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Teaching the "Adult Learner"

Have you ever been in a class or a training session and thought to yourself, “Why doesn’t that woman stop talking?” Last week I thought that, and then realized I was the one talking. I teach in four hour chunks of time. That’s a lot of words… Research has shown that adults don’t learn well in the lecture format of most undergraduate programs. In fact, where I teach we are encouraged to find more interesting alternatives to learning through lecture. I find that even in myself, as I grow older, I learn better when I can engage the information. I want to touch it, walk all the way around it, try it out in different situations. Kind of like buying a pair of shoes. When I was 18, I would buy anything that looked cute. Now I’m much more selective. I think about how they will feel after standing in them for 2 hours, can I run up the stairs in them, will the heel get caught in the sidewalk…

So how can we engage our audiences to learn effectively at whatever level of education we operate?

I’m working with an ethics class this term. It’s a fun adventure into the gray area between right and wrong. The traditional approach to this class is to present a handful of theories of morality and let the students select ones they find most comfortable. Some have criticized this method, because it gives little practical experience in expressing ethics in the workplace.

So I can’t just lecture about this, I have to encourage the students to interact with the ideas and material. Recently, I began looking for some practical experiences for the students. We took on real life cases, allowing them to think seriously about problems such as how to communicate to a boss that you won’t have your department work overtime to correct his continual mistakes. Talk about a sticky situation. How do you navigate that one without getting yourself fired?

We role-played occasionally to get down to the details of what to say. It’s easy to talk ethical situations in a clinical third person way, it’s an entirely different experience to sit down face to face and play it out like it really would happen. After one role-playing session, a student remarked on how hard it actually was to practice this. I could see he was fully engaged in the learning process. (YAY!)

Here is a list of some characteristics of adult learners:

• Adult learners are generally independent and self-directed in learning (they take charge of their own learning experience).

• Adult learners have life experiences to bring into the learning environment. These experiences must be integrated into the current topic being studied.

• Adult learners are most interested in learning about topics that solve problems in their immediate work or personal situations.

• Adults are self-motivated-no rewards needed here.

• Most adult learners are interested in applied learning- things they can apply immediately.

So thinking about these characteristics, what sorts of alternative methods do you use in teaching? Which have been most successful?



Taste of Afidence Published -- April

Click here to view "The Taste"


As another fiscal quarter closes we've continued to experience an influx of new clients that are unhappy with their current IT provider.

We've found that regardless of whether the client was dazzled by the lower rates typically found in the shop down the street or by the flashy, high-rise vendor the results have been the same -- IT torment and dollars wasted.  We also found that the service had nothing to do with the offerings or size of the company, but rather the company's quality and ethics.

Going forward, we want to share with you the top 3 things to be aware of when choosing your IT support vendor:

  1. BEWARE the "Contract".  If they are that good, why do they need a contract?
  2. BEWARE the "Kickback".  Do they receive financial incentives for recommending and selling the products they recommend to you?
  3. BEWARE the "Bait and Switch".  The guy/gal giving you the recommendation most likely won't be the one supporting you . . . if they are, who supports them when they are on vacation or out sick?

A simple way to avoid loss of time and money is to CALL Afidence today before you sign.   We have unparalleled client satisfaction and our mission is to be your trusted IT advisor and support vendor, which means we have to be better than good ALL the time!

We hope to hear from you soon . . . call Crystal at 513-234-5822, x441



A Sneak Peak Into the Next Version of Microsoft Office

From Tom Warren at The Verge:

"Overall there's clearly a number of improvements and new features in Office 15, and Microsoft is only at the beginning of testing some of these externally. Microsoft isn't discussing any of its planned features for Office 15 just yet, but the features we have detailed today are part of its key testing phase for the initial Technical Preview. We expect to see some more improvements in the Touch Mode interface for Office 15 and perhaps some additional features in each client application once a public beta is made available this summer."

This looks like the natural evolution of Microsoft's Ribbon interface that will be touch-optimized.  (Perhaps their iPad version, which hasn't been announced/released, will show some of the same functionality!)  Microsoft moved to the Ribbon interface with Office 2007.  However, Outlook wasn't really updated until 2010.  Given this early preview, it looks like all Office applications will benefit from the enhancements this time.



The Difference Between 2nd & 3rd Place - It's the Apps!

From Nilay Patel at The Verge

"And while Windows 8 has a long way to go before it can challenge the iPad, it feels almost inevitable that Microsoft will quickly succeed where Android tablets have thus far failed — especially because Microsoft is aggressively courting developers to write apps for its new Metro interface.

Perhaps more importantly, Google doesn't seem to feel any pressure to increase the quality or quantity of Android tablet apps, which have lagged far behind their iPad counterparts. Rubin told reporters this week that he "can't force someone to write a tablet app," but that he's hopeful developers "put in the muscle" to make their Android phone apps work better on larger screens. Until Google articulates a clear strategy to make Android relevant on tablets, that doesn't seem likely to happen."

It is hard to believe that Google isn't being more determined in recruiting quality developers.  Surely they recognize that much of the success of the iPhone, iPad, not to mention Windows, can be carried on the back of quality apps.  Of course, if your entire financial model is based on driving ad revenue, they just may not see the value.



Will Windows 8 "Win" You Over?

From Tim Stevens at Engadget

"Disjointed is the key word that comes to mind after you spend some time with Windows 8. As a tablet OS, if you can keep in Metro land, things feel good. Very good. The gestures are a bit more complex and less intuitive than we've seen on other tablet operating systems, but more savvy users will appreciate that. That said, Windows is still primarily a desktop operating system, and once you get to that level the cracks in the foundation start to show."

Windows 8 is clearly a very big undertaking by Microsoft.  Not only do they want to show a fresh and innovative followup to the highly successful Windows 7, but they also want (and need) an answer to the iPad.  Can they really pull off a "one solution to rule them all"?  Early reviews suggest it will be an uphill battle.  (Mr. Miyagi's "Walk on the Road" parable comes to mind, relative to Microsoft attempting to serve two masters: Metro-Style Apps AND old-school Desktop Apps.)  It's also hard not to think about Microsoft's track record with "every-other-OS-release" (skip them).  Still, you have to believe there is a solid case to be made for a single OS strategy.



Did You Know the iPhone Business is Larger Than Microsoft?

From Henry Blodget at Business Insider

But regardless of what happens, Microsoft can only now look up in awe and realize that a product that was introduced 5 years ago and that Steve Ballmer famously dissed is now larger and more profitable than Microsoft's whole company.”

Stunning is an understatement. While this article seems to focus more on the negative implications to Microsoft, the real story is what good can happen when an organization delivers a “complete” revolutionary solution.  (Well designed.  Well built.  Adequate supply.  Easy to use.  Priced right.)  Apple has now pulled this off with music, phones, and a whole new tablet market.  Wonder what’s next?