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.

Zombie Spockalypse

PROLOGUE

The space between my ears, that gray matter frontier, is in tumult.

ZOMBIE

I was a last minute registrant to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) annual conference in Palm Springs, California. Today is day one of three. I had planned each session meticulously, mapping out the shortest path between one session’s venue and the next. Happily, it turned out not to be.

The first session on my list of must-attend was @am_estrella’s Remixing the Do Now and Exit Slip in a 1:1 Classroom. A few weeks ago I’d learned what an Exit Slip assignment was by reading a tweet by @sciencepenguin. The session had an activity where we had to create a short story based on a couple of pictures; we were encouraged to craft a story and share it with the person nearest us.

Drawing of a group of zombies over a photo of carpet at CUE15

As it happened, the nearest person to me was Danica Marsh; she and Kelly Baker were doing the next session in the room. She happened to tell me its name. All I heard her say was.. ZOMBIE. The rest is a blur.

 

SPOCKALYPSE

I’m a fan of Star Trek. During its original run I didn’t watch it much. In 1966 we were a one-TV family. If papa didn’t like it we didn’t watch it. He was a big cowboy movie fan and except for that one episode set at the OK Corral none of the Enterprise crew wore stetsons.

Anyway, I liked Spock. I iked his curiosity. I was saddened when Leonard Nimoy passed. I got to thinking about Spock during the CUE 15 Common Core Performance Tasks… and Zombies session. I learned a bit about engagement during the session. More importantly, was what I didn’t learn. Here are a few words that aroused my interest and that I have to figure out:

  • Ess fack lingo
  • Zombie engagement model

EPILOGUE

Okay, maybe I misheard the first one. But wow that zombie engagement model. I have to figure out what that is. I’m in the right place for it. There are 5600 educators attending CUE 15 right along with me.

 

 

Favorite Teacher

PROLOGUE

“The Major..” — CDB (Christina Davies Beeson)

FAVORITE

I met CDB in 1971. I was a high school sophomore enrolled in her College English 2 section. I hadn't chosen to be in her class; some clerk in the office had decided that she and I were a good fit. Surprisingly enough, I didn't realize until much later, we were.

Photograph of Mrs. Christina Davies Beeson

(Photo credit: San Bernardino Sun-Telegram)

CDB was the first Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP) teacher I'd ever met. She was in your face dynamic. She expected results.

TEACHER

Back when I taught multimedia production and Flash development I copied her style: creative presentation to engage students, setting high expectations for assignments that students thought up themselves, and being accessible. When I design learning experiences engagement and interactive are my watchwords.

EPILOGUE

I didn't learn about TLAP until 2013. It amazes me how what was old (CDB's approach) is new again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hear, There Be Students

PROLOGUE

I'm thinking of retiring from my job and transitioning to some role, as yet unknown, in the K-12 space. I've been giving some thought to what being a successful educator involves.

HEAR

There's more to teaching than leading students to learning. When I think back on all the teachers I've had in my life the one or two whose names and faces I can remember had these attributes in common:

  • Passion for what they did
  • Adept at painting a mental image in my head of how I would be able to use what I was learning
  • Almost tangible storytelling ability

At some level they were able to hear the uncertainty of my youth and get me excited about possibilities.

DRAGONS

My take is that relying on leadership ability most of all, waving a flag and expecting learners to follow you, results in hoarse throats and missed opportunities.

The best teacher I ever had, CDB, had these posters on her desk. One, from Thoreau I believe, said something about listening to the beat of a different drummer.

Sketch of a sea separating land with a dragon in the middle

As I went on, and continue in, my development journey each new learning experience is a step towards the unknown. This isn't a bad thing. It's curiosity manifest.

EPILOGUE

A successful teacher creates an ecology for learning where anything is possible given the constraints we all have. Leadership ability is at best secondary.