ˌdo͞obl änˈtändrə,ˌdəbl änˈtändrə

INTRO

CDB: Christina Davies Beeson would be proud. A moment ago I used something she taught me in 1972. She taught journalism and sophomore college English at Colton High School in Colton, California. A blog post I finished reading a moment ago, by Aaron Hogan, brought it all back to me. The double entendre.

A Tail of Two Meanings

Aaron describes, in his blog post, risk. But that's not what resonated with me as I read his thoughts.

Uncalculated leapt off the page as I read. Whom did the uncalculation? Shaker-man was just into the music, the experience of listening and doing, of feeling something down deep and wanting to be a part of it. That's being in touch with one's soul. Did he plan on being called up to the stage? I think he simply likes the shake. The singer on stage, his was calculated. He wanted to get what he perceived as a disruption away from those around him. It was luck that the rest happened, that the experience played out as well as it did.

OUTRO

My take is uncalculation is its own reward. Being who we are, naturally, makes an impression. I can't help but wonder: In those moments before being noticed by the singer, was shaker-man really disrupting the listening experience of nearby fans? Maybe he was adding to their experience?

 

Portfolio Fan

PROLOGUE

Another sleepless after an EdCamp night. This time it was EdCampNavasota in Navasota, Texas. It could have been just about any other one though.

A GNOME DIPS HIS TOE IN #PEDAGOME

It began innocently enough, almost by accident. I happened upon a hashtag nine days ago: #PEDAGOME. They seemed to be discussing ways for students to share their learning using a portfolio creating app called Seesaw.

Screen capture of a pedagome question and answer about how the Seesaw app can make portfolios of work students can share with each other

Seesaw, I learned, makes it easy to create and share student portfolios. A student can take a graphic, a #booksnap of a page in a text, and annotate it with words or pictures or narration. The idea is to share perspectives among a community of students.

CAN YOUR LMS DO THAT?

At EdCampNavasota student portfolios came up. The sharing was fast and furious. The parts I was able to capture included Seesaw, making ideas visible and.. That was as far as I got. A lightbulb went off in my head.

How might we use portfolios in elearning? Enjoyably. I've seen sharing in elearning before. Usually it integrates with a business unit's blog. Someone learns something. Then they post a blurb about it in the blog under their byline. Sometimes there's a link to an external resource. Sure, it's functional. But it's flat, too. Stuff like that doesn't excite so much.

Sketch of ways to share learning among peers in real time

What if it were possible to take a screen capture of a bit of elearning content and mark it up (annotate it) using drawing tools? What if this snippet of learning made visible were shared, maybe in real-time, with others? But instead of going out on that blog the image, a #booksnap I've learned they're called, is embedded, sticky-note like, on the screen it came from? Or maybe it does go out to an external resource like Padlet?

EPILOGUE

I wonder how I could prototype this to share with my next client? Would they be interested? Maybe..

 

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.

 

Size is anything

PROLOGUE

I got a drone the other day.

SIZE ISN'T EVERYTHING — IT'S ANYTHING

Coming back from an EdCamp Sunday I stopped to fly my BeBop 2 drone. I'd had it aloft a few times already. But those were in my backyard to get familiar with its controls. The spot I picked to see what the drone could do was about an hour west of Phoenix, Arizona far from any airports. It was nestled among two hills that would probably keep larger aircraft away.

I flew the drone up and down this way and that for a while. It was fun let me tell you. After a while I remembered the Bebop 2 is good for about 25 minutes flying time before the battery is completely drained.

That's when I noticed the tower.

Photo of a water tank

I flew the drone towards it. Not being sure how far from my iPad (an app on it lets me drive the drone) the control signal was good for I moved briskly with it. I decided to try a flyby.

Anyway, now it's a couple of days later and I've just read a blog about PLN (Personal Learning Network) size shared on Twitter by @elearning.

Screen capture of a tweet leading to blog post

Its author, @Tracy_Parish, wrote about these rings of PLN scope.

Sketch of concentric circles

Here's the thing, when I engage with my PLN it's usually in one or two ways: conversations on Twitter or long drives to gatherings. Most of the gatherings are with people outside the instructional design discipline.

EPILOGUE

So why did I get the drone? Officially it's for an RFP response. Unofficially it's because in the past year I've seen some members of my PLN light up about drones. The first time was during CUERockStar Vegas when teachers got on the floor on their bellies to see a drone in action. The second time was at a San Diego CUE event where someone I know through Twitter won one.

As my drone flew around the tower at an altitude of about 15 metres I stopped worrying about how far the control signal reached. I was deep into the WOW zone wondering where the drone might take me.

So how big is my PLN? A few at a time.

 

Hey Joe, Whaddya Know?

INTRO

“Hey Joe! Whaddya know?”

NOW WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THAT COME FROM?

This is my first PuzzlingMix blog post of 2016. It comes to you from the virtual reality of one instructional designer (me) after he came across a #moocmooc post on instructional design as subversion. It's author, @slamteacher, was writing to kick-off a social learning experience MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). I'm not sure that the second mooc in moocmooc means though.

Anyway, moocmooc began yesterday. I tweeted a couple of thoughts about it but wasn't engaged to where I wanted to share deeper. That is not until I came across a Periscope video clip teacher @Don_Jacobs was kind enough to share. In the recorded clip (available for 6 more hours as of this writing), educational researcher Sir Ken Robinson said something which resonated with me: “We see virtual realities of what is.” or words to that effect.

Robinson talked for an hour; maybe he did. I didn't listen to all of his talk. Ideas, like the wheels on my Honda Pilot whilst I'm driving to an EdCamp, started turning in my head. Next thing I knew I was drafting this post.

Photo of varied images with text asking the question what do any of us really see

My point is that instructional design and learning aren't subversive as @slamteacher sees it. My take on it, based on my subjective perspective of reality, is that it's more like subdivision. How any one particular learner slices and dices up what they're learning depends wholly on where they've been and where they're going.

THAT'S WHERE THE FUN IS

The thing about instructional design is coming up with a learning experience that brings people together. The resulting mashup of each learner's shared perspective colors others' virtual reality. It results in a deeper state of know-how. It's like in Mannfred Man's Earth Band in Blinded by the Light: “But mama, that's where the fun is.”, subdivide and learn.

OUTRO

Instructional design involves the mashup of ideas learners subdivide based on their selves (selfs?, elfs?, Elvis?) perception of the learning as they experience it. Learning takes off when learners share their perspectives. The Internet is a great place for finding and sharing stuff. I love it!

 

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.

 

Marbles

INTRO

I’m taking a MOOC this month. It’s about designing a little humanity into the online learning experience. As you might imagine, being human, I have strong feelings about it.

WHEN LOSING YOUR MARBLES IS A GOOD THING

I think the Humanizing Online Learning MOOC I’m taking is off to a bumpy start. It’s only borderline engaging. At the moment I’m listening to a webinar. I’m not really paying attention to it though. The reason is I don’t see it as engaging. Humans have five (traditional) senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste; the webinar, comprised of video and audio, engages only hearing since I’m not watching it. (One might argue it’s engaging my sense of touch and sight, too, since I was sketchnoting).

Sketch of children learning to play marbles

Whilst I was not watching the webinar I drew the above sketch in Paper by 53 on my iPad. It’s a memory of me as a boy learning to play marbles. Everything I heard the instructor talk about in the webinar is contained in the sketch: trust, community, activity, being real and safety.

OUTRO

My takeaway from the webinar is that students want context in their learning experience. They want to do stuff with their bodies and minds. If they can do stuff with others in meaningful contexts so much the better.