Unrequieted Love

INTRO

My Bebop2 drone by Parrot met its end a couple of Sunday's ago when it decided to “fly away” into a pecan grove somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

Artist sketch of a red Bebop 2 drone crashing into a pecan grove

A LOVE AFFAIR

I loved that drone. It was the replacement for the fifth one I bought. I got each one at Best Buy because of their liberal return policy. The drone is a dream to fly. It gives my view a little more reach.

OUTRO

I love it so much I got another one. I can't wait to fly again.

 

Sow Your Work

PROLOGUE

“For everything there is a season..” — Eccliastes 3:1

SOW

Here's an idea that I think will lead to fruition. Explaining the instructional design process to others can be challenging at times. Visuals can help make selling ideas and strategies easier.

Freytag's Pyramid offers a way to diagram stories. Modified just a little bit I think it offers instructional designers an appealing easy to understand way of presenting spaced learning strategies to customers.

YOUR WORK
Each segment of the pyramid is listed below.
  1. A Tantalizing story hooks learner and presents topic material ~ 20 minutes
  2. B Learner chooses a practice problem to work through
  3. C Review practice with all learners
  4. D Resolve issues
  5. X Activity ends
EPILOGUE

I tried it out in a meeting last night. It seemed to take. The conversation afterwards moved towards “What ifs” from “And then”. Good thing?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Down-Time PD

INTRO

Here's two cliches you may be familiar with:

  • The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.
  • The spirit is willing but the body is not.

I had hoped to travel the 300 miles from Phoenix, Arizona (home) to Palm Springs, California to catch the Saturday session of CUE14. I was home instead of in Roswell, New Mexico (much nearer to where I work than Phoenix) getting ready for my move to Southern California in two weeks.

DOWN-TIME

Waking up at 2:00 a.m. Saturday (it's a four hour drive to Palm Springs) I gave the CUE14 Saturday schedule a last look. Two things immediately occurred to me:

  1. I had to pay $170 admission.
  2. The list of events I was interested in were the same ones I've been learning about at the #EdCamps I've been going to.

So I thought, “Why go then, if I can get the learning for free?” I still intended to go, because getting input from diverse sources is a good thing. What kept me from leaving for Palm Springs was #satchat, a Saturday early morning gathering of (seriously motivated) educators on Twitter.

I was immediately immersed in the conversation, which had to do with digital tools in the classroom. That's my interest, my reason for being in education: applying technology.

FISH-HOOK QUESTIONS

I was hooked alright. For the next hour I read, reflected and responded. It's an odd thing that the highly rated high school my kids go/went to doesn't really use #EdTech, so far as I know. I asked my youngest daughter, 17 year old junior, if she had lessons or assignments using digital tools. Her reply: “We use Word to write reports.” wasn't satisfying to me. A couple of years ago, during curriculum night, I was dismayed to hear her science teacher brag about the black box in his lab coat pocket that disabled cell phones. My last tweet said I'd call the school to learn more.

The question I'll ask the administrators and teachers is “How vital are digital tools like devices and software to the learning experience?” The problem is that today, Monday, is my last day home before going back to Roswell. Today is also the last day of Spring Break so I'll have to go with the phone and email to reach out.

DISCONNECTED

I like asking questions in person, face-to-face with the person with the answers. Email is too simple for me, too plain. I usually stuff emails with chatter to make me feel the information exchange is more human. A phone call is better, because the sighs and pauses umhs and ahs convey non-verbal information that sometimes says more than words. But missing are all the other non-verbal indicators of connection, of understanding. But, given my work situation, far from home, what else is there?

Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, that's what. These and other digital tools enable real-time I see you you see me conversation. Only I don't know that the school supports it. I have had the hardware and software necessary to do so on my iOS device for years. Does my kid's school? Another question to ask.

All this went through my mind while I should have been fathering my digital gear and heading out the door to CUE14. So no, I didn't make it.

OUTRO

I blog infrequently. This post and the last one were made possibly be by #MadWriting, a Twitter phenomenon I recently became aware of. Really smart people (scientists I follow turned me on to it) I'll probably never meet, though I'd love to, silently urge me to write. I suppose they feel the same from me: write, write, write!

Which brings me back to the title of this piece: Down-Time PD (Professional Development). I learned something while I was doing something unrelated to learning. I was motivated to do something, to ask something of my kid's teachers. This is huge for me. Being a mostly remote father it helps me engage with my kid's life.

One more thing: two #EdCamps coming up March 29. I'll be in California the weekend after. It'll be my new home away from home while working with the Veterans' Health Administration. #EdCampTulsa, 550 miles from Roswell or #EdCampESC5, 750 miles away. That's how motivated I am to learn more about my craft, to mingle with other energized people and learn on a Saturday.

Here's to down-time learning!

#etmooc Living (and designing) with Constraints

I read @jkunrein's Building a Seat at the Table for Design ASTD blog. She makes a some thoughtful points on how often SMEs and/or customers push a design approach. I'm not 100% clear on what kind of design she's talking about: instructional, look, feel, or something else.


What I want to comment on about it is this: constraints. We all have them. There's not enough time. We're pressured by lack of resources, usually budgets. Maybe it's the political climate or organization's culture that has us design something less awesome than we'd like. So yes, there are forces at work cramming design decisions down designers' throats. I think she's right-on about how we as designers should do the best job possible by the client. What has me concerned, however, is if we should push back at all.


I'd like to be able to use educational technology like polling apps or QR codes in my organization. I think they'd make for a much more immersive learning experience, particularly when it comes to learning and practicing in the real-world outside the classroom. Only I can't because of budgetary and union constraints.


I think that an important part of my job, particularly at the start or kick-off of a training project, is educating the customer on what is possible and why some things they want to do might not be in the best interests of the learner or the organization. If there is push-back it would happen at that time. I think that once a relationship between designer and customer has been established such push-back would be rare.


Which gets me to the subject of professional development. Unrein suggests learning a tools-set. The problem (constraint) here is that some tools, not all of course, are expensive. If your organization doesn't have them available for your use then once the trial version, if there's one available, times-out you're stuck. I advocate the development of soft-skills, storytelling for example, over hard-skills like being able to design in something like Articulate Storyline. If you can spin a story that catches the hearts and minds of your trainees then the tool really doesn't matter.