Learning Eco Systems

A teacher is never a give…

A teacher is never a giver of truth – he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst.


Bruce Lee

Why Cheating Needs to be Addressed

In my own training setting (a software trainer for a private software company), cheating amongst my learners it not something I encountered as students are not given summative assessments. Formative assessments through practice and discussions is key. As well, often, individual learners are assessed together as how they work as a team and how they can collaborate is most important as they need to take that out of the classroom and into the workplace.

However, I did want to give my perspective on cheating for the educators out there that do run into this issue.

From the video in the last post, we saw how demotivating it was for an honest student to witness cheating.  In the video, an honest student receives a lower grade for not cheating and he feels as though he is being punished because cheating students are getting higher grades. However, cheating also impacts high achieving students, if you think about it. An honest student who puts in the effort to learn the course materials can be rewarded with an equally high grade, but he/she can still feel the injustice of having a classmate earn their grade through accademic dishonesty. This can create hostility in the classroom as the honest student may not feel comfortable speaking up against his classmate as you as an educator may have spent the time building a collaborative environment or the student may feel as though he/she is breaking some code amongst his/her peers.

As educators, we cannot be passive. If an honest student approaches us and tells us about an incident they’ve witnessed, we need to address it. We need to go beyond telling the honest student, “Well, their dishonesty will eventually get them out there in the real world.”  Some type of action needs to be taken to correct this behaviour and maintain classroom harmony.More posts about Academic Dishonesty to come. Watch for a post about instructional strategies to prevent and approach the issue.

Cheating to gain short te…

Cheating to gain short term wins is essentially us cheating ourselves of our character and integrity. – My mother

Cheating in College

Cheating negatively affects honest students…and not only in the way of lower marks but also motivation. How do we as teachers manage the classroom and manage the dishonest behaviour of cheating in students? Is it something you need to manage in your classroom? How would it be different in adult education?

Tips to give Students on Learning how to Learn

The tips in this post were extracted from http://www.rod.beavon.clara.net/learning.htm. For other posts about Learning How to Learn click the category in the sidebar.

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Here are some tips (with my input) that you can pass onto your students to help them learn.

Tip #1: Set the Expectation that Learning takes Time

To learn something (rather than memorize it and place it in short term memory) requires that students take the time to assimilate the information and reflect. It can be frustrating at first as students may feel that they are spending too much time on the activity of learning, but let them know to be patient as the more they learn, the faster the process will become. I see it as becoming efficient at something the more one does it.

Tip #2: Plan for Learning

Planning is key to staying on track with a course and learning. Dayplanners (electronic versions, even) can aid students in dedicating time to learning. Point out that they should have balance and plan time for family, friends, extracurricular activities, down time, or anything else they feel they need. Students should also consider including some buffer time in case of unexpected situations that may affect the time they’ve planned for learning. Also suggest that students record any reflections they may have about things they’ve learned while on the go. For myself, I find that when I’m on the bus, about to doze off, or preparing for work, I’ll have a realization that I’d like to explore. I jot it down on my mobile device, however, students can carry a small notebook instead if they prefer. I suppose bar napkins work also 😉

Tip #3: Use effective learning techniques in each learning session

In each of the learning sessions, students should …

  • plan to work for an hour. If any longer, plan for a break.
  • review the material covered in the last session.
  • have a  particular goal in mind of what they would like to accomplish.
  • skim the material to be covered in the current session
  • recast the information in a different form (into a drawing, flowchart, mindmaps, etc.)
  • skim the information again to get another overview with the new knowledge they have gained.
  • review the information you have learned and revisit areas where you’ve had difficulty. Jot down questions to ask the instructor for areas that remain unclear.

These are just some of the tips from the resource. Definitely visit the website and read for more tips that you could pass onto students. There are tips specific to particular learning activities like reading, writing, assessing graphs, etc.

Where do these Tips fit in for Virtual Software Training?

In using these tips, I would pass on this information to my learners in form of a tip sheet. However, is that really enough? One imagines that getting them to complete activities that foster this skill would mean that we, as educators, are tearing them away from their role. Corporate learners have very little time to spend on learning as they are balancing their full time jobs. However, that’s the perspective that needs to be slightly adjusted. As an educator, it is my role to help students understand that if they learn how to learn, then they are actually saving themselves time and preventing costly mistakes (from misusing the software tool). As the resource mentions, learning to learn means that knowledge obtainment becomes more efficient over time. However, we shouldn’t overlook how the effectiveness. Learning the material effectively means the student can properly use the software. This saves them time as it means that there will less likely be mistakes that will need to be addressed (which uses up more time than if it were done the best way the first time around).

Thus, in addition to providing them with the tip sheet, some time in the training session will need to be carved out so that I, the educator, can sit down and help the learners plan their first learning session outside of class. Alternatively, they can help each other since the learners typically all work together and can understand the demands of their job. Assistance like this may be required as the task may be too daunting for them to learn to do on their own while balancing their job. Thereafter, students can plan their own learning sessions and review it with the instructor or their classmates until they get the hang of it. I also believe that making a learning session plan would help commit them to learning the tool.

At the beginning of each class, during a review, I would involve students to share what has worked for them in this approach to learning to learn. This way, the learners can share any additional techniques they’ve found that have helped them learn.

How would you use these tips or pass them onto your students?

Critical Thinking, MetaCognition, Creative Thinking: What’s the Diff?

I was recently asked by a colleague what the difference is between the three types of thinking discussed in this blog thus far:

  • Critical Thinking
  • MetaCognition
  • Creative Thinking

Although I go in depth about each one in previous entries here, here, and here, defining them here in one post can give us clarity.

This the way I see it is outline briefly below.

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Critical Thinking

This type of thinking requires that students objectively judge new information for its credibility and integrity. This skill is used to piece together information from multiple sources and to make sense of a concept.


An educator provides an article to students and asks them to evaluate the credibility of the source and to identify any bias. They are also asked to identify how the content of the article fits in with their frame of reference…and to be objective about their own stance.


This type of thinking, is “thinking about thinking”. It’s an awareness of the approach one takes towards a task or problem. I see it as a closed loop. A student develops an approach, implements it, and then evaluates it for effectiveness. Metacognition plays a large role in Learning to Learn.


An educator asks the students to take a quiz about their learning styles and to identify their approach to a certain project based on the quiz and their previous experiences. The students implement a strategy and then are asked to review how it worked for them.

Creative Thinking

This type of thinking is about coming up with new ideas/solutions with no judgements of whether they are good or bad.


An educator provides students with a problem. For example, “How to solve poverty” and students come up with solutions. Instructional strategies that foster creative thinking would be used.