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..

 

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!

 

Windfulness

INTRO

In the aggregate, life's hard. Being mindful in one's life is harder still.

WINDFULNESS IS ATTENTION AND MEMORIES BLOWING PAST AWARENESS

I've been around since the mid-1950s. These senses of mine have dropped a lot of stuff into my mind.

Doodle of a person sitting in front of. Computer on a desk surrounded by a ribbon of memories

I was reminded of this whilst watching a GHO (Google Hang Out) recording for a Humanizing Online Instruction MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I'm taking. Being mindful was the topic of discussion.

I'm afraid I didn't do so well being mindful whilst watching. It was difficult sitting and focusing my attention on the GHO. I kept being reminded of stuff in my memory. Rather than being mindful I was windful: Thoughts, feelings and memories kept blowing past my awareness as I tried to place what I was learning into the patterns of what I know.

It's Week 0 of the course. I'm wondering how others are doing being mindful? The presenter initially talked about backgrounds, how it's not only about talking heads on screens. It's also about their environment: What's behind the head? That's when I noticed the band of memories around me. I think I was looking for connections and so began browsing memories.

OUTRO

Life's hard. My first impression is that it's going to be hard being human during the class given my tendency towards windfulness. I'm looking for connections. That should be easy, right? I mean there are 100s (1000s?) of other humans in there with me. Right?

 

Hours of Code

INTRO

I've been hearing lots and lots about Hour of Code during PD and Twitter chats. So the other day I got an app and started playing.

PLAYING WITH PUZZLES

I asked a teacher the other day how I might start my granddaughter Carly on learning to program. She said puzzles. Get her puzzles and puzzles and puzzles. So I thought, maybe I should do puzzles first and see what it's like. So I did.

Screen capture of a Lightbot screen

This puzzle took me hours over several days to solve. Solving the puzzles leading up to this one I hadn't yet figured out how a kid would learn programming fundamentals beyond memorizing terms.

At the end of this one, 4-6 on the Lightbot iOS app it hit me: patterns, patience and practice. Check out this video showing how it works. Notice how the bot appears to go back on itself? Early on I would stop it, thinking that it was bad. I didn't let it finish. I learned to quiet my mind and let the iteration run to its end. Another thing I learned is that there may be more than one correct puzzle solution. I have to talk with others about this to make sure.

OUTRO

Anyway, the idea that me, an instructional designer would be playing with programming puzzles seems, on its face, weird. But the thing is, it's fun solving puzzles. Fun made the learning experience very engaging. I can definitely use that in my craft.

 

 

 

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.

 

Road Blocks (To Mobile Learning)

PRELUDE

Like most anything in life if you want to do something right you have to know what you’re doing. Thankfully these days I’m part of a well informed and motivated PLN (Personal Learning Network) so there’s no shortage of ideas or places to look to help.

CREDIBLE

It helps to consult credible sources of information before beginning a learning and development project. With the pace of change in instructional strategies and educational technology I’ve learned research is an important first step towards achieving learning efficacy.

Sketch of three things that an instructional designer needs to design mobile learning experiences
I think based on my experience, education, and conversations with other educators instructional designers have to want to do what they do to ensure a good outcome. It has to have meaning (Roth, 2015, Location 674 of 3773) to you beyond a paycheck. It takes a lot of time, creativity, and effort to stay the course.
Design thinking offers a simple humanistic approach to connect with learners and the subject matter experts I often depend on. How learners will interact with the learning experience that gets created matters greatly (Buff, 2013). I usually ask learners directly what they prefer and then confirm it through prototyping and observations.
Much of what passes for elearning is boring and mostly disengages, rather than draws in, learners (Quinn, 2005, p2). Believing in your project, getting to know as much as you can about learners and how they will experience the learning offers the best chance of achieving your learning objectives.

EPILOGUE

I like drawing out my ideas. I usually figure out what to present to customers by telling stories. Here’s the story I produced on the way to writing this post.

Images of a zombie instructional designer hunting brains

REFERENCES
  • Buff, T. (2013). Top 5 Design Considerations for Creating Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1I3jJBt
  • Tipton, S. (2015). Lesson from Edutech Australia? Planned Failure. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1JadukA
  • Quinn, C.N. (2005). The Seven Step Program. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1HDkKTA
  • Roth, B. (2015). The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, And Take Command Of Your Life. [Kindle iOS Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Joe Zombie

PROLOGUE

Sitting at your desk staring blankly at the computer screen wondering “What is this?” is a lament I hear often. I'm talking about people subjected to inhumane learning. At the moment I'm thinking of online learning. But what I call the Joe Zombie effect can happen in any modality: face-to-face (F2F), elearning, blended, social, or learning informally through close work with others.

JOE

Consider the new hire going through orientation. A recent interview subject described being parked in front of a computer for several hours. She completed several modules on policies, benefits, customer service, and other subjects.

popBomb photo of an abandoned school

At the end all she was sure she had was a world class headache. By the next day, most of what she'd been exposed to, like the flash of a camera, had dissipated.

ZOMBIE

I'm convinced learning requires an active participant. Meaningful activities where learners create something from what they are learning are best. My recent participation at EdCamps and CUE remind me of this each time I go.

EPILOGUE

I'm researching problems with the learning modalities listed above. I learned at the annual CUE conference that this is a good place to start.

 

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.