360

INTRO

I took the long [long] way home after visiting my brother in California. I went down a road away from home to take me home.

TURNING MYSELF AROUND IS EASY

Driving down a highway towards Yuma, Arizona I passed a canal. I was doing 65 mph. Off to my right, going over a bridge, I saw a lone palm tree. In that moment I composed a photograph in my mind’s eye.

An irrigation canal disappears into mountains on a distant horizon

The only problem was I was going 65 mph and my actual eyes had moved on. I guess you might say I had to turn around, do a 180, to go get my imagination back.

I’m in the process of revisiting an elearning authoring tool I used some time ago: Storyline, now in its (I believe) third iteration. This version being named Storyline360. My plan is to return to my roots and design online learning again. I’m thinking of snippets of learning to aid teachers in reimagining their PD (professional development) experience.

OUTRO

What this might look like I can’t say at this point. I need some design thinking help from my PLN (professional learning network) to identify the first snippet. Another 180 and I’m on my way.

Charred Access

INTRO

Design thinking involves iterative fails. Just how many depends on one’s persistence or, from another’s perspective, foolhardiness.

BONES CAN MEND, EMOTIONS NOT SO WELL

When I was a wee lad I had my share of owies and oopsies. Some were worse than others: cuts, scrapes, burns and a broken/smashed bone or two. For the most part these healed and were then forgotten. I learned from them: how to walk, run and ride a bike. The cost of learning back then was relatively cheap.

Later on, mistakes got more expensive. The artifacts, evidence seen by others of one’s fails, became more abstract and less entertaining to talk about. That time I broke my ring finger is an interesting story now. Getting that F- in a math test isn’t something I generally share with people I meet on the street. When as an adult our performance on the job is rated against that of others there are often scars to our psyche that are invisible to our peers.

MAKE IT FUN, PLEASE

Looking back on my learning the past 60 years I find that the stuff I remember [and apply] most often was enjoyable. On some level curiosity made me want to learn it. Engagement made me continue doing it, though it may have involved sweaty stinky work and lots of it, til I got it right.

OUTRO

It isn’t access to peers or information that encourages [my] learning. It’s the relative cost of making a mistake. The really cool stuff that has had a lifelong impact on me involved owies that are fun stories to share now. When I approach learning now I try to morph it into something that involves my whole body. I think that’s the ticket to design thinking and innovation. The more we approach it holistically and with others so that what we do is visible the better off we are in the long run. Go out and break something.

Zones of My Proximal Development

PROLOGUE

How do I self-motivate when the going gets rough, tough, boring or other? Someone asked me that the other day. Here’s my take.

Photograph of a tilted water tower

AND THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET IS..

Reflection. I hold myself up to my existential bathroom mirror and take a long look. What does it feel like my eyes do when seeing something new?

Zones_of_my_proximal_development.jpg

  • Eyes rolled up 
    • I’m in my “Oh no!” zone. I don’t feel safe enough to start learning right away.
  • Eyes level
    • I’m in the “Let’s do it!” zone. What are we doing just standing around? Let’s have at it!
  • Eyes down (frozen on the spider/alligator/puppy-poop at my feet)
    • I’m in the dreaded “What the..?” zone. I’m having a problem fitting what I have to do with what I know has worked or not worked in the past (sometimes going back decades).
THE NEXT MOAN YOU HERE
 
The hard part, once I’ve reflected and figured out which zone I’m in, is not zoning out. That is, how do I overcome the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) Factor and apply some grit and adopt a growth mindset approach and get on with learning? It’s easy to fall into the woe is me trap. Speaking from experience, it can be a lot harder to level oneself and just do it.
 
What I do is remind myself that I’m [most likely] not alone. (It’s a little like the OODA Loop I learned and practiced in the US Navy a long time ago.) I have support and help available. All I have to do is ask for it. Sometimes it may not feel like it. Depending on how peers and managers respond can kick one back a few steps. I’ve occasionally asked myself if it’s really worth it to keep trying?
 
EMPATHIC (ME)
 
A while ago, I think it was towards the end of 2013, I stumbled upon a different way to do Professional Development (PD). What I tripped over in my dark was EdCampWestTexas, now in its third year. Basically it was K-12 teachers coming together on a wet and rainy Saturday morning in Abilene, Texas. In a few short hours I was exposed to new ways of knowing. While most of what I left with was skewed towards educational technology, the main takeaway, the jewel, was Design Thinking (DT). DT is a problem solving methodology grounded in empathy, reframing problems, and prototyping.
 
It makes me a little sad, when I reflect on my past years practicing the art and science of instructional design, how technical I was. I should have empathized with the people I supported more. During my first-pass at design thinking, at a law enforcement training academy, I began the analysis phase of instructional design with a soft-question: What did it feel like doing/learning this thing? It made for a more human/humane approach I think. It had some serious benefits, too. The rest of the process took less time. The team was more involved than ever before. A complaint I often hear from other instructional designers is how hard it can be for people to keep meeting and deliverable commitments. Once I adopted a design thinking approach that reluctance to contribute gave way to some serious collaboration. 
 
If the empathy, caring, is there then so am I. If it’s not, it’s time to ask “Am I in the right place?” Maybe it’s time to move on?
 
EPILOGUE
 
I’ve been trying to learn something new for a few months now. I don’t want to get too deep into the details here. I’ve been in the “What the..?” zone for a while. I think I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel though. I’ve sought some serious help from some smart, dedicated and caring people. The hardest part has been learning by making mistakes. I still make some significant ones. Not giving up, continuing to pick myself up and owning the mistake, communicating clearly to clients and peers has made all the difference. 
 
How do I motivate myself to learn new stuff? Design thinking.

 

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?

 

Redux: Djinn Tech

INTRO

About two months into my tour of duty on NavComSta Diego Garcia I got my Dear John letter. What has stayed with me was she went with a guy more into technology than I was in 1978. Shortly after arriving at Hickam AFB I hightailed it over to ComputerLand Honolulu and bought my first personal computer: a TRS-80 Model 1 Level II.

DJINN

Ever since I can remember I’ve been enamored (a word, btw, my ex taught me) by technology. One of my uncles was a Navy radioman during WWII. He was all the time tinkering with stuff. I got into that TRS-80 for a couple of months; all I really remember about it was how gray it was. I soon traded up to an Apple ][ (integer model). I’ve been an Apple fanboy ever since. I bought one of the first Macintosh computers. Well I remember shopping for software and finding none. It was a sad feeling.

These long forgotten memories welled up in my mind yesterday. After being exposed to oodles of Google Chrome and Chromebook goodness during three days of CueRockStar I decided to buy one. Only the stores I went to had only one or two models available. At Staples they only had display models: none in stock. At a Best Buy the sales person began arguing with me about how I NEEDED Windows 10 as soon as I asked “Where are your Chromebooks?” As I left the store to give OfficeDepot a try I recollected my early Apple days. It felt good thinking different again.

OUTRO

Christy Fennewald, at great peril I believe, revealed the Secrets of a Google Ninja during her first CueRockStar session.

My take is it’s less about becoming a ninja and more about becoming a djinn. That’s how it was with me and my trusty Apple ][ and early Mac. I’m going back out again today and I will come home with a Chromebook.

Show Your Mousetrap

INTRO

Why not show your work? What do we have to hide? Show your mousetrap.

SHOW

A rising tide lifts all boats. It takes a village. These are two common phrases used to describe how something that benefits one may also benefit many.

YOUR WORK

It to our benefit that we share what we do with others. What we share benefits us because of feedback from peers we may receive. Sharing our work might lead to someone experiencing an AHA! moment that increases their know-how.

OUTRO

Ask yourself, what is really keeping you from sharing your mousetrap? Besides, there’s easier ways to steal ideas: Like zombies eating brains for example.

Heavy Lifting

PROLOGUE

ISTE15 was last week. I didn’t go. Instead, I was at NotAtISTE15.

HEAVY LIFTING

NotAtISTE, as near as I can figure it, is a Google+ group of educators who were not in Philadelphia last week for ISTE2015. Because of the group and some new technologies (or new ways to apply existing collaboration tools) it felt a little like I was there.

@TonyVincent, @CoburnCori and many others who paricipated at the ISTE15 conference were kind enough to use the @PeriscopeCo app to record keynotes, Ignites, and other events. It really was an amazing thing to experience. It was like a backchannel only in real-time, with motion graphics, and two-way text messaging.

Photo of an old dump truck

Information and peoples’ perspectives came in a crush-rush. @JenWagner did an amazing job with the Google+ group, enabling challenges, coordinating NotAtISTE15 events. It was fun jumping around and staying connected. I even got to engage with @CraigYen in a GHO (Google Hang Out) primer.

EPILOGUE

By Wednesday afternoon as NotAtISTE15 wound down I was into some serious reflection on some of the cool things I learned. It got me to thinking about smarter ways people NotAtaPD event can collaborate and share learning with those that are at the event.