Marbles

INTRO

I’m taking a MOOC this month. It’s about designing a little humanity into the online learning experience. As you might imagine, being human, I have strong feelings about it.

WHEN LOSING YOUR MARBLES IS A GOOD THING

I think the Humanizing Online Learning MOOC I’m taking is off to a bumpy start. It’s only borderline engaging. At the moment I’m listening to a webinar. I’m not really paying attention to it though. The reason is I don’t see it as engaging. Humans have five (traditional) senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste; the webinar, comprised of video and audio, engages only hearing since I’m not watching it. (One might argue it’s engaging my sense of touch and sight, too, since I was sketchnoting).

Sketch of children learning to play marbles

Whilst I was not watching the webinar I drew the above sketch in Paper by 53 on my iPad. It’s a memory of me as a boy learning to play marbles. Everything I heard the instructor talk about in the webinar is contained in the sketch: trust, community, activity, being real and safety.

OUTRO

My takeaway from the webinar is that students want context in their learning experience. They want to do stuff with their bodies and minds. If they can do stuff with others in meaningful contexts so much the better.

 


Take a Waze

INTRO

EdCampAzusa was marvelous. But it was only the beginning.

GETTING THERE AND BACK (OR THE JOURNEY IS THE FORWARD)

This past Saturday found me in Azusa, California. I was there to participate in EdCampAzusa, a gathering of educators for a day of unstructured, I like to say organic, professional dvelopment/personal learning (PD/PL).

I wanted to come away with more perspectives on how educators view and experience professional development: how it occurs, what questions are asked, how answers are processed. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were two EdCamps on my radar last weekend: EdCampAzusa and EdCamPalooza. Both were some distance from my home. The latter was more than twice as far away. I would have gone to it still, but the threat of bad weather made the decision for me. In both instances I would be going somewhere I hadn’t been before. The process I depend on to get to new places is Waze. Waze is an iPad app. I enter the address of where I’m going and it gives me turn-by-turn directions. If only learning were that simple.

When I leave an EdCamp it’s usually with more questions than answers. That’s where reflection, connections and Twitter chats with my PLN and serendipity come into play. Yesterday morning I had a conversation on Twitter with John R. Walkup (@jwalkup).

Fuzzy thoughts coalesced into understanding when I read that.

OUTRO

It’s challenging (and fun) applying what I learn with and from teachers into my instructional design craft. It can take some time, sometimes a long time, before the pegs fit. Light bulbs glow brightest when I hear something in a meeting and something clicks. I suggest it, sometimes withouth considering the organization’s culture, and then conversations begin. I love that part. It’s amazing when a half-baked idea leads to a chance to prototype. The resultant mess, an incredibly organic thing, completes the journey. It’s marvelous to be a part of.

 

What’s a Meta You?

INTRO

It's Jon's fault.

WHAT'S A META(COGNITION) YOU?

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).

OUTRO

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

 

 

 

 

Road Blocks (To Mobile Learning)

PRELUDE

Like most anything in life if you want to do something right you have to know what you’re doing. Thankfully these days I’m part of a well informed and motivated PLN (Personal Learning Network) so there’s no shortage of ideas or places to look to help.

CREDIBLE

It helps to consult credible sources of information before beginning a learning and development project. With the pace of change in instructional strategies and educational technology I’ve learned research is an important first step towards achieving learning efficacy.

Sketch of three things that an instructional designer needs to design mobile learning experiences
I think based on my experience, education, and conversations with other educators instructional designers have to want to do what they do to ensure a good outcome. It has to have meaning (Roth, 2015, Location 674 of 3773) to you beyond a paycheck. It takes a lot of time, creativity, and effort to stay the course.
Design thinking offers a simple humanistic approach to connect with learners and the subject matter experts I often depend on. How learners will interact with the learning experience that gets created matters greatly (Buff, 2013). I usually ask learners directly what they prefer and then confirm it through prototyping and observations.
Much of what passes for elearning is boring and mostly disengages, rather than draws in, learners (Quinn, 2005, p2). Believing in your project, getting to know as much as you can about learners and how they will experience the learning offers the best chance of achieving your learning objectives.

EPILOGUE

I like drawing out my ideas. I usually figure out what to present to customers by telling stories. Here’s the story I produced on the way to writing this post.

Images of a zombie instructional designer hunting brains

REFERENCES
  • Buff, T. (2013). Top 5 Design Considerations for Creating Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1I3jJBt
  • Tipton, S. (2015). Lesson from Edutech Australia? Planned Failure. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1JadukA
  • Quinn, C.N. (2005). The Seven Step Program. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1HDkKTA
  • Roth, B. (2015). The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, And Take Command Of Your Life. [Kindle iOS Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EdCampLDR Phoenix Reflections

INTRO

#EdCampLDRPhoenix was yesterday. I was mostly there. Mostly? Read on.

EDCAMPLDR

EdCampLDR is a gathering of people involved with and interested in K-12 school leadership. The way I understand it Joe Mazza of the Graduate School of Education at Penn started it as a way to get people talking about the challenges and opportunities facing primary and secondary education today. There were several EdCampLDR sessions held on July 10 and 13 across the United States and China.

MOSTLY

I say I was mostly at EdCampLDR because I recently started reading The Achievement Habit by Bernie Roth. I started reading it last week. It has me reflecting on how my thoughts affect my doing. I have been to a lot of EdCamps the last two years, 23 I think. I’ve met lots of educators and learned tons about educational technology and its application to engage students. In one sentence EdCamps are free meetups of educators where know-how is exchanged.

Periodically during the day my thinking wandered off and made connections with what I was learning and the book. I started reforming some ideas about how I could make my work a little more interesting while helping educators with their professional development.

RELATIONSHIPS

Teaching is about relationships: teacher, students, parents, stakeholders, learners coming together and engaging.

There was a lot of engaging. I got to deepen my understanding of the issues facing educators. Some of what I heard included inconsistent or absent curriculum, disconnects between what was being taught and what would be needed once students graduated, availability of educational technology, and ways of teaching.

I also heard about resources, including the elephant in the room: time. How do teachers develop professionally when they’re as busy as they are? I learned that, in Arizona schools at least, PD (professional development) organized by the schools or their districts happens three times per school year: beginning, middle, and towards the end. That’s one day three times per year.

I had an amazing talk with two teachers during a Teach Like A Pirate session. We talked about ways to engage students andhow to use design thinking to plan lessons. I also got to try out Periscope to stream the EdCampLDR experience out to people following #NotAtEdCampLDR.

NO EXCUSES

One of the classes at Chandler High School, where #EdCampLDRPhoenix was held, had the sign below hanging on a wall.

It brought me up short when I saw it. The thing from the book about meaning came to mind. How things (and thoughts) have no meaning until they’re brought to life by doing something with them.

OUTRO

Anyway, time for me to get busy working on what this meaning means to me.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.