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.

 

Thumb Aplomb

PROLOGUE

I did a lot of rhizoming yesterday driving from Salliwell, OK to Abilene, TX. I backtracked and stopped quite a lot along the way when curiosity got the better of me. I’d see something and think about stopping to take a closer look. Only I wouldn’t stop right away. I’d continue on for a bit then think, “I may never pass this way again.” and turn around.

Photo of horses for sale

THUMB

I took a couple hundred photos of stuff yesterday. It was after importing them just now from my iPhone into my Mac’s Photo app and deleting the ones that didn’t come out right that I remembered The Thumb. You know, when an errant finger finds its way into the picture frame.

Photo of an old metal slide

In the olden times of film you'd take a picture of something then later when the film comes back there it was: a thumb or finger spoiling the shot. Only today we get to see the oops in real time just after taking the picture or, as happened for me just now, whilst importing and curating the pictures.

APLOMB

I’d deleted all the thumbs and fingers when I remembered last night’s #LRNCHAT Twitter chat. The chat was moderated by @SarahMMcKay, a neuroscience researcher. Question 6, my tweet, and Dr. McKay’s reply came back to me.

Screen capture of lrnchat subject

My reply to Dr. McKay was to agree to disagree. Not worrying overmuch about theory and research I go about designing learning experiences with aplomb.

EPILOGUE

My design craft has been influenced greatly the past couple of years by the thoughts and experiences shared by educators I’ve met throught EdCamp, TCEA, CUE, the Elearning Guild, and my local ATD chapter.

Photo of Urbie in front of a Bigfoot crossing signpost

I can’t recall that we talk about research a lot, at least I don’t remember anyone calling out anything specific. I’m a practitioner among practitioners. But I wonder what’s out there I might be missing?

 

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.

 

Sticky Learning

PROLOGUE

How do you figure out if your learners get it?

STICKY

How about if we ask them? Only we do it immediately after the event rather than in a survey weeks or months later. A little while ago I read this tweet in my Twitter timeline.

I clicked on the link and.. wow moment.

LEARNING

I design transformational learning experiences for online and face-to-face training modalities. Exit slips are definitely transformational, at least for my adult learning population.

Screen capture of a sticky note asking that reservation process be drawn and described

I'm thinking the way it would work is following a lesson or activity asking learners to complete an exit ticket. Rather than all learners being asked the same question there would be several questions. On leaving the session learners would post their sticky note response on a wall. The instructors then review the tickets to see how sticky the learning was.

EPILOGUE

This fits somewhere in between formative and summative assessment. It helps learners to recall the new information they were exposed to while giving the instructor a snapshot into how well the know-how transferred. Thank you @BergsEyeView and @SciencePenguin for a cool idea.

 

Imagine That

INTRO

I was an avid reader until Mrs and I started having kids. Arthur C. Clarke was a favorite. Something he wrote came back to me tonight.

IMAGINE

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke

I go far afield from what I know when I grow my PLN. Curiosity is my driver.

Photograph a COMPILE cartoon showing teachers sharing ideas

COMPILE is sharing ideas

When I started participating at EdCamps it was dizzying: so much new stuff. Curiosity turned me onto following scientists, too.

IGNITE

This week I learned of The Society for Neuroscience conference in DC. Pouring over #SfN14's backchannel I began following neuroscientists. Their tweets made me curious. They are into some cool things.

OUTRO

So what do I ask of my PLN? Take my thinking where my own probably wouldn't.

I'll do the same for you.

 

Mantra Ray

 

INTRO

I got home from my SDCUE a trip just before midnight. The trip, the event, the information I was exposed to, and the people I met have left me with a lot to reflect on.

Photo of Urbie and two women against a San Diego CUE backgrop

MANTRA

In the last three months I've been to:

  • EdCampWestTexas
  • COMPILE
  • EdCampSD
  • DevLearn
  • EdCampUCLACenterX
  • SDCUE

That's a lot of PD. Reflecting got me thinking about my why? I participate in EdCamps, SDCUE, and DevLearn because of the people I meet and to get a deeper understanding of teaching, learning, and development that might transfer to my context.

What's it mean: my takeaways from 15 months of social (F2F and via Twitter) PD: “You matter” and “Keep a positive attitude and nothing else matters.” My mantra.

OUTRO

I sit too much: 5.5 hours to California, at least 15 to Texas. My ray of hope: stepping up the action and getting mind/body in motion.

 

Who, Who, Who, Who?

INTRO

Today's Twitter LRNCHAT was about music and learning. I was relieved to find naming bands or reciting lyrics wasn't part of the mix. Good thing too: I'm stuck in the '60s music-wise.

THE WHO

During the chat I started humming The Who's Who Are You? It reminded me of participating at DevLearn, my first ever eLearning Guild event a couple weeks ago.

Photo selfie of Urbie standing in front of a projection screen

Urbie presenting learning's from EdCamp

It was a good PD (Professional Development) experience. Listening to and talking with lots of whos helped me grow.

140 Words

The other day I read #140WC, a blog post about communicating using 140 words at a time, daily. Its author challenged readers to share daily.

OUTRO

Who are you, person reading this? Who are you going to share with next? Who, who?

 

 

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.

 

Running On MT

INTRO

What to do when 140 characters isn't enough? Blog. The other day I modified a tweet, adding #lrnchat. #lrnchat is a Thursday afternoon Twitter chat: a gathering of educators discussing topics relevant to L&D (Learning and Development) practitioners. Browse #lrnchat for more information including chat transcripts.

Screen capture of a tweet

 

I've been with Twitter since May 2007. I didn't get it for a long time. When I did figure it out, when the lightbulb turned on and I got that it could connect me with other educators it was #lrnchat that threw the switch. Twitter has been my go-to method for professional development (PD) since at least 2010.

 

PEERS' REVIEW

The cool thing about #lrnchat are the questions: the Q&A. The feeling of community really comes through. I travel a lot. When it's #lrnchat time I often stop and put life on hold for the hour or so the chats last.

Photograph of a building and a sign reading The Hope Store

 

The best of times are when someone says something and all of a sudden I get it. It can be an idea for an interaction or a fun way to present something. But it doesn't have to be. A lot of the time reflecting on something someone said helps trigger a memory and then wow! an idea coalesces. I try to tweet constructively. Occasionally I use some of those stray recollections to put two-and-two together, tying an idea to an old TV show as metaphor.

 

A POKE

About that tweet I modified to include the #lrnchat hashtag: I wanted to share something that resonated with me: be curious, question.

Photograph of  tee shirt imprinted with Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask & Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm

 

Most of my blog posts the past year, maybe even all of them, have been motivated by my PD experiences at several #edcamps I've participated in. One of the takeaways I've had, probably THE standout thing I learned was how to Teach Like A Pirate. During a #tlap chat over the summer I got poked: @LnDDave tweeted about submitting session ideas for #DevLearn. So I though, “Why not?” If I really believe I'm passionate about learning then I ran down the list of pirate attributes and went about proposing.

 

TRANSFORMATION

@JaneBozarth writes about showing your work. @TechNinjaTodd says “You Matter.”

Screen capture of a Tweet reading 813 Applying K-12 Strategies and Technology in Corporate Learning

So I'm curious enough about learning and sharing to give doing a #DevLearn session a shot and show my work to people who matter.

 

OUTRO

My take on the poster contained in the tweet I modified is that if we're serious about education and our own development we should be curious, explore, poke and question. Afterwards, we should consider sharing via a venue we're comfortable with, stand back, and see what happens.