Monday, August 2, 2010

How not to do it

I'm 75% done with the Bloodborne Pathogen Training we're required to take before going into the classroom. Things that are educationally wrong with this training:

  1. It's completely unengaging -- they're discussing life-and-death stuff like how not to get HIV, and they've managed to make it boring
  2. By making it a narrated slide presentation where everything the narrator says is illustrated on the slide
  3. With lots of bullets.
  4. It's non-interactive -- so far I'm on slide 34 of 39 and at no point have I been required to take any mini-quizes on whether I've absorbed any of the key points. All I have to do is listen to the narrator drone and hit "next" at the right point.
  5. It's unmotivating -- it exudes, "you're watching this slide show because it's the cheapest and easiest way for your employer to fulfill some bureaucratic mandate".

I'm 15 minutes into a stupid 20 minute presentation, and I'm so bored I'm venting about it here because going back to it sounds so painful.

What would a good blood-borne pathogen training look like? In a live setting there would be some story-telling of experiences people have had with unsafe sharps or blood pouring out of some HIV-positive students' nose. And then the class would propose from prior knowledge all the ways you can get infected, with the teacher filling in any blanks / correcting any misconceptions. And then when we had to be told that our employer will have a "exposure control plan" we'd actually get copies of one and have to find relevant information in it for various emergency scenarios. And maybe at the end of it I would have learned something other than, "online slideshow trainings are mind-numbing."

If it's important enough to have us do a training on this, why isn't it important enough to do it well? And how on earth can a school of education inflict such a horrible example of pedagogy of its students?

Update: The last three slides did have true or false questions that could be answered by most untrained chimpanzees. Hurrah interactivity! Although none were as good as the radioactive materials handling training at Fermilab, where one of the questions was (I wish I was joking): "You can safely eat a radioactive source. (T/F)"

P.S. I wonder if this is where all the rhetoric at BP about "Safety First" goes bad and turns into the world's biggest oil spill ever. Safety is SO IMPORTANT that we must inflict hugely boring (but consistent!) training on our employees that treats them like chimpanzees and enforces in them that safety is about checking boxes, not applying your actual brain and spidey senses to averting disaster.


  1. Loved the Fermilab question, are u sure that it wasn't appropriated for use on The Simpsons? (And that The Simpsons is often true?) Scary.
    I have to do the bloodborne path training , too, so thanks for letting me know how infectiously sedating it will be....

  2. Love this:

    "It's unmotivating -- it exudes, "you're watching this slide show because it's the cheapest and easiest way for your employer to fulfill some bureaucratic mandate".

    How much packaged curriculum broadcasts a similar message to students?

  3. KF, I don't have much experience with pre-packaged curricula yet, but it's definitely an interesting comparison! I think my student teaching classroom is being pushed by the district to convert to one this year, so I'll have a more grounded reaction in October or so!