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A Legacy of Learning at Trinidad State Junior College

Engaging students and seeing excitement in understanding the coursework is one of the biggest motivators for educators, particularly Wendy Laughlin at Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado.

Laughlin is part of the nursing faculty team at Trinidad State and brings her passion and robust nursing career experiences with her to the classroom. She earned her Doctorate in Nursing and has spent 22 years in healthcare. For the past six years, she has been teaching in nursing programs in medical surgery, pharmacology, leadership management and administering the preceptor program.

Love at first sight

“I was just looking online for resources that would encourage more interaction with my students in my small, rural class,” said Laughlin. “When I found Picmonic, I just fell in love.” 

That love has spread throughout the Trinidad State nursing program, leadership, students and faculty. Because, when you find something that helps students of all ages, from all backgrounds, it’s easy to encourage others to join.

“Picmonic has enhanced how I prepare for my classes,” she says. “We have students who are 15 years old up to 60 years old; they are from different places and have different experiences. Anytime I can share a resource that meets the needs of our diverse student body is a big deal. I know Picmonic is going to resonate with each and every one of them, and that is truly a gift.”

Laughlin helped ensure Picmonic would be available for all students and faculty who wanted it. She championed the program, but also dedicated time and effort to proving it’s effectiveness. 

“For the first year, I was able to get funding and approval to do a beta test with my class,” Laughlin says of using Picmonic for Educators. “When another instructor saw what I was doing, they were immediately on board – another ‘love at first sight’ believer! Since then, we have expanded it to our entire program and our other campus as well so all nursing students at Trinidad State have the same opportunities.”

A partner for educators

With Picmonic for Educators, teachers are able to use it as a supplemental source of student reference material, add enhancements to presentations and lectures, increase student engagement in the material, and improve test scores. Picmonic also integrates into most Learning Management Systems (LMS) to allow teachers to embed Picmonic videos, visuals and even quizzes into assignments. 

Educators use Picmonic in different ways that meet their teaching style, the learning styles of students and to get the most important outcomes for the program. For Laughlin, one of the critical needs was reaching the learning style of her most consistent student.

“Millennials, honestly, were one the biggest motivations to find additional ways to engage students,” she said. “Most students today want information and presentations to be short, sweet and to the point. The attention span with them can be challenging to traditional teaching methods, but you can capture them with modern techniques that help them not just retain the information, but get excited about it.”

But, as Laughlin acknowledges, introducing Picmonic can take on a life of its own with students in the best way.

“After we show Picmonic to a class for the first time, they come back the next day saying they spent hours on Picmonic the previous night,” she explained. “They are so excited and diving into the content independently. For students to enthusiastically spend hours on anything, on their own, is wonderful!”

Putting Picmonic to work

As with most educators in various programs around the country, Laughlin and her colleagues all find their own way to incorporate Picmonic – or other technologies – into their curriculum and classroom. 

“In my class, I assign students different characters,” said Laughlin. “First, I’ll spend time in Picmonic to identify which ones are applicable to what I am teaching. Then I will do 5 or 6 Picmonics on a weekly basis. Sometimes with the assessment and implementation ones, I will give them the assignment to watch the assessment independently and then we do the implementation together as a group.”

As far as integrating Picmonic into her LMS, “Right now I haven’t fully integrated it into my LMS, I simply assign it through our LMS,” said Laughlin. “But many of my colleagues have fully integrated Picmonic into the LMS and love it.”

With the expansion and rapid roll-out of virtual learning following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a system that works with you and your students to enhance learning and engagement is essential in higher education.

“Using Picmonic even before COVID allowed students to work asynchronously, which has become very important now,” Laughlin explained. “They study independently, then I will print out key characters and put them on my bulletin board (before distance learning) with a note ‘Who is this?’ every week. The students love Picmonic and even want to get shirts made of their favorite or most memorable characters. It just proves that it works and is memorable because the characters become more than recognizable, they become part of our program’s culture!”

But how does this all work in the end for student success at Trinidad State? The proof of effectiveness is seen in many different ways, but is an undeniable piece of the student’s overall success.

“Our pass rate absolutely improved with the addition of Picmonic and other tools that our department has integrated over the past few years,” explained Laughlin. “In our program, our pass rate went from 73% to 100%. We try to bring in one new tool every year, but Picmonic was the first and will always be part of our program.”

Picmonic in the real world

How does all this integration, studying and enthusiasm translate into real-world successes? Students at Trinidad State have expressed different ways in which Picmonic matters to them after the quiz, exam or class has ended.

“Students repeatedly ask how they can continue to access Picmonic after they graduate,” Laughlin shares. “It has proven so helpful in school that they want to use it in their career. But it isn’t just for our students – the next generation of nurses – who can benefit. We used it for our Mental Health Clinical with parents of children who were newly diagnosed patients. In one case, the students brought up Picmonic and showed it to the mother who was then able to understand what was going on in a whole new way. The mother then asked the students to show it to other family members. The family said ‘I get it. It helps me know what questions to ask my child’s doctor.’ It made a difference to that patient and family, but also empowered our students to look for different ways to connect with each patient and family.”

Educators and students are looking at higher education experiences differently in 2020 and beyond. Distance learning is necessary or advised for many right now, and even with hybrid models of virtual and in-person learning, classrooms will need to be fluid between the two formats. 

“Picmonic is important in how we plan to succeed with distance learning at Trinidad State,” said Laughlin. “Previously, our classes were predominantly in-person but I always had to plan for a few snow days living in Colorado and always used Picmonic for that. Switching to online, it is important to have that sense of community and Picmonic is a key component of that.”

Should other educators use Picmonic?

Here at Picmonic, we don’t like to toot our own horn, but we don’t mind letting educators and students share how they feel. Teachers everywhere are tackling shifts to online learning environments and searching for new and exciting ways to engage students, but they don’t have to do it alone.

“Other schools should absolutely try Picmonic for their classes,” Laughlin replies enthusiastically. “You have to introduce it and follow-up. We found working on it together in class, especially at first, worked really well. Be sure to do the quizzes together at the end. 

“The important thing is to not just assign it, but to make it part of your discussion together in class. I love it and students love it. It engages them and stimulates critical thinking. It gets them talking and engaged, which is paramount to learning.” 

Laughlin and her colleagues have found Picmonic to be an integral component and a resource that is applicable to today’s student. With such a diverse group of students from traditional, to second (or third) career students, Picmonic works for the entire program.

“Everyone is on-board with Picmonic at both of our campuses,” said Laughlin. “What started with just my class and one first year instructor, is now something we buy for all of our students. It’s been so successful it is written into our annual funding so we will work with Picmonic in perpetuity.”

Does Laughlin’s experiences have you ready to learn more? You can try Picmonic with a Free Premium Trial today and experience it for yourself. If you are ready to learn more about how you can integrate Picmonic into your curriculum, how your students can benefit or even to hear more success stories, contact Picmonic for Educators or check out one of our webinars

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