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.

 

Take a Waze

INTRO

EdCampAzusa was marvelous. But it was only the beginning.

GETTING THERE AND BACK (OR THE JOURNEY IS THE FORWARD)

This past Saturday found me in Azusa, California. I was there to participate in EdCampAzusa, a gathering of educators for a day of unstructured, I like to say organic, professional dvelopment/personal learning (PD/PL).

I wanted to come away with more perspectives on how educators view and experience professional development: how it occurs, what questions are asked, how answers are processed. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were two EdCamps on my radar last weekend: EdCampAzusa and EdCamPalooza. Both were some distance from my home. The latter was more than twice as far away. I would have gone to it still, but the threat of bad weather made the decision for me. In both instances I would be going somewhere I hadn’t been before. The process I depend on to get to new places is Waze. Waze is an iPad app. I enter the address of where I’m going and it gives me turn-by-turn directions. If only learning were that simple.

When I leave an EdCamp it’s usually with more questions than answers. That’s where reflection, connections and Twitter chats with my PLN and serendipity come into play. Yesterday morning I had a conversation on Twitter with John R. Walkup (@jwalkup).

Fuzzy thoughts coalesced into understanding when I read that.

OUTRO

It’s challenging (and fun) applying what I learn with and from teachers into my instructional design craft. It can take some time, sometimes a long time, before the pegs fit. Light bulbs glow brightest when I hear something in a meeting and something clicks. I suggest it, sometimes withouth considering the organization’s culture, and then conversations begin. I love that part. It’s amazing when a half-baked idea leads to a chance to prototype. The resultant mess, an incredibly organic thing, completes the journey. It’s marvelous to be a part of.

 

EdCampLDR Phoenix Reflections

INTRO

#EdCampLDRPhoenix was yesterday. I was mostly there. Mostly? Read on.

EDCAMPLDR

EdCampLDR is a gathering of people involved with and interested in K-12 school leadership. The way I understand it Joe Mazza of the Graduate School of Education at Penn started it as a way to get people talking about the challenges and opportunities facing primary and secondary education today. There were several EdCampLDR sessions held on July 10 and 13 across the United States and China.

MOSTLY

I say I was mostly at EdCampLDR because I recently started reading The Achievement Habit by Bernie Roth. I started reading it last week. It has me reflecting on how my thoughts affect my doing. I have been to a lot of EdCamps the last two years, 23 I think. I’ve met lots of educators and learned tons about educational technology and its application to engage students. In one sentence EdCamps are free meetups of educators where know-how is exchanged.

Periodically during the day my thinking wandered off and made connections with what I was learning and the book. I started reforming some ideas about how I could make my work a little more interesting while helping educators with their professional development.

RELATIONSHIPS

Teaching is about relationships: teacher, students, parents, stakeholders, learners coming together and engaging.

There was a lot of engaging. I got to deepen my understanding of the issues facing educators. Some of what I heard included inconsistent or absent curriculum, disconnects between what was being taught and what would be needed once students graduated, availability of educational technology, and ways of teaching.

I also heard about resources, including the elephant in the room: time. How do teachers develop professionally when they’re as busy as they are? I learned that, in Arizona schools at least, PD (professional development) organized by the schools or their districts happens three times per school year: beginning, middle, and towards the end. That’s one day three times per year.

I had an amazing talk with two teachers during a Teach Like A Pirate session. We talked about ways to engage students andhow to use design thinking to plan lessons. I also got to try out Periscope to stream the EdCampLDR experience out to people following #NotAtEdCampLDR.

NO EXCUSES

One of the classes at Chandler High School, where #EdCampLDRPhoenix was held, had the sign below hanging on a wall.

It brought me up short when I saw it. The thing from the book about meaning came to mind. How things (and thoughts) have no meaning until they’re brought to life by doing something with them.

OUTRO

Anyway, time for me to get busy working on what this meaning means to me.

Heroes Journey

INTRO

During an EdChat the other day I learned about The Hero's Journey as a learning metaphor and process.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO MLEARNCON

CUE cap on my head and suitcase in hand Monday afternoon I opened the front door of my home. I was eagerly anticipating my road trip to Austin, Texas for the eLearning Guild's mLearnCon (mobile learning) conference.

I was surprised to find Mrs on the other side of the door about to use her key to unlock it. She was coming home from a job interview. Long story short we had agreed she'd stay home with our granddaughter whilst I went to the conference. She asked if she and the baby could come. Saying no to Mrs is hard to do 24 years into our marriage. Off she went to pack.

AUSTIN

Some months ago I was encouraged by @lnddave tweet asking for proposals to present at a mobile learning conference hosted by the eLearning Guild. This was my Call to Adventure. Two of my proposals were accepted. More on these a little later.

Getting to the venue in time for the mLearn conference, from June 10 to 12 came with challenges. Through a lottery I got a chance to go to EdCampUSA in Washington, DC in late May. It was great learning and growing and connecting with other educators. Mrs and I spent the next day together playing tourist taking in the many historical sites the capitol region has to offer. This ate up our vacation budget for the year.

I tend to go cheap to the PD events I participate in. I usually drive a long distance in my 11 year old Honda Pilot, now pushing 380,000 miles. On really long trips, over 500 miles, I sometimes camp out under the stars. With Mrs and Carly, our 21 month old granddaughter, along for the ride the trip to Austin was shaping up to be a grand quest.

THRESHOLD

Carly is a wonderful kid. She is very good at playing the toddler role. At times a joy to be around she would occasionally have issues. If you're closely associated with small children you know what I mean. She learns quickly, mostly through trial and error. She is fearless. She usually overcomes challenges. Sometimes she's distracted by a shiny object but even that's okay as it's another learning opportunity.

REVELATION

My first mLearnCon AHA! moment happened far from Austin. Carly is the poster child for mobile learning.

Photo of my 21 month old granddaughter painting

At 21 months of age telling Carly what life is about doesn't have much impact. There's too much cool stuff for her to experience.

ABYSS

So we make it to Austin late on the 9th. Unfamiliar with the area we get lost for a while before finding our motel. Once in the room we notice Carly looking flushed. She has a fever. Thankfully a Walgreens was across the road from us. A few hours later her temperature falls and so we sleep.

Only we wake up too late to catch the mLearnCon keynote and opening excitement. A big reason I had for going was networking. I had hoped to grow my PLN (Personal Learning Network).

TRANSFORMATION

No worries. Mrs and Carly Uber to The Thinkery, Austin's children's museum. I uber to the conference venue. I catch a session on interface design. It's 2:30 pm on Wednesday June 10 and my session on teaching strategies I learned through a year of EdCamp is up. My Google slides for the session are here. I tried a presentation strategy I learned at #CUE15: setting permissions so anyone could edit my presentation and providing the url to the file on Google drive. I got done with my presentation about 20 minutes early, hoping to start a conversation about stuff that participants had added. Only no one had. I have to rethink this. At CUE15 participants had added dozens of slides. I can feel a transformation coming. I'm going to participate in CUERockstar in Las Vegas in August. I have questions to ask and ideas to try out. Something is definitely up.

ATONEMENT

Thursday I gave a talk on appsmashing. You can access my presentation file here. I think we connected, the participants and I, during my talk. A highlight was when I demoed Paper and Plotagon. These are my fav apps. Paper is amazing for sketching. It's the virtual napkin where many of my ideas are born and fleshed out. Plotagon is a different tool. In a nutshell it creates 3D clips working from text you enter. You pick scenes and characters and Plotagon does the heavy lifting. In minutes you have a working, moving, and talking prototype of a script.

I've been an instructional designer for over 16 years. I think I've gotten better in my practice over the years. Sharing what I learn from teachers and others in K-12 does me good. I hope I'm helping others along their journey, too.

OUTRO

I had this idea the other day. What if I packaged snippets of what I learn and practice into little snippets of know-how and put them out there? Call it a six minute EdCamp. The conversations I have with teachers is the fuel. I'm evaluating some apps to make it happen. The best part: The Heroes Journey begins anew. By the way, I say heroes in the plural because it's about us learning together. Smashing is not just for apps. It can be about people smashing ideas, too.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Gap-Toothed Training

PROLOGUE

“Do you mind if I put you on hold for a moment whilst I research that? Thank you.” Click.

 

GAP-TOOTHED

A challenge instructional designers face is when there’s a gap of some time between when a training program is rolled out and when the skills workers learned are put to use. I call this gap-toothed training. Websters’ defines gap-toothed as a space between two teeth. It’s seems an apt metaphor

Sketch of a school house and a factory separated by a gap

TRAINING

Some years ago I was brought in to help with a problem. Initial sales of a telecommunications product were initially high; sales dropped precipitously a few weeks after product launch. Root cause: gap-toothed training.

 

EPILOGUE

I got an RFP that looks gap-toothed. Facilitated blogging seems a good solution. Tell a story about a potential problem and have workers blog solutions. It should keep the training alive and vital.

 

 

 

 

 

Swap Meet PS (Performance Support)

Prologue

Panic sets in. That training a few weeks ago? Forgotten. You're hard up for how to do that thing.

Dialogue

At EdCampUCLACenterX I participated in a “Things That Suck” session. I've been thinking how I could use this in my instructional design practice. Here's an idea:

Photo of a bucket of cleaning supplies held up in the air

Peers swapping a bucket-load of performance support ideas

Towards the end of a training class on something is a Swap Meet Performance Support activity. Learners brainstorm a list of problems they foresee having later doing their job (Things That Suck part). They ideate and discuss strategies for dealing with them (performance support part).

Epilogue

Maybe they use TouchCast to produce video clips for getting past the issue to access at the moment of need. Maybe job-aids are the outcome. This swap meet activity, peers exchanging ideas, encourages ownership and a community of practice is born.

Anyway, something to try.