Allowing digital "roaming" during class is BAD for achievement? Yes, according to research.  Scroll to the bottom article for this article.
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Adult Ed 101: Taking Responsibility

 As adults, we determine where our attention is placed and for how long. For most of our lives, education has been about passively absorbing knowledge. So as educators, we feed into learner passivity by unintentionally designing learning experiences where we are the only person in the room who is doing anything. 
How can you rearrange a tried and true presentation to help adult learners take responsibility for their learning? 

  • Use your session description to say exactly who will benefit from your session and how. Those who are genuinely interested in growing in the ways you state will be attracted to your session. Hecklers and the disinterested will go somewhere else.
  • Do a pre-quiz that shows results in real-time to allow learners to gauge where they are relative to the rest of the crowd. Use a tool like Kahoots. It's OK to try to trip up the overachievers with some super tricky questions. You'll hook them that way.
  • Tell a well-designed story that traps learners in several different kinds of conundrums as  you walk them through what to do, and what not to do. Stories are a lot sticker than bullet points. Plus most adults haven't heard a good story in a long time, so they'll be very likely to stay with you and remember your points. 
Do you really need a slide deck?
If you're asked to present to a group, and you don't know what to put into a good slide deck for them, you probably don't need one.
And your audience will actually pay attention to you and your points rather than drifting off after scanning all of your bullets before you get past your intro.
But if you need a deck, how many slides do you really need?
I heard last week that a one-hour webinar needed 50-60 slides. I agree. It makes sense. Webinars need to move quickly to hold attention, and one slide per minute seems fair.
What about for a one-hour professional development live session?
If you keep to one idea/sentence per slide, you probably need 20-30 because you'll have more time for questions and longer stories. Don't worry if you don't get to it all. Make what to do talk about deep and detailed. Plan two natural stopping places. Extending time for Q&A is better than rushed details that no one will remember. 
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Do you have a digital device policy?  

A study published this week found that West Point students who were allowed to use digital devices without restriction while in a learning environment performed lower on assessments than those who were not allowed to have devices or who were directed to use devices constructively during class. The researchers said that "the impact may be " due to professors’ decreased ability to monitor and correct irrelevant usage." 

Have you ever "corrected irrelevant usage" of someone's iphone during one of your talks? 
I thought so. 

Have you ever asked learners to use their devices in a constructive manner? A few helpful examples:

  • Ask learners to search a term or concept, give you feedback on what they found, then "mythbust" the misconceptions represented in those search results
  • Embedding "tweetables" in your slide deck with a door prize drawing for those who tweeted and @mentioned you
  • Set up a running question and answer response in TweetDeck with someone who is helping filter questions like a webinar producer would do
  • Quiz for conceptual, sequential and application understanding using Kahoots
  • Testing audience "temperature" with PollEverywhere 

If you're interested in engaging learners to increase your lesson impact, you really have two choices for a digital device policy: 

  1. Ban them and enforce ruthlessly. This means you have to be thrilling, stunning and your presentation has to move like gangbusters. 
  2. Implement strategies for learners to actively engage their devices - but with YOUR learning goals in mind, not THEIR time wasting goals in mind. 

Without one of these two approaches integrated into your presentation before you start,  you may certainly lose your audience before you ever had them.

See for yourself! Download the full research report here

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