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.

 

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.

 

Marbles

INTRO

I’m taking a MOOC this month. It’s about designing a little humanity into the online learning experience. As you might imagine, being human, I have strong feelings about it.

WHEN LOSING YOUR MARBLES IS A GOOD THING

I think the Humanizing Online Learning MOOC I’m taking is off to a bumpy start. It’s only borderline engaging. At the moment I’m listening to a webinar. I’m not really paying attention to it though. The reason is I don’t see it as engaging. Humans have five (traditional) senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste; the webinar, comprised of video and audio, engages only hearing since I’m not watching it. (One might argue it’s engaging my sense of touch and sight, too, since I was sketchnoting).

Sketch of children learning to play marbles

Whilst I was not watching the webinar I drew the above sketch in Paper by 53 on my iPad. It’s a memory of me as a boy learning to play marbles. Everything I heard the instructor talk about in the webinar is contained in the sketch: trust, community, activity, being real and safety.

OUTRO

My takeaway from the webinar is that students want context in their learning experience. They want to do stuff with their bodies and minds. If they can do stuff with others in meaningful contexts so much the better.

 


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.

 

 

 

Take a Waze

INTRO

EdCampAzusa was marvelous. But it was only the beginning.

GETTING THERE AND BACK (OR THE JOURNEY IS THE FORWARD)

This past Saturday found me in Azusa, California. I was there to participate in EdCampAzusa, a gathering of educators for a day of unstructured, I like to say organic, professional dvelopment/personal learning (PD/PL).

I wanted to come away with more perspectives on how educators view and experience professional development: how it occurs, what questions are asked, how answers are processed. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were two EdCamps on my radar last weekend: EdCampAzusa and EdCamPalooza. Both were some distance from my home. The latter was more than twice as far away. I would have gone to it still, but the threat of bad weather made the decision for me. In both instances I would be going somewhere I hadn’t been before. The process I depend on to get to new places is Waze. Waze is an iPad app. I enter the address of where I’m going and it gives me turn-by-turn directions. If only learning were that simple.

When I leave an EdCamp it’s usually with more questions than answers. That’s where reflection, connections and Twitter chats with my PLN and serendipity come into play. Yesterday morning I had a conversation on Twitter with John R. Walkup (@jwalkup).

Fuzzy thoughts coalesced into understanding when I read that.

OUTRO

It’s challenging (and fun) applying what I learn with and from teachers into my instructional design craft. It can take some time, sometimes a long time, before the pegs fit. Light bulbs glow brightest when I hear something in a meeting and something clicks. I suggest it, sometimes withouth considering the organization’s culture, and then conversations begin. I love that part. It’s amazing when a half-baked idea leads to a chance to prototype. The resultant mess, an incredibly organic thing, completes the journey. It’s marvelous to be a part of.