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.


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