Friday, July 3, 2015

(Not) Being There


Time was that to get something out of something one had to be somewhere. No more. A bit vague? Read on.


ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) had it’s annual conference in Philadelphia last week.

The conference brought thousands of K-12 educators and others together for several days of professional development and networking opportunities. I wasn’t able to attend. Except that I did. Sort of.

Through the magic of streaming media technology like Periscope and the efforts of caring teachers like Jen Wagner, Cori Coburn-Shiflett, and many others I was able to observe bits and pieces, some large and some small, of keynotes, presentations, and conversations.


My being able to connect with the ISTE15 experience as much as I did started with the NotAtISTE15 Google+ group created by Wagner. The group brought together lots of people interested in learning as much as possible from ISTE15 participants. The other half of the equation was people like Coburn-Shiflett using Periscope to live-stream keynotes, presentations, and other events. I hadn’t experienced this level of connectivity and collaboration before.

Most of the time when I connect with others attending an event its through Twitter; its 140 character limit constrains the conversation. While tweets are useful as pointers to deeper and richer content or to arouse curiosity it’s a bit harder for deep (content) diving.

That’s about all I have to say about NotAtISTE. For a little more you can check out my PuzzlingMix blog.


Reflecting on my not being there learning experience started me wondering. How might we leverage Google+, Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest and other collaborative social media tools for other events? What might a framework for NOTAT___ look like?


And that’s as far as I got. Jen Wagner read my mind (or a tweet/blog) and provided an amazing How To #NotHere step-by-step guide.

I love my PLN. Thank you so much Jen!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bumpy, Nests, and Bests


I have this Honda Pilot. It’s got all-wheel-drive. I go off road, the beaten path I call it, when I can. Yesterday I could. So I did.


I was on my way home from Long Beach, California to Phoenix, Arizona. A little past Chiriaco Summit I left Interstate 10 to follow an old jeep trail that roughly paralleled a string of high tension lines.

Now and then I’d stop to stretch my legs and think. About whatever. This is a wonderful time for me: out in the open, no distractions, just the burning summer desert sun and a hot breeze blowing through the cottonwoods.

It’s during times like this that I make connections. With what? Stuff. Like something I heard Scott McLeod say during NotAtISTE15 about “routine cognitive work” which led me to his blog. And an HBR (Harvard Business Review) article (thank you Lesley Price for putting it in front of me) on neglected workplace activities like learning. The part about the 70-20-10 learning rule was particularly illuminating. Turns out the science behind it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.


Did I come up with anything? What did I connect?

Distractions. I need more of ‘em. Especially when I think things make sense without me expending much effort. I probably missed something (major?) along the way.

There’s a couple-three-four PD (professional development) opportuntities coming up I’d like to participate in: EdCampLdr, EdCampGlobal (online), EdCampHOT, and CueRockstar Las Vegas. I’m going to try my best to make it to all of them because they’re distracting. They’re humdrum-less.


I’m going to go Periscopey during one or more of these upcoming PD gatherings. I’m going to do this with the fervent hope that I distract someone enough that they’ll go off the beaten track and maybe, just maybe, discover something (major?). At least until my iPhone's battery gives out. If you don’t have the Periscope app as yet..

Friday, May 29, 2015

EdCampUSA Reflections


"When the student is ready the teacher will appear." -- Buddhist Proverb?


Out of focus photo of several teachers and a laptop

Friday May 29, 2015 saw me keeping company with educators at EdCampUSA in Washington, DC. It was quite a the learning experience. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) grew a few sizes whilst I listened and shared.


I'm going to be thinking about the stuff I learned today. Chief among these includes wearables in education, student voice, and caring enough to figure it out. Not for the first time something occurred to me along the way. Some of what I heard wasn't new. Maybe it was deja vu? Or perhaps I was rehearing something I had heard before and set aside. I can't say for sure. But engaging with peers in conversation and chiming up when I had a mind to made for an exciting time.


Brad Pitt, in World War Z, said something to the effect of, "Movement is survival." I think he said it. Any, I think of learning in a similar way. I have to put myself out there where others are. Deja vu or new doesn't really make much difference. When the student is ready learning happens and stuff begins to make sense.




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.