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.

 


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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Swap Meet PS (Performance Support)

Prologue

Panic sets in. That training a few weeks ago? Forgotten. You're hard up for how to do that thing.

Dialogue

At EdCampUCLACenterX I participated in a “Things That Suck” session. I've been thinking how I could use this in my instructional design practice. Here's an idea:

Photo of a bucket of cleaning supplies held up in the air

Peers swapping a bucket-load of performance support ideas

Towards the end of a training class on something is a Swap Meet Performance Support activity. Learners brainstorm a list of problems they foresee having later doing their job (Things That Suck part). They ideate and discuss strategies for dealing with them (performance support part).

Epilogue

Maybe they use TouchCast to produce video clips for getting past the issue to access at the moment of need. Maybe job-aids are the outcome. This swap meet activity, peers exchanging ideas, encourages ownership and a community of practice is born.

Anyway, something to try.