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.

 

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.

 

Dee Ess One Oh Six

PROLOGUE

Eight six seven five three oh nine.

CALL LETTERS AND OTHER SIGNS

At 20 working in Los Angeles KFI AM was my radio station. Dick Whittington, Lohman and Barkley and other radio personalities helped make the long commutes bearable. At least it they did until that jackknifed taco sauce tanker truck accident on the Santa Monica freeway that hot June afternoon got me to enlist in the US Navy. But that's a story for another time.

KHJ, KTTV, KTLA and KCOP were the TV stations I watched growing up. They introduced me to The Million Dollar Movie where I saw Godzilla for the first time, Gigantor, Seymore and his cheesy sci-if movies and Felix the Cat.

More recently the stand-out call sign is ds106 and the daily create TDC hashtag. For some months in 2011-2012 ds106 and TDC helped connect me with my creative side. I was working at the FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) in New Mexico in those days.

Rough sketch of a horse

Anyway, each TDC gave me a creative challenge to complete. I started most days with one. It helped ease me into my days designing learning experiences. It helped me find my groove.

EPILOGUE

A little while ago I was pleased to notice a retweet that mentioned a draw a horse TDC.

So I accepted the challenge and it's like I'm home again.

 

Awesome! I made another one.

PROLOGUE

Time was I used to avoid mistakes like the plague. I've since learned screwing up big time has its rewards, too.

NOTHING ADVENTURED NOTHING BRAINED

I dropped HumanMOOC today. I did so off officially and socially. Usually when I leave a MOOC I just stop participating.

Photo of a bridge's date stone

For some reason I felt compelled to leave a mark of some kind that I had once been there, a part of this HumanMOOC learning community. Something akin to the date stone architects and builders place on their works.

So what did I learn? These thoughts found a home in my brain:

  • My definition of online learning was incomplete. Going in to the course I defined online learning as that corporate look and feel experience where you're a class of one: a learner at a computer.
  • It can also mean an online university experience learning with others. I should have realized this given my MS Ed. was completed online.
  • I had some reflective insights for how I might make the corporate model of online learning a little more human. The biggie concerns media: Less of a focus on high production values might engage the learner to a higher degree. This is because of authenticity. I'm thinking about the photographs and home movies people shoot on vacation.
  • As cool as video and audio can be, the story matters more. It's like that pedagogy before educational technology stuff I learned through EdCamp and Twitter PD chats.

EPILOGUE

Anyway, I have some stuff to try out to see which ideas have legs.

Photo of a sign reading Everybody fights nobody quits
 

 

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.

 

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?