Speed Dating Assessment


I participated in EdCampSD last Saturday, October 18. Though I got to the event venue a couple of hours late I was actually just in time: I got to learn about Speed Dating (educational interaction) with @AndrewMoriates and a room full of educators.

Speed Dating?

sketch of two pairs of talking heads showing one head in each pair talking while the other listens

Speed Dating reminded me of musical chairs without the music or chairs. Basically you get people to pair up and form two concentric circles. Those in the inner circle face outwards whilst those on the outer circle face in. A facilitator asks a question. One person in the outer circle takes a minute to answer while the other member of the pair in the inner circle can only listen; the listener is told to listen only and not to prompt or provide help. After a minute (it was timed) the roles reverse. The person in the inner circle answers the question while the person in the outer circle listens. When both have answered the people in the outer circle move one person to the right while the people in the inner circle stand still. Another question is asked and the same rules apply: one speaks one listens and then they flip when done. At the end of this round the people in the inner circle move one person to their right while those on the outer circle remain still. Another question is asked and the same talk/listen roles apply.

It was fun. In the 20 minutes of the question and answer period I learned a lot about how others felt about the stuff the facilitator was asking. I got to thinking afterwards how this Speed Dating thing might work with my adult learners.


I’m in the process of designing a problem solving course. I think the Speed Dating interaction would be perfect for a pre-assessment (formative assessment). Once the class gets underway learners would pair up and form their two circles. The instructor would ask a series of open-ended questions having to do with their organizations problem solving methods and culture. People would get a chance to express what they know and how they feel. Afterwards the instructor would facilitate a discussion, drawing out additional thoughts on problem solving.

I think this would serve to ground learners in what is already known about problem solving. The instructor could then tailor the remainder of the session on helping to fill gaps in knowledge and to use activities where learners actually solve problems.

I think it could be used as a tool for summative assessment as well. This time rather than having every pair of students answer the same question each question would be asked for only one person in the pair. The listener would listen and make notes of their partner’s responses. At the end of the interaction feedback could be given.


I have to give some more thought to its use in summative assessments. Things get messy quickly. But that’s how it is with learning from connected educators following an EdCamp. You learn, try, and share how it went.


Running On MT


What to do when 140 characters isn't enough? Blog. The other day I modified a tweet, adding #lrnchat. #lrnchat is a Thursday afternoon Twitter chat: a gathering of educators discussing topics relevant to L&D (Learning and Development) practitioners. Browse #lrnchat for more information including chat transcripts.

Screen capture of a tweet


I've been with Twitter since May 2007. I didn't get it for a long time. When I did figure it out, when the lightbulb turned on and I got that it could connect me with other educators it was #lrnchat that threw the switch. Twitter has been my go-to method for professional development (PD) since at least 2010.



The cool thing about #lrnchat are the questions: the Q&A. The feeling of community really comes through. I travel a lot. When it's #lrnchat time I often stop and put life on hold for the hour or so the chats last.

Photograph of a building and a sign reading The Hope Store


The best of times are when someone says something and all of a sudden I get it. It can be an idea for an interaction or a fun way to present something. But it doesn't have to be. A lot of the time reflecting on something someone said helps trigger a memory and then wow! an idea coalesces. I try to tweet constructively. Occasionally I use some of those stray recollections to put two-and-two together, tying an idea to an old TV show as metaphor.



About that tweet I modified to include the #lrnchat hashtag: I wanted to share something that resonated with me: be curious, question.

Photograph of  tee shirt imprinted with Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask & Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm


Most of my blog posts the past year, maybe even all of them, have been motivated by my PD experiences at several #edcamps I've participated in. One of the takeaways I've had, probably THE standout thing I learned was how to Teach Like A Pirate. During a #tlap chat over the summer I got poked: @LnDDave tweeted about submitting session ideas for #DevLearn. So I though, “Why not?” If I really believe I'm passionate about learning then I ran down the list of pirate attributes and went about proposing.



@JaneBozarth writes about showing your work. @TechNinjaTodd says “You Matter.”

Screen capture of a Tweet reading 813 Applying K-12 Strategies and Technology in Corporate Learning

So I'm curious enough about learning and sharing to give doing a #DevLearn session a shot and show my work to people who matter.



My take on the poster contained in the tweet I modified is that if we're serious about education and our own development we should be curious, explore, poke and question. Afterwards, we should consider sharing via a venue we're comfortable with, stand back, and see what happens.




Reflections: #EdCampWestTexas Weekend

Intro: Thoughts a week after an edcamp

Photo collage of Pure Genius by Don Wettrick, a GoPro camera, iPhone and pen

I celebrated my First EdCamp Anniversary in Abilene, Texas with a number of educators. As usual it was amazing to be with motivated and happy professional educators. I deepened my knowledge of:

  • Learner engagement: Keep it real.
  • Pearsonal Learning Communities: Collaborate and share. Keep it real.
  • Innovation: Be practical, have fun, and lose the not-invented-here mindset. Keep it real.


Learner Engagement

Photo of teacher explaining how to add color to his phonograph record spin-to-decorate bike

Keep it real. People will lean-in and actively engage if what they are learning is interesting and relevant to their interests. Ideally learners should make something to demonstrate their understanding.


Personal Learning Communinties

Photo of teacher sharing with a small group of learners

Keep it real. Get together with people who share your professional development interests. Share success, near misses or ideas that fizzled. Ask for help. Social media venues like Twitter, Facebook and others make it possible to connect. Don't be shy: Get involved.



Photograph of a projection screen showing the Kahoot web assessment and survey app

Make the most of what you have at hand. Try new ways of assessment like the Kahoot web app. It all starts with an idea. Share with peers close by or far away. Tweak the idea for your context and give it a good try.


Outro: Be open to different ways of knowing

Photograph of rattlesnake poised to strike

Every person you meet and share with opens up new perspectives. Relax and be open to new ideas. When you come up with something really interesting invite your local media (newspaper, radio, or TV station) to come by.


Teaching (and Learning) Like A Pirate

Intro: Reflections

It’s been a year since I attended #EdCampWestTexas, my first ever EdCamp, in Abilene, Texas. It’s a different sort of professional development (PD) for learning and development (L&D) types like me. Hosted by K-12 educators for educators they’re free unconferences held at school facilities. Though they tend not to have agendas they do have a common framework. It goes something like this:

  1. People meetup at 8:30 am for saying hi to old friends and making new ones (networking).
  2. Around 9 am attendees are asked to write on sticky-notes things they want to learn at EdCamp and things they can share (ideation).
  3. A half hour or so later the camp’s hosts arrange the notes by subject and quantity. They ask for volunteers to facilitate the most popular topics. This is the cool part: facilitating. The best stuff I’ve learned at EdCamps has come from people who are new to the topic (anti curse of knowledge).
  4. At 10 am people go to the location of the session they’re most interested in. They’re encouraged to vote with their feet and try another session. I’ve done this twice. Sessions usually go 50 minutes.
  5. Towards the end of the EdCamp there’s usually an app smashing event. Participants are asked to give a shoutout to sponsors. There is usually a giveaway (uber fun).


The best part about EdCamp is meeting new people. Each new friend I make brings a fresh perspective on something that interests me a great deal: helping others learn. Sometimes I learn something new in the moment; like how learners need to feel they matter. Other stuff takes time: for reflection, soaking in, whatever that thing between “Oh?” and “Aha!” is called.


I can’t think of any. Even after participating in a dozen EdCamps I can think of only one suggestion for improvement. Chairs. EdCamps are sometimes held in elementary schools. It’s been ages since I was able to fit in a second grader’s desk.


If I had to pick one thing I learned this past year that stands out against everything else it has to be #tlap. It’s a Twitter chat held Monday nights at 6 pm PT (sort of sure). It’s the Teach Like A Pirate professional learning community (PLC) that was founded (I believe) by teacher and author Dave Burgess. During #tlap chats people talk about ideas for whatever the topic of the week happens to be. I have really changed my practice during this past year thanks to #tlap.

Outro: Plans

I’m facilitating a session on what I learned over a year of low or no cost PD (#LowNoCostPD) at the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn Conference and Expo. It’s my first conference event. I’ll let you know how it goes.



For some odd reason I'm up earlier than a body has a right to be on a Sunday morning. True to form, whatever the hour, muscle memory and habit kicks in and so my day begins. Over breakfast this tweet catches my eye.

Screen capture of eye catching tweet

I read the Compassion Based Learning blog post, but not in its entirety. I learned from my coworker @masantosiii the other day that our attention spans, for a variety of reasons, are getting shorter. Jumping to the hot parts of the blog post (yellow highlighted text, bold faced font, red shaded text) I probably came away with a skewed view of what its author intended. Apologies if I got it wrong.

I blog, but infrequently. I'm okay with this as I'm driven by some need to be understood when something I hear or see resonates. The significant learning events I've had over the past year have mostly come from personal face-to-face contact with others. This has been my year of #LowNoCost professional development (PD) where I travel, sometimes quite a long way, by slow (car) means.

It started last August. In a funk about feelings I'd been having on missing something, I dunno what exactly: fun, cool, whatever. But I felt something was missing that had the potential to leave a smoking gaping hole in my PD if I failed to heed the call. A tweet I saw said something about an #EdCampWestTexas (I know. Seems like every one of my blog posts this year has been about the EdCamp experience. Just go with it.). So I went. I got there late: forgot about a time zone going from Roswell, NM to Abilene, TX.

New stuff came to me in a rush of sights, sounds. The things that lasted were from these two people I met: @ChristyCate and @Sciology. It'd take a much longer post (you probably wouldn't read all of it anyway) to describe how profound it was for me. But through these two educators I learned, in the mythic-fable-like way of things that lead you to hold a thought near and dear about Teaching Like a Pirate, Genius Hour, Flipping, #EduAllStars and so much more.

So yes, by all means blog. Optimize your search engine keywords and whatnot. But at the end of the day (end of the week actually as most EdCamps are on Saturdays) reach out and meet others who share your interests. The best part from all the takeaways are applying what I learn from my K-12 PLN to the instructional design (serving a mostly adult t-pop).

Takeaway: get out from behind that screen and share and learn with others.



Teach Like a Pirate for (supposedly) Grown-Ups

Turns out they're right, sort of. Who's right? Moms and researchers who say successful multitasking is a myth. Last night I tuned-in to two social media enabled professional development (PD) experiences. The first was the wildly popular #TLAP (Teach Like A Pirate) tweetchat; the other: an exciting 40 minutes of #EDUALLSTARS video blog.

Person multitasking with too many balls in the air


Here it is the next day and I have barely a wisps of memory of what both were about. But oh what wisps they are. My take-away from the #TLAP is that #EDCAMP, since August 2013 my preferred PD modality, is like #TLAP for (ostensibly) grown-ups. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, argues that there are three things teachers need to really engage their learners: content knowledge, mastery of teaching strategies and presence (presentation style). Last night's #TLAP chat was mostly about schools holding teach like a pirate events over an entire class or school. Being that I support adult learners I couldn't really contribute directly to the chat. So I focused on the video blog. #EDUALLSTARS' format includes Todd Nesloney and Chris Kesler interviewing school administatior Benjamin Gilpin. During the interview Gilpin said something that resonated bigtime with me: the importance of being authentic; of making mistakes and owning up to that; of acknowledging, in a positive way, everyone you meet. This stuff really grabbed me.

The #EDCAMPS that I've been to, nine so far, are populated by real people: educators of all stripes coming together to share. It takes the newbie only a few moments to realize that learning starts by sharing: asking questions and listening. Share what you know: There are probably others nearby that want to learn what you know and vice-versa. Which brings me back to #TLAP's main premise: presentation and passion. You have to care enough about what interests you to be able to grab and keep the attention of others. Learner engagement is what you get when you share what you love.

Educators sharing what they know

Today I shared my passion for educational technology by making a small spreadsheet that lets my team track a project we're working on. They're excited to want to learn more. This is a good thing because being the new person on the team I depend on them to share their know-how. Mutual sharing enables increased trust which encourages more sharing: a virtuous cycle if there ever was one.


I think grown ups, unlike first graders, fear mistakes. Maybe there's something to that fear. But if you keep playing it safe, not taking chances and trying new things and sharing what happens where do you end up?

Be a pirate! Be passionate about what you do. Acknowledge the positive in those around you. Share. Learn.



Tonight's #Lrnchat topic was staying ahead of the curve. This is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Image of hashtag lrnchat stating tonight's tweet chat topic is staying ahead of the curve

My belief is that if you're ahead of the curve you're in a no man's land of the unknown. It's also where the excitement is. Paul Shoemaker, author of Brilliant Mistakes, observes that making mistakes is an essential step towards success. What matters is for us to make the right mistakes.

For example, a pet project of mine involves developing a training program for learning Spanish. I'm asking lots of questions of language arts and Spanish teachers. I'm keenly interested in how teachers use content, learning strategies and presentation. How will I test what I come up with? By developing lesson plans and uploading them to Teachers Pay Teachers and then seeing what kind of response they get. One way or another I'm bound to learn something that will lead me to a better result.

So get out there in front of the curve where the fun is. Ideate. Design. Develop. Test. Thoughts?