Monthly Archives: August 2020

Continuing Education Is a Necessity – That Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Tedious

Therapists who see continuing education as something just to get through are missing out. LMFTs (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) LPCCs (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors) and LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) are required to maintain current skills by completing continuing education (CEUs) requirements in order to renew their licenses.

This isn’t just a requirement, it’s an opportunity! These precious hours are time for the therapist to regroup, to recharge the batteries renew motivation, learn new skills and update established ones.

Online or Classroom teaching

Therapists can gain CEUs with self-study, online and live trainings and workshops. While it’s easy to see the appeal of online courses (convenient, on your schedule, in your jammies) “live” classes offer so much more than basic information.

Interactive learning

By attending live classes and workshops, therapists have the opportunity to discuss and get clarification, “try on” ideas with colleagues and see the material in a relatable, communicative way. Small groups are especially helpful when the opportunity to “learn it, see it, do it” is offered. This way of learning brings the material to life and offers practical and efficient ways of learning.

Meeting colleagues

Attending live classes also offers you the chance to network with colleagues while you learn together. Being a therapist can be an isolating experience, so talking with your peers, sharing ideas and community is essential. CEU classes provide an ideal opportunity to network, collaborate and educate yourself while contributing to the group as a whole.

Bring Theory to life

Live CEU workshops offer the unique opportunity to see material in action. Understanding a theory is great, knowing how to apply it is essential! As therapists learn and actually practice new skills, they contribute to the well-being of every client they see.

Don’t Put It Off

It’s easy to put off your required Continuing Education (CEU) requirements, but that leads to a rushed experience as your renewal date looms. Help yourself and your practice by getting those CEU dates on your calendar now. While there are legal minimum required hours, there is no maximum to the amount of learning from which a therapist can benefit. You don’t give the “bare minimum” to your clients, why settle for it in your CEUs?

Get motivated

Live classes allow you to be part of a bigger community that will support your work, motivate you to be stretch and that needs your contribution of energy. Online IS convenient, but it’s also one more place of isolation, and often, frustration. Get out of your jammies, go see your colleagues, and get excited about your meaningful and challenging work again!

Education: The Foundation Of Everything

As learning is the basis of knowledge, education is the structure from which knowledge flows.

Accumulating information is like having a marble connection, what do you do with it once you have it? The byproducts of education – awareness of varying concepts, appreciation for ideas, understanding divergent philosophies – all are powerful foundations for growth and change.

Intelligence contains within itself the ability to listen and reason, the knowledge to act within reason and the power to create. From education comes wisdom and from that wisdom, solutions are born that propel us forward, whether constructing a building or nurturing an idea.

With Knowledge Comes Responsibility

True knowledge is fearless, made strong by the absence of doubt and fortified by pillars of information. Cultivating it simply requires an open mind and a desire to learn. Channeling knowledge towards meaningful expression is always the challenge.

As William S. Burroughs, American writer and visual artist, once stated, “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”

Every physical structure, every scientific achievement, every philosophical advancement, all have one thing in common; they were brought into existence by educated opinions based on knowledge. The evolutionary path of civilization would have been dramatically different had experiments and new ideas been based on ‘guessing’ or ‘gut feelings’, rather than analytical observation.

Scientific Facts Shape Our Future

A great example of education-based evolution is Darwin’s well-known Theory of Evolution. It is one of the most substantiated theories in the history of science. Hard to imagine such a ground-breaking and historical hypothesis being put forth without the benefit of informed analysis from knowledgeable professionals.

During the beginning of his research, Darwin was much more an observer than a geneticist. He could document the pattern of evolution, but did not possess the scientific training to understand and subsequently translate his observations. Without the corroborative knowledge to support his theory, it would have proven difficult to answer the inherent questions of ‘how’ or ‘why’ it happened.

Evidence gathered from various scientific disciplines, including paleontology, developmental biology, geology, and genetics, enabled scientists to advance Darwin’s stream of ‘theoretical consciousness’ into mainstream discussion. Questions were raised and explanations were given. It is easy to imagine Darwin’s groundbreaking theory never becoming more than coffee-table talk in the absence of fact-based science.

Where Learning Leads… Wisdom Follows

The dictionary defines ‘foundation’ as the basis or groundwork of anything. Education is defined as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge (in conjunction with) developing the powers of reasoning and judgment. Together, they form the bedrock of learning-based understanding… the path to wisdom.

Wisdom is the grand enabler. With it, all is possible. Without it, nothing is achievable. Wisdom created the pyramids and thrust us into space. It taught us to fly and how to come back down to Earth safely. Wisdom is the evolution of education and architect of our reality.

As a child learns and develops a foundation for life, so too, does learning bring forth the knowledge needed to explore the foundation of the universe. Step by step and lesson by lesson, studying the various aspects of life in all its natural and man-made grandeur, establishes a base of knowledge impervious to self-doubt and distraction.

The infrastructure of human existence will forever depend on the strength and wisdom forged from our educational structure.

A Brief History of Nursing Education

When people think of the history of nursing education many immediately think of Florence Nightingale. However, nursing goes back even further than that. In fact, during the 18th century a slave named James Derham was able to buy his own freedom from the money he earned as a nurse. Nobody knew back then that a nursing education could be obtained in any other way than simply hands on through an apprenticeship. But, today there are many ways to study and learn more about nursing. Great examples of these are online nursing education and nursing continuing education.

But, it took a long time for these nursing programs to develop. And, they are descendents of the first nursing program that was established in the 1850s in London. Japan’s first nursing institute was established in 1885 and the first nursing institute for blacks in the United States followed the next year. The field of nursing was growing rapidly with the influences of individuals like Florence Nightingale and Claray Barton who established the Red Cross.

In the late 1800s the idea of visiting nursing was established by Lillian Wald and she began teaching a home nursing class. The American Nurses Association held its first meeting and the topics discussed helped further nursing education. Nurses began to be regulated on a national basis by New Zealand in 1901 and then other countries around the world began to follow suit.

The first nursing education that was established in the United States on the basis of education rather than the needs of hospitals was at Yale University in 1923. The Yale School of Nursing had its own curriculum and students were required to meet the educational standards of the university in order to graduate. This really set the stage for the future of education and since then universities across the nation have developed nursing programs of their own. Then, in the 1950s Colombia University offered a master’s in nursing and was the first university to do so. This really changed the nursing environment and allowed for nursing continuing education and nurses to grow in their chosen profession.

Now, more than 80 years later, a nursing education is available at college campuses, via online courses, and even through nursing continuing education. Men and women who want to become nurses can do so around their schedule and take advantage of all the study options for this amazing profession. There are many choices when it comes to an online nursing education and prospective nurses should really compare all of the programs to ensure they are studying from the best online university and are learning as much about nursing as possible.

Talking Avatars in Education – The Virtual Teacher Comes of Age!

Avatars, Talking Web Characters and Virtual representatives are growing in popularity for one critical reason … “they work”!

With Broadband becoming the standard access to the Internet in all four corners of the world, the benefits and possibilities of utilizing rich media and interactivity in marketing are starting to become a reality if not the norm. One of the most active areas is in the so-called Animated Avatars know by many names such as: Talking Web Characters, Virtual Representatives, Virtual Characters and Web Compares. Their popularity growing every day, it’s not by accident, one critical reason is… “they work” , but when it comes to using them to deliver training, presentations or integrated into CBT and education the Virtual Teacher rises eminently to the challenge. 

Assisted Education Delivery using the ubiquitous Virtual Tutor comes of age.

Virtual Teachers, educational presenters and tutor can have a new face, available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, with the same happy disposition, virtual, animated, automated lip-syncing and compelling content combined with contextual delivery. We know that retention is improved, we know that “lean back” education can be effortlessly absorbed and we know that there is nothing more powerful when it comes to delivering complex ideas or facts than the spoken word. Virtual Teachers can be available in different forms, ages, sexes and even fantasy. The flexibility is endless. Education creators can concentrate on the subject matter and choose the ideal Virtual Tutor to assist in the process. Literature assignment can be delivered in context and even brain teasing science and math education can become more precise when you have the help of a virtual tutor that has the power of “voice”. Un-attended education across the web or operated locally makes virtual education delivery highly effective and manageable. CBT has a new face, interactive courses can have virtual assistants and guides. Many training and formal educational environment incorporate media within their presentations and educational content, and it’s not by accident, why? because it works! The ability to concentrate on content and its compelling and memorable delivery is the reason that Virtual Teachers and Tutors are common place in establishment high in the corporate stratosphere and junior schools alike, they both have something in common, the recognition that compelling animated virtual teachers can give results in a planned and precise manner, where achievements can be accelerated at all learning levels. This is no accident, its technology at its best, with a face and a purpose. Take a PowerPoint presentation, graphs, facts, figures and images, nice enough, add a virtual full animated teacher into the mix and you now have a new breed of educational delivery.

In an educational setting it’s a proven fact that information retention and concentration is enhanced when faced with compelling content. So what should you look for in your animated talking character.

1: The Avatar Look

Is your talking animated character “attractive”, or does it look as though it has fallen out of the ugly tree, is it well crafted and generally compelling, or amateurish and poorly animated. Does it suit your image and delivery requirements… is the quality something you are comfortable associating with.

2: Automated Lip-Syncing

Is the avatar lip-sync accurate? there is nothing worse than watching a virtual representative that resembles a badly dubbed movie, it is critical, our brains react in micro-seconds when faced with something that doesn’t look right! It seems bizarre but most animated talking character offerings have less than convincing lip-syncing to say the least. Simple tests include; Does the virtual tutors lips stop moving when silent? Does it shape the phonemes correctly or is it just a random selection of gibberish?

3: Virtual Teachers Ambient animation, Less is more.

Animations during the narration should be kept to a minimum and be subtle, almost invisible. When watching a news broadcast you would feel uncomfortable is the compares eyes rolled from side to side and they exhibited strange and seemingly un controllable head movements. It is the content being delivered by the speaking avatar that is important, and all animations should be kept to a minimum to avoid distraction. Less is definitely more.

4: Virtual Tutor – The Voice

Text to speech may seem convenient but it has a tendency to sound really bad. Remember! this is a virtual representative, your own animated web or media compare it is an extension of your image, unless you sound like a robot steer clear of synthesized voices. Use your own voice, or a friends, or shell out for a professional voice over artist, they are not as expensive as you think! In the future TTS will probably improve but at the present it should only be used if you have no other option.

5: Tailoring your Virtual Character

Some offerings give you loads of tailoring options, they even allow the visitor to play with the character during its narration. Generally you should try and restrict tailoring to clothing and backgrounds for the best effect. You want your visitors and users to build a rapport with your virtual teacher, so changing its looks continually does not offer continuity to the visitor or student. Having a Virtual tutor that the visitor can mess with only detracts from their message.

6: Integration and Hosting your Virtual Teacher

Consider that many education delivery requirements may be remotely across the internet. Give a great deal of thought to this area as its rife with potential additional charges and risks. If you are on a Pay-for-view contract, a contract that charges you a monthly fee for so many streams, the risk is your growth in visitation, you end up with one of two potential problems; you have to pay more because you had a higher visitation as your site grows in popularity, or, you can’t afford to pay more, so your talking avatar disappears and leaves a block with the suppliers logo in place. The same goes for supplier hosting, you have no control over their hosting facility, if you rely on your web compare and your service suppliers servers go down you have lost your “voice”. If you own internet service goes down at least the whole site is no longer visible. Always try and use a solution that will give you total control, create your composition in your time, generate industry standard output (Flash, Flash Video or conventional Video ) and have total flexibility when it comes to integration.

7: Flexibility gives your choice.

Is flexibility important, would it be nice to have access to the native output of your efforts in an industry standard format such as Flash, Flash Video, AVI etc so you could integrate your work into other environments such as Powerpoint, Camtasia, youTube etc. Are there any other services that can assist you from the supplier such as Voice-Overs, integration and bespoke services. Can your composition work off-line, can you create them off-line. Flexibility adds to the return on your investment.

Summary

Doing any job badly is not a good idea, many people grab hold of a new technology and throw it at their audience with little thought. Implementing a bad Animated Virtual Representative is detrimental and could reflect on your business and/or educational requirements, take your time in the creation and don’t settle for second best.

Do Special Education Success Stories Exist – And How Do I Obtain This for My Child?

As a parent and advocate for over 25 years, I often become frustrated by how long it takes to successfully advocate for one child (even my own children)! Sometimes it seems like I am banging my head against a wall (giving myself a concussion), with little to no outcome. I was recently reminded that advocacy is difficult by its very nature, but even when it seems like I have not done much or the parent has not done much—the child can really benefit!

1. I was helping parents in another state with their high school son’s education. Things had gotten very bad at school for the young man, and the school wanted to send him to an alternative school. I immediately began working with the mother and educating her on IDEA 2004 and discipline laws. I read letters, helped her write letters, worked on a settlement with the school, and encouraged her to keep fighting despite how bad things were. The situation worsened, and the young man left school-which was frustrating for his parents and me! Imagine my surprise when a few months later I received an E-mail from his mother with a picture of his high school diploma! I am so excited for the young man, and I realized that if his parents and I had not fought for him, he probably never would have graduated! Great outcome!

2. I advocated for a child with autism for over a year. The young man could not read, was delayed in all academic areas, and had developed school phobia. In my advocacy, I had to do a lot of educating of the school staff about dyslexia; research based instruction, as well as extended school year services. Another issue is that the school district insisted on bringing their attorney to all IEP meetings; even after giving them a copy of the OSEP policy letter to Clinton discouraging this practice. After a year, we had made some inroads, and the parents (and I) decided they would try on their own (with me helping them by phone etc.). After I stopped coming to meetings the school district stopped having their attorney attend IEP meetings—and the treatment of the parents is somewhat better. The young man is learning academically and no longer has school phobia-awesome!

There are success stories in special education advocacy; and here is what you can do to increase the chance of success for your child:

1. Assertive and persistent advocacy for as long as it takes. Sometimes advocacy is like a long journey, rather than a short one! Hang in there and you will be glad you did!

2. If your child is having difficulty with reading it is critical that you find accurate information on dyslexia, to use in your advocacy, and research based ways to deal with the disability. Try this link to the International Dyslexia Association ( http://www.interdys.org/ ).

3. Learn about best practices in special education for your child’s disability, and advocate for them. For example: ABA is still considered best practice for children with autism.

4. Call your states PTIC and ask about free or low cost advocacy trainings. You will not only learn lots, but you will be able to connect with other parents!

5. Consider the use of a qualified experienced advocate-this can often go a long way in advocacy success! Make sure that the advocate has experience with your states dispute resolution processes.

6. If the school continues to deny and/or delay needed services consider using the dispute resolution processes (due process, mediation, and state complaints).

Advocacy success stories to exist and this article has given you a few examples. You have also learned some dragon slaying tips to work toward your own child’s success story! Good luck!