Begin with the bend in mind


I'm doing a talk on interactive presentation design at AZTEA's Fall tech conference. In the spirit of #lrnchat and #ShowYourWork here are some things that helped me ideate and produce the experience.


What's wrong with this picture? In a typical conference session attendees mostly sit. If they have wifi and a mobile device they could be doing most anything. How can the presenter make participants out of attendees?



How about walking participants through a story a little at a time?

Maybe something that talks to us at an emotional level.

Or that asks us to think really hard about about what we want.

Maybe having someone near to guide us?


So that's the gist of the idea. Three simple slides telling a story.


Thumb Aplomb


I did a lot of rhizoming yesterday driving from Salliwell, OK to Abilene, TX. I backtracked and stopped quite a lot along the way when curiosity got the better of me. I’d see something and think about stopping to take a closer look. Only I wouldn’t stop right away. I’d continue on for a bit then think, “I may never pass this way again.” and turn around.

Photo of horses for sale


I took a couple hundred photos of stuff yesterday. It was after importing them just now from my iPhone into my Mac’s Photo app and deleting the ones that didn’t come out right that I remembered The Thumb. You know, when an errant finger finds its way into the picture frame.

Photo of an old metal slide

In the olden times of film you'd take a picture of something then later when the film comes back there it was: a thumb or finger spoiling the shot. Only today we get to see the oops in real time just after taking the picture or, as happened for me just now, whilst importing and curating the pictures.


I’d deleted all the thumbs and fingers when I remembered last night’s #LRNCHAT Twitter chat. The chat was moderated by @SarahMMcKay, a neuroscience researcher. Question 6, my tweet, and Dr. McKay’s reply came back to me.

Screen capture of lrnchat subject

My reply to Dr. McKay was to agree to disagree. Not worrying overmuch about theory and research I go about designing learning experiences with aplomb.


My design craft has been influenced greatly the past couple of years by the thoughts and experiences shared by educators I’ve met throught EdCamp, TCEA, CUE, the Elearning Guild, and my local ATD chapter.

Photo of Urbie in front of a Bigfoot crossing signpost

I can’t recall that we talk about research a lot, at least I don’t remember anyone calling out anything specific. I’m a practitioner among practitioners. But I wonder what’s out there I might be missing?


Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)


Why should kids have all the fun when they learn?


I’ve got a granddaughter. She’ll be two years old next month. That kid learns so much so fast. She’s fearless about it, too. She knows what she's about and rolls with it.

Photo of OldPa and Carly

Watching her the other day gave me an idea. How does a two year old learn compared to an adult? So I came up with this table based on information contained in the websites referenced below; I probably got the citation form wrong but it’s been a while.

Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)


Child Development Tracker, PBS Approaches to Learning, Retrieved from August 23, 2015

US Department of Education, Adult Learning Theories, Retrieved from August 23, 2015


Who designs your PD learning experiences? If your answer wasn’t yourself I suggest you take a step back and rethink it. Who knows your interests better than you? Who knows where you want to go and what you want to do in and with your life? I suggest you take some time, as much as you need, to come up with some questions that may shed some light on where you might go for answers.

I'm going to be presenting this at a conference in October. I'll share more about it later.


This entry’s a work-in-progress. I wanted, no needed, to get this thought down for later. I didn’t want this one to be, like too many others, an idea that flitted in for a moment and then was gone forever.



Redux: Djinn Tech


About two months into my tour of duty on NavComSta Diego Garcia I got my Dear John letter. What has stayed with me was she went with a guy more into technology than I was in 1978. Shortly after arriving at Hickam AFB I hightailed it over to ComputerLand Honolulu and bought my first personal computer: a TRS-80 Model 1 Level II.


Ever since I can remember I’ve been enamored (a word, btw, my ex taught me) by technology. One of my uncles was a Navy radioman during WWII. He was all the time tinkering with stuff. I got into that TRS-80 for a couple of months; all I really remember about it was how gray it was. I soon traded up to an Apple ][ (integer model). I’ve been an Apple fanboy ever since. I bought one of the first Macintosh computers. Well I remember shopping for software and finding none. It was a sad feeling.

These long forgotten memories welled up in my mind yesterday. After being exposed to oodles of Google Chrome and Chromebook goodness during three days of CueRockStar I decided to buy one. Only the stores I went to had only one or two models available. At Staples they only had display models: none in stock. At a Best Buy the sales person began arguing with me about how I NEEDED Windows 10 as soon as I asked “Where are your Chromebooks?” As I left the store to give OfficeDepot a try I recollected my early Apple days. It felt good thinking different again.


Christy Fennewald, at great peril I believe, revealed the Secrets of a Google Ninja during her first CueRockStar session.

My take is it’s less about becoming a ninja and more about becoming a djinn. That’s how it was with me and my trusty Apple ][ and early Mac. I’m going back out again today and I will come home with a Chromebook.

What’s a Meta You?


It's Jon's fault.


I'm in Las Vegas through Friday. I'm participating in Cue Rockstar Las Vegas edition. Someone asked me a little while ago what I thought about it.

To review: Since EdCampWestTexas in 2013 the bulk of my PD has come from learning from and sharing with K-12 educators. It occurred to me the other day that I'm at the point where I'm learning less about things (educational technology tools) and more about metacognition: How others practices inform and inspire my learning experience design work.

So far I've learned how teachers design learning experiences using Google applications. I'm in the process of learning about PBL/IBL (more on these later).


I like how experiential CUEROCKSTAR is. Even though we're not making things (so far) there is the two-way dialogue reminiscent of EdCamp. There's more time for conversation. The cool part is going deep on why teachers applied pedagogy and technology to content/context.

Gotta go. Lots going on





EDU Rocks


What happens when we're not expecting or ready to learn and we witness something amazing, do we learn anyway? Or put another way: If a father is helping his eldest daughter haul a mattress across town and he hears something amazing during a podcast but there is no one around to test him on it has he really learned?


Some time ago a peer I respect greatly explained how education and training are two different things. Education, as I understood him to say, is foundational systematic learning involving a teacher. Training, on the other hand, is teaching skills or behaviors to someone.

Then and now I'm not so sure education and training are all that different. Both involve a teacher. What does foundational mean anyway? When we learn don't we build on what we know already? One more question to mull over.


Anyway, I get to go to CUERockstar Vegas in 10 more days. I have been anticipating this since CUE15 last March. I feel like a 30 year old again as I pour (drool?) over everything I can find about it.

Today's CUERockstar Aha! moment came to me thanks to @adnanedtech and his The Convergence of Education Productivity & Technology podcast, episode 19. He interviewed CUERockstar's papa, @jcorippo. Several things said brought me up short. I had to stop what I was doing and give a serious listen to him explain:

  • ROCKS is a web domain available for registration
  • Educational research is six years behind what teachers are practicing today
  • How @davidtedu's ideas expressed in his blog make him cry

I have been a little worried the past couple years when I try something I learned alongside teachers at an EdCamp or CUE conference or Twitter chat. Some ideas have worked straight out of the box. Others didn't go over do well at first. I haven't failed outright (given up) just yet though. Maybe it's grit or something else but I love learning about and trying ways to improve my instructional design craft.

Sketch of a researcher six months behind teachers teaching

Hearing researchers were years behind how teachers practice teaching today made me smile. Hearing that someone else gets emotional while learning from others made my face break out in a wide grin.


I think CUERockstar is a learning experience like no other. I am looking forward to all the goofs I'm going to make on the way to mastery. I can't wait!

Oh yeah, one more thing. I registered It'll go live August 5th at CUERockstar Vegas.

** I saw Paper Towns yesterday. I like how Margo Roth Spiegelman explained capital letters in the middle of words.


Zombie Pedagogy Matters


Pedagogy comes before technology when designing learning experiences. Whom are we designing learning experiences for, devices or people? I’m writing this post in response to a blog post by RJ Jacquez suggesting elearning is dead.


I work with several devices on any given day: a Dell notebook, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, a Blackberry, and an iPhone. I do different things with each device. I don’t do the same things on all my devices. How would a single instructional experience apply across all devices all the time?

Instructional designers, and the learners we support, are not zombies. Context, where a learner is and what they are doing matters. Squeezing learning content from a laptop screen to a smart phone screen doesn’t extend a learning experience. It constrains it.


How do you interact with your mobile phone? I use mine for taking pictures, texting, and making calls. I have a lot of apps that I don’t use often. Mostly they’re there for quick one-off tasks like uploading a photo to Instagram or checking the weather. I tend not to read on my phone. For reading and watching video clips I have my iPad.

My tablet’s form factor enables me to consume a richer variety of information than my phone. iPad, for example, is good for doing research in the field. I have apps that enable me to rapidly produce a range of information types including video clips, spreadsheets, presentations, and documents.

Pedagogy has to come before technology.


I started using Plotagon after reading a tweet about it by digital innovation consultant Christy Cate. I think I was accessing Twitter from my iPad at the time. A few minutes after downloading the app I created my first story.

While it’s true the story can be played back on any device that works with YouTube what the learner does with it matters. Are they looking at the clip while finding an emergency exit? Head down while moving down a corridor there’s a good chance they’ll miss it. Maybe the device is running an app that shows them where they are in a building relative to the exits?

Pedagogy, the mindful application of instruction, comes before technology.