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for trainers: sprezzatura March 19, 2010

Posted by examROAR in Uncategorized.
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Inspiring video and post on the hard work around presentation and training. 


“Sprezzatura” is an Italian word that means “to hide conscious effort and
appear to accomplish difficult actions with casual nonchalance.”

Original video here:



trick questions are a MYTH! February 25, 2010

Posted by examROAR in Microsoft Certification.
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MSL has recorded a couple of meetings surrounding certification exams– how they are developed, what is up-coming, why it’s important, etc.  I just attended the 201 LIVE meeting and found it very useful.  Some highlights:

  • Virtualization exams for Server and desktops are coming out this month- March
  • MS exam objectives are not developed over lunch!  They go through a rigorous- ongoing process.
  • Every comment during a BETA exam is read by Krista! (Exam content developer manager)
  • Not every comment is read of a live exam because there’s just too many- but they are regularly sampled
  • 80/80 rule =questions focus on tasks that 80% of the people do 80% of the time- real-world matters in the exams!
  • EXAMS are not post-tests to any training materials– information isn’t shared between exam writers and training content writers
  • Trick questions are a MYTH!  Subtext doesn’t exist.
  • 700 does not EQUAL 70%!  Scores are scaled based on difficulty and comparison.

The 201 meeting also covered the basic formula for their questions, their intentions, and tips on how to process a question.   You should be able to find these videos on the born to learn site. 

Great stuff!

for trainers: Attention MCT’s! February 25, 2010

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MCT readiness summit is approaching.  It’s called a “virtual summit” and is free for Microsoft Certified Trainers.  I haven’t attended one of these yet but am thinking about jumping in and catching what I can with this one.  The breakouts and sessions look interesting.  Click here for more information.

for trainers: office security February 18, 2010

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Not much in the way of news this week for certification so I’m posting a few things of interest to me (and maybe to you).  If you’re a fellow trainer and have ever wanted to demonstrate the effects of macro security in Microsoft Office, then this walkthrough here might be of interest.

distance learning- your thoughts February 12, 2010

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I’ve had two recent experiences with distance learning and am looking to do more including the possibility of teaching a class online.  I’m curious about the different challenges people have discovered and what the trainers\teachers out their prefer.  In the vain hope someone actually reads this blog, I’m putting this question to you– yes you!   So, have you taught or attended an online class ?  And if so, what are your thoughts \ experiences?

Understanding understanding February 9, 2010

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I recently came across a ten-year old study that explores the significance of “understanding” in learning.  Here’s a list of their key findings:

1.       Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.

2.       To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.

3.       A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.

The study confirmed some important tactics that I have found useful in the classroom.  For example, I’ve been having my students share with me key facts that they have learned– key facts that they want to remember.  I’ve been using this approach rather than doing a more traditional review where I ask the students questions and the one who knows shouts out an answer.   According to this study, an important part of learning is what is called “meta-cognition”– which I’ll describe here as a kind of “learning awarenesss.”  In short, it’s the dialog students have with themselves about what they have learned and about what they still yet don’t know.  This dialog, according to this study, is an essential part of a student coming to a full understanding of the subject.  By me asking students to think about their learning, I’m encouraging this process as well as exposing what facts may still be missing.

The other key point for me  in this study was the significance of FACT.  I thoroughly appreciate the web with all it’s “wikis” and “blogs” and “learning snacks” but what  I’ve come to appreciate even more is a need to keep challenging myself and my students to dig deeper.  In-depth isn’t a waste of time!   Here’s an excerpt:

In one of the most famous early studies comparing the effects of learning a procedure with learning with understanding, two groups of children practiced throwing darts at a target under water (described in Judd, 1908; see a conceptual replication by Hendrickson and Schroeder, 1941). One group received an explanation of the refraction of light, which causes the apparent location of the target to be deceptive. The other group only practiced dart throwing, without the explanation. Both groups did equally well on the practice task, which involved a target 12 inches under water. But the group that had been instructed about the abstract principle did much better when they had to transfer to a situation in which the target was under only 4 inches of water. Because they understood what they were doing, the group that had received instruction about the refraction of light could adjust their behavior to the new task.

 You can read more of the study for yourself here.  If you’re a fellow teacher \ trainer, I’d love to hear your thoughts.