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.

 

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?

 

What’s a Meta You?

INTRO

It's Jon's fault.

WHAT'S A META(COGNITION) YOU?

I'm in Las Vegas through Friday. I'm participating in Cue Rockstar Las Vegas edition. Someone asked me a little while ago what I thought about it.

To review: Since EdCampWestTexas in 2013 the bulk of my PD has come from learning from and sharing with K-12 educators. It occurred to me the other day that I'm at the point where I'm learning less about things (educational technology tools) and more about metacognition: How others practices inform and inspire my learning experience design work.

So far I've learned how teachers design learning experiences using Google applications. I'm in the process of learning about PBL/IBL (more on these later).

OUTRO

I like how experiential CUEROCKSTAR is. Even though we're not making things (so far) there is the two-way dialogue reminiscent of EdCamp. There's more time for conversation. The cool part is going deep on why teachers applied pedagogy and technology to content/context.

Gotta go. Lots going on

 

 

 

 

EDU Rocks

INTRO

What happens when we're not expecting or ready to learn and we witness something amazing, do we learn anyway? Or put another way: If a father is helping his eldest daughter haul a mattress across town and he hears something amazing during a podcast but there is no one around to test him on it has he really learned?

EDU

Some time ago a peer I respect greatly explained how education and training are two different things. Education, as I understood him to say, is foundational systematic learning involving a teacher. Training, on the other hand, is teaching skills or behaviors to someone.

Then and now I'm not so sure education and training are all that different. Both involve a teacher. What does foundational mean anyway? When we learn don't we build on what we know already? One more question to mull over.

ROCKS

Anyway, I get to go to CUERockstar Vegas in 10 more days. I have been anticipating this since CUE15 last March. I feel like a 30 year old again as I pour (drool?) over everything I can find about it.

Today's CUERockstar Aha! moment came to me thanks to @adnanedtech and his The Convergence of Education Productivity & Technology podcast, episode 19. He interviewed CUERockstar's papa, @jcorippo. Several things said brought me up short. I had to stop what I was doing and give a serious listen to him explain:

  • ROCKS is a web domain available for registration
  • Educational research is six years behind what teachers are practicing today
  • How @davidtedu's ideas expressed in his blog make him cry

I have been a little worried the past couple years when I try something I learned alongside teachers at an EdCamp or CUE conference or Twitter chat. Some ideas have worked straight out of the box. Others didn't go over do well at first. I haven't failed outright (given up) just yet though. Maybe it's grit or something else but I love learning about and trying ways to improve my instructional design craft.

Sketch of a researcher six months behind teachers teaching

Hearing researchers were years behind how teachers practice teaching today made me smile. Hearing that someone else gets emotional while learning from others made my face break out in a wide grin.

OUTRO

I think CUERockstar is a learning experience like no other. I am looking forward to all the goofs I'm going to make on the way to mastery. I can't wait!

Oh yeah, one more thing. I registered urbie.rocks. It'll go live August 5th at CUERockstar Vegas.

** I saw Paper Towns yesterday. I like how Margo Roth Spiegelman explained capital letters in the middle of words.

 

Like Rabbits

INTRO

I have a lot of ideas. I get exposed to tons of stuff thanks to my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter, conversations with educators through participation at EdCamps, and presentations at eLearning Guild, and other conferences.

Sketch of three rabbits next to a tree
Sketch of the word idea
I've been thinking about where my ideas come from. I'm wondering, too, where they go? Why do so few of them go anywhere?
GOING PLACES
I learned a few nights ago that the culprit, the idea inhibitor, is me. I came to this realization reading The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth.
Sketch of the sun behind mountains

I'm not very far into the book. But I think the problem has something to do with meaning. Roth describes an exercise where students identify something near them and say it has no meaning. He goes on to say that the meaning of anything isn't inherent in the thing. Meaning comes from us. It's like an in the eye of the beholder thing.

DRY HEAT

The way I understand it is my environment is all tumbleweed and sun bleached bones until I decide what is meaningful to me. Take sketchnoting and drawing.

Sketch of a tumbleweed and bleached bones

About half the time I hear you don't have to be an artist to take sketch notes. The other half of the time I hear tips on how my drawing quality can be improved by using better more full featured apps. As far as sketchnoting goes most apps have no meaning for me. The quality of notes I take using Paper is perfect.

WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?

A few weeks ago, motivated by a new Twitter chat I joined, I decided to try my hand at drawing a webcomic. #webcomicchat has been very encouraging. It comes down to practice.

Right now, when I have an idea for a strip I launch Paper and start doodling. It happens not too long after that I get discouraged and stop. It's like I start out in a garden and the cross over into a desert.

Sketch of a comic panel

OUTRO

My drawing is important to me. It has meaning in my life. I got some good advice from someone on #webcomicchat tonight.

Tweet saying practice makes reality

All that remains is for me to draw like I mean it.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Uber Moment

PROLOGUE

“The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town.” — Judy and David Gershon

UBER

I enjoyed an uber learning moment Yesterday whilst taking an Uber from my motel to the JW Marriott in Austin, TX, this year's mLearnCon (Mobile Learning Conference) venue. The wow came from talking with the driver. It turns out she's a couple classes away from completing her BA in Elementary Education. Since I started participating in EdCamps for my professional development (PD) some of my best ideas have come from learnings in this space. It was cool to share stuff with her during the drive. Equally cool was hearing her talk about stuff she was doing in school. I hope to connect with her on Twitter soon.

Child learning by making a colorful mess

She had just dropped Mrs and our granddaughter Carly at The Thinkery, Austin's Children's Museum. Take a good look at the photo above. That's a 21 month old learning at hyper speed and making what adults call “a mess of things.” As much as I learned today I can't hold a candle to how fast this kid is learning about her world. Learning is messy business. Deal with it.

MOMENT

AppSmashing, using a set of smart phone apps to do something that would otherwise require a full featured personal computer software application to produce, was my mLearnCon session yesterday.

Over lunch a little before my talk I met @ParviainenPetri. He's an educator from Finland. We talked about edtech and our conference experience. When I shared how I used Plotagon in my practice his eyes lit up much like mine did when I learned about Plotagon reading a tweet by digital innovation consultant Christy Cate.

EPILOGUE

My PD the last couple years has been messy. Learning can be like appsmashing: people sharing ideas from all over.

Sketch of my AppSmashing agenda

How messy? That messy: Sketching out ideas on my Paper app and just going with it. And to think that not so long ago I was using stock images and PowerPoint to get my messages across. Wow!