Dark at Night

INTRO

My best road trips usually begin by dark of night

REFLECTING ON THE LONG TRIP HOME

I came this close to making it to #EdCampSD in San Diego. Something came up and I missed making it three in a row. No biggie. I have some time now to reflect on my recent #ReimaginePD experiences over the past few weeks.

Over the ear photo looking through Urbie's car's back window
 

It's rare that I experience collaborative professional development close to home. It's almost hundreds of miles away that I travel to meet with other educators to, basically, “see what happens.” Often time the takeaways can be expressed in a few words. In St. Louis last month what I learned resolved down to being mindful. Whatever it is I find myself doing I can trust I can do it being mindful the heart of an entrepreneurial person continues to beat in my chest.

Thing is, being an adult about it, learning sticks when it's memorable. Which means like a boomerang it keeps coming back.

Photo of a flea market alongside a rural Missouri road
Which is why I often stop by cool things I pass, sometimes to peruse, other times to photograph. I don't know what I know until I make time take time to see where it fits.

ON WHY MOST ANY LEARNING EXPERIENCE CAN BE MADE SURVIVEABLE

At EdCampYosemite educator Jon Corippo shared this slide.

Photo of Jon Corippo's life about if a thing was going to make a difference it already would have

There were, maybe, thirty people in the room, educators all, and me, a learning experience designer. That means there were that many interpretations. What I took from Jon's sharing is doing differently. But not with stuff. And definitely not with tools. The constant in my work life and probably teachers', too is people. I have people to train up. Teachers have kids to educate. Methinks we have tools aplenty.

Photo of a dusty mountain forest fire road

What I need is to dare more. Sensing danger ahead because I haven't been this way before do I turn back or forge ahead? In this instance, once the butterflies had grown to the size of dragons, I turned around and found my way by revisiting the path I had previously taken.

Some PD (Professional Development) fills me with dread. What I think is fear of being called on to do something among strangers is scary. But maybe the scary feeling can be adopted, adapted or coopted, to teaching and learning. Then again, maybe the dread comes from the fear that this PD is going to be more sit and get?

I understand that somewhere near San Diego today an EdCamp is underway where teachers made stuff with cardboard. How might we use ubiquitous stuff like cardboard and tape to make PD surviveable? I use survivable here in the sense the experienced rescued me from the job's doldrums and dropped me off in a place where I can excitedly share my tale.

OUTRO

I had her for 10 days, my DJI Phantom drone. I bought it at a BestBuy on my way to Yosemite. She was a dream in the sky.

Sketch of a DJI Phantom drone

This was the best I could do drawing the Phantom from memory. I returned it Friday. In a couple of weeks I'm getting the Next Big Thing: a Mavic Pro drone. It's smaller and goes further. Best, it's got the same great camera and is more portable.

Like many my family sometimes went on road trips. Papa liked to leave before dawn, when it was still dark. He called it “first light.” It was exciting making final preparations for the adventure to come, going off into the unknown. Flying my drone, I still have my Parrot Bebop2, is like that. Going on a trip, not knowing for sure what lay ahead. I love PD like that.

 

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!

 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)

INTRO

Why should kids have all the fun when they learn?

ROLE/ROLL

I’ve got a granddaughter. She’ll be two years old next month. That kid learns so much so fast. She’s fearless about it, too. She knows what she's about and rolls with it.

Photo of OldPa and Carly

Watching her the other day gave me an idea. How does a two year old learn compared to an adult? So I came up with this table based on information contained in the websites referenced below; I probably got the citation form wrong but it’s been a while.

Role/Roll Your Own PD (Professional Development)

References

Child Development Tracker, PBS Approaches to Learning, Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/two/approachestolearning.html August 23, 2015

US Department of Education, Adult Learning Theories, Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2yoAdults August 23, 2015

YOUR OWN PD

Who designs your PD learning experiences? If your answer wasn’t yourself I suggest you take a step back and rethink it. Who knows your interests better than you? Who knows where you want to go and what you want to do in and with your life? I suggest you take some time, as much as you need, to come up with some questions that may shed some light on where you might go for answers.

I'm going to be presenting this at a conference in October. I'll share more about it later.

OUTRO

This entry’s a work-in-progress. I wanted, no needed, to get this thought down for later. I didn’t want this one to be, like too many others, an idea that flitted in for a moment and then was gone forever.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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!