5 free downloadable resources on effective E-learning principles

June 26, 2012

Here are some excellent downloadable resources that clearly outline basic e-learning principles in clear, easy-to-understand language:

Six principles of effective e-learning by Ruth Clark (Free 10-page .pdf from the eLearning Guild)

E-Learning: A Guidebook of Principles, Procedures and Practices by Som Naidu, Ph.D. (a free 100-page .pdf book published by the Commonwealth of Learning)

Efficiency in e-Learning: Proven Instructional Methods for Faster, Better, Online Learning by Frank Nguyen and Ruth Colvin Clark (Free 8-page downloadable .pdf from the e-Learning Guild)

E-learning Tools and Resources: Putting Principles into Practice by Wendy Chambers (A 41-page .pdf. I’ll put in plug for Wendy here. She’s a personal friend of mine and I can tell you, she really knows her stuff.)

Back to Basics: Using Adult Learning Principles to Create E-Learning Success by Steven R. Aragon (a 10-page .pdf. Note: This document opens in a separate window.)


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

5 clues your students are plagiarizing

June 25, 2012

As a teacher, it breaks your heart to discover that a student has copied another’s original work word for word. But as educators, we need to know how to tell if students are plagiarizing. Here are some telltale signs that maybe your student’s work isn’t their own:

1. Writing varys dramatically in tone and style

If one paragraph contains short, choppy sentences with simple words and the next contains long, complex sentences with multiple subordinate clauses, this may indicate that your student has cut and pasted someone else’s work.

2. Highly unusual vocabulary

If your student talks like Beavis in class, but hands in a paper that woud put the British Prime Minister’s vocabulary to shame, you may want to ask yourself why. A word or phrase seems to pop up out of nowhere that is highly theoretical, sounds like jargon or is very obscure, this could be a red flag that it is not your student’s original work.

3. No clear topic, research question or argument

A paper starts with a clearly articulated topic. If you receive a paper that seems like a bunch of paragraphs loosely linked together under a vague theme such as “world peace”, this could indicate that your student has copied others work without clearly developing his or her own clear topic or research question.

4. Missing references

If a student has cited previous studies in the body of his or her paper, but has not put them in the list of references at the end, it could be a simple oversight. It could also mean that they have cut and pasted someone else’s research work right into their own paper and have failed to cite the original research themselves.

One trick I use is to cross-reference all citations the student has noted in the body of their paper with their bibliography or list of references at the end of their paper. I make a list of any in-text citations that are missing from the bibliography. The more missing references there are, the more cause for concern there may be.

5. Data or statistics that seem out of place

If you are reading along and suddenly find yourself confronted by an entire paragraph of data or statistics that seem to have popped up out of nowhere, there is a chance that your student may have “parachuted” in a paragraph or two of someone else’s work in order to make their own paper appear more scholarly than it really is.

It is important for us to teach students how to reference and cite others’ work propertly. Even if the student attempts to cite others’ work properly, but makes some mistakes in referencing, this is still better than cutting and pasting without acknowledging that the work was originally done by someone else.

There is no single way to tell if a student has plagiarized or not. These are simply a few “symptoms” that may lead you to dig deeper. Before accusing a student of plagiarism, it is important to find the original source of the information and document it.

Related posts:


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Marketing and promoting literacy with webinars

June 20, 2012

Marketing and promoting literacy with webinars (cover) - Sarah Elaine EatonAre you interested in using webinars or webcasting in your literacy organization? This report offers practical suggestions for literacy practitioners and program administrators on how to use webinar technology to promote and market literacy. The report is divided into sections that offer ideas on webinars for learners, for staff and volunteers and for the general public.

A checklist is provided of helpful tips on how to make your webinar day a success.

This report is available for free as a downloadable .pdf from Onate Press.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

Share your story, share your wisdom: How to make learning memorable

June 14, 2012

There I sat in my professor’s office, sobbing. “But it is such a lousy grade,” I said. “I’ll never get another scholarship. Then, how will I pay for school? I’ll have to drop out.”

I hated statistics, but it was a mandatory course in my research program. My grade was a passing one, but just barely.

Tim, in his Northern English fashion, didn’t really have much use for tears, but he knew that I was hurting. He retorted, “Look, you’re not going to drop out of school. It will work out just fine.”

“But how?” I sniveled.

“Let me tell you about the time I got a terrible grade in one of my courses in grad school…” He went on to tell me about an experience that paralleled my own. “I made it through OK, and so will you. After you’ve crossed that stage and you have your degree in hand, no one is going to ask you what your grade in statistics was! You passed. That’s enough. Now go on, and get back to work.”

Having my teacher and mentor share a story with me about his own shortcomings did not diminish his professional excellence in my eyes; in fact, it made me respect him even more. My point to you is this: Through our personal stories, as teachers we have an opportunity to create memorable learning experiences that motivate, inspire and teach our learners.

Here are some tips on how to incorporate stories into your teaching practice:

Be vulnerable 

Stories that show your humanity and your vulnerability are likely to resonate the most deeply with others. We are not talking about melodramatically pulling all your skeletons out of the closet and putting them on parade. It is about show-ing that you, too, are human. Adult learners in particular, can be hampered by a fear of failure. By sharing our failures and vulnerabilities, we become approachable and believable.

Get personal (just a little) 

Stories that are drawn from your own experience will have the most impact. Professional speaker, Patricia Fripp calls it “mining your experience”. Find the golden nuggets of your life and polish them. Then offer them as gifts of the heart.

Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, tell your stories using the first person. They are your stories, after all.

Speak your truth 

Your stories will be more believable if they are true. A little bit of literary license is allowed, but at least 90% of the story should be accurate and true. If there is too much embellishment, others will pick up on it. If they do, then you lose credibility as a storyteller — and as a teacher. It is OK to massage the truth, just don’t stretch it too far.

Keep it short 

Keep your stories crisp, clean and to the point. Someone once told me that a story that relates directly to your lesson should take up a maximum of 5% of your teaching time. In a 60-minute class, your story should be a maximum of 3 minutes. If it is longer, students may tune out or get impatient. I have used that guideline in my teaching practice and it seems to work well.

Focus on the learner 

Your teaching stories may be about you, but they are for your learner. Edit out unnecessary details. Ask yourself, “How will this story help my learners?”

Make a point 

In teaching, we do not tell stories to simply to entertain our students. We use the entertainment and emotional elements of a story to create memorable learning experiences. The connection between your story and the point you are trying to make may not be obvious to the listener. Use transitional phrases such as “My point to you is…” to help others contextualize the story you have just shared with them.

How can you create memorable learning experiences for your students with stories? Your life is a gold mine of experience. What nuggets of life do you have to share with your students? The wisdom contained within them is priceless.

Related posts: 


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

Engaging through eLearning: Key factors to make webinars and virtual learning effective

June 6, 2012

Tomorrow I’ve been invited to do a professional development workshop for the Calgary chapter of the Canadian Society of Training and Development. The session is:

“Engaging through eLearning: Key factors to make webinars and virtual learning effective”

We are going to talk about:

  • What makes e-learning (in)effective
  • Best practices for e-learning and webinars
  • Increasing learner engagement
  • Effective e-learning assessment

If you’re in Calgary, come and join us. Here’s the link to register: http://www.cstd.ca/events/event_details.asp?id=228664


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

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