The last couple years I've learned a lot of little things about a lot of stuff. The problem is they're not connected. So the knowledge, if it makes it into my long term memory, just sits there waiting for activation.

Learning by Walking Around

A while ago other one of these snippets of know-how came to my attention: Rhizomatic learning. I understand it as learning by walking around, going with the flow, taking it all in, and thinking and being in the moment. It helps connect the snippets in my memory.


Being a practitioner I think about tools a lot. What tools should a learner out on a rhizome have handy?

Sketch of a cold weather rhizome learner

Cold weather rhizome learner


I'm in DC next week. Snow is forecast. I'm not a big fan. It'll be interesting to see what connections come from rhizoming whilst sleeting.


On Onboarding


A tweet reminded me of a past onboarding experience I had. It relied too much on technology to get me going. I’m talking about all the stuff a new employee has to do: HR paperwork, meeting manager and peers, picking IT stuff, and all the rest. The toughest part was taking all the compliance stuff online. Basically running new employees through the mill.Sketch of new employee running through a mill

Make It Personal

I see the onboarding process as more personal and happening in real-time. As for compliance stuff, why not learn it from other employees who, having been with the organization a while are practitioners. It helps the newbies learn the culture, too.

Sketch of new employee learning from peers

Meet and greet onboarding


Make learning more collaborative.





Mantra Ray



I got home from my SDCUE a trip just before midnight. The trip, the event, the information I was exposed to, and the people I met have left me with a lot to reflect on.

Photo of Urbie and two women against a San Diego CUE backgrop


In the last three months I've been to:

  • EdCampWestTexas
  • EdCampSD
  • DevLearn
  • EdCampUCLACenterX

That's a lot of PD. Reflecting got me thinking about my why? I participate in EdCamps, SDCUE, and DevLearn because of the people I meet and to get a deeper understanding of teaching, learning, and development that might transfer to my context.

What's it mean: my takeaways from 15 months of social (F2F and via Twitter) PD: “You matter” and “Keep a positive attitude and nothing else matters.” My mantra.


I sit too much: 5.5 hours to California, at least 15 to Texas. My ray of hope: stepping up the action and getting mind/body in motion.



For some odd reason I'm up earlier than a body has a right to be on a Sunday morning. True to form, whatever the hour, muscle memory and habit kicks in and so my day begins. Over breakfast this tweet catches my eye.

Screen capture of eye catching tweet

I read the Compassion Based Learning blog post, but not in its entirety. I learned from my coworker @masantosiii the other day that our attention spans, for a variety of reasons, are getting shorter. Jumping to the hot parts of the blog post (yellow highlighted text, bold faced font, red shaded text) I probably came away with a skewed view of what its author intended. Apologies if I got it wrong.

I blog, but infrequently. I'm okay with this as I'm driven by some need to be understood when something I hear or see resonates. The significant learning events I've had over the past year have mostly come from personal face-to-face contact with others. This has been my year of #LowNoCost professional development (PD) where I travel, sometimes quite a long way, by slow (car) means.

It started last August. In a funk about feelings I'd been having on missing something, I dunno what exactly: fun, cool, whatever. But I felt something was missing that had the potential to leave a smoking gaping hole in my PD if I failed to heed the call. A tweet I saw said something about an #EdCampWestTexas (I know. Seems like every one of my blog posts this year has been about the EdCamp experience. Just go with it.). So I went. I got there late: forgot about a time zone going from Roswell, NM to Abilene, TX.

New stuff came to me in a rush of sights, sounds. The things that lasted were from these two people I met: @ChristyCate and @Sciology. It'd take a much longer post (you probably wouldn't read all of it anyway) to describe how profound it was for me. But through these two educators I learned, in the mythic-fable-like way of things that lead you to hold a thought near and dear about Teaching Like a Pirate, Genius Hour, Flipping, #EduAllStars and so much more.

So yes, by all means blog. Optimize your search engine keywords and whatnot. But at the end of the day (end of the week actually as most EdCamps are on Saturdays) reach out and meet others who share your interests. The best part from all the takeaways are applying what I learn from my K-12 PLN to the instructional design (serving a mostly adult t-pop).

Takeaway: get out from behind that screen and share and learn with others.



Teach Like a Pirate for (supposedly) Grown-Ups

Turns out they're right, sort of. Who's right? Moms and researchers who say successful multitasking is a myth. Last night I tuned-in to two social media enabled professional development (PD) experiences. The first was the wildly popular #TLAP (Teach Like A Pirate) tweetchat; the other: an exciting 40 minutes of #EDUALLSTARS video blog.

Person multitasking with too many balls in the air


Here it is the next day and I have barely a wisps of memory of what both were about. But oh what wisps they are. My take-away from the #TLAP is that #EDCAMP, since August 2013 my preferred PD modality, is like #TLAP for (ostensibly) grown-ups. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, argues that there are three things teachers need to really engage their learners: content knowledge, mastery of teaching strategies and presence (presentation style). Last night's #TLAP chat was mostly about schools holding teach like a pirate events over an entire class or school. Being that I support adult learners I couldn't really contribute directly to the chat. So I focused on the video blog. #EDUALLSTARS' format includes Todd Nesloney and Chris Kesler interviewing school administatior Benjamin Gilpin. During the interview Gilpin said something that resonated bigtime with me: the importance of being authentic; of making mistakes and owning up to that; of acknowledging, in a positive way, everyone you meet. This stuff really grabbed me.

The #EDCAMPS that I've been to, nine so far, are populated by real people: educators of all stripes coming together to share. It takes the newbie only a few moments to realize that learning starts by sharing: asking questions and listening. Share what you know: There are probably others nearby that want to learn what you know and vice-versa. Which brings me back to #TLAP's main premise: presentation and passion. You have to care enough about what interests you to be able to grab and keep the attention of others. Learner engagement is what you get when you share what you love.

Educators sharing what they know

Today I shared my passion for educational technology by making a small spreadsheet that lets my team track a project we're working on. They're excited to want to learn more. This is a good thing because being the new person on the team I depend on them to share their know-how. Mutual sharing enables increased trust which encourages more sharing: a virtuous cycle if there ever was one.


I think grown ups, unlike first graders, fear mistakes. Maybe there's something to that fear. But if you keep playing it safe, not taking chances and trying new things and sharing what happens where do you end up?

Be a pirate! Be passionate about what you do. Acknowledge the positive in those around you. Share. Learn.



Tonight's #Lrnchat topic was staying ahead of the curve. This is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Image of hashtag lrnchat stating tonight's tweet chat topic is staying ahead of the curve

My belief is that if you're ahead of the curve you're in a no man's land of the unknown. It's also where the excitement is. Paul Shoemaker, author of Brilliant Mistakes, observes that making mistakes is an essential step towards success. What matters is for us to make the right mistakes.

For example, a pet project of mine involves developing a training program for learning Spanish. I'm asking lots of questions of language arts and Spanish teachers. I'm keenly interested in how teachers use content, learning strategies and presentation. How will I test what I come up with? By developing lesson plans and uploading them to Teachers Pay Teachers and then seeing what kind of response they get. One way or another I'm bound to learn something that will lead me to a better result.

So get out there in front of the curve where the fun is. Ideate. Design. Develop. Test. Thoughts?



Practical SoMe: #MadWriting, post-#EdCamp


What happens to learning that isn't used? A high point of my life-long learner odyssey has been my discovery of #EdCamp last fall. But, given that EdCamp attendees come mostly from K-12, there isn't much that I can actually use right out of the box. I have to reflect a lot on what I see and hear. Which brings me to what happened a little while ago.


When I opened Twitter just before lunch this morning I saw the #MadWriting hashtag. Some of the people I follow use the hashtag to encourage each other to write, intensely I think, for periods of time of varying lengths. The writing session I had seen was for 30 minutes. It got me to thinking.

I'm an episodic blogger at best. Aside from the writing I do for work (I'm an instructional designer) the only other writing I do regularly is tweet. I like participating in #lrnchat, #chat2lrn, #txed, #tlap and some other tweetchats in the education and training spaces.

Curious, I asked the MadWriters (who happen to be scientists) if I had to be a member of that population to participate. I was happy to learn that no, it wasn't limited to scientists: anyone could participate.

So thus encouraged I decided to give it a try.


In February I participated in three EdCamps:




As I mentioned earlier, I'm an instructional designer. I like to create engaging learning experiences for the learners I support. I'm always on the lookout for new things to try: learning strategies, activities, alternative assessments to name a few. Some of things I've learned at earlier EdCamp sessions include things like Genius Hour, Problem/Project-based learning (PBL), Flipping, Teaching Like A Pirate (TLAP), Gamification, and Design Thinking (DT).


The first time or two I learn about something, Genius Hour and Gamification for example, I pick up enough to know I'm interested in finding out more. This is like a college 100 series class: some general knowledge and a desire to find out more, or not. A few more EdCamps and it's like TLAP 300 or PBL 400. By this time I have a good idea what it is and am beginning to figure out how it can inform my work and how it might be applied.


Of course during each event I'm taking notes. I started out scribbling rapidly, desperate not to miss something. Only of course I did. Later I tried Sketchnoting with mixed results. Lately I'm having more success with doodling my notes and taking pictures. Lots of pictures that I upload to Flickr. I think the photos and doodles help the most because they connecting me in an analog sort of way to the experience and I can remember more.


So the MadWriting session began at 1:30 ET and here it is some 42 minutes later. It's helping. Even though I'm immersed in the writing of this blog post I'm conscious that there are others writing, too. So the motivation isn't coming from encouraging words heard or read. It's knowing there are others out there banging away at keys or scribbling or whatever.


There are pressures though. My lunchtime is just about over. So the post has to draw to a close. I suppose I could save this and continue later. Only that's where my problem was before: not writing. So I think I should close on that note. Maybe later, during other MadWriting I'll start out with an outline rather than, more a less, just do an information dump. With practice comes mastery, right?