devised and sometimes scored by someone other than the teacher.
  • These are short, cheap and easy to score, but usually lack validity, especially when used for accountability purposes.

Formative assessment

There is a strong emphasis on comparing students to certain standards, and feedback to learners comes in the form of marks or grades. These kinds of tests provide little direction or advice for improvement. Typically,  the test content is generally too limited and the scoring is too simplistic to represent the broad range of skills and knowledge that have been covered.

There is a growing acceptance that where assessment is used as a formative element of classroom work, learning and attainment can be significantly enhanced. Assessment for learning shifts the emphasis to enable a better balance between summative and formative assessment – from making judgements to engaging in ongoing activities that can be used to support the next stages of learning.

Formative assessment, like summative assessment, is about gathering information relating to students’ learning but it is the point at which this information is gathered that makes it different. Formative assessment focuses on how a young person is learning as they undertake the task. The teacher is then more able to tune into the learner’s progress, picking up on emerging understandings and difficulties. Formative assessment provides teachers with information with which to modify or change the teaching and learning activities in which students are engaged.

The key strategies that underpin Assessment for Learning.

  • Finding out where pupils are in their learning through discussion and questioning.
  • Teachers agreeing clear objectives with pupils and providing feedback that helps them to achieve these goals.
  • Sharing criteria for success and expectations with pupils through sharing learning intentions and success criteria with pupils.
  • Making peer and self-assessment key components of learning.
  • Enabling young people to take greater ownership of their learning.

Assessment for learning increases the capacity to learn

Assessment for learning places emphasis on helping pupils to achieve success through their own efforts and using techniques that work for them. Being wrong, making mistakes and struggling to understand or to do something is a necessary and formative part of learning. It can help young people to change their ideas about intelligence and understand how they can become smarter, better learners.

Sharing learning objectives and success criteria

Pupils cannot take more responsibility for their own learning unless they know what they are expected to learn and how they will know that they have been successful.

To help promote effective self-assessment, teachers need to go beyond simply telling pupils what to do and how to do it (the task or activity) and making clear what is to be learned (the learning intention or objective) and how to recognise success (the success criteria).

Developing success criteria at the planning stage is a vital element of formative assessment. Success criteria describe how both the teacher and the pupils will know that they have been successful in achieving the learning intention. Involving learners in the creation of success criteria enables them to see more clearly the relevance of classroom activities.

Click here to read the full report

Useful Websites

Learning and Teaching Scotland:
Assessment Reform Group:
Association for Achievement and Improvement through Assessment:
Department of Education and Skills:
Kings College Assessment Group:
Learning Unlimited:

Positive Thinking


“You are what you think!”

This simple but accurate statement indicates that what we say, what we do, and what we feel – all have their origin in the mind. The energy of the human mind is one of the greatest, but least understood energy resources of the universe. When we understand and harness this energy, we possess the keys to happiness and contentment as well as to improving our relationships and circumstances.

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

Positive Thinking: Make your mind your best friend

How I think about myself and how I use my mind immediately affects my relationship both with myself and others. Trust, love, respect, understanding, and good communication characterize any good relationship. Am I my own good friend and companion?

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

Thoughts are like seeds. Loving and happy thoughts produce beautiful flowers and nourishing fruits; or thoughts can be spiteful and depressed, producing painful brambles or poisonous weeds. We can master our life by producing those ‘fruits’ which are wholesome, attractive and nourishing, and which give us the most happiness and contentment.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

How to manage a job interview or pitch for a contract?

Nerves, they’re a part of being human, and believe it or not everyone gets themYou may be surprised to know that even the person that interviews you might be feeling a little nervous because it’s just as important for him, or her, to employ the right person as it is for you to get the job.Use positive thinking techniques to ease some of those worries and aid your preparation on the day.

First things first is to put things into perspective.
An interview is basically just a conversation with another person. As much as you think you want the job, it really is a two way process whereby it’s also your opportunity to evaluate the employer. Try to think of it as you interviewing them.

Why are you there?
Well it almost certainly didn’t happen by chance which can only mean that the interviewer thinks you’re suitable for the job, otherwise why would he or she be interviewing you?

What is the worst thing that can happen?
Well, as disappointing as it may seem, the worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get the job. Remember, the job may not be right for you anyway.

Self talk
It’s something that everyone does, however it’s what you’re saying to yourself that counts. It’s believed that we talk to ourselves at approximately 1,200 words per minute. If you can make 601 or more of those words positive then you have a greater probability of a positive result. If you think negative, then those thoughts have a better chance of coming to fruition. So, what are you waiting for. Focus on the positive and control your thoughts.

Reflect on your achievements
Think about what have you achieved in your career, education, private or social life. Consider writing them down and taking a look at them before your interview to help you to believe in yourself.

Prepare thoroughly
There’s an old saying, fail to prepare…prepare to fail. This is so true when going for a job interview. Try to find out as much as you can about the company? How many staff do they employ? What exactly is their customer base? Who are their competitors? When were they established? By collating as much information as possible you’ll soon start to feel more positive. Imagine being able to answer their questions without hesitation and the conversation will flow.

Simply imagine the interview going as well as it possibly could. The night before think about how you’ll greet the interviewer and go through it in your mind. Before the interview, see yourself shaking hands, smiling, speaking, making eye contact and generally being comfortable with yourself. Think positive, act positive, be positive and the chances of a positive result are far greater.

“The difference in winning and losing is most often…not quitting.” – Walt Disney