Live, in-person lactation course with Marie and three attendees.

Marie and three attendees at a live, in-person lactation course just outside of New York City.

Active learning strategies WORK!

There are a seemingly endless number of active learning strategies that can be used during a live, in-person lactation course. I use them better than anyone I know. But so far, I have been able to use only a very small percentage of those strategies when teaching online.

We’ve had literally thousands of people attend our live, in-person lactation courses, or courses with a live component. I ask them to name reasons why they attended “live” was important to them. I have stacks of cards with their written answers.

My team and I continue to be astonished by the number of attendees who echo my top reason, telling us things like: “I can’t learn by watching videotapes. I need some interaction to make the learning stick.” We have also encountered several people who have bought an all-online course elsewhere, and later bought our blended course. (“Blended” being a course with a live component.)

A live, in-person lactation course has fewer distractions.

Young mothers often tell me, “I can’t hunker down to serious study at home. There are always meals to be made, kids to take care of, and phones to answer. I need to immerse myself in the learning experience.”

Optimal learning occurs in conducive learning environments. Honestly, it’s not about putting in the time—it’s about passing the exam! Although online education is “convenient” for some, others find it just opens the door for too many distractions.

Online learning takes focus away from the content.

Online learning requires that you use your tech-savvy skills, organize tons of materials, discipline yourself to budget your time, and self-determine your mastery (or lack thereof) of the course content. All of that detracts from the time and attention you could be paying to the stuff that’s going to be on the IBLCE exam.

In-person learning provides effective, personal feedback.

Although feedback requires an interaction, it’s more than interaction. Feedback occurs when the instructor reads your non-verbal cues, stops, and asks if you are confused. Feedback is what happens when the instructor or someone else chats with you in the hallway during the break, and helps you to overcome your individual learning block, or expresses confidence in your ability to pass the IBLCE exam.

Feedback can be direct, and swift. When people have misconceptions, I’m fairly blunt. I say, “Nope, not true.” The flaming extroverts have often remarked, “I’m so glad you just told me flat-out NO. I’d rather be wrong today than on the exam!”

What amazes me even more is when even the quietest introverts speak up at least once by the end of the course. It’s not a “requirement.” But having an environment where everyone feels free to chime in is valuable.

Make no mistake; everyone values feedback when facing such a daunting exam.

A live, in-person lactation course has non-academic benefits.

People often tell me how much they enjoy the “networking” of the in-person course. By “networking”, they don’t mean exchanging business cards. They mean going to lunch with other attendees. They mean sharing war stories, study strategies, practice-setting frustrations, and more. Shucks, occasionally one attendee knows a person who might be a mentor for another attendee, and she offers to make the introduction. How great is that?

Sure, I get it; these days, people have all sorts of electronic means for interaction. But you can’t tweet a handshake. Being friends on Facebook is not the same as lingering over a cold beer after the course is dismissed on the first day, or getting a colleague’s hug on the last day.

Taking our online-only course—or anyone else’s—isn’t bad. It can be good! But it’s not for right for everyone.

Want to join Marie at her Comprehensive Lactation Course, or Lactation Exam Review? Maybe Marie’s hugely popular Picture Perfect seminar? You’ll find registration information and other details on our web site. 

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2 Comments

Karen · November 17, 2017 at 8:35 am

Being one of those that has done the on line and in person review courses I agree with your comments. As I prepared to sit the exam this past Oct I did both. The in person course was the highlight of the two. I did the on line as I wanted to start reviewing much earlier than the on line courses were offered. That being said I believe taking the in person course closer to the exam date was very valuable. It was a great way to wrap things up, review and reinforce the online material. If I had to do just one it would for sure be the live course. Your course not only prepared me with material to study but you provided and reinforced the “mindset” that I needed to mentally stay with it, stay focused, and tackle the course preparation in a realistic, structured way. Attending a live course has always been more engaging for me than the online method. If you have never attended one of Maries courses you are truly missing out on an educational and motivating opportunity that will not only expand your knowledge base and increase your test taking confidence but will motivate and excite you like no other breastfeeding course that I have attended in my 30 plus years of labor and delivery nursing where the past 15 years I have focused on the lactation support component. The support the resources at Breastfeeding outlook and your talk radio show have provided me have been so valuable in my career as a IBCLC. If your sitting the exam in April you need to take Maries live review course.

    Marie · November 20, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Karen, thank you, thank you! This is a bit of a tear-jerker for me! I’m still trying to “recover” from offering a week-long course in Dallas. I do sometimes wonder, Why do I keep doing this? It’s so much more convenient to offer a course online. Your post reinforced for me that I can’t sit in my VERY comfortable office for the rest of my life. My aim for in-person courses is much more than offering credits or giving knowledge. (I’m not sure I realized this until I read your post about three times, but here goes…) It’s important to me to engage people in their own learning and self-awareness, motivate them, call them to a higher level of professional functioning, energize them, and put them in the “headset” for exam-taking.

    And really? My live course “motivated and excited” you like no other breastfeeding course in 30 years? Okay, I will take you at your word, but wow, I promise I will not take my foot off the gas here! (It’s often hard to prep the course, deliver the course, and find ways to keep it vibrant after many years of teaching it.)

    Today, I am sitting here trying to spiff up my online course for 2018. I try every educational technique I know to make it more like the live one, but it just isn’t possible.

    Anyway, thank you for your comments, it’s really great to know that the course was so valuable for you!

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