Dark at Night

INTRO

My best road trips usually begin by dark of night

REFLECTING ON THE LONG TRIP HOME

I came this close to making it to #EdCampSD in San Diego. Something came up and I missed making it three in a row. No biggie. I have some time now to reflect on my recent #ReimaginePD experiences over the past few weeks.

Over the ear photo looking through Urbie's car's back window
 

It's rare that I experience collaborative professional development close to home. It's almost hundreds of miles away that I travel to meet with other educators to, basically, “see what happens.” Often time the takeaways can be expressed in a few words. In St. Louis last month what I learned resolved down to being mindful. Whatever it is I find myself doing I can trust I can do it being mindful the heart of an entrepreneurial person continues to beat in my chest.

Thing is, being an adult about it, learning sticks when it's memorable. Which means like a boomerang it keeps coming back.

Photo of a flea market alongside a rural Missouri road
Which is why I often stop by cool things I pass, sometimes to peruse, other times to photograph. I don't know what I know until I make time take time to see where it fits.

ON WHY MOST ANY LEARNING EXPERIENCE CAN BE MADE SURVIVEABLE

At EdCampYosemite educator Jon Corippo shared this slide.

Photo of Jon Corippo's life about if a thing was going to make a difference it already would have

There were, maybe, thirty people in the room, educators all, and me, a learning experience designer. That means there were that many interpretations. What I took from Jon's sharing is doing differently. But not with stuff. And definitely not with tools. The constant in my work life and probably teachers', too is people. I have people to train up. Teachers have kids to educate. Methinks we have tools aplenty.

Photo of a dusty mountain forest fire road

What I need is to dare more. Sensing danger ahead because I haven't been this way before do I turn back or forge ahead? In this instance, once the butterflies had grown to the size of dragons, I turned around and found my way by revisiting the path I had previously taken.

Some PD (Professional Development) fills me with dread. What I think is fear of being called on to do something among strangers is scary. But maybe the scary feeling can be adopted, adapted or coopted, to teaching and learning. Then again, maybe the dread comes from the fear that this PD is going to be more sit and get?

I understand that somewhere near San Diego today an EdCamp is underway where teachers made stuff with cardboard. How might we use ubiquitous stuff like cardboard and tape to make PD surviveable? I use survivable here in the sense the experienced rescued me from the job's doldrums and dropped me off in a place where I can excitedly share my tale.

OUTRO

I had her for 10 days, my DJI Phantom drone. I bought it at a BestBuy on my way to Yosemite. She was a dream in the sky.

Sketch of a DJI Phantom drone

This was the best I could do drawing the Phantom from memory. I returned it Friday. In a couple of weeks I'm getting the Next Big Thing: a Mavic Pro drone. It's smaller and goes further. Best, it's got the same great camera and is more portable.

Like many my family sometimes went on road trips. Papa liked to leave before dawn, when it was still dark. He called it “first light.” It was exciting making final preparations for the adventure to come, going off into the unknown. Flying my drone, I still have my Parrot Bebop2, is like that. Going on a trip, not knowing for sure what lay ahead. I love PD like that.

 

Unrequieted Love

INTRO

My Bebop2 drone by Parrot met its end a couple of Sunday's ago when it decided to “fly away” into a pecan grove somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

Artist sketch of a red Bebop 2 drone crashing into a pecan grove

A LOVE AFFAIR

I loved that drone. It was the replacement for the fifth one I bought. I got each one at Best Buy because of their liberal return policy. The drone is a dream to fly. It gives my view a little more reach.

OUTRO

I love it so much I got another one. I can't wait to fly again.

 

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.

 

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.

 


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.

 

Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)

INTRO

Why should kids have all the fun when they learn?

ROLE/ROLL

I’ve got a granddaughter. She’ll be two years old next month. That kid learns so much so fast. She’s fearless about it, too. She knows what she's about and rolls with it.

Photo of OldPa and Carly

Watching her the other day gave me an idea. How does a two year old learn compared to an adult? So I came up with this table based on information contained in the websites referenced below; I probably got the citation form wrong but it’s been a while.

Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)

References

Child Development Tracker, PBS Approaches to Learning, Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/two/approachestolearning.html August 23, 2015

US Department of Education, Adult Learning Theories, Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2yoAdults August 23, 2015

YOUR OWN PD

Who designs your PD learning experiences? If your answer wasn’t yourself I suggest you take a step back and rethink it. Who knows your interests better than you? Who knows where you want to go and what you want to do in and with your life? I suggest you take some time, as much as you need, to come up with some questions that may shed some light on where you might go for answers.

I'm going to be presenting this at a conference in October. I'll share more about it later.

OUTRO

This entry’s a work-in-progress. I wanted, no needed, to get this thought down for later. I didn’t want this one to be, like too many others, an idea that flitted in for a moment and then was gone forever.

 

 

Like Rabbits

INTRO

I have a lot of ideas. I get exposed to tons of stuff thanks to my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter, conversations with educators through participation at EdCamps, and presentations at eLearning Guild, and other conferences.

Sketch of three rabbits next to a tree
Sketch of the word idea
I've been thinking about where my ideas come from. I'm wondering, too, where they go? Why do so few of them go anywhere?
GOING PLACES
I learned a few nights ago that the culprit, the idea inhibitor, is me. I came to this realization reading The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth.
Sketch of the sun behind mountains

I'm not very far into the book. But I think the problem has something to do with meaning. Roth describes an exercise where students identify something near them and say it has no meaning. He goes on to say that the meaning of anything isn't inherent in the thing. Meaning comes from us. It's like an in the eye of the beholder thing.

DRY HEAT

The way I understand it is my environment is all tumbleweed and sun bleached bones until I decide what is meaningful to me. Take sketchnoting and drawing.

Sketch of a tumbleweed and bleached bones

About half the time I hear you don't have to be an artist to take sketch notes. The other half of the time I hear tips on how my drawing quality can be improved by using better more full featured apps. As far as sketchnoting goes most apps have no meaning for me. The quality of notes I take using Paper is perfect.

WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?

A few weeks ago, motivated by a new Twitter chat I joined, I decided to try my hand at drawing a webcomic. #webcomicchat has been very encouraging. It comes down to practice.

Right now, when I have an idea for a strip I launch Paper and start doodling. It happens not too long after that I get discouraged and stop. It's like I start out in a garden and the cross over into a desert.

Sketch of a comic panel

OUTRO

My drawing is important to me. It has meaning in my life. I got some good advice from someone on #webcomicchat tonight.

Tweet saying practice makes reality

All that remains is for me to draw like I mean it.

 

 

 

Transformational Learning Experience Design

INTRO

During tonight’s #TLAP chat I got a DM (Direct Message) from someone asking for my spin on transformational learning experiences. This is my short answer. Note that I support adult learners.

TRANSFORMATIONAL

Butts in seats: When I think about learning that’s what comes to mind first.

Teachers talk while learners..

Can you identify with this scenario: A teacher, an overhead projector, slides, and a darkened room? How did it feel to you? Maybe it’s a computer-based training application where the learner reads, clicks, drags, and navigates to the next screen.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE

I think learning has to be experienced for it to stick. It’s moving around a learning space. Maybe it’s using an app on a mobile device to research, draft, and create.

How I like my courses to flow: the teacher shares a story on the thing to be learned. Then there’s a conversation where questions are answered and additional details are shared. Note that the details need not come from the teacher.

DESIGN

We have lots of experience with stories. A well crafted story elicits its own meaning to the person hearing it. This is where context comes in. Given a learning objective wrap a story around it.

The stories I like to use describe something bad that has or could happen. Sometimes the stories are about opportunities. The learner brings their own context or need to the learning space. The learner does or produces something that brings closure to the story. I like to think it ends happily for teacher and learner.

OUTRO

Learning should be about more than butts in seats. Learning should be about movement, collaboration, and making the learning visual. Designing transformational learning experiences means learners are actively engaged, sharing perspectives with other learners, and creating something real that says “See? I got this.”

Suggested reading: Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation by Don Wettrick, Professional Learning in the Digital Age by Kristin Swanson, and Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager.

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.