Nick Napper

Nick Napper

With over 30 years’ experience of creating innovative training, Nick passionately promotes evidence-based education in healthcare. His research specialism is visual support for learning.

Location UK


  • @JenniferMalyon You have asked a very valid question. The key point we would make is that trainers should praise what they did, rather than the person themselves.
    Secondly, we would advocate avoiding hyperbole and exaggerated voice tone. This way, a person who may need their confidence building can draw fully on a positive statement, whereas another who does...

  • Definitely worth a try, she may well appreciate it.
    Perhaps let us know how the conversation goes?

  • @ElizabethKapcia Is there some way you could diplomatically feed this back? If the course was not educationally focussed, the course team may be unaware.

  • @NithinLalu As educators we don’t have access to this part of the system. I believe you have three attempts at each question.
    If there is a problem, please contact Support via the pink button at the bottom of this page.

  • @anneknowles Welcome to the course! We’ll be interested to hear how closely it meets your requirements for practice educators.
    In September we are trialling a slightly richer localised version of this course. It includes additional assignments and a locally run microteach. If that option is of interest, you can find out more by using the ‘Contact us’ form in...

  • @PaulMackie Re [... there is no training in place for dealing with mental health calls], I suspect a lot of people would be surprised to learn this.
    Is it not addressed at all when someone is new in post?

  • @TanyaNeal Agreed. The word 'delivery' is often unhelpful if we wish to encourage active learning.
    It might be argued that at its worst, its use could result in a form of linguistic determinism. (Apologies for jargon here, but it's a relevant term

  • @TanyaNeal Re [I'll be passing that up to my line manager for her to review], can I suggest you perhaps wait until you've completed this course before doing this?
    As the course progresses, we offer suggestions as to how to communicate effectively with seniors who may not always promote best teaching/training practice.
    We also suggest evaluating outcomes...

  • @TanyaNeal It sounds as though you are in a difficult situation with the tutor you describe. It is possible that someone who believes reading slides aloud in a tutorial to be helpful may have some other areas of knowledge which are not based on best practice.
    Perhaps in a future tutorial you could (diplomatically!) discuss selected elements of this course?

  • @VictoriaLimm Sadly, this still happens. Some American primary school teachers have been recorded telling young children what sort of learner they 'are'. For example, 'You're a visual learner, so you learn best by...'. Apart from the VAK notion having been discredited, to put such a label on a young child arguably restricts their development by narrowing...

  • @PaulineChampion Introduction of a new IT system is a classic example of this type of problem. However much the IT training team may argue for a realistic amount of time and resources, they rarely seem to be allowed sufficient of either.

  • And perhaps, what the learners will be doing at a given point?

  • @OliverDean Agreed re fire safety. A few years back, I said something similar to our fire officer as we both stood in a medical ward. He said, "Alright then, we'll see..." and to my astonishment pressed the manual call point, setting off the alarm. Only he and I knew it wasn't real, and the image of four nurses who shortly afterwards crashed up against a...

  • @AntoniGardener Perhaps select an existing (?passive) course which you believe does not currently achieve its desired outcomes.
    Carefully evaluate it (as it is now) for transfer to practice, lasting retention, etc. Submit your proposed improvements to the relevant manager/clinical lead to get them on side.
    If the course is not currently producing required...

  • @ClareThompson It may help your case if you do a comparison study between a current course and one modified with your new approach.
    If your improvements show more lasting learning than that the current version, it should help your case, plus highlight limitations of existing methods of evaluation.

  • @OliverDean re [the majority of medical school lecturers taught in this manner], the educational psychologist John Sweller has suggested that for some practitioners, not to do so may seem counterintuitive.
    Harder to understand (excuse, perhaps), are Cert Ed/Dip Ed lecturers who model the practice by reading text aloud to student teachers.

  • @VladislavKutuzov You raise a valid point here. About 10 years ago, the UK Institute for Learning (IfL) recommended the term ‘teacher’ should be used across all roles. However this didn’t come about, and the fact that the IfL was later renamed ‘Society for Education and Training’ has effectively sealed the argument.
    We would add that within the similar roles,...

  • Sadly some FE colleges and commercial training companies continue to promote educational myths.
    In one the end of week videos we describe how one healthcare trainer told a story as fact which actually came from an old James Bond film…
    Experiences such as these increased our motivation to create this course.

  • @VictoriaLimm [… where she asked the students questions around what had just been taught]. You mention there were no activities, we might question whether the students had actually been taught or were simply ‘told’?

  • @PaulHawkins Thank you for sharing this insightful experience. As you suggest, there are many commonalities.
    We should perhaps add that in the 1960s Knowles proposed that pedagogy (teaching children with less life experience) and andragogy (teaching adults) required different strategies (

  • @FsjWong Agreed. We recommend practice rather than rehearsal for the reasons you suggest.

  • @JenniferMalyon Employ thoughtful group/pairing selection and involve them in such a way that that the activity is a positive experience. Explaining why the exercise has been chosen can also help (beware irrelevant ‘fun’ icebreakers which can make things worse). I’ve received many comments such as, ‘I really enjoyed that, but if I’d known what you what you...

  • @lindal I believe all FutureLearn courses are formatted to be compatible with screen reader software such as Microsoft Narrator. You could try that, although I can’t vouch for how human the voice will sound…

  • @AmrShalaby Participants are provided with three attempts for the end of course quiz. As educators, unfortunately we don't have access to this part of the system. If you are experiencing a problem with the quiz, please contact support vie the button at the bottom right of the page.

  • @ThomasWallace Thank you for sharing this - you created a memorable image for us!

  • @CiaraJenner Do let us know how you get on - perhaps by posting here in Comments?
    If we can help by providing any further references, please let us know via the ‘contact us’ form at the end of Week 5.

  • @TszManLi Fishbowl and forum theatre are generally employed to heighten communication skills in areas which may be difficult or challenging when first encountered. For example, breaking bad news, motivational interviewing, appraisal conversations, etc.
    The technique requires significantly more time and effort to facilitate than simply advising how best to do...

  • @LaurenBrice We’re certain you’ll find the extra preparation will be worth it many times over.
    Do post in comments and let us know how it goes!

  • Agreed, and they may do so even though the reason may actually lie with the teaching approach used.

  • @LisaAndrews We’d be interested to hear what you find in another comment here?

  • @RithiP The main reason we recommend a written lesson plan is that it highlights the relative proportions of trainer activity and learner activity in a way that doesn't often materialise if a plan exists in working memory alone.
    A bit like Benjamin Franklin's list of pros and cons for making a difficult decision; we're perfectly capable of bringing them into...

  • @FrancescaCollins Re ['There is no right and wrong way to approach teaching'], we would agree. Perhaps a more accurate way to put it would be to suggest there are many ways to teach effectively, and many ways to teach ineffectively.
    Although arguably, 'teaching ineffectively' could be an oxymoron...

  • Having heard some years back about Geoff Bezos' approach to meetings (he rarely has Powerpoint presentations, instead everyone quiety reads newly information, ideas, data etc. which they then discuss ) I've tried it with some success.
    I've received some questioning looks from participants who expected a talk, but it does seem to work well.
    That said, the...

  • @EmmaM Even approached in a sensitive way, I find evidence-based education is sometimes about as welcome as a physician in a homeopathy clinic...
    It's particularly difficult if someone has been promoting learning styles for many years, and is continues to do so regularly. As a listener you don't want to humiliate anyone, but at the same time don't want myths...

  • @CarolynSmith Agreed, in such situations it can be challenging for a trainer to be both sensitive and constructive. A helpful technique is to encourage the learner to offer their own assessment first, encouraged by Socratic questioning from you. In this way you may be able to draw out/identify an area/issue/theme from which together, you can agree a helpful...

  • @CatherineWicks [as I've always felt I was one] Almost certainly you are a visual learner, and almost certainly you are also an auditory learner and a kinaesthetic learner - as will be most of your learners.
    If a trainer includes elements in learning activities which are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic, they generally create a richer experience for...

  • @JudeGlide It's not that individual preferences don't exist, more that teaching to expressed preferences has been found to show no improvement in outcomes.
    In a short course such as this, we can't include all the evidence - but there is much more than one study. Brief summary here:...

  • @JudeGlide Welcome to the course!
    We're confident it will meet the needs of your recruits. It will be especially effective if you are able to mentor them through the course as a group.

  • @mandyphillips Welcome to the course!
    We'll be interested to hear how the course content sits with your experience of care certificate supervision to date.

  • @MariaHayward You raise a valid point about mnemonics, etc. We would agree they can be overused. Some are intended to be retained as a mental checklist to ensure nothing is missed, such as the '4 Hs and 4 Ts' for reversible causes of cardiac arrest. However, others function as aids to learning until the knowledge is embedded, for example 'Every Good Boy...

  • @CarolynSmith Sounds like a good plan. There's a helpful page on writing outcomes from another FutureLearn course here:
    A helpful (if a little expensive at £35) book is Gronlund's Writing Instructional Objectives...

  • @DianeHorsley Absolutely. The important thing is as you suggest; get to know who you will be teaching and their needs. We mention this in Week 4 (Step 4.5), although not in as much detail as we would have liked due to limitations on course size.
    eLearning in particular represents a challenge if this is not done, because as you suggest, it is difficult to make...

  • @DianeHorsley Agreed. In this regard, how do you feel we have pitched the course content so far?

  • @DianeHorsley Agreed. For this course to function optimally, learners discuss and debate in comments, plus ideally be mentored in their own organisation so they can be supported when trying concepts new to them.
    The big area that’s missing are microteach type activities, which offer peer-shared experiences. We’d hoped some healthcare Trusts might offer local...

  • @OliverPfeiffer Sounds like a good approach!
    Far too often, eLearning underuses (or at worst, ignores) educational knowledge and educational technology. We sometimes say it’s akin to having a brand new Tesla car and using it to keep chickens in…
    It takes more time and thought to create good online learning. However, if you check recall of an existing...

  • @MarchaGyarmati Assessment should measure the stated outcomes. I’m not sure that trying to incorporate fun into an assessment would help?
    Clinical System training often overloads new clinical staff due to its intensity, adding fun might have an unintended negative consequence.
    Perhaps the best learner emotion to aim for would be satisfaction and operational...

  • @EmmaM Sounds good! Were you able to evaluate retention after a period of time had passed?

  • @DianeHorsley This is a real issue for trainers as you suggest.
    Since Joyce and Showers’ research into in-service training for teachers in the 1980s, the limitations of single-visit training have been known, but unfortunately not widely disseminated.
    We address this elsewhere in the course, although course size limitations mean we could only include a...

  • University Schools of Education can be relied upon to provide evidence-based education.
    However, we have encountered a surprising number of FE colleges, train the trainer courses, and University departments who continue to perpetuate learning myths.
    In these situations, myths seem to be promoted by a small number of learning professionals who, unfortunately...

  • Agreed. Quite a few studies have found that writing and drawing in front of learners has a more lasting impact than simply showing a ready made slide.
    For live online teaching, some trainers use a visualiser which allows them to both create and show visuals live.

  • @Ann-MarieLowe Experiences such as you describe here is what motivated Barb Oakley to create the Coursera MOOC ‘Learning How to Learn’.
    We highly recommend it as a companion to this course.

  • @ChendurpandianPalaniswamy our point was about Einstein’s working memory, not his wife!

  • @Ann-MarieLowe You make a really helpful point here. There's a big difference between worrying about whether something might happen, and thinking instead, 'OK, if that happens I'll do this'.
    Especially helpful as you say, to go beyond plan B.
    Respect to you for having a plan e as well!

  • @LevyMendoza I'm not sure what exectly you're asking here?
    Perhaps you could repost your question later in in the course, after the sections which address formative and summative assessment in more detail?
    Or perhaps provide a little more context?

  • @VINAYPARAMBIL I agree with you. There is a perception among some highly qualified professionals that images, stories, metaphor, etc are unnecessary when teaching other professionals, and are only required for beginners.
    However, this is based on an erroneous assumption that images and stories are pitched at a ‘low’ level.
    As long as they are chosen to...

  • @ValentinaMcGarrell Including a broad range of activities in your training was a probably still good thing, as it would have made the learning experiences richer (albeit for a different reason!)

  • @JustinFinbow Agreed. Other participants have made similar observations.
    In some situations, 'just-in-time-learning' can be an oxymoron.

  • @VINAYPARAMBIL In one sense, every training event is a pilot for the next one.
    Perhaps most helpful is to ask open probing questions instead of getting learners to mark on Likert scales.

  • @PatJones An interesting question. I suspect it has a presence among Trainers of a 'trainer-centred' persuasion.
    With regard to learners, it's the role of a trainer to establish, with learners, the level of their current knowledge and skill before training commences.
    It's also sometimes seen with online learning. If offered the opportunity to go straight to...

  • @PatJones We believe this course will influence practice.
    However, it's been known for 90 years that lectures are less effective than active methods, and known for 60 years that talking while showing text is not effective. Yet both of these techniques continue apace across the world.
    The more of us that share the principles of evidence-based education, the...

  • @ChristinaLyons Such situations have been referred to as a 'Conspiracy of Convenience' (see
    For me the word conspiracy is a little too pejorative, as those who mandate events such as those you describe do not deliberately set out to deceive.
    Nonetheless, we would...

  • @PatJones It's regarded as good practice for managers to also ask for feedback on how they themselves give feedback.
    I'm not sure what proportion actually do this though.

  • @YvonneHenderson [Spacing training where possible, perhaps we can discuss this one with our leaders]
    This continues to be an uphill struggle. Many healthcare seniors regard post-learning feedback as sufficient evidence. Whereas, as we have seen, there may be little correlation between such feedback and lasting learning or transfer to practice.

  • @ValentinaMcGarrell You’ve created a lasting image in my mind!
    A few years back Barb Oakley (creator of Coursera’s ‘Learning How to Learn’) set out to find what differentiated the university lecturers who scored highest on the student website ‘’ from their less appreciated colleagues.
    She found it was their use of analogy and...

  • @YvonneHenderson Quite a lot of research has found similar illusions among adult learners.
    In Week 4 we look at such 'Illusions of learning' in more detail.
    Interestingly, some learners have been found to persist in believing they have learned adequately, even though an assessment indicates otherwise.

  • @NiallNelligan The answer should be the same as if a tired and unprepared practitioner were asked to carry out a procedure on a patient which is not in their best interest.
    However, as you suggest, with teaching the reality can be different. It is an issue of sufficient concern that the book which supports this course (published later this year) has a chapter...

  • @MairiPedersen I wonder if we've confused the purpose of a storyboard a little? In this contexct its function to share a fresh proposal or approach to training with key stakeholders, and ask for their feedback and suggestions.
    We didn't mean to suggest a storybaord has a role in the training itself.