2015 Through a Looking Glass

PROLOGUE

My 2015 resolution was to be an unordinary instructional designer.

THE ZOMBIE ENGAGEMENT MODEL TO THE RESCUE

Mostly I design transformational learning experiences. It's a relative phrase, though. The learners I support are clinicians: doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff. A good chunk of their professional development (PD) comes in the form of conferences. Conferences are mainly sit and get events, often accredited. My challenge in 2015 was to increase engagement. I accomplished this through butts-out-of-seats (BOOS) activities. My model: teachers and students in K-12.

Sketch of a person's reflection in a mirror

At CUE15 in Palm Springs, CA I heard a teacher mention the Zombie Engagement Model (ZEM) of instruction. I'm pretty sure she made up the term. I haven't been able to turn up anything about it even after researching it for most of the year. It got me to thinking though. What are zombies after? Brains. They want our brains and the know-how that resides therein. Successful zombies get and consume brains by moving around. Woe to the stationary zombie.

Here's what months of research into the Zombie Engagement Model revealed.

1. Squiggle like you mean it, at every opportunity.

Squiggles

My work involves collaborating with subject matter experts (SME). It used to be that I would take pains to learn as much as I could about the content side of a project before meeting with a SME. No more. Since I started practicing design thinking the SMEs tend to do the heavy lifting. I squiggle what I think they say (dark lines in sketch). Then they tell me how it really works (red lines in sketch). This saves a lot of time and effort. In fact, in the projects I worked on in 2015 SMEs did most of the prototyping and testing. Want to be in the know? Squiggle.

2. Be seriousless.

Screen capture of a Spock like avatar

I learned about Plotagon in 2015. It's an animation app on my iPad. I use it to mock up ideas and storyboards. Sometimes, heck most of the time, my ideas are so different others don't get them right away. Plotagon helps me make ideas visible. Sharing out an idea quickly engages like nobody's business. It gets people talking and moving ideas around. Want real engagement? Be seriousless. @ChristyCate gave me the heads-up about Plotagon.

3. Roll Your Own

Photo of the Urbie and his granddaughter Carly

I wanted 2015 to be unordinary. I didn't get there being conventional. It involved learning alongside a diverse group of people. Carly was one person I learned tons from. She's my granddaughter. We like shiny objects. I used to fear misses and fails. They don't faze Carly in the slightest. In a safe environment learning is play. Take risks. Get it right the nth time. Be unordinary.

4. Show your work

Screen capture a a person with her arms in the air confronted by a zombie

Share what you do with others. Blog about it. Tweet like you stole it. Which, when you stop to think about it, you might have. I don't live or work alone. I interact with a great many people in person and virtually. My work is influenced by those I'm with. Give credit where it's due and show your work. @JaneBozarth turned me on to this.

5. Slow Down

(Image created by @davidtedu and @clonghb, used with permission)

I learned about micro narratives last week. I used to ask questions to encourage others to share their story. Then I'd figure it out and move on. What I think I'll do next year is continue encouraging others to share but then ask them to figure out and share what it means. I think this will enable me to produce higher fidelity learning experiences. I was encouraged to do this by slowing down one day and giving a listen to Dave Snowden.

EPILOGUE

My blogging hit its stride this year. I have two blogs, PuzzlingMix and Connect the Dots. I don't have a set schedule for writing and posting. I do it for myself. They're reflective journals for the most part. Want to see how my year went: Check out the blogs.

I learn from teachers that teach in K-12 schools, mostly through meetups at EdCamps, CUE, AZK12 hackathons and the eLearning Guild. Most of what I learn is transferable to adults: strategies and activities. The true gems, like the Zombie Engagement Model, spike my interests. How Might We (HMW) is a phrase I repeated a lot in 2015.

My 2015 takeaways: learners ain't zombies. Through context rich (stories and scenarios) experiences learners get up, engage and collaborate with their peers and make their learning visible. Be the unordinary instructional designer.

Thank you to my PLN for helping and encouraging me to be unordinary. See you in 2016.

 

Begin with the bend in mind

INTRO

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.

WANT INTERACTIVE? MOVE

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?

 

TELL ME A STORY, THEN GET OUT OF MY WAY

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?

OUTRO

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

 

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.

 

Reflections on Reflections

INTRO

I saw a tweet about tips for something. A casual tap later and, “Register here for access”. What? Dissonance.

Photo of paint splatter on a long playing record

Give up personal information and.. SPLAT!

VISIBLE LEARNING

Seen the hashtag #WOL on Twitter? It means Work Out Loud. We're encouraged to learn from each other through sharing our doing. It puts the invisible, ideas and decision making, into the open. We can learn from each other.

IT'S PEOPLE

@MegBertapelle posted reflections on the eLearning Guild's DevLearn conference on @stipton's Learning Rebel blog. DevLearn Is about people: asking questions, sharing answers and results. Learning alone makes for a one-sided experience.

Photo of a teacher setting up a classroom presentation

It's just space without people.

OUTRO

Learning new stuff can be easy or hard. It doesn't have to be lonely. Curious about something, I google. I like asking my PLN for help now and then. Sometimes I risk the spam. At the end of it all, consider making it visible.