Monday, April 20, 2015

High Hopes


“Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground

there’s a lot to be learned, so look around.” — High Hopes by J. Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn


AprilBlogaDay Day 20.. What am I working on? Designing a learning experience that looks a lot like a workshop that a bunch (say around 50 people) can work on and complete in no more than 40 minutes. Oh, and the activity will be written on the fly given that I don’t know who will actually be in the room with me.

What I’m afraid I’ll end up with is something that looks like this tractor (I think that’s what it is) that I came across a while back in Texas.


I’m trying to get better at designing learning activities that are grounded in the interests of whatever learners are in the room with me. I have high hopes that I’ll get there.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tech Yes


AprilBlogaDay Day 19.. Teach tech? Tech yes.


I've seen technology evolve over the last 50 years. One thing that hasn't evolved with it is teaching how to use and respect it.

Screen capture of a simulated HP-41C calculator

My first calculator was a slide rule. It was quite the experience learning how to use the C and D scales. Keeping track of powers of 10 was no fun either. Then there were the physical and environmental consideration. It was made of bamboo and was highly intolerant of moisture. Until I could afford my first HP the slide rule was IT.


Each of my three kids had to buy a TI graphing calculator. No wait. I had to buy it for them. This was crazy given that they were expensive AND we already own iPhone apps that did what the TIs did and more.

Schools and teachers need to say YES to technology in their classrooms. If the don't learn how to use and apply technology in their lives where will they?

There's a disconnect when students and teachers could be connected to a degree never before seen in history. All it takes is to say yes, let's give it a chance.

Teaching how to use technology should be grounded in practicality. It should be anchored to what students do. Students can, I am sure, come up with novel ways to run with it once they get the basics.


Say Tech Yes.



Friday, April 17, 2015


What am I thankful for? Carly's moving in.

Photograph of granddaughter Carly



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Be Long


AprilBlogaDay Day 16.. PLC & PLN and why they matter.

Collage of three photos including an irrigation ditch, a bag with the EdCampWestTexas logo, and a man standing next to a space alien totem


Old news if you know me but worth saying again: The know-how and skills I learned during three months of EdCamp in 2013 got me home. Home, Mrs and me agree, is where I need to be.


From 2010 through early 2014 my job kept me far from home. I'm talking thousands of miles over that-a-way. Eager for new ideas to inform my instructional design craft I researched educational technology from my cubby in New Mexico. Up to that time, this was August 2013, I'd been active in my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter.

I participated on chats. I heard about stuff. Only it was mostly tried and true stuff. Don't get me wrong. The instructional strategies I heard about were practical, effective, and easy to put into practice with the learners I supported. But I could feel myself sliding slowly into a rut.

That was when I found my first PLC (Personal Learning Community). I'm talking about EdCampWestTexas.

Subtle: the difference between a PLC and a PLN I mean. It's subtle. As I get it a PLN is a gathering of like-minded people located some distance from each other. Social media apps like Facebook and Twitter enable them to come together virtually periodically. Occasionally individual PLN members might meet at an event. But for the most part their interests bring them together online for brief periods of time to share. A PLC is a group of people rooted in a place. It's easy for them to gather and share.

Because PLC members are mostly local to each other it's much easier for members to support collaborative learning, sharing, and making.

Most of the PLCs I consider myself a member of are a long distance away. Still, I am motivated to go the distance for the deeper learning I know I'll find with them. PLCs are communities of practice. I suppose one could argue distance is relative. If it's worth it you'll belong.


EdCampNavadota (Texas) is this Saturday. I had planned to go the distance and participate. As it happens my work requires me to be elsewhere. I'll still get to learn from members of my PLN that do attend. It's going to be amazing.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Social Earning


Good news bad news: learning in collaboration with others via social media can be amazing when learners(and their organizations) engage.


Learning in the company of others offers learners a significant benefit. Individually they learn from gaining and applying their own knowledge. In groups learners benefit from insights triggered by others sharing their perspectives.

A traditional classroom's capacity may constrain group learning. Environmental issues might hinder social learning as well.

Photo split horizontally with a toddler above and cactus below


Learning via social media removes some of the constraints. One, with walls gone you can share knowledge with as many others as you can network with. You can leverage technology to share perspectives across a variety of media: writing, videos, podcasts to name a few.

To benefit from social media learners have to invest themselves in it. Thinking about learning as earnings they have to work at it.

Social media can be a thorny issue for some organizations. Some I have produced learning experiences for have strict policies in place on how social media can be used. Others may prohibit it completely. There are cultural constraints as well. Things people share online via social media is visible. It takes a lot of trust for this exchange to happen.


Trust is the currency of learning with social media. When the trust is there learners are motivated to share. My job is designing training that leverages story, what some might call case studies, to hook learners interests and empathy. I keep advocating for it, designing it in where I can. We're getting there.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Expeditionary Mettle


"There's an old man sitting next to me.." -- Billy Joel -- Piano Man


Why I teach.. My response to AprilBlogaDay Day 14.

Once upon a time, "When I wore a younger man's clothes," a US Navy uniform actually, I went on an expedition. I travelled far from home and all I knew. It's why I teach.

Graphic of a US Navy Expeditionary Medal


I'm a little older now. I'm still expeditioning. These days my voyages are mostly over the American Southwest. At the helm of my Honda Pilot I travel far and wide to unconferences and conferences. I meet and learn from some amazing educators. Mettle. It's why I teach.

A graphic showing several costumed teachers at EdCampATX


Why do I teach? I teach to learn. Those years I taught multimedia production, animation, and programming I learned from my students. I benefitted greatly from their questions and perspectives.

Today, as I design transformational learning experiences, I continue to learn. It's why I teach.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Telling Time


Time was, once upon a time, pieces had arms. No glows, no snoozing, just spindly hands spinning round and round. Light or dark, watched or not, spinning round.

Photo of a clock showing 11 o'clock


The big hand's a little past twelve. The little hand's on eleven. You used to have to think about time, telling time.

These days, numbers glowing or dark contrasted against light, you just know. There's no more telling to time.


Literate people talk. They talk about all kinds of things. Practical, whimsy, logical, creative it's all the same: talk.


Want literate people? We have to talk to each other. Any medium is fair game. Books, YouTube, Skype it's all the same. Talk.