Re: Run

INTRO

“Shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall..” Sound familiar? Maybe not the exact phrase but the sentiment?

Photograph of a Saguaro cactus

Saguaro cactus somewhere in the Sonoran Desert

I was nine years old the first time I heard the phrase spoken, clueless what the words meant. They were spoken by Bob Steele acting in the role of Trooper Duffy, a member of F Troop.

RE:

F Troop was a 1960s TV comedy about a misfit Army outpost set in the 1860s. I got to thinking about it during a meeting last week. My job as an instructional designer, like some people's jobs, isn't all fun and games. It's an iterative job that can become very technical quickly.

I like being a designer. I like serving people, aiding them in their development. One thing that makes my job fun is storytelling. Another is finding patterns in things I see and hear.

Photograph of a rock formation

Can you see the mama bear and cub?

Can you see anything but rocks in the photo above? I was out on walkabout the other day near Desert Center, California when something grabbed my attention. Looking at it for a few long moments what I saw reminded me of a family of bears: two adults looking out for their cub.

RUN

Typically instructional design involves analysis to identify gaps in knowledge or performance and to learn about the ecology where work and learning occur.

Sketch of several shapes that resemble bears

When I meet with customers and subject matter experts I ask them to tell me stories about what they perceive a problem to be. I take notes: written, sometimes typed. Lately I've started sketching, too. I've found it offers two very different but hugely important benefits.

  1. With sketching comes clarity. Quickly.
  2. Drawing is a very old human activity that brings people together.

Which brings me back to Trooper Duffy. The group I was working with were old school. That is to say they were uncomfortable with my sketching. To them analyzing a problem had to happen the way it had always happened, slowly and methodically.

 

OUTRO

I'm going to be working on this project through at least February. Besides doing my usual instructional design thing I'll also be modeling new innovative stuff that I've learned. Like analysis through storytelling and sketching to decrease, perhaps drastically, the time it takes to get busy prototyping. Another new thing I can't wait to take out for a spin is visual thinking for formative and summative assessments. It'll be like Private Dobbs, F Tropp's bugler, blowing reveille to wake everybody up.

 

Imagine That

INTRO

I was an avid reader until Mrs and I started having kids. Arthur C. Clarke was a favorite. Something he wrote came back to me tonight.

IMAGINE

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke

I go far afield from what I know when I grow my PLN. Curiosity is my driver.

Photograph a COMPILE cartoon showing teachers sharing ideas

COMPILE is sharing ideas

When I started participating at EdCamps it was dizzying: so much new stuff. Curiosity turned me onto following scientists, too.

IGNITE

This week I learned of The Society for Neuroscience conference in DC. Pouring over #SfN14's backchannel I began following neuroscientists. Their tweets made me curious. They are into some cool things.

OUTRO

So what do I ask of my PLN? Take my thinking where my own probably wouldn't.

I'll do the same for you.

 

Mantra Ray

 

INTRO

I got home from my SDCUE a trip just before midnight. The trip, the event, the information I was exposed to, and the people I met have left me with a lot to reflect on.

Photo of Urbie and two women against a San Diego CUE backgrop

MANTRA

In the last three months I've been to:

  • EdCampWestTexas
  • COMPILE
  • EdCampSD
  • DevLearn
  • EdCampUCLACenterX
  • SDCUE

That's a lot of PD. Reflecting got me thinking about my why? I participate in EdCamps, SDCUE, and DevLearn because of the people I meet and to get a deeper understanding of teaching, learning, and development that might transfer to my context.

What's it mean: my takeaways from 15 months of social (F2F and via Twitter) PD: “You matter” and “Keep a positive attitude and nothing else matters.” My mantra.

OUTRO

I sit too much: 5.5 hours to California, at least 15 to Texas. My ray of hope: stepping up the action and getting mind/body in motion.

 

Who, Who, Who, Who?

INTRO

Today's Twitter LRNCHAT was about music and learning. I was relieved to find naming bands or reciting lyrics wasn't part of the mix. Good thing too: I'm stuck in the '60s music-wise.

THE WHO

During the chat I started humming The Who's Who Are You? It reminded me of participating at DevLearn, my first ever eLearning Guild event a couple weeks ago.

Photo selfie of Urbie standing in front of a projection screen

Urbie presenting learning's from EdCamp

It was a good PD (Professional Development) experience. Listening to and talking with lots of whos helped me grow.

140 Words

The other day I read #140WC, a blog post about communicating using 140 words at a time, daily. Its author challenged readers to share daily.

OUTRO

Who are you, person reading this? Who are you going to share with next? Who, who?

 

 

Juice to Go

Intro

10 hours into the eLearning Guild's DevLearn conference my iPad and me held up well.

screen capture of an iPad battery showing 25% charge left

Have you been to a wedding lately? At the close of DevLearn's first day weddings are on my mind. Several times, walking from one session to the next, I passed the Bellagio's wedding chapel (sorry, no photo as of blog-time). The bridal rhyme “Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new. A sixpence in your shoe.” sums it up. How's that? Read on.

Something Things Borrowed

Today's sessions I attended include:

  • Real examples of immersive learning
  • Keynote with Neil de Grasse Tyson
  • Collective digital storytelling: Learning in the 21st century
  • Designing for when it matters
  • Badges: New currency for competencies and high-value credentials
  • Ignite: Meme-ing the future of learning

I was surprised how often it happened during most of the sessions that something I learned at one of the last year's EdCamps came to mind: immersive, story, project-based learning, and crazy-fun. My surprise surprised me, actually. I design learning experiences for adults. EdCamp is professional development for educators working in K-12. It's been challenging (and crazy-fun) figuring out how to make sense of it all, applying K-12 learning/teaching strategies and technology to corporate learning. Learning from some very talented and experienced peers it struck me that some of what I've learned at EdCamp has been borrowed. Sure, I learned a lot and applied some of what I learned. Today the ideas became mine. I own the process of changing my practice. I'm definitely on the right track

Something Blue

I did a little schmoozing today, networking. A couple of times it was whilst waiting in line for something, lunch in one case, that I started conversations with some around me. One of the people I talked to, as it happens, works with the same group that I do. Wow, small world. I hadn't met him before though. It made me sad when I asked him, as I had several others, if he had a Twitter account (he didn't). How are we supposed to keep in touch going forward? Email doesn't really work; it's not a casual 'hey, how ya doin' kind of tool. That's what Twitter is to me. It's having an idea and tossing it over a wall then moving on. Sometimes I hear back about it, other times not. Most of the time, in fact, I don't hear anything. That doesn't stop me from continuing to toss things over though. Maybe it needs more work on my part before the idea or observation gains traction. I wish other people felt the same way about it.

Something Old

I have close friends I've never met. Yes, I'm talking Twitter, again. Today brought several treats in my physical world.

photograph of Marlie and Urbie with an iPad between them

Over lunch I bumped into Marlie. Some years ago we worked at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. It was cool connecting and catching up. We're both still doing instructional design. We're both very excited about the future of learning. Awesome.

Something New

Some of the vendors have cool new stuff. The one that really got my attention was this web-based application Knowedge Guru has. I don't know much about it. I signed up for an online demo on November 3rd. It seemed fun. In learning, fun is good.

Shoes

I had a full day yesterday before leaving home for Las Vegas. It was dark in the entry when I left. For ages, since as long as I can remember, my family has kept our shoes by or close to the front door. I didn't notice until this morning finishing getting dressed that I'd put on two different shoes. They're both black and very similar in style. No one has noticed so far. Don't let on, okay?

Outtro

I can't wait for tomorrow. It's gonna be great!

 

Social Media for Learning

INTRO

For the past several weeks I have been learning more about social media. Today the final session of ATD (Association for Talent Development) Social Media for Learning wrapped up. Some of what was presented I was already aware of: the value of Twitter for PD (Professional Development) for example. Some things, like how to make use of Facebook groups, were new to me. The best part about learning with ATD and instructor Jane Bozarth happened last weekend.

image of cursive writing saying Learn to Listen, Listen to Learn

Driving home from EdCamp San Diego it occurred to me that most of what I was learning in the class I knew already. After a few minutes of deeper reflection I had a major AHA! moment: There were holes in how I use social media. Some were subtle things I hadn’t been aware of. Others were practices I knew about but thought didn’t apply to me.

ADULT LEARNING THEORY

Adults learn differently than children. One thing that sets adults apart from children from a learning perspective is adults need to know why they should learn something; put another way, adults ask “What’s in it for me?”

image of quote what we see depends mainly on what we look for


The past year most of my professional development has come through my participation in educational events hosted by K-12 schools in Texas, Arizona, and California. These events are held using what I’ve come to know as the unconference EdCamp model. Through EdCamp I’ve learned a lot about how children learn, how teachers use educational technology to engage students, and how teachers grow their craft. Afterwards, my curiosity piqued, I review research, read blogs and books teachers suggested, participate in online chats, and reflect. I try to figure out how to apply my new knowledge to the adult learners my instructional design work supports.

What is in it for me? I learn effective teaching methods from innovative educators. Some of these I can put to use immediately to grow not just my PLN (Personal Learning Network) but connect with PLCs (Professional Learning Community). After a year’s worth of EdCamps I have strategies I can use to deepen the relationships I’ve made with educators. Making better use of social media will go a long way towards helping me do so.

HOLE-ISTIC LEARNING

You could say that Social Media for Learning activated previous knowledge. I’ve been tweeting since May 2007. But they’ve been mostly disconnected tweets. I have two blogging accounts, Connect the Dots and Puzzling Mix. I blog irregularly, with some gaps spanning months.

image of quote In the game of life there are at least three choices. Accept, Remove, Change. Someone wise

The first social media hole I started to fill was making the connection that blogging is publishing. My newspaper (yes, I still subscribe to a dead-tree newspaper) is dependable. It’s in my front yard every morning. So I should blog more often and on a regular schedule. Note: I haven’t set that schedule yet but since the end of September my Puzzling Mix blog has been more active.

MORE TO LIFE THAN (GASP) TWITTER

I’ve been active in the LRNCHAT Twitter chat for years. Most Thursday evenings I log on Twitter and happily answer questions and learn from other learning and development (L&D) professionals’ tweets. Once I started going to EdCamp my Twitter chat use exploded: I get a lot out of Teach Like A Pirate (TLAP). A summer chat actually got me motivated to draft a session proposal for the eLearning Guild’s DEVLEARN conference next week (shameless plug: I’m doing session 813 on Halloween).

image of a female Tellagami character standing in front of an office desk

The Social Learning class helped me take a second look at other social media venues like Pinterest. I have an on-again off-again relationship with Pinterest. When Jane asked me why I didn’t use Pinterest my reply was trite: Because. But after a few nights reflection I couldn’t come up with a more solid answer than that. Taking a casual look at my Pinterest board you’ll see it hasn’t been updated in a while. That’s okay. Because I know it’s a valuable venue for growth I’m motivated to figure out how to integrate Pinterest into my visual workflow. If anyone knows an easy way to post to Pinterest from Instagram lemme know, k?

Why do some organizations use social media while others do not? Bozarth advocates using a social media readiness checklist. During a facilitated activity I identified culture and policy implementation issues that may be constraining social media use by staff and customers. Other participants noted similar issues. Following a survey I learned I have my work cut out for me. The course informed me and gives me a place to start.

Takeaway: The more social media platforms and people we engage the more likely others will engage with us. Wow!

ACTIVE CULTURES

Last September I participated in my second Region 14 COMPILE (Collaborative On Mentoring & Planning Innovative Learning Environments) in Abilene, Texas. It was worth the 900 mile drive from Phoenix let me tell you. I got to meet Don Wettrick, educator and author of Pure Genius. I learned during his session how sometimes we (educators) teach our students to sit back and watch, as though learning were a spectator sport. It’s a much more effective learning experience when students do or make stuff. Learning can be much more effective when collaboration among students is leveraged. Social Media for Learning was very interactive. There were activities in blogging, break out sessions, and conversations in the class’ Facebook group.

We can leverage learning and knowledge transfer through social media. Learners can evidence their learning by completing projects using their new skills. Teachers can view and comment on work students produce collaboratively, in real time, with Google Docs.

Performance improvement and upskilling benefit through social media. Over several sessions the class worked through a case study involving copier service technicians. We were challenged to identify social media policies that inhibit knowledge sharing. Bozarth encouraged us to brainstorm ways social media can help grow our teams’ success.

selfie of three people looking down at a camera

 

One of the conversations we had involved barriers to the practice of using social media for learning. In some organizations I learned how using social media is encouraged by policy and practice. Other organizations are not so fortunate: policy or practice, sometimes both, lags. Sometimes the issues are technical. Other times progress towards adoption is delayed by feet dragging by individuals charged with implementation. I learned strategies for identifying the root causes for why some workplaces don’t engage workers and customers to engage with each other via social media. It starts by asking why and listening actively. Through positive messaging the many benefits of social media in learning and performance become tangible. It’s cool to think I learned more ideas for how to approach management about giving social media a try.

One thing Wettrick talked about in his COMPILE session that resonated with what Bozarth taught was the importance of social media profiles. Many social media platforms have a profile. This gives us a chance to share a little bit about ourselves: photograph, brief bio, and interests. Bozarth reinforced the practice of creating an effective profile. Now I make it a practice to take a good close look at people’s social media profiles. Are they in education? Do we share similar interests? If the answers are yes then I have a new connection. In PLNs and PLCs it’s quality over quantity.

HOW DO WE KNOW?

I use several processes and practices to design and develop engaging learning experiences. One very practical thing I need to make sure is in there is measuring how well the learning experience served the student and the organization. If the student isn’t learning and then applying that new skill or know-how for their benefit then I didn’t do a good job. It’s the same with social media. It does no good to have a Twitter button on a course screen that few use. During a recent consulting project I learned that no one was blogging because workers had to send their posts to the blog owner for review; if the owner felt the post had merit, whatever that means, then it made it into the blog. The bad news is that this was identified after implementation. Bozarth shared instruments designers can use during analysis to identify appropriate metrics based on the social media platform selected.

photo of quote the kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving way. sometimes. keep perspective.

 

Social media offers us a variety of venues including blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and others. The evaluation methods introduced in the course provide designers with solid ways of measuring attributes that matter: clicks, tweets, shares, comments and so on.

CALL TO ACTION

During today’s final session we talked about ways we can support social media adoption within an organization by asking:

  • How can we market it to internal and external customers?
  • How to eschew features and focus instead on ways it improves people’s lives?
  • How do we curate information to leverage its accessibility and reach?
  • Is the organization is ready for it?

This last point, about an organization’s potential for nurturing the adoption of social media for improving learning and peformance, opened my eyes to all the things that could encourage, or block, widespread adoption.

photo of COMPILE word cloud

It was sobering. As stated earlier, it activated something that has been on my mind for some time. What do you do if your interests don’t mesh well with where you work?

OUTRO

Social Media for Learning is a hands-on practical course. It activated knowledge I didn’t remember possessing. It is applicable to educators of all stripes. Going forwards I have a plan for making my work more rewarding and improving people’s learning experiences.

Social Media for Learning is the icing on the cake. I really needed to complete this course now.

 

Speed Dating Assessment

Intro

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.

Assessment

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.

Outro

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.