Heroes Journey

INTRO

During an EdChat the other day I learned about The Hero's Journey as a learning metaphor and process.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO MLEARNCON

CUE cap on my head and suitcase in hand Monday afternoon I opened the front door of my home. I was eagerly anticipating my road trip to Austin, Texas for the eLearning Guild's mLearnCon (mobile learning) conference.

I was surprised to find Mrs on the other side of the door about to use her key to unlock it. She was coming home from a job interview. Long story short we had agreed she'd stay home with our granddaughter whilst I went to the conference. She asked if she and the baby could come. Saying no to Mrs is hard to do 24 years into our marriage. Off she went to pack.

AUSTIN

Some months ago I was encouraged by @lnddave tweet asking for proposals to present at a mobile learning conference hosted by the eLearning Guild. This was my Call to Adventure. Two of my proposals were accepted. More on these a little later.

Getting to the venue in time for the mLearn conference, from June 10 to 12 came with challenges. Through a lottery I got a chance to go to EdCampUSA in Washington, DC in late May. It was great learning and growing and connecting with other educators. Mrs and I spent the next day together playing tourist taking in the many historical sites the capitol region has to offer. This ate up our vacation budget for the year.

I tend to go cheap to the PD events I participate in. I usually drive a long distance in my 11 year old Honda Pilot, now pushing 380,000 miles. On really long trips, over 500 miles, I sometimes camp out under the stars. With Mrs and Carly, our 21 month old granddaughter, along for the ride the trip to Austin was shaping up to be a grand quest.

THRESHOLD

Carly is a wonderful kid. She is very good at playing the toddler role. At times a joy to be around she would occasionally have issues. If you're closely associated with small children you know what I mean. She learns quickly, mostly through trial and error. She is fearless. She usually overcomes challenges. Sometimes she's distracted by a shiny object but even that's okay as it's another learning opportunity.

REVELATION

My first mLearnCon AHA! moment happened far from Austin. Carly is the poster child for mobile learning.

Photo of my 21 month old granddaughter painting

At 21 months of age telling Carly what life is about doesn't have much impact. There's too much cool stuff for her to experience.

ABYSS

So we make it to Austin late on the 9th. Unfamiliar with the area we get lost for a while before finding our motel. Once in the room we notice Carly looking flushed. She has a fever. Thankfully a Walgreens was across the road from us. A few hours later her temperature falls and so we sleep.

Only we wake up too late to catch the mLearnCon keynote and opening excitement. A big reason I had for going was networking. I had hoped to grow my PLN (Personal Learning Network).

TRANSFORMATION

No worries. Mrs and Carly Uber to The Thinkery, Austin's children's museum. I uber to the conference venue. I catch a session on interface design. It's 2:30 pm on Wednesday June 10 and my session on teaching strategies I learned through a year of EdCamp is up. My Google slides for the session are here. I tried a presentation strategy I learned at #CUE15: setting permissions so anyone could edit my presentation and providing the url to the file on Google drive. I got done with my presentation about 20 minutes early, hoping to start a conversation about stuff that participants had added. Only no one had. I have to rethink this. At CUE15 participants had added dozens of slides. I can feel a transformation coming. I'm going to participate in CUERockstar in Las Vegas in August. I have questions to ask and ideas to try out. Something is definitely up.

ATONEMENT

Thursday I gave a talk on appsmashing. You can access my presentation file here. I think we connected, the participants and I, during my talk. A highlight was when I demoed Paper and Plotagon. These are my fav apps. Paper is amazing for sketching. It's the virtual napkin where many of my ideas are born and fleshed out. Plotagon is a different tool. In a nutshell it creates 3D clips working from text you enter. You pick scenes and characters and Plotagon does the heavy lifting. In minutes you have a working, moving, and talking prototype of a script.

I've been an instructional designer for over 16 years. I think I've gotten better in my practice over the years. Sharing what I learn from teachers and others in K-12 does me good. I hope I'm helping others along their journey, too.

OUTRO

I had this idea the other day. What if I packaged snippets of what I learn and practice into little snippets of know-how and put them out there? Call it a six minute EdCamp. The conversations I have with teachers is the fuel. I'm evaluating some apps to make it happen. The best part: The Heroes Journey begins anew. By the way, I say heroes in the plural because it's about us learning together. Smashing is not just for apps. It can be about people smashing ideas, too.

 

 

 

 

Uber Moment

PROLOGUE

“The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town.” — Judy and David Gershon

UBER

I enjoyed an uber learning moment Yesterday whilst taking an Uber from my motel to the JW Marriott in Austin, TX, this year's mLearnCon (Mobile Learning Conference) venue. The wow came from talking with the driver. It turns out she's a couple classes away from completing her BA in Elementary Education. Since I started participating in EdCamps for my professional development (PD) some of my best ideas have come from learnings in this space. It was cool to share stuff with her during the drive. Equally cool was hearing her talk about stuff she was doing in school. I hope to connect with her on Twitter soon.

Child learning by making a colorful mess

She had just dropped Mrs and our granddaughter Carly at The Thinkery, Austin's Children's Museum. Take a good look at the photo above. That's a 21 month old learning at hyper speed and making what adults call “a mess of things.” As much as I learned today I can't hold a candle to how fast this kid is learning about her world. Learning is messy business. Deal with it.

MOMENT

AppSmashing, using a set of smart phone apps to do something that would otherwise require a full featured personal computer software application to produce, was my mLearnCon session yesterday.

Over lunch a little before my talk I met @ParviainenPetri. He's an educator from Finland. We talked about edtech and our conference experience. When I shared how I used Plotagon in my practice his eyes lit up much like mine did when I learned about Plotagon reading a tweet by digital innovation consultant Christy Cate.

EPILOGUE

My PD the last couple years has been messy. Learning can be like appsmashing: people sharing ideas from all over.

Sketch of my AppSmashing agenda

How messy? That messy: Sketching out ideas on my Paper app and just going with it. And to think that not so long ago I was using stock images and PowerPoint to get my messages across. Wow!

 

A Heart

INTRO

EdCampUSA ended a few hours ago. My learning experience has, in a way, only just begun.

A HEART

Since learning about Design Thinking a couple years ago my instructional design craft has benefitted greatly from empathy. I try to capture the feeling by trying to make it visual by capturing the moment in a photo or a drawing.

Drawing of a zombie being schooled by a caring person

I met many exciting new people today. They had some cool perspectives and ideas on what learning and development looks and feels like. Their brains and hearts are in the right places.

Screen capture of a YouTube clip about a zombie to caring educator conversation

All the educators I met cared about their students. EdCampUSA was all about coming up with ways to engage students through the thoughtful application of pedagogy, technology, and a caring heart.

OUTRO

The stuff that tugged at my heart during the sessions I participated include:

  • Wearables in learning and development
  • Caring enough to give learners the chance to figure it out and make their learning visible

Sharing is caring.

 

Joe Zombie

PROLOGUE

Sitting at your desk staring blankly at the computer screen wondering “What is this?” is a lament I hear often. I'm talking about people subjected to inhumane learning. At the moment I'm thinking of online learning. But what I call the Joe Zombie effect can happen in any modality: face-to-face (F2F), elearning, blended, social, or learning informally through close work with others.

JOE

Consider the new hire going through orientation. A recent interview subject described being parked in front of a computer for several hours. She completed several modules on policies, benefits, customer service, and other subjects.

popBomb photo of an abandoned school

At the end all she was sure she had was a world class headache. By the next day, most of what she'd been exposed to, like the flash of a camera, had dissipated.

ZOMBIE

I'm convinced learning requires an active participant. Meaningful activities where learners create something from what they are learning are best. My recent participation at EdCamps and CUE remind me of this each time I go.

EPILOGUE

I'm researching problems with the learning modalities listed above. I learned at the annual CUE conference that this is a good place to start.

 

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.