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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaizen Chasm

PROLOGUE

What’s the key to Kaizen? A: No door to put it in.

Sketch of a door-less cubicle

Engagement problems? Lose the door.

KAIZEN

My 2015 goal is to be un-ordinary. I have to change how I share: more effort on relationships, inviting tinkering to make ideas tangible.

I spent most of the ’80s and ’90s working with companies like Intel and Motorola. Each had their own version of Kaizen, a continuous improvement methodology. It has to involve everyone in an organization to have a chance at success now and in the future.

Intel did it right, at least in part, because there were so few office doors. It’s open-door culture was vital. Dave Marsing, then Intel’s New Mexico site director taught my Intel Culture class. Andy Grove, then CEO, taught my wife’s class. Who taught yours?

EPILOGUE

Having engagement problems across an organization? Bridge the chasm by opening doors.

 

 

Cruise Director

PROLOGUE

“Stay between the lines. The lines are our friends.”

Sketch of safety scissors and a bottle of glue

CRUISE

Where did I first hear that cautionary phrase? Maybe it was that late summer morning in '61 starting kindergarten?

Today it's a refrain when training a skill: engage but watch the time. Learning should be more than watching out for boundaries. It should be like a cruise to somewhere. It could be.

DIRECTOR

Cue me. This is where I come in. I do instructional design. “I'm a cruise director for learning.” I reply when asked what I do. “I design learning experiences that get people moving and making.” It's a good conversation starter.

EPILOGUE

I'm in He's The Weird Teacher (TWTChat) book club on Voxer. Chapter 1 was about one educator's teaching philosophy. Being The Weird Instructional Designer I totally get where he's coming from. I'm going there, too.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Comic AL Blogging

PROLOGUE

He stared, glassy-eyed, at the clock willing the seconds to tick more rapidly.

Comic of a character suggestion meetings that make things

COMIC

Some days it's one meeting after another. An Intel effective meetings class introduced me to meeting types.

  • Process
  • Mission
  • One-on-one
Comic depicting a long unproductive meeting

Maybe there's another way we can do this?

AL (ALternatives)

A recent tweet from @nyff made me aware of Boyle's Law for meetings. Want one? Bring a prototype with you. Prototypes are something tangible meeting participants can relate to and tinker with.

Comic describing alternative meeting possibilities including blogs and podcasts

Podcast anyone?

There are other alternatives, too. For meetings on status of projects for example, how about meeting participants blogging or tweeting them? In a typical 60 minute meeting I'm talking maybe two or three minutes tops. That's a long tweet or short blog. Maybe even podcast your bit?

EPILOGUE

Substituting blogs or podcasts (Voxer?) offer at least one other benefit: transparency. They are accessible all and can be designed to encourage feedback.


 

 

Outlook: Cloudy

PROLOGUE

My head hurts. In a good way.

CLOUDS

Challenges in engaging learning, Clark Quinn's latest Learnlets blog post, hit me between the eyes. His post's word cloud made me think design teams need to focus on experiences where learners make and practice.

Learnlets word cloud

Learnlets word cloud: What hits you between the eyes?

Reading it deepened my understanding. Quinn's writing about growing his team's ability to produce engaging learning pragmatically. I interpreted pragmatic as meaning practical, logical, maybe even templatized.

BLUE SKIES
I'm an ideas and theories instructional designer: looking for fresh ways of engaging learners. Practical and logical processes matter but not at the expense of creativity and innovation.
 
INN OVATION
Pragmatic innovation in instructional design means looking up and out, informing our development with what others are doing. We want learners who keep coming back, who talk-up their learning experience after it ends.
 
EPILOGUE
Share your work, too?