Your Daily Sauce

This is my Ontario Extend 9x9x25 Challenge post #8

If I were asked to name the top 2 things that have helped me to not only develop and hone my abilities as an educational technologist, but also lead me down rabbit holes that have crafted my attitudes and values and love for this whole ed-tech thing, here is what I would answer without hesitation:

  1. Doing Dailies.
  2. Making Dailies.

Now you might be asking, what the heck are Dailies? It’s not a tool. It’s not really content or curriculum. It’s not part of a module. It’s a sauce. A sauce for your learning community. Sauce adds flavor. If it were up to my 4 year old daughter, there would only be sauce and no actual food to put it on. Is that so wrong? (well for actual food… yes definitely she is wrong)

I first came across the Daily with the ds106 Daily Create as I was partaking as an open participant in the legendary ds106 (a Digital Storytelling learning experience). Holy guacamole has participating in this been huge for me. If I were to completely map my professional learning network, I would guess that 99% of the most meaningful connections have roots in Tweeting out responses to Daily Creates/Daily Extends.

Oh yeah, what are Dailies? Simply put, they are short (10-15 minute) creative activities posted (you guessed it) every dang day to a learning community. They are fun. They introduce you to and get you some practice with new tools. They show you how others respond to the activities. They bring about new connections to peers. They get you in a routine that builds your digital skill, your network, and your joy for doing this stuff. What the heck more can you ask?

I have responded to the ds106 Daily Create 342 times. We forked the idea over to Ontario Extend and I have responded to those 215 times. That’s a lot of ketchup. All 550+ of those represent trying something new, making a connection or two and growing in little dollops.

They are usually fun. They are usually creative. Some take longer than others. With the ds106 Daily, they are a little more artistic. With the Daily Extend, they relate to technology-enabled pedagogy and are tied to the modules. You are expected to do exactly as many as you would like to do. There’s value in just checking out the daily every day without actually doing it. Here are some of the Daily Extend titles, just to show you the level of levity and brevity we’re working with here

  • #oext125 Stop your crying, it’s a line of the times. (a timeline activity)
  • #oext302 Ed-Tech Detectives
  • #oext152 Reclaim Fake News
  • #oext145 An Outrageous Checkout Policy
  • #oext138 Subterranean Scholarship Blues
  • #oext72 Slide Deck Beauty Pageant
  • #oext64 Taylor Swift Curriculum Design

It goes deeper.

You are not only welcome to try each and every Daily posted. You are also welcome to put in ideas for new Dailies: (ds106Extend). I’ve submitted a number of them to ds106 and as the program manager of Ontario Extend, I’ve done a fair chunk of those, too. Coming up with these is so very fun. I shouldn’t have all of it. I am currently collecting ideas for Daily Extends when we re-launch in early January. Here is my complete list:

  1. Who is on your personal Mt. Rushmore. Create an image representing the four people who have made you the you you are the most.
  2. …. Okay I only have one so far. What are your ideas? add them in the to the Extend Daily site or tweet me your thoughts.

And it all goes even deeper.

If this blog post were an episode of a reverse Scooby Doo Mysteries where someone is causing all kinds of havoc, only for good and not evil, we are now at the part where we pull the mask off the one making all these shenanigans happen. It’s Alan Levine! The cogdog! I’ll be adding him as one of my Mt. Rushmore heads. It was him all along, designing the Daily sites, creating countless daily activities in ds106, Extend, and a number of other projects. AND…

he gives it all away for you to host your own on GitHub. What a guy. Here is another place you can find him.

I hope to see you in January in the Extend mOOC when the Extend Dailies re-launch! In the meantime, the ds106 Daily Create is still going strong every day. Why not warm up over there?

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Breaksgiving

This is my Ontario Extend 9X9X25 Post for week 7.

I was holding my five month old daughter when I snapped this photo of the final slide of Robin DeRosa’s keynote at eCampusOntario’s Technology-Enabled Seminar and Showcase. (You can read the whole transcript here.) Out of 250 or so attendees at TESS, I held the only squeaky baby in attendance.

I simply had to bring her or not attend the day. I checked with the boss the night before.

“How bad would it look if I showed up tomorrow with Hattie?”

“It’s reality, man.”

Break given. Relief felt. Thank you, David.

How lucky was I also that Robin kicked the day off with a message of embracing instead of erasing our humanity in our work. Among other things, she described College Unbound and how many of the students bring their children to class.

Standing there at the back with that squirmy wormy in my arms I again felt a break was given to me. More relief. Thank you, Robin.

I was worried how people would feel about this little distraction being in the midst, but throughout the entire day I did not see one disdainful look on anyone’s face. I saw nothing but the opposite.

Those were all little breaks given to me by everyone in attendance. Thank you, everyone.

So, as a recent receiver of these little acts of humanity that helped me to be a part of TESS when I otherwise would not have been, and in the spirit of Robin’s talk, I am inspired to think about how I can make things easier for people.

We are in week 7 of the 9x9x25 writing challenge. I sometimes see in these posts claims about being late, being behind and being sorry about that. Is it stressing you out? What you’ve all done throughout the 9x9x25 has been fantastic whether you’ve dropped off for whatever reason or not. Can I give you some relief here by saying take the week off? What would help give you a little relief?

What are some things you can do to embrace the complexity of humanity in our lives and maybe provide some stress relief to those around you?

Now if we can only get the squirmy wormy to give us a break, too.

Check out Giulia Forsythe’s viznotes on Robin’s talk!

Inspiring @actualham #TESS18 keynote, A Human Framework for Institutional Innovation #viznotes

 

 

 

Gaming Gamification

9x9x25 Post #5

I have dabbled in gamification of learning experiences. I definitely think there is promise in using game elements to make learning more engaging in some places. I also think most of us are not there yet.

Like many other facets of life there’s that balance to find between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. A lot of work to gamify things seems to be focusing too much on the extrinsic. And like all those other facets of life, the intrinsic is much harder to achieve.

I’d wager that the first level of Super Mario Bros is one of the most shared experiences for anyone who has experienced some video gaming, so it is a good place to relate game experiences. What was memorable and engaging about it? And what about it could possibly be embedded in to a learning environment? And what was intrinsic vs. extrinsic?

I clearly remember the look, the music, the sounds, how to move and jump. I remember the information provided at the top: the timer, the points, the level. The sounds of collecting coins, getting a mushroom, a 1Up were constant. The sound of dying…too many times. I remember fireworks at the end.

The extrinsic stuff is easier to point out. Hit a brick and hear that coin sound. Smoosh that Goomba and get some points. Time your jump to the flag correctly and get some fireworks. Should we make a fun sound go bleepidy-bloop in our courses whenever a paragraph is read? Should we make music play in the background of our LMS as students navigate it? If we decide to go that route, I nominate this music:

What was intrinsic about Super Mario Bros? I wasn’t trying a million times just to hear some sounds and see some digital sparks. It was knowing that I, myself, needed to learn to press buttons in a certain way/order to jump over, smoosh, and find the correct path to the end. And then do it again and again from level to level in different increasingly complex ways. It was knowing that my skills were improving in anticipating what I am running towards and performing the right actions to get through it. I hardly spared a thought about the princess I was meant to be saving. She was always in another castle anyway. That was no motivation. The true stuff was intrinsic.

It seems a lot of gamification in learning experiences is trying to recreate those fireworks at the end of a level. That’s not enough. Maybe great games are so engaging because they are much like great learning experiences in that you are lightly guided to achieve things on your own. Maybe video game designers figured stuff out from our end of things first. Maybe they do some of our stuff better than us. They probably have a bigger budget so let’s not feel too bad.

Game designers know much better than us how to make learning a progression for one thing. Level one is always a tutorial without you knowing you are being tutored. I am currently completely enthralled with playing the newest Zelda game, which, half way through is still supporting my progression of learning. It’s still popping up subtle suggestions as to what might help me here, that I can ignore or not.

It certainly has some fun extrinsic things like a wonderful musical score and just straight up beautiful landscapes. But what has me in its grips, other than the story, is that I am learning to be prepared for whatever comes at me next. I am learning that I can build my repertoire of abilities and that certain tools have certain uses and that I should find them and learn how to use them. I’m learning to go back and get myself more prepared to try again when I fail. These are ideas I could use more in my real life as you can see in my last post.

So if it seems to me that what game designers have done best is also stuff that we have already been doing, what can we take from them to gamify our courses? Maybe let’s first just recognize that foremost is designing a learning progression with all the supports that we can. Let’s call that gamification. Then, when you’re ready to go deeper than adding a couple extrinsic rewards to your courses, my friend Keegan can help you with his GOBLINs.

photo: There, I gamified the text. “gamingthetextbook” flickr photo by greenetrry https://flickr.com/photos/146322656@N03/45618159701 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

The Wrong Tool for the Job

Ontario Extend 9x9x25 Post #4

Well it’s vise grips for pliers, and pliers for a wrench
A wrench for a hammer, hammers everything else

~Corb Lund, Hard On Equipment

This past weekend I struggled through trying to fix a couple things that should have been simple around the house. It involved drywall, screws, anchors, towel racks, curtain rods, and a hammer of course. You always need a hammer, right?

It eventually involved hanging a small painting to cover up some holes. I quite like how it turned out.

I did not quite have the right tools for the job on hand. Happens all the time. I don’t have a huge tool box. I tend to struggle to get the job done without running to the hardware store to get the right tool. Am I wasting my time? Probably.

But I get the feeling that without struggling with the wrong tools, I would never know that euphoric feeling of finally using the right tool for the right job. If I was just handed the right tool and told what to do, I wouldn’t appreciate what had been accomplished.

I think this relates well in ed-tech. I have spent a lot of time using technological tools to try to enhance learning experiences. Through that experience and without naming names, I have come to think that some tools are pretty crappy at it and others work quite well.

I wouldn’t know why I don’t think certain tools are the right answer without having experienced them first. I guess what I’m saying is, get in there and experience tools, try them out. Be hard on the equipment. It’s okay if you bend or break some stuff on your way. But try to recognize when you might be trying to fix a leak in your roof with a 2×4.

I’m not saying don’t seek out the advice of those who’ve been there before you, I just think it’s hard to truly buy into something like (for example) a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) initiative, without spending time in someone else’s first. You won’t have the “this is the right tool” warm-fuzzies without first having the “this is the wrong tool” cold-roughies.

A little struggle can go a long way.

“Līgo 2013 (19)” flickr photo by Janitors https://flickr.com/photos/janitors/9131193865 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Hark! An #OpenEd18 Reflection

Last week the Open Education Conference was held in Niagara Falls, New York. I am going to hark back on my experience there for my third post of the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 Reflective Writing Challenge.

I had a barrel of fun, but I am going to reflect on things I wish I did differently while there. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the last three Open Education Conferences. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet and become friends with many people in the community. I get excited to see them and eager to catch up.

So here is the first thing I wish I did differently: I wish I did not skip the speed networking that followed Jess Mitchell’s very, very wonderful keynote on the opening day. And I wasn’t the only OpenEd “veteran” to do so. In my haste to see some people I already knew, I missed the chance to connect and help people newer to the movement. I could be a helpful node in your Open Education network, and I missed a chance to offer that help. Maybe it’s not too late though, if you’re reading this and want to connect, please do!

OpenEd is truly full of people who would LOVE to chat with anyone interested, would LOVE to bring more people in to the fold. It’s been billed as the family reunion of Open Education. Which can be great, but can also seem like a club that is hard to get in to. And “club members” may say that you just need to say hi and we are happy to get to know you, but that is intimidating, and frankly kind of hard to pick the right time when someone you want to meet is deeply engrossed with catching up with an old friend. I will do better to offer up my network connectivity status to others in the future.

Another thing I wish I’d done differently is a more long-term missing out. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to truly recognize the importance of Wikipedia in Open Education. I got the opportunity to try to contribute a little bit to Wikipedia in an edit-a-thon run by Bonnie Stewart and Amy Collier. The prep work that went in to this was unbelievable.

The simplest (simple, but not easy) way to introduce a non-disposable assignment to your class was sitting right there the whole time! Add to Wikipedia. Believe me, the process is academic as heck. As Robert Cummings said in his session on teaching with Wikipedia: (paraphrasing here) Academic writing is too often writing what you think and then finding things to support that. Wikipedia writing flips that so that you are working  with nothing but truth. This is probably so obvious to most, but I’ve been busy looking at other ways to embed open in our teaching and learning. Wikipedia was just too “already there” for me to think hard enough about. Not anymore. So what I wish I did differently at #OpenEd18 is to learn more directly from Amy Collier and Bonnie Stewart about how to Wikipedia while I was in the same room as them. Luckily though, Daniel Lynds is hard core and has already pushed me to meet with him on a regular basis going forward to finish what we started.

Which takes me to the final thing that I wish I did differently while there.  I wish I thought and acted more directly about what to do next. Make not just connections, but plans to connect and take action. It all comes at you so fast, but making solid plans to do something with someone holds more weight when you make those plans in person. I saw others taking action. Ken Bauer and Joe Murphy promised to complete their patches of The Open Faculty Patchbook for me (woot woot!). It’s not like I have no plans, I just wish I made more direct plans with people while I was there. A couple things I did nail down is that I will be interviewing Billy Meinke for my podcast and helping Ken Bauer with the Virtually Connecting podcast! NICE.

We can make a huge impact with each other. Maybe it would be cool to try to have a daily theme at a future conference. Day One, helping newcomers feel welcome and connected, Day Two: normal conference day stuff, Day three: plan for action together. And sprinkled all throughout, making connections to those who couldn’t be there a la Virtually Connecting.

We’re going to need a really big barrel to fit us all in together as we go over the falls.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

The Ghost of Questions Not Asked

This is IDIGOntario‘s 2nd post of the #9x9x25 Challenge

When I signed up to be on the IDIG team I very vaguely said that I would like to write something about the “Front End Analysis” phase of Instructional Design. Also known as the “what are we doing and why” part.

If you do this part well you can avoid making big mistakes down the road. You might even realize that you shouldn’t even do it at all. You also tend have that “come on, come on, let’s get going!” feeling buzzing around you. I am feeling that right now as we prepare to try a new way of delivering Ontario Extend in January. But no matter how many angles you try to anticipate, something will surprise you when you implement it.

A good example of this came from the scholarly project I worked on to complete my Master’s of Instructional Design. I created an instructional Alternate Reality Game (ARG). It was designed to help youth identify problem gambling behaviours and to know how to reduce their harm. I completed a lengthy front-end analysis in which I tried to anticipate who the learners would be and what needs I should meet to help them complete the game. I never considered that some kids might not be up for suspending their disbelief in what was meant to be a fun way to learn.

Tyra aka Chance the “missing” dog

The first test went great, with a group of ninth grade students who were asked to participate and agreed of their own accord. They had fun and were successful in taking the story to its conclusion. The final test run, however, was a different story. In working with the program facilitator for the gambling awareness group, we chose to bring the game to test it out on an entire class of (I think) 11th grade students at an “alternative” high school. I don’t recall too much about the make up of the class or the reasons they had enrolled in a “different” kind of high school. In general you could say that the students were rightfully kind of pissed off about how their education was going so far.

They didn’t want to pretend. They didn’t want to suspend disbelief. They didn’t give a damn about rescuing a fake dog. They completed the game activities, but it would have probably served them better to give them a handout describing the harm reduction strategies and to just have a frank discussion about how these things have affected their lives. I remember clearly the look one student gave me when he realized I was trying to trick him into playing along. That’s when I knew that this program was not even close to the right thing to bring to them. It was utterly deflating.

The results of the test run were that yes, students reached the objectives. Learning was measured to have happened. But the feeling in the room was not the fun buzz I was working toward in the back of my mind. It was a stark opposite.

I’m going way over 25 sentences by digging in to that anecdote. My point is that I did not anticipate, at all, that this idea of learning via a game would resonate so poorly with these students. I didn’t ask the right, or enough, questions in my front-end analysis. JR Dingwall’s post in which he did ask the right questions to help bring about a great result, is what got me thinking about what questions to ask in the beginning.

So I ask you, what are the big questions you ask yourself and others when you first sit down to analyze a potential ID project? How can you avoid making something that leaves students feeling flat and misunderstood?

“Question?” flickr photo by spi516 https://flickr.com/photos/spi/2113651310 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Like Driving a Minivan

This is my second 9X9X25 Challenge post for Ontario Extend.

The challenge asks you to reflectively write on the open Web about your teaching. For this post, I want to step back and write a bit about writing itself. Especially writing in the open. It can be scary. Maybe it doesn’t need to be quite so. I think it’s like driving. You are free to drive no matter what kind of car you have access to.

I drive a minivan. I’m sure lots of people dream of driving a Ferrari or some other fancy, luxury vehicle. I don’t at all. I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. I’d worry about scratching it or grinding the gears. No thanks, Ferrari. It’s all a bit much.

No joke, I’ve never enjoyed a vehicle more than our van. It does all the things. It goes around corners. Stops after it starts, starts after it stops. And I do it all feeling great about it because I don’t need to worry too much about getting hung up on a speed bump or if enough people are looking at me. It grinds no gears of mine. All the vehicles I’ve ever owned have been in this same non-luxury class, but this is the first time I’m really leaning in and enjoying the benefits.

It can fit my whole family in it. That family is then able to easily provide feedback/Q & A on where we are, where we’re going, why we’re going this way, and if, perchance, we are going somewhere where we can get a toy. Try doing that in a Ferrari. There’s definitely no feedback about the vehicle itself. As long as it’s going, no one cares.

I feel the same about my writing. It’s minivan-esque . I don’t have all the features like semi-colons, non-dangling prepositions, deep thoughts, or big words. But I can write. I can take people places with it. It might be a bit bumpy. I used to worry if my writing is good enough to be out here. I don’t any more because I realized it’s not about my writing skill, it’s about offering up what I have to say in the hopes that someone else can gain from it.

I sure enjoy writing now despite the lack of luxury features. I’m glad it allows me to get out there in a way that maybe lets me bring some people along or convinces others to join in. I never thought of myself as a writer, just as I’ve never thought of myself as a driver. I think I can and I should. I don’t wonder if my driving skill is good enough before I drive and I only had that one short driving course like 25 years ago. Let’s apply that moxie to our writing.

All this is to say that I hope that you are not too worried about how polished and supercharged your writing skills are to get out there on the road sharing your journey. This challenge is all about hearing some fresh takes on pedagogy. I hope that how you feel about your writing doesn’t stop you from getting in here and sharing your thoughts. Don’t worry about the Ferrari drivers. We’re all allowed on the same roads. You have something important to say and we would love to read about it.

Season 14 Abc GIF by The Bachelorette - Find & Share on GIPHY

Featured image: “Dude, You’re Driving a Minivan” flickr photo by happyskrappy https://flickr.com/photos/happyskrappy/4608104244 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

The Plan

This is my first post for the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 reflective writing about teaching and learning challenge. What I have, teaching and learning-wise, to be reflective about right now is Ontario Extend itself. So my 9x9x25 posts will either be meta-Extend, or Extend-ception. Not sure yet.

This post’s outline was provided by the band Built to Spill, in the lyrics to their song The Plan. I can legally share the live version of the song here. Well, the first 30 seconds anyway! Press play and read on.

The plan keeps coming up again.

The chance to try again doesn’t always come when designing and delivering some instructional thing or another. Ontario Extend, thankfully, is one of the lucky ones. We have delivered it in a couple different ways and gotten some feedback. We listened to it, grimaced a little, smiled more than we grimaced, and made some tweaks each time we launched a cohort.

And the plan means nothing stays the same.

Oh come on, Built to Spill, some things will stay the same! But yes now we’re lucky enough to be able to take some time to make some bigger tweaks and fill some gaps. Based on the numbers of those who have really engaged with Extend and the feedback received from those who have and have not fully engaged, we know that something is missing.

But the plan won’t accomplish anything.

HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

If it’s not implemented.

Oh yes. Good point. As I said above, something is missing. Extend’s implementation is a little too radical for the masses. I certainly take the blame for that as it has been implemented just the way I wanted. People do all their work in the open, in a few different places. It’s a little too chaotic for some (is it chaotic good at least?) I can certainly see that and I would love for as many people as possible to feel comfortable experiencing Extend.

So we are building a new piece to slot in the middle and connect it all. A one-stop shop that you can stay inside the whole way through, if you’d like. Or you can come and go as you please if and when you’re up for it. It will likely look a little more traditional. Maybe a little like this. All the other Extend pieces remain: The Daily, The Activity Bank, and the Domains Hub (where all the great 9x9x25 posts will appear!). I think of it like this; After creating the Extend modules themselves we built its playground, skate park, and splash pad. Now we’re building the community centre in the middle of it all.

We will be implementing and relaunching for (hopefully) the greatest Extend Cohort yet in January. But hey, it gave us the downtime we needed to run this awesome 9x9x25 Challenge. It’s almost like it was all part of the plan.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash