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.

 

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.

 

Begin with the bend in mind

INTRO

I'm doing a talk on interactive presentation design at AZTEA's Fall tech conference. In the spirit of #lrnchat and #ShowYourWork here are some things that helped me ideate and produce the experience.

WANT INTERACTIVE? MOVE

What's wrong with this picture? In a typical conference session attendees mostly sit. If they have wifi and a mobile device they could be doing most anything. How can the presenter make participants out of attendees?

 

TELL ME A STORY, THEN GET OUT OF MY WAY

How about walking participants through a story a little at a time?

Maybe something that talks to us at an emotional level.

Or that asks us to think really hard about about what we want.

Maybe having someone near to guide us?

OUTRO

So that's the gist of the idea. Three simple slides telling a story.

 

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!

 

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.