Thursday, November 27, 2014



I have mixed feelings about acronyms. Two acronyms have special meaning for me: TLAP (Teach Like A Pirate) and FAIL (First Attempt In Learning). TLAP is about passion. If you aren't feeling it don't do it. FAIL: If you're not failing once in a while maybe you aren't learning anything new.

Constructive Responses

I presented a session during the eLearning Guild's DevLearn Conference last month. The evaluation results came in last night. How'd I do?

DevLearn presenter evaluation results
DevLearn presenter evaluation results
DevLearn presenter evaluation results
DevLearn presenter evaluation results

I have constructive feedback I can use to improve.


How to practice for next time? I'm thinking YouTube.


It's Thanksgiving Day in the USA. Thank you EdCamp. Thank you SDCUE. Thank you everyone whose names begin with @. Thank you God and Mrs: the first for each new breath, the latter for taking each away. 23 years married and still going strong.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pandora's Snicker Doodle


I like going off on tangents. I love it when the tangent brings me back to where I started. This has the feel of a great circle: something about navigation learned whilst in the Navy. It happened this morning in one of those never-ending meetings a stray thought crossed my awareness. Its sudden appearance startled me. That it had nothing to do with the meeting caused my mind to snatch it out of the ether for a closer look.


Apologies if this next part comes off a little skewed. I'm drawing on knowledge from when I was 12, a 7th grader I think. Pandora was the first woman the gods made, per Greek Mythology. They gave her all manner of positive attributes. Some time later, Pandora happens upon a jar. Curious about its contents she opens it. Much to her surprise and humankind's lament all of life's evils were released from their cache to inflict pain and suffering on us all.


I'm an instructional designer. I've practiced my craft, using equal parts of science and art, for 16 years or so. The stray thought I'd had was this: Pandora unleashed uncertainty, fear, and doubt. These are the very things that keep many of us from embracing change and enjoying success beyond our wildest dreams. Ok. That last sentence is in here for dramatic effect. Writing without benefit of an editor means sometimes a little incoherence makes it into the final piece. Anyway, the myth goes on to say that Pandora was drawn back to the jar by a small noise coming from within it. She opens the jar again and out pops hope.

In my world hope means training. Something changes and a gap in performance results. Most times we see change coming from a mile away. Other times it surprises us. Either way training gives us a way to cope and do better.


With the US holiday season almost upon us Mrs felt the need to make sugar cookies. So we mixed up a batch of cinnamon sugar cookies. It was an easy recipe. She did the mixing and rolled the dough balls. It was my job to roll them in the cinnamon sugar and place them on the cookie sheets. She snickered now and then at my clumsy attempts to keep the dough in ball form. Now and then she guided me so there were more balls at the end than pancakes. Fom the start she had a clear idea of what the result would be. For me that realization came only at the end. In training we call this performance support.

Photo of a cookie sheet with a number of unbaked snickerdoodle cookie balls


It is an efficient way to impart skill and know-how. More often than not there are instructions, checklists, and pictures to help produce a successful outcome.


While I produce amazing learning experiences (according to the Level 1-4 evaluations) my preferred way to learn something involves play (and a ton of trial and error).

At the end of my typical learning process I generally have a positive outcome. A few times I fail. What I also come away with are a plethora of possible things to try next time. The last time this happened was Saturday.

At The SDCUE tech fair in Carlsbad, CA last Saturday I was wowed by Daqri4D, an augmented reality (AR) app. Lacking the funds for a license, I wasn't really sure I needed the app--I just wanted to play with it, I started thinking how an app-smashing approach might yield a similar wow.


I did some poking around with Aurasma, another AR app, the past couple of days. The results are kind of rough. Even so, I can see how I might be able to use the techniques I learned during my design and protyping phase to produce a wow learning experience.


Going forwards I'll continue playing around with AR. I think some green screen work, larger models, and better lighting will kick the prototypes up another notch. Stay tuned.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's People: PD Is People (and the connections and things they make)


I've been known to go way off the beaten path to learn new stuff. Though I own a GoPro camera I'm not too into extreme things to do. Extreme for me means going the (usually long) distance to connect with people and their ideas and ways of doing.

PD Is People

The past year or so my professional development (PD) has come from sharing ideas and ways of doing with other educators far from my home.

photo collage of learning events

Yesterday, for example, I participated in EdCampUCLACenterX in Pico Rivera, California. The school where it took place was an hour's drive from the town where I grew up. The school's architecture and layout reminded me a lot of good 'ol Colton High. Someday I'd like to participate in an EdCamp there. Who knows?

That's why I go the distance for PD: lots and lots of diverse perspectives in safe and familiar environments. Yesterday during the Technology and other checking for understanding session I was asked how different the EdCamps I've been to are from each other. I replied that the focus of the sessions changes. Or maybe because it's the times that are changing. Certainly the district and state environment affect what teachers are interested in learning.

I love meeting new people. I worry sometimes that I might be a little annoying, as I like taking a lot of pictures. I generally ask permission, at least of those nearby.

One thing I think that most everyone I've met at the PD events I've gone to in the last year (DevLearn, EdCamps, COMPILE) share is the need to keep the conversations going. "How do we maintain the relationship?.


This guy: Jed Butler knows Twitter PD.

photo of Jed Butler explaining Twitter chats

In the space of about 20 minutes he spun the most amazing series of short stories about how Twitter PD changed his life and how it can change ours. He took us step by step from starting, to sharing, while pointing out some awesome resources like Cybraryman1's site along the way


I'm hoping to be able to visit Austin, TX next week for EdCampATX and Los Angeles early next year for EdcampLA. Then there's the San Diego CUE but it's the same day as EdCampATX. Try and go out and meet some people: learn something new whilst growing your personal learning network (PLN).





Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's a small world after all


I got back home Halloween night. I'd spent the back half of last week attending the eLearning Guild's DevLearn Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had a few minutes to unload and unwind before Mrs got home from work. So I started in on The Empathy Era by Belinda Parmer, CEO of Lady Geek, a creative agency in the UK.

computer generated graphic of several glowing jack-o-lanterns
I'd barely opend it when an infographic caught my eye: There is a direct link between emotional intelligence and salaries (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009). Thinking about this made me want to know more, so I googled emotional intelligence. Which led me to a recent article in The Atlantic about its dark side. Which, after I'd read the article, was a good thing. There are shades of gray in everything. This is why teaching critical thinking is vital.
This train of thought made me wonder where learning critical thinking should happen: at school, at home, or on the job? For me the answer was everywhere, because as I'd learned at DevLearn context is crucial. In school the responsibility for teaching critical thinking to students falls squarely on teachers' shoulders; or does it? Students have a responsibility to own their learning, too. Teaching it to workers on the job falls on, well, the people who design learning experiences: instructional designers like me who work in L&D (Learning and Development). As in K-12, learners have to own their development, too.
Some time later I ended up on Connie Malamed's website reading an article about 10 ideal qualities instructional designers should possess.

K-12 and L&D

I thought, when I began a #madwriting session early this afternoon that this Connect the Dots blog post would be simple. Only it's not. It's nuanced, in this case, because I think instructional designers are educators in the way that teachers are educators.

As I read Malamed's post and the 10 ideal qualities instructional designers should possess the thought, more than once, crossed my mind that the list reminded me of the teachers I met at every EdCamp I've ever been to.

I was a little let-down then when I googled 10 qualities for an ideal teacher. It's not that I didn't find many qualities that both designers and teachers shared. The instructional design qualities seemed to reflect mostly technical intelligence. Teacher qualities appeared to be grounded in emotional intelligence.

One of the teacher better lists came from the Queensland, Australia Department of Education. Being the sort of person I am, a recent convert to the Teach (Design) Like A Pirate discipline, the quality that leapt off the screen to land in my lap was enthusiasm. This felt like the passion I've come to understand makes me want to be better at my job.

Then I went off on a tangent and googled a third time: qualities of an ideal student. I was surprised to find this EdTech Review article from last year about 21st century classrooms. It screams instructional design.

Where does this rhizomatic excursion leave me? Are instructional designers educators like teachers? It depends. If the designer is passionate about what they do and pushes their holistic selves to create an environment where learners can take on more of the responsibility for their education then yes, they are educators. The emotional intelligence, empathy for learners, is what really matters. It's the teachers' context.


Here and there as I wrote this I kept going back to The Empathy Era. It was a good thing, too. Because at the end of Chapter One, at the end of the last paragraph was a sentence that made me shiver with excitement. It was about putting yourself in another's shoes, seeing the world through their eyes, and providing them with something that they didn't know they needed.

I had the good fortune to have been selected to present Applying K-12 Strategies and Technology in Corporate Learnng at DevLearn. What I learned there validated my decision to participate in EdCamp professional development. We share a passion for learning.

photo of Belinda Parmar and Urbie Delgado talking

And you know what? It's a small world after all. At DevLearn I met Belinda Parmar, author of The Empathy Era. Whilst waiting to meet her I got to speak with Kristen, another DevLearn attendee. She said that a previous DevLearn event had changed her life. I know the feeling. This one changed mine.


Bradberry, T. and Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence. San Diego: Talent Smart.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Flip Learning: Show Your Work


It's been more than a couple years since my last Connect the Dots blog post. A lot has changed since 2012; I accidentally deleted the 2012 posts -- you'll just have to trust me on that point. Since then some things have come together. As seems to happen in my life they were more serendipitous than planned.


I worked far from home from 2010 to early 2014. I was out in the field with customers a lot. I had to be self-sufficient: you know, having two (sometimes three) of everything for 'just-in-case' moments. I deepened my end-to-end production knowledge and learned tons about engagement through design thinking and rapid prototyping. One day, for example, I was observing trainees in a New Mexico blizzard and.. but I digress.

If you follow my Puzzling Mix blog it'll come as no surprise the effect that EdCamps have had on my personal and professional life. I won't go into that a whole lot here but suffice it to say that EdCampWestTexas changed everything: story, engagement, assessment, passion for what I do all got kicked up another notch there.

The Three Little Pigs

Growing up I loved when my mom told me stories: the old standards, Aesops Fables, mythology, family history were all favorites. I use stories a lot in my instructional design craft. The characters in this story are EdCamp, Show Your Work, and iPad.

At EdCamp I met educators: K-12 teachers, librarians, principals, and innovation specialists. They, in turn, introduced me to a brave new world of apps, acronyms, and ways of knowing. I'm a firm believer in Teaching Like A Pirate, designing learning experiences where students and learners do a lot more of the heavy lifting than the teacher, and this cool thing that You Matter. You'll see where these fit in the story a little further down.

Show Your Work is a cool little thing I learned from someone I met on Twitter: Jane Bozarth. In a nutshell it's the idea that we all benefit when we (yeah, it's that simple) share what we do with others.

photo collage showing animated characters, a photo of the author and a collection of pink sticky notes

I've had an iPad since they first came out. At my first EdCamp I learned about app smashing. App smashing involves using several apps to do things that one app alone can't. In the Show Your Work image above for example (clockwise from left) are animated characters giving presentations for remote project team members, sticky notes and me (braced for the cold observing workers on the Baltimore docks). These were smashed together on an iPad mini with PS Touch, Tellagami, Pinnacle Studio, and Diptic.

Connected Educators

October is Connected Educators month. I'm looking forward to connecting with peers at the 2014 DevLearn Conference. I'll be sharing what I learned connecting with K-12 teachers and staff over the past year. If you're at the conference look up session 813 Applying K-12 Strategies and Technology in Corporate Learning.


Thoughts and comments much appreciated. I'm looking forward to our shared learning experiences.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Urbie's iPad (AKA eyepad) app scoring system based on APGAR

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how I use my iPad (eyepad used to mis-direct spammers) in my instructional design (ID) and elearning development  (eD) work. I started blogging about it a couple of weeks ago. I mostly use the ADDIE and ARCS ID models; initially I thought to describe how my eyepad apps work with each phase of the ADDIE model.

While posting my choice of Analysis apps it occurred to me that I was only identifying my favored apps. I wasn't really saying anything about how good a particular app was working for me. What made me think about it is this: I'm a techie from way back. It's in my nature (DNA?) for me to make something work, even though a tremendous amount of work and looking the other way might be involved.

Consider this: back in the mid-90s I had two Apple Newton MessagePads, the Model 100 and 120. I used them for every task related to my technical training work. Were they really effective tools? Not really. I had to overlook that they didn't usually translate my handwriting to text very well for example. Moving data to and from a Newton and a computer was challenging to say the least. Anyway, after thinking about it for a while I began to understand that just saying I used a particular eyepad app in my work wasn't enough. I needed to come up with a semi-objective system to describe how well I think an eyepad app helps me in my ID and eD work.

In the first few minutes after each of my daughters were born someone on the delivery team evaluated her and came up with an APGAR score. Named after Dr. Virginia Apgar the score is used to rate how well a newborn is doing. APGAR has five components: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. Each component has three possible scores: 0 (not good) to 2 (doing fine). So an APGAR score of 0 is cause for grave concern while a score of 10 is like no worries.

I think APGAR is useful in scoring eyepad apps. I know that some apps I've obtained look great (Appearance score of 2) while crashing immediately after startup (Pulse score of 0). Along these lines I think a Grimace score of 0 means I'm cursing the app while a 2 means I'm smiling ear-to-ear. Rounding it out an Activity score of 0 means the app doesn't come close to doing what its developers claim and Respiration score of 0 means I'm huffing and puffing as I put the app through its paces.

So here we are. Going forwards I'm going to rate the eyepad apps I use in my ID and eD work using my take on APGAR. Over time I expect that crowd(sourcing) will drive me/us towards something that's more efficient/effective. Please let me know what you think about this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

iPad instructional design apps and workflow

I've had an Apple iPad for the last 18 months or so. It mostly replaces my laptop (Mac Book Pro) when I'm away from home. I currently use a 32 GB 3G (Verizon) & WiFi model. Though the iPad has the ability to access the Verizon 3G network I tend not to enable it. I actually use a Verizon 3G MiFi device for my on-the-road internet access; it's sort of odd but MiFi 3G is way faster and more reliable than when I have my iPad's Verizon 3G turned on. 

Since I work a couple of states away from home I depend on it a lot for personal and professional use. This post describes how I use iPad in my instructional design work; today I'll talk about my preferred instructional design models and how I use iPad to facilitate note-taking when meeting with customers and subject matter experts. I had thought at first that I'd be able to hammer this out quickly in one post. As it happens something like three weeks have gone by since someone asked me to talk about my iPad and instructional design experiences. I ended up reflecting on it quite a bit longer than I thought.

I hear a lot on twitter and other places that some of my peers, other instructional designers, don't much care for the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) instructional design model. I sort of like it. I use ADDIE and ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction) on every instructional design project I do, and have for the last three years. iPad and ARCS, in particular, work quite well with the storytelling approach I favor. I think you'll see the apps I use reflect this.

I hadn't really thought much about how I use iPad in instructional design until Allen Communications came out with their DesignJot app. It does an excellent job of walking someone through a full-on instructional analysis. It's all in there, including the kitchen sink. I've used it a couple of times but I've found that it's overkill for the kind of work I do. Most of my projects are for a federal law enforcement agency. I ran through DesignJot once and then the second time I used it I realized I didn't need to; I mean my customer and target population weren't likely to change. If I were a contractor again, servicing many and varied customers, then yes, DesignJot would probably be a more active tool in my kit.

ADDIE starts with the analysis phase: meeting with the customer and getting a feel for the sort of project it's going to be: topic, target population of learners, identifying roles and responsibilities and so on. Part of this process involves helping the customer understand and appreciate what instructional design can and can't do. This is especially important when the desired method of course delivery is elearning. The apps I use for analysis and customer interaction deal mostly with recording meeting notes, record keeping and project management. It's vital that I come away from customer and subject matter expert (SME) meetings with a thorough understanding of the project.

Note-taking apps: Noteshelf makes note-taking a breeze. You basically write (freehand) your notes. You want to use a stylus with this app. The first step in note-taking involves creating a notebook. You can customize the notebook cover and pages. There are a number of default covers and paper styles; my favorite paper mimics my trusty yellow legal pad. You can also buy more using in-app purchases; I haven't done this. After you've finished taking notes it's simple to export (I routinely use email, print and dropbox) your notes. The thing you want to remember about Noteshelf: it takes freehand (hand written) notes. It does not let you type text into your notes. Notability is my other note-taking app. Like Noteshelf you can record your notes freehand. Notability also supports audio recording, typed-text and PDF annotations. It really pushes the note-taking envelope by letting you mix audio, text and drawings on the same page. I mostly use the app for freehand note-taking as the soft-keyboard (or using a Bluetooth keyboard) tends to distract the people I'm meeting with. In the design phase (ideation) it's a killer app.

For record keeping I depend on emailing my notes to my computer for storage. If I'm working on a rapid design project I'll sometimes forward the notes to the customer or SMEs; the notes can be a little on the messy side; when they are I like to clean them up in a word processing app like Pages, QuickOffice or Office2; the latter two office apps I use when I expect to receive Microsoft Office formatted documents from the customer when I'm in the field; both are excellent when it comes to compatibility. I also use Dropbox for archiving. I can create folders to organize my notes. The people I work with say I use Dropbox like they use Sharepoint. I think Dropbox is much cooler and faster.

For the last several months SG Project has been my project management app. It works a little like Microsoft Project; I like it for that and because I can import/export XML Project files back and forth.

About the stylus: I've used two. My first stylus was the Pogo Sketch. Lately I've been using Just Mobiel's Alupen. Both work quite well as a stylus for note-taking and sketching. I switched because the Pogo Sketch doesn't feel quite natural in my hand; it's on the skinny side. The Alupen is much fatter and fits quite well when I hold it. If the Alupen has a down-side it's that it lacks the pocket-clip on the Pogo Sketch.

One more word about record-keeping on my iPad: Blogsy. Blogsy is the app I use for blogging. I haven't tried any other apps for this purpose; what I had seen available in the app store tended to be unappealing given their UI or customer feedback. Blogsy's really easy to use; it can be a little quirky though. For example, tagging a blog post by adding labels causes the app to freeze. Weird things happen when I use Blogsy's undo-redo: chunks of my text disappear and don't come back. Even so, it replaces what I had been using before: either the blog's default web-based text editor or Adobe Dreamweaver. That's not a typo: Blogsy, for how I do blogging, is as effective as Dreamweaver.

In this post I talked about my favored instructional design models: ADDIE and ARCS. I outlined the apps I use for what I consider to be the main component of ADDIE's first (analysis) phase: note-taking, record keeping and project management. My favored note-taking app is Noteshelf. It is flawless when it comes to writing freehand notes. Notability is another note-taking app I regularly use. It has richer features including audio recording, text support and annotation. I use it a lot in ADDIE's design phase. If you're going to do serious note-taking on the iPad (of the freehand variety) then you need to get a stylus.

In my next post (tomorrow hopefully) I'll describe how I use iPad apps in ADDIE's design phase. I'll also start in on how the iPad shines when it comes to ARCS.