Zombie Spockalypse

PROLOGUE

The space between my ears, that gray matter frontier, is in tumult.

ZOMBIE

I was a last minute registrant to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) annual conference in Palm Springs, California. Today is day one of three. I had planned each session meticulously, mapping out the shortest path between one session’s venue and the next. Happily, it turned out not to be.

The first session on my list of must-attend was @am_estrella’s Remixing the Do Now and Exit Slip in a 1:1 Classroom. A few weeks ago I’d learned what an Exit Slip assignment was by reading a tweet by @sciencepenguin. The session had an activity where we had to create a short story based on a couple of pictures; we were encouraged to craft a story and share it with the person nearest us.

Drawing of a group of zombies over a photo of carpet at CUE15

As it happened, the nearest person to me was Danica Marsh; she and Kelly Baker were doing the next session in the room. She happened to tell me its name. All I heard her say was.. ZOMBIE. The rest is a blur.

 

SPOCKALYPSE

I’m a fan of Star Trek. During its original run I didn’t watch it much. In 1966 we were a one-TV family. If papa didn’t like it we didn’t watch it. He was a big cowboy movie fan and except for that one episode set at the OK Corral none of the Enterprise crew wore stetsons.

Anyway, I liked Spock. I iked his curiosity. I was saddened when Leonard Nimoy passed. I got to thinking about Spock during the CUE 15 Common Core Performance Tasks… and Zombies session. I learned a bit about engagement during the session. More importantly, was what I didn’t learn. Here are a few words that aroused my interest and that I have to figure out:

  • Ess fack lingo
  • Zombie engagement model

EPILOGUE

Okay, maybe I misheard the first one. But wow that zombie engagement model. I have to figure out what that is. I’m in the right place for it. There are 5600 educators attending CUE 15 right along with me.

 

 

Ugly Room

PROLOGUE

Growing up I had an aunt and uncle who insisted on gifting clothing on the holidays and anniversaries one associates with presents. Sadly, said presents were invariably colorful and scratchy. It was rare, unless my mom intervened, that I'd wear them. You see, I'm more an earthy natural fabric sort of chap.

UGLY

I finally made it to a Monday Digital Storytellers Gangplank meetup. I knew I as going to like it as soon as I got to the meeting room in back.

How did I know I'd like it? Because, like me, the space was unfinished, a work-in-progress. You see, the ceiling was missing. I could smell wood sap. The fluorescent lights without reflectors or diffusers seemed harsh.

Photo of an open ceiling with visible two by four braving.
It was, in a word, ugly. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Sons learning.
ROOM

In the room were a number of people from diverse backgrounds. There was a published author a couple seats friends me. To his right were a recently unemployed woman, a stand-up comedian, and several men deeply interested in writing screenplays and treatments.

I contributed an idea or two. Mostly I sat in a corner and listened.

I had my first AHA about 20 minutes in. Talking about story flow templates someone mentioned their writing process: Brainstorming, Drafting, Crafting. I know this as the design thinking process: Define, Ideate, Prototype. Okay, so the group put brainstorming before defining: no big deal. Continuing to listen closely to someone describing a story idea I prototyped (crafted) an idea using Plotagon on my iPad.

EPILOGUE

Best of all: The group is having a bootcamp Sunday. I really don't know what to expect but with their motivation to try stuff out and share and my curiosity just try to keep me away. I'll tweet the cool parts.

Oh yeah: I didn't realize it til the meeting was well underway that I was in what @TechNinjaTodd in his #EduLS challenge calls a Learning Mission.

 

 

 

Salt & Paper

PROLOGUE

Successful companies and ideas born in garages and kitchen tables is the stuff of modern-day legend. I wonder if mine's got legs?

SALT

So I'm doing a session at the eLearning Guild's mLearnCon in Austin in June. I've been running through some ideas of how it might work. I'm trying for an immersive learning experience where participants will, well, participate. I think the best notes a learner can take are the stuff they make.

Photo of a paper with notes on a kitchen table

PAPER

I've been digital for so long it was weird the first few minutes I spent writing with a mechanical pencil. Mrs was helping me capture some elusive ideas. Me sketching on my Paper app would have made it difficult for her to see what I was doing, hence the paper and pencil. In the actual session I'll have some tools to make sharing visuals much easier. Or not. It might be worth a brief elevator-pitch of a story to engage people by contrasting rapid with how it's done back at the office.

We, Mrs and me, played around with our ideas at the kitchen table. Later we went to Michael's to pick up some craft supples, the things one associates with design thinking and prototyping. You know, pipe cleaners, ice cream sticks, sticky notes, rubber bands. Mrs kept trying to get me to buy in bulk, thinking it was for the session in June. No, I'd say. “I only need enough stuff to take pictures for marketing.”

EPILOGUE

Not really. I mean, yes, I took some pictures of pencils, sticky notes, and rubber bands that I later tweeted.

Photo of an iPad screen and design thinking prototyping stuff

Mostly I played with the objects and thought thoughts. We're gonna have us some fun times in Austin.

 

MRPtA Draft 00

PROLOGUE

“Every picture tells a story, don't it?” — Rod Stewart

MRPtA

My mLearnCon proposal was accepted by the eLearning Guild: Yea! So now the work begins.

Screen capture of mLearn conference agenda
 

DRAFT 00

I had thought to do my talk on a case study but during a chat on Twitter someone suggested a different spin.

Screen capture of a tweet suggesting my talk be done workshop style.
EPILOGUE

So that's where I'm at now, ideating how it might work. Good things happen, I've found, when you throw ideas out there.

 

 

 

Sticky Learning

PROLOGUE

How do you figure out if your learners get it?

STICKY

How about if we ask them? Only we do it immediately after the event rather than in a survey weeks or months later. A little while ago I read this tweet in my Twitter timeline.

I clicked on the link and.. wow moment.

LEARNING

I design transformational learning experiences for online and face-to-face training modalities. Exit slips are definitely transformational, at least for my adult learning population.

Screen capture of a sticky note asking that reservation process be drawn and described

I'm thinking the way it would work is following a lesson or activity asking learners to complete an exit ticket. Rather than all learners being asked the same question there would be several questions. On leaving the session learners would post their sticky note response on a wall. The instructors then review the tickets to see how sticky the learning was.

EPILOGUE

This fits somewhere in between formative and summative assessment. It helps learners to recall the new information they were exposed to while giving the instructor a snapshot into how well the know-how transferred. Thank you @BergsEyeView and @SciencePenguin for a cool idea.

 

Lucky Break

PROLOGUE

I caught a lucky break the other day. A nasty bug sent me to hospital for a few days of rest, recuperation, and reflection.

LUCKY

It's been like a prolonged visit to the movies, sneaking from one theater to the next to watch them all for the price of one.

Photo of a movie theatre refreshment counter

I got to watch some old movies on Netflix and catch up on some reading. Or I would have read some books on cognition and learning except that they suddenly seemed painful to read. I realized that laid up as I was I needed to read something fun rather than a title to increase my professional knowledge.

BREAK

The book that found me was Andre Norton's Time Traders. It was really hard to put down. It wasn't just the story, it was how it made me feel.

Ages ago, whilst serving with the U.S. Navy I read voraciously, mostly sci-fi and fantasy adventure titles. I loved how authors like Anthony, Asimov, McCaffrey, Asprin and many others spun tales that took me to all sorts of places where my imagination could take flight.

Something happened about 20 years ago, a little after I became a parent and had to settle down. I read for my kids but less and less for myself. A little later when I switched careers from electronics engineering to learning and development I began reading technical tomes about cognition, psychology and the textbooks that go with a masters degree in education. Interesting stuff but nothing in the same league as Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

EPILOGUE

Andre Norton's Time Traders made me realize something profound. At least profound to me. When I travel to EdCamps for professional development I sometimes feel like an outsider. While I am an educator I serve adult learners. The teachers, librarians, administrators, and support staff that make up EdCamp's intended population work with children in K-12. My outsider feeling changed reading Time Traders. Norton describes traders as people who move about from place to place sharing information. They look and act a little differently because they are different. I don't have to worry about where I fit in. I just do.

 

#havpassion LBWA

PROLOGUE

In a gadda de vida, baby..” — Iron Butterfly, 1968

#havpassion

A week ago there was this #EduCon thing: a gathering of educators back east, Philly maybe. I wasn't there. Even so, thanks to the marvels of the Internet and social media I followed along via this thing called a backchannel. A backchannel, as I understand it, is the chatter that goes on among a presenter's audience whilst they're presenting. Only this chatter takes place online through apps like a Twitter.

One session on having passion resonated (#havpassion). My takeaway is that we, everyone actually, should try finding what brings us joy and fulfillment. Once found, we should integrate it into our lives as much as possible.

Screen capture of a hashtag have passion YouTube clip
LBWA
Learning by walking around (LBWA) listening and sharing with others has been the bulk of my professional development (PD) efforts the last 15 months. #havpassion reminded my that like #tlap (Teaching Like A Pirate) I should take courage to heart when I go into uncharted waters. Being a Navy veteran I know that at the end of an adventure lay an amazing sea story. Stories like ideas are at their best when they're shared.
We all learn when we share. This is true even when our understanding is incomplete. In A Gadda Da Vida was gibberish when I first heard it. Sharing my interest in the song with friends I learned the lyrics. Walking around and sharing has benefitted me immensely throughout my life.
EPILOGUE
While reflecting on #havpassion I came up with an idea. Told via Plotagon (animation and storytelling app) over several brief video clips, I describe an outline of what a new hire orientation learning activity might look like. Feel free to take a peek.