Monday, 4 April 2016

Test Anxiety

Recently I provided a post-midterm evaluation emails to some students who seem to be struggling. I have one student whose attendance is excellent, completes all her assignments,passes her in-class quizzes, and participates in class fairly well. Unfortunately her marks from the midterms were on the low side. In my email I expressed my interest in seeing her succeed especially for finals approaching in June. In the end, I gave her an opportunity to email or talk to me or the main instructor for suggestions. She emailed on the same day thanking for giving her the heads up. One of the issue she had was test anxiety. She claims she does her review fairly well however when comes to practical exams she blanks out. Obviously she's not alone as many students experience various degrees of test anxiety. 

I thought about her email,  I decided to tap in to the experienced staff at the vocational college I work at.  I was thrilled to receive many ideas and suggestions.

Suggestions we can give to our students.

                                                                                                           credit yahoo images. 

To my surprise, many of them encouraged students use positive talk or affirmations. This is something I did not learn as a student but only recently for personal growth. But for test anxiety? Why not? Instead of saying "I will pass",  have them say "I am passing with flying colors" it's a huge difference in confidence and impact on our spirit. Using the word "will" expresses inner doubt or it may not happen in the near future. But we DO want them to succeed now and in the near future. When using "I am" in any statement, you are stating the fact even though it has not happened but it will eventually manifested because you have faith, confidence, and belief in that statement. The feelings are positive and aligned with the statement, the student will most likely  overcome test anxiety and succeed.

 Students preparation is one of the key ingredient in succeeding. Organize as soon as possible and be present at every class. Make sure there is opportunity in your class time or outside of class time for students to review or receive additional help from you as an instructor. Also, setting up a study schedule to avoid cramming too much on the last day.  Just study one hour a day for a week or 2 before exam time. Some prefer after the mid-terms up to the night before the final exam which is doable. It is a good idea to continue to review topics the students are struggling with. Also,it is best for students to reduce errands on the day before and the day of the exam time which can increase their stress level and anxiety as well. 

It is a a good idea for students to have trustworthy friend or family member who takes the student's success seriously. There are myriads ways of assisting the students: flash cards, review questions, notes, or practice mock exam. The trusted friend/family is the role of the quizzer when helping the student study for exams.

If the student has a trouble with a concept or ideas or information,  the student should not push it out of its mind because chances are that the topic will appear on the test.  Not being able to answer the questions on the test, can  increase test anxiety and decrease the test results.  It is a very good idea the student review the topics they are having trouble with before exam time. This could minimize the blank moments during the exam. 

Writing down or drawing the topics is helpful tool. For example, drawing a picture of deltoid muscle including the origin and the insertions of the muscle will help student remember visually and mentally more than reading from text book.  It's a powerful tool to retain information. 

During the exam, it is a good idea for students to have some strategies to calm the nerves such as grounding, breathing, take time with each questions (no more than a minute), or put a mark next to a question they are having trouble with and return to it when able. If it is a practicum exam, encourage the student to breathe, take a moment to think about the question before doing any actions. If the student need to look away from the examiner for a few seconds to ground or think about the question, that is a good option as well. The key here is confidence, they have the control over the exam and when they are in that frame of mind, the exam anxiety could be minimal. 

Finally, encourage students to make time for proper diet, good sleep, exercise to keep circulation flowing to the brain and body, and healthy socializing.

It is hard to avoid test anxiety, however with the available tools to reduce exam anxiety, the students should be able to see positive results.

Happy Studying!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Mission Accomplished

Final week with PIDP 3240: Media Enhanced Learning. 

My course is coming to an end and I wanted to share what I experienced and learned from PIDP 3240. 
  • Attempted to learn the Modle program...which never happened. 
  • Tried to set up ooVoo account, and I was successful however my broadband connection was so poor that I could not participate the introductory group meeting. 
  • The anxiety and frustration scored high on stress-o-meter. This is day 2.
  • Created Twitter I can twit no tweet to my instructor.
  • Read chapters 1-11 in 4 weeks.
  • Discussion forums, I can do that! Wait there's 4 different forums! The topics included Web 2.0 Tools, and Copyright issues.  What are Web 2.0 Tools?  Online copyright issues....I shared so many pictures and quotes on Facebook, will I be arrested for that even though I am not charging anyone to like it?!?!?!
  • 4 days off from homework to recollect myself.
  • Reconnected with the discussion forums and respond as many as I can. 
  • Post a "Google Doodle" it's more entertaining!
  • Disconnected from the forums. Let's focus on journal reflections. 
  • Tweeted my instructor.
  • Successful in all of my journal reflections! Woot Woot! Woot!
  • Discussion forums...ummmmm not sure what to say. Uploaded online videos and articles on Vancouver Community College- School of Instructor Education Facebook (VCC-SIE FB).
  • Oh my goodness, I can blog and share blogs on VCC- SIE FB!
  • Discussion forums... created an intelligent sounding topic "Do you use podcast?".
  • Discussion forums...I searched for interesting online articles. Instead blogged more. 
  • Commented on student's post on VCC-SIE FB
  • Tweet, Blog, Discussion forums.
  • Is it over yet? What one more month left!?
  • Worked on rough drafts for assignment #2, #3, and #4. 
  • Discussion forums...counted my posts...Am I trailing behind!? Panic!
  • Blog, Blog, Blog
  • Tweet, VCC-SIE FB, Tweet, Discussion forums....Oh I have a good question "Are you an online teacher, if so, do you like it or do not like it?"
  • Tweet, VCC-SIE FB, discussion forums, proofread assignment #2, #3, and #4. Blog, update blog, oh right update LinkedIn.  
  • I'm doing great on the numbers of my posts on discussion forums
  • Disconnected from course.  
  • Two more weeks left.
  • My blogs need images!!! Updated them.
  • Awesome projects from students: Infographic, Podcasts, Pecha Kucha, Blogs
  • Awesome online articles, TED talks videos.
  • Tweet, blog, discussion forums, VCC-SIE FB, proofread assignments #2,#3,and #4. Repeat. Repeat Repeat.  
  • Handed in assignment #2 & #3, tweet to instructor
  • Commented on student's instructional videos on VCC-SIE FB which were great.
  • Added interesting posts on discussion forums
  • Responded on discussion forums
  • Tweeted some interesting articles
  • Blog, blog, blog
  • Packed my bag for Vancouver
  • One more assignment to go and this blog.
  • Watched the Oscars while working on this blog.    
  • Now in Vancouver, and handed my FINAL assignment and blog!

                                                     credit: Yahoo images

I enjoyed my experience with PIDP 3240: Media Enhanced Learning. The the most valuable thing I learned from this course is have some media tools available to assist the students to understand, connect, and learn about their courses. One tool I like to try to use is Gaming.  This is a new educational digital tool for me to apply in my teaching and I look forward to implementing it.  Podcast is another interesting educational tool that many seem to implement in their teaching, and I plan to give it a try. Another great learning activity I gained from PIDP 3240 is Blogging. I am very thrilled that I reconnected with my Blogger account and blogged as much as I could. Thank you PIDP 3240 students and instructor for providing many great valuable tools, knowledge, and awareness.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Using Social Media for Creativity.


One of my classmates, Maryam Hatami, prompted a good topic in our forums which is  how is using Social Media assisting our creativity? I thought about this for a moment. On my smartphone, when I take pictures, I would often edit to make it more appealing for my social network friends especially on Instagram.  Many iphone users use an app where they can upload a collage of pictures on Facebook.  Often people create or design their blog pages to captivate their readers. I feel we are seeing a trend of people using social media to boost their creativity. 
                                                                                                           credit: Yahoo Images
A student responded to Maryam's post and mentioned that in the medical industry more and more students are bringing in their artistic abilities to improve the quality of learning. There are so many jargon and terminology in medical education and when these students begin their careers, they need to be creative, both verbally and visually, to explain to their patients what is the situation at hand. One of the things students are trained to do is translate is medical radiographic images to themselves and others which is a tricky business.  Perhaps they can look up on internet for videos and images that would help them understand clearly.  However, there is an abundant visual images on social media students can turn to to improve their understanding and creativity. 

                                                                     credit: A 3D image of pectoralis major

At the massage therapy program that I am teaching at, the students are expected to learn the muscles: the names, the origin (where it begins), and insertion (where it ends). Besides learning from online videos, textbooks, and flash cards, the school wants the student to draw each individual muscles as it is a kinesthetic learning tool. Some of them are great artists and others are weak but the point is to encourage the artistic side of their brain (mainly the right brain) and implement as much they can towards creativity while learning. 

I personally think using social media towards creativity is a good thing as long the user has balance in their creative lives.  

The article  (below)  provided by Maryam covers extensively the pros and cons of using social media for creativity.

This article discusses on seeing a rise of students enrolling the medical program and one of the requirements is bringing in their artistic and creative abilities as well.  A great read.

Use of Media Enhance Learning and Teaching Tools


One of my classmate Liana Axente,  provided an online article (see below) focussing on media as a learning and teaching tool.  I felt this article covers many good points of implementing media enhanced tools. As I am coming to the end of my course, I am finally understanding the importance of including learning tools such as YouTube videos, gaming sites, blogs, online articles, and many more.

Liana mentioned good points of using the media enhanced tools as well as finding balance. When teaching, if  we plan to show an online video, we need to think about the learning outcomes. Does the media fit with the learning goals, has quality presentation, the length of video (preferably short), and does it prompt students to understand the subject effectively. Finally, we use media to create discussions, assess the students' knowledge, and provide examples to enhance the learning experience for students.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Gaming as a Teaching Tool

Have you been in the movie theater and just a few minutes before the preview begins, a movie trivia would appear on the screen where you would try to pick the correct answer either in our minds or out loud with our movie companions?  You only have under a minute to answer the trivia. You just played a short game because it piqued your interest and also the trivia made the moment move quicker while waiting for the show to begin.
In all education levels, we are seeing more teachers and instructors incorporating some gaming activity to stimulate the learners cognitive skills as well as connecting with the subject.

One of the PIDP 3240 students shared an article which is an interesting read about 4 free online interactive quizzes educators can provide to their students.

The one that interest me the most is Triventry, which is basically, where the instructor creates the quiz  and host it on the screen in class, and the students can answer the quiz using the smartphones, tablets, or computers during class time. I think this is good for review, pre-assessment,and post assessment. This could help the instructor to see how engaged the students are in the subject and also how well they are understanding the materials.  Check the website:

Quizalize is a free online quiz activity the instructor can implement to their students learning tool. The teacher customizes the quiz according to the length, the style, the subjects and many more. The students can answer the questions from their devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. This quiz encourages the students to learn and compete with other students. During the post-quiz, the instructor can assess the quality of the exam and how well the students responded to it. Here is the website: and below is a YouTube video of the Quizalize


Apparently it is a very popular online quiz.  This interactive activity provides a variety of options for the instructor to customize the quiz.  One can add pictures, and videos to the quiz, and also have the choice to create a game or learning style.  The website is and I provided a YouTube video of a tutorial of Kahoot.

Blubbr offers another example of online trivia that can be provided to the students. Similar to Quizalize the teacher can create the quiz accordingly and the students can respond to it at their own time.  This is the website where you can additional information and below is the a YouTube tutorial of the Blubbr.


Monday, 15 February 2016

Are Social Media Platforms Appropriate for Communication between Instructors and Students?

"Some say it can provide a platform for learning and allow students to collaborate and communicate with each other. Yet other educators say Facebook has little educational value and does not serve any academic purpose." (Bugler, 2014  eLearning Africa News)

The concept of connecting or communicating students via social platforms is thought provoking for some instructors.  Initially, I prefer not to connect with students due any boundary issues or gray areas of teacher-students relationships.  Since September 2015, I embarked my teaching journey and over time I learned from other instructors or trainers that communicating with students via social platform is convenient. 

My experience: I really love emails as I think they are the most comfortable and informal approach but with a class of 11 students (I know it is small a group) and sending an en mass email could lead to a long thread of responses that can be confusing to see the flow of the conversation. I can only imagine how challenging that would be with a class of 20 or more students!!!  There would be times I simply want to share FYI information and not expect a response. By doing so an email doesn't always allow me to know if the students received it or seen it. After one month of teaching, I decided to join the private Facebook group page which one student created for our class. I realized the students in today's world are social-tech people and I should embrace that community. Many students may be open to communicate with other students via some social media platforms to enhance their learning abilities and/or develop social learning relationship. Once I joined the Facebook page, immediately some students wanted to add me to their Facebook Friends list, I decided to wait until I felt it was comfortable (I did accept their requests close to Christmas). I am thankful my personal Facebook is limited in what I share! Overtime, I accepted the fact communicating with students via Facebook was the most effective and convenient form of connection! I provided updates, preparation for the next lesson, or anything that was not mentioned in the class was posted on the Facebook, and general information relating to the lesson such as a YouTube video of cardiovascular system. Also, what I love about it is that I can tell who seen the message and if anyone has not seen it within 48 hours, I would send them a private message either via email or Facebook emails. The reason I chose 48 hours because I noticed many of my students have Facebook app on their smartphones or tablets which they frequent to on  a regular basis.  Some cases a student may be busy or away from the phone for a long period of times, and I feel it is  a good idea to inform them there is a posting on Facebook and please respond as soon as possible. That usually works for me. Also, the layout of responses after my post, is often clear, fluid, and easy to understand the flow of the conversations. Honestly, I absolutely love communicating to my class via Facebook when I am not teaching in class, I would post at least once a week which I think it is plenty for my class. Other instructors may need to post regularly depending on the education style.

Some instructors may find Facebook is not the best social platform for them to communicate with students. Perhaps Pinterest or Instagram.

Pinterest is a collection of ideas from Pinterest fans who share them via blogs, websites, online articles of ANY categories beneath the sun, ranging from antiques to finding a baby names starting with "z". I personally enjoy Pinterest for recipes and perhaps an educator in culinary industry would create Pinterest account to share their own personal recipes and students can follow accordingly to the curriculum. 

Instagram is solely personal photos or photos of something such as quotes, nature, hobbies and travelling. Instagram is often shared by individuals or business. However, I feel Instagram could be used in education for many reasons such as photography, finding 
                 images for assignments, or posting images relating to the subjects.

Blog is another great platform to connect with students. Perhaps students could create blogs or online journal-like entry, where instructors can see the students' perspectives on the  subject or course and to enhance healthy educator and learner relationship, instructor could provide a comment or feedback. Instructors can also share their blogs if they feel it is relatable to the subject they are teaching. Some instructors are open to share other interests or hobbies (outside of their teaching profession) and students have the option to follow due to their similar personal interests. 

LinkedIn is another social media platform which is like an online resume however many people  are customizing the page by posting blogs, tips, or online articles relating to their professions. LinkedIn may be useful for professional relationship between the educator and the learner especially if both are in the same industries.  Similarly to Facebook, one can put as much information on LinkedIn and a student or instructor can look into LinkedIn for additional information based on work experiences, education, and hobbies or interest. 

Twitter is another option of communicating to the students using a few characters. 

There are variety of social media platforms on internet and it is up to the instructor/teacher if they want to communicate with the students through sources like Facebook. Some cases the instructor and teacher may be forced to do so. A good suggestion is to create more than one account for Facebook where you have control of the audience and have effective communications with the students. Also I would suggest to those who are attempting to try connecting with students, pick one or two social media platform to become comfortable with it.  I think Facebook group page is the best  one to begin  as it is the one of the popular social media connections. Once the instructor  embraces the concept and idea of communicating with the students, the educator can add on more social media platforms if needed.

I provided some links below that were shared by the online-classmates in my PIDP 3240 course. I hope you find the links very interesting as I certainly did.

This shows the consensus of Yay or Nay for teachers to communicate with students via Facebook. There are very good insights to both sides.

 Whether it is your first time or a regular activity as an instructor, this link provides a list of ideas how to utilize Facebook with your students.. Some ideas may be great, others you may  ponder if it is beneficial to utilize to your students.

This article discussing about whether technology is effective in post-secondary education. 


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Podcasts, Webinars, and TedTalk as Educational Tools

As instructors, facilitators, and trainers we are ambitiously trying to find media sources that could assist our students to understand the subject effectively.  For some instructors, it could reduce lecture time and create more time for in-class active learning activities. For others, particularly online education, not only it reduces lecture time but engage students to connect with the courses on computer or tablets.

In today's world, we have a bazaar of media educational sources and I would like to introduce 3 useful educational media tools that could enhance our students learning abilities.

1. Podcasts: This is a new concept for me as a student and a teaching assistant. According to the digital dictionary of Merriam-Webster it defines podcast as "a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format to be downloaded automatically over the Internet". Another way of explaining podcast is that it is a per-recorded talk or video by anyone such as yourself, a businessperson, a subject matter expertise, or a stay-at-home parent, and it can be downloaded and/or broadcasted on the internet. And the listener can play the podcast as often they like or need.
Podcasts are effective for students who learn better by listening. They can listen to podcasts on their smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Podcasts allow students to replay as often they can to understand the content. Some cases podcasts can provide more examples or analogies which an instructor may not be able to to do during online or in-class because of time management or the amount the of content needs to be executed over the course of the lesson or program. 
There is an increase of podcasts that provide both visual and auditory presentation.  Podcast is great tool to be played at anywhere and anytime: on transit, in the car, at home, at the library, or running on the treadmill.

This link is an example of collaboration of podcasts relating to education.

Webinar: This media tool is fantastic for audiences who like visual, auditory, and active learning. Webinar is abbreviated for web-based seminar and can be used for presentation, lecture, workshops, or training session using video-conferencing software on the Internet. Webinar is often presented at real-time meaning you can participate during a live session over the Internet. Many training sessions or workshops provide webinars for students anywhere on the planet and they can access them from their smartphones, tablets, and computers. Webinar is a great tool for information session and interaction. There may be times an audience member may not be able to attend a webinar, fortunately they can always access to it in the archived section of the website. The downside is they would not be able to participate in real time. I came across this website relating to education and uses many webinars. Hopefully you find it it useful.

TED Talks: This online media tool is making waves! It has a thousands of online videos lasting from 5 to 18 minutes of talks presented by speakers who are experts in their fields or interests. TED began in 1984 and is a non-profit organization whose goal is to share short impactful speeches ranging from business, sciences, health, education and many more to online audiences. This is a superb educational tool because of the diversity of topics. This a perfect media approach if an instructor want to introduce to the students about ideas, concepts, information, or simply topics related to the subject they are learning. Once again, like webinars and podcasts, anyone can access to TED Talks via smartphones, tablets, and computers. Below is the link to the website and browse as many videos that interest you. Some of the speakers may leave you hungry for more!