Teacher for Learning

What’s in it for Me?

The Teacher for Learning module of Ontario Extend includes the activity, What’s in it for Me? This activity challenged us to brainstorm a list of WIIFM from a student perspective. Rather than just brainstorm, I went back to conversations I’d had with students regarding the reasons they’re studying.

When I speak with my students, most can articulate a reason why they’re in the program they’ve chosen to pursue.  These responses are varied and cover the range of typical reasons adults may take education such as reskilling for a new job, advancing in their career, keeping busy in retirement, making more money, finishing a degree, etc.

While most students can quickly give a response on what going to school is going to gain them, if you query them what they will get out of a specific course in the program, or a topic in that course, they become much less confident in giving an answer on what they’re getting out of it.  They don’t often have the time to reflect on what learning a particular topic may do for them.

To me, this is another interesting component of WIIFM. In the programs where I teach, learning outcomes are determined in part by the institution and in part by the professional association which accredits those programs. There are certain topics which seem to always draw criticism from the students when they hit them.

For example, in a Health Information Management (HIM) program, students often don’t see the value in the topics of Risk Management and Proposal Development. These topics seem very far from what their concept of working in HIM will be. While I always try to explain why these topics are included, students frequently don’t see that these situations will ever apply to them.

WIIFM kicks in when students go out on a 4-week practicum and then return to give presentations on the experience. This is where I can see the light has gone on for certain students. One of my students who was a critic of these outcomes commented on learning about Request for Proposal once he came back from practicum.

I thought learning RFP was a waste of time. The second week my proctor asked me if I knew anything about proposals. I got to take part in developing a RFP. Now I’m glad I learned that stuff!

Sometimes WIIFM needs real-world context. Students may have preconceptions which make it hard to see what they may get out of a topic. It’s rewarding to see the light go on as they discover that something that they were skeptical about does indeed have something for them.

Teacher for Learning

Taking the Plunge

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

A very special Ontario Extend welcome to #ExtendWest-ers – the @OntarioExtend Extend West cohort.  It’s great to see how many of you have decided to take the plunge and leap into the Ontario Extend pool!

For those of you arriving at this blog post who aren’t in the #ExtendWest cohort, you can still join in the fun at any time through Ontario Extend.

This week, we’re exploring the Teacher for Learning module.  As an alumnus of #ExtendEast, I thought I’d start off this week by going back to look at where that cohort started.  Valerie Lopes kicked off the week with a post: What can we do ensure that we teach for learning?  Her post is a fantastic introduction to the module.

One of the great things about Extend is the ability to take it at your own pace.  You don’t have to complete the entirety of a module before you move on.  You can choose your own speed and path through Extend.  During #ExtendEast I did a some of the activities but didn’t get through the whole module before we moved on.

#ExtendWest is giving me the chance to go back, revisit the modules, and continue to explore them.  What’s on my radar for this week?

The Daily Extend.

I love the daily prompts.  They can be done relatively quickly. But they can also grow beyond the Tweet if they tweak your interest.  Check out this awesome post by Irene Stewart who explored #oext167 – It’s Technically a Celebration in more detail.

Taking advantage of the flexibility to go where you want in Extend, I’ve also set a personal goal for this cohort.  I want to go back to the start at #oext001 and work my way forward to where I started.  While I plan on beginning this week, it’s going to take a while to get through them.  This is a fun little side excursion and has absolutely nothing to do with challenging @greg_rodrigo on the leaderboard.

Activity Bank. 

While I’ve completed several of the activities in the Teacher for Learning Module such as Misunderstood, Syllabus Concept Map, and Cornell Notes, there are still lots more to explore! This week I plan on completing at least 1 activity from the module.  Some of the Extend West cohort have already dipped into Teacher for Learning.  Today I found this great post by Lisa Koster in which she looks at a course she’ll be teaching in “Syllabus Concept Map Activity”.

Did you know that the Activity Bank not only includes the activities found in the modules but lots of others?  My stretch goal for this week is to complete an activity from the Teacher for Learning area that’s outside of the module.

Domains of Our Own. 

One of my absolute favourite things about Ontario Extend is discovering what others have done.  Becoming part of the Extend community and learning from others has been truly inspiring.  This week, I’m very much looking forward to reading what other Extenders are posting to their blogs.

You can quickly find the latest post to Extend blogs at the Domains portion of Extend. You’ll also find buttons that link you to specific sections such as the #ExtendWest cohort.

If you haven’t set up a blog, I highly recommend it.  It opens up a whole other world of Extend.  If you’re not confident in setting one up, never fear!  Many of us were that way.  There are great resources at the Domains site and lots of us who are willing to help out.  Everyone starts out with baby steps:  like Greg’s Baby Steps in Extend.   This blog, set up during the Extend West Kick-off meeting gives you an idea of how quickly a blog site can be set up.

My blog, Learning Squirrel is set up and running.  However, I decided to do a full site with Reclaim Hosting.    Now that I’m into my second time around, I want to start expanding on the blog portion.  My goal is to move beyond the basic blog to include an area for curated items and a link to my videos. This will require me to continue to build my skill set but it’s an exciting challenge!

What Will You Extend?

Whether you’re ready to jump off that cliff or just dip your toes into the Extend waters, I hope you all have a fantastic time this week.  I’m looking forward to seeing your contributions as you explore Extend and build your personal learning networks!



Teacher for Learning

Organizing Knowledge w/ Cornell

Woman surrounded with paper KZ4LB


In the Organizing Knowledge section of Ontario Extend‘s Teacher for Learning Module, we’re invited to try using Cornell Notes as an alternate way to take notes.  I’d never used this method, so I decided to give it a whirl.

These days, it seems easiest to just start out with a YouTube video, so I took advantage of this freely available resource to find out the basics of the Cornell System.  After watching Jennifer Desrocher’s How to take Cornell Notes, I felt like I was armed with the knowledge I needed to try it out.

Now I just needed a topic.  The Activity Bank entry suggested perhaps taking notes on a conference keynote or a video.   Great idea!  Back to YouTube.   I’d been intrigued by the Tweets being exchanged in regards to Open Educational Resources and the OER Commons so I looked for a video that would fit with that theme.  I came across a TED Talk: Knowledge Belongs to Everyone: David Ernst at TEDxKyoto 2012 and thought it gave a great (now historical) perspective on Open Textbooks.

My thoughts on using Cornell Notes:

  • The essential question and summary made me put my arms around the topic as a whole.
  • I like that it encouraged spacing out of the material, rather than dense blocks of notes I often take.
  • The format allowed use of colours and graphics which are very appealing to me. (I’m a big fan of mind maps for certain types of notes).
  • The left-hand column would be a big plus during studying.  You could scan down the column and quickly identify areas you were confident with and those where you needed to go and read the notes on the right.
  • It worked great for a short video.  Not sure how it would be for longer materials.  That said, I tend to get caught up in the creative part which slows me down.

Cornell Notes

Cornell Notes – Extend Activity

Template for Cornell Notes from Template Lab.  http://templatelab.com/cornell-notes/

“Woman surrounded with paper KZ4LB” flickr photo by Kathleen Zarubin   https://www.flickr.com/photos/64204416@N02/5847087749 shared under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license.

Teacher for Learning

Syllabus Concept Map – HLTH 326

I’m working on the Teacher for Learning Activities at Ontario Extend and have just encountered the Syllabus Concept Map activity.  Inspired by Greg Rodrigo’s map (found at Rocket Fuelled Squirrels on an Adventure), I decided to give it a try using HLTH 326 – Information Systems and Technology, a course I developed for Fleming College.  The course covers both IT and IS, but is also a repository for a variety of other topics which didn’t fit anywhere else in the Health Information Management Program.   This means that topics such as Workflow Analysis are found in the syllabus.   As you’ll see from the concept map, this course covers a lot of ground.

I often advocate the use of mind maps and similar approaches to my students as a way to make notes and encourage recall.  For the Extend Activity, I decided not to use Mind Map Pro which I have at home and try out a tool that may be of use to my students.  I tried out Bubbl.us which is a free (up to 3) web-based mind-mapping tool.  It was very easy to use and I’ll be adding that to my list of tool recommendations for my students.



The results of creating the concept map only confirm my thoughts.  That there is way too much to cover in this course.  I’d previously identified that some of the topics that could be shifted to other parts of the HIM program and work on that was initiated.  The concept map makes me realize I need to look at it again and see where else balancing can be done.


Teacher for Learning


Working through the Extend Teacher for Learning Module, the activity Misunderstood resonated with me.  It seems that there are one or two concepts which persist as issues year after year.  Even when explained once, they are often immediately confused.  One of the concepts my students tend to have a lot of trouble with is Goals vs. Objectives.   I can explain it one week and the next, there is confusion again.

After a few years of showing a slide with text that explained the difference and having no success in having it stick in student memories, I went to a new graphical format.

Ahhhh!  That seemed to do the trick!  Make it visual, make it a story.  Then students will remember.

My new approach shows Frodo setting off to drop the One Ring into Mount Doom.  The mount has a goal post and shows the ring dropping in – reaching a goal.  The goal is something that is further off and defines the direction that they must go in.   The objectives are a series of measurable steps that must be taken to achieve the goal.  So in my new description, Frodo and Sam have to complete a number of objectives before they can get to the goal.  These objectives show tangible things they need to obtain or do.  Obtain food for the trip, sharpen Sting, walk the first leg of the journey to Rivendell.  These objectives need to be accomplished before they can get to the goal

Extend Activity - Misunderstood

My learning from this is that when students seem to be stumbling with learning a concept or coming back repeatedly to ask for clarification, it means that the story needs to change.  Misunderstood concepts need to have a new perspective that’s relatable in order to achieve that “Oh!  I get it now!” moment.