ˌdo͞obl änˈtändrə,ˌdəbl änˈtändrə

INTRO

CDB: Christina Davies Beeson would be proud. A moment ago I used something she taught me in 1972. She taught journalism and sophomore college English at Colton High School in Colton, California. A blog post I finished reading a moment ago, by Aaron Hogan, brought it all back to me. The double entendre.

A Tail of Two Meanings

Aaron describes, in his blog post, risk. But that's not what resonated with me as I read his thoughts.

Uncalculated leapt off the page as I read. Whom did the uncalculation? Shaker-man was just into the music, the experience of listening and doing, of feeling something down deep and wanting to be a part of it. That's being in touch with one's soul. Did he plan on being called up to the stage? I think he simply likes the shake. The singer on stage, his was calculated. He wanted to get what he perceived as a disruption away from those around him. It was luck that the rest happened, that the experience played out as well as it did.

OUTRO

My take is uncalculation is its own reward. Being who we are, naturally, makes an impression. I can't help but wonder: In those moments before being noticed by the singer, was shaker-man really disrupting the listening experience of nearby fans? Maybe he was adding to their experience?

 

Zones of My Proximal Development

PROLOGUE

How do I self-motivate when the going gets rough, tough, boring or other? Someone asked me that the other day. Here’s my take.

Photograph of a tilted water tower

AND THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET IS..

Reflection. I hold myself up to my existential bathroom mirror and take a long look. What does it feel like my eyes do when seeing something new?

Zones_of_my_proximal_development.jpg

  • Eyes rolled up 
    • I’m in my “Oh no!” zone. I don’t feel safe enough to start learning right away.
  • Eyes level
    • I’m in the “Let’s do it!” zone. What are we doing just standing around? Let’s have at it!
  • Eyes down (frozen on the spider/alligator/puppy-poop at my feet)
    • I’m in the dreaded “What the..?” zone. I’m having a problem fitting what I have to do with what I know has worked or not worked in the past (sometimes going back decades).
THE NEXT MOAN YOU HERE
 
The hard part, once I’ve reflected and figured out which zone I’m in, is not zoning out. That is, how do I overcome the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) Factor and apply some grit and adopt a growth mindset approach and get on with learning? It’s easy to fall into the woe is me trap. Speaking from experience, it can be a lot harder to level oneself and just do it.
 
What I do is remind myself that I’m [most likely] not alone. (It’s a little like the OODA Loop I learned and practiced in the US Navy a long time ago.) I have support and help available. All I have to do is ask for it. Sometimes it may not feel like it. Depending on how peers and managers respond can kick one back a few steps. I’ve occasionally asked myself if it’s really worth it to keep trying?
 
EMPATHIC (ME)
 
A while ago, I think it was towards the end of 2013, I stumbled upon a different way to do Professional Development (PD). What I tripped over in my dark was EdCampWestTexas, now in its third year. Basically it was K-12 teachers coming together on a wet and rainy Saturday morning in Abilene, Texas. In a few short hours I was exposed to new ways of knowing. While most of what I left with was skewed towards educational technology, the main takeaway, the jewel, was Design Thinking (DT). DT is a problem solving methodology grounded in empathy, reframing problems, and prototyping.
 
It makes me a little sad, when I reflect on my past years practicing the art and science of instructional design, how technical I was. I should have empathized with the people I supported more. During my first-pass at design thinking, at a law enforcement training academy, I began the analysis phase of instructional design with a soft-question: What did it feel like doing/learning this thing? It made for a more human/humane approach I think. It had some serious benefits, too. The rest of the process took less time. The team was more involved than ever before. A complaint I often hear from other instructional designers is how hard it can be for people to keep meeting and deliverable commitments. Once I adopted a design thinking approach that reluctance to contribute gave way to some serious collaboration. 
 
If the empathy, caring, is there then so am I. If it’s not, it’s time to ask “Am I in the right place?” Maybe it’s time to move on?
 
EPILOGUE
 
I’ve been trying to learn something new for a few months now. I don’t want to get too deep into the details here. I’ve been in the “What the..?” zone for a while. I think I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel though. I’ve sought some serious help from some smart, dedicated and caring people. The hardest part has been learning by making mistakes. I still make some significant ones. Not giving up, continuing to pick myself up and owning the mistake, communicating clearly to clients and peers has made all the difference. 
 
How do I motivate myself to learn new stuff? Design thinking.

 

Awesome! I made another one.

PROLOGUE

Time was I used to avoid mistakes like the plague. I've since learned screwing up big time has its rewards, too.

NOTHING ADVENTURED NOTHING BRAINED

I dropped HumanMOOC today. I did so off officially and socially. Usually when I leave a MOOC I just stop participating.

Photo of a bridge's date stone

For some reason I felt compelled to leave a mark of some kind that I had once been there, a part of this HumanMOOC learning community. Something akin to the date stone architects and builders place on their works.

So what did I learn? These thoughts found a home in my brain:

  • My definition of online learning was incomplete. Going in to the course I defined online learning as that corporate look and feel experience where you're a class of one: a learner at a computer.
  • It can also mean an online university experience learning with others. I should have realized this given my MS Ed. was completed online.
  • I had some reflective insights for how I might make the corporate model of online learning a little more human. The biggie concerns media: Less of a focus on high production values might engage the learner to a higher degree. This is because of authenticity. I'm thinking about the photographs and home movies people shoot on vacation.
  • As cool as video and audio can be, the story matters more. It's like that pedagogy before educational technology stuff I learned through EdCamp and Twitter PD chats.

EPILOGUE

Anyway, I have some stuff to try out to see which ideas have legs.

Photo of a sign reading Everybody fights nobody quits
 

 

Squiggle Cycle

PROLOGUE

“Perception is everything.” — a perceptive someone.

SQUIGGLES

Last night's #caedchat was fun. Q5 piqued my curiosity: What are my professional New Year resolutions? First pass, whatever it is share it with others to increase the chance it'll get done.

Sketch of the cycle of learning and sharing

Learn>Share>Squiggle cycle

@AustinKleon in Show Your Work! describes a learn>teach cycle. I think it should be more about sharing then remaining in contact through the squiggles. Squiggles are the trial and error we experience (orange in image above) on the way to mastery.
CYCLE
Ideally there are two squiggle moments per Learn>Share cycle: yours just after a learning event and the one others have after you share your know-how. 2015 will be different because of new modes of relationship building.

EPILOGUE

Here's the idea:

  1. Learn then share through the squiggles.
  2. Collaborate via social media and professional associations to learn from diverse perspectives.

 

 

 

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.