Saturday, October 3, 2015

DevLearn 2015 The Recap - "Listen"

Me Aculpa...And All That

Let me be the first to apologize: For as much as my "Why I Blog" post referenced conference blogging, and how I live blog everything I'm in, I did a marginal job, at best, this time, and definitely feel light in the blog department.  But with that apology comes another...

Sorry...not sorry.

See, there was a reason for the lacking blog presence, and it wasn't that the conference was lacking, or that the sessions weren't diverse, or that something was wrong anywhere.  It was the total opposite: At this conference, I found more going on, more being taught, more intriguing "stuff", and it led me to do something that, admittedly, I'd not done in a long time: Stop typing/tweeting/etc. and LISTEN.

This year's DevLearn was off the chart in a number of areas, but the one that seemed to rise to the top in all accounts was keeping me busy.  And busy is a good thing, I's why:

Honey Do, Honey Do
One of the biggest differences for me this year was that I went from a paltry ONE session being presented to being involved with FOUR (assuming you consider the Morning Buzz among my numbers...which you should...just sayin).  And while that would likely sound like a deterrent to anyone with their head on straight, any of you that know me know that's not the case here (re: my cranium being one attached in a straightforward method).

All kidding aside, being as busy as I was made everything I was able to attend that much more poignant.  I found myself almost "thirsty" to absorb whatever I could amidst my own obligations (and in no way, shape or form am I saying that because I couldn't attend as much things were better...I'm saying that the content was incredibly rich in the narrow windows I could "attend", so I can only imagine how less busy people felt!).  Additionally, presenting/participating as much as I did lent itself to my own personal learning (see: gleaning) from the awesome attendees that were in my/our sessions.  We all know that peer-to-peer education is the strongest, retention-wise, and I feel like because I was surrounded by so many phenomenal audience members, I gained that much more. 

(Not saying I want to do 5 or 6 sessions or anything, Dave...but busy works for me.)

The Spice of Life...(AKA Variety)

Another factor I noticed this year, in and among my attempts to breathe, was the sheer robustness of the conference.  I am in no way, shape, or form saying that any previous DevLearn was lacking - Nothing could be farther from the truth.  But this year, felt a way I'd never experienced it before. 

It's not like I adhered to a track...or hung out with a docent...nothing like that.  I wasn't there looking for anything in particular.  But it was almost like I couldn't turn my head 90 degrees in any direction without finding/seeing something worth attending and learning AT LEAST two or three things I hadn't walked in with.  Even MEMEs, which I consider myself mildly to moderately proficient in, proved educational to me (see: PechaKucha).  And for a longstanding attendee, like myself?  That's pretty damned awesome...(though I'm still working through what, exactly, xAPI actually is...but I'm getting there, Aaron/S Put). 

Overall, just a bigger, better, badder, more innovative conference...I can't say it enough: DevLearn is the Cadillac (or whatever brand car you like best) of the eLearning circuit.

Adam Savage.Relax.  This isn't me fanboying out any harder than I already did (but BELIEVE ME, I could).  This heading is about, first of all, the greatest keynote speaker DevLearn has seen/heard...ever...yes, ever (so much for the not fanboying), but it's not for the reasons you'd think.  It's not for the content, necessarily, of his keynote...though MY GOD it was amazing, wasn't it? (Strike 2, Rosler...).  There were three different times, in the Q&A with Dave, nonetheless, where Adam Savage, for as long as I've watched him/been a fan, had me identifying with him hardcore (and feeling good about my faults):

1.) It's hard to be wrong...even for Adam Savage.  I admittedly can't recall whether it was during his keynote or in the Q&A after, but Adam related to us all how he's had a problem with not knowing things.  Well, last time I admitted that, Neil DeGrasse Tyson threatened to slap me (true story), so imagine my delight knowing that it's really okay (confirmed, even) to not know things.  That one of the greatest joys in life is to actually hang around people who know more than you and just soak it in...that it's a badge of honor, in Adam's eyes, to admit you don't know something.  He related that the smartest people he knows aren't that ones that always have the answers, but, rather, the ones that can ask for the answer when they don't know. I've struggled since the beginning of my career (and then some) to be okay with that, and hearing him say that made me that much better.

2.) It's hard to be a good listener...even for Adam Savage.  For as much as I've always struggled with the whole "knowing everything" issue, those around me have (for the most part) patiently endured my perpetually pending need to spring forth with a quip, analogy, or related story when they've been telling me something.  So, imagine my surprise when someone who I sincerely look up to (yes, Mr Savage) comes out to the audience as a terrible listener!  And, it circles back to the whole "not knowing the answer issue"...if I've got something spring-loaded quick enough, it won't matter that I don't know...they won't have the time to realize!  But it's okay to not know, and it's okay to listen and absorb...again, super reassuring.

3.) Being enthusiastic about things we like is awkward, sometimes...even for Adam Savage.  Probably the point that left me the most gutted, though (in the best way, mind you), was Adam recounting how he liked things that other kids around him didn't when he was 9...and his childhood was awkward, difficult, and so on because of it.  And that it hadn't ended...that even today, mega-success that he is, there's still interests he has that there's a moment (if not more) of embarrassment when he realizes those around him see his enthusiasm...and judge it, if just a bit.  I don't know that there's anyone who grows up to be an e-learning practitioner/figure/guru that DOESN'T experience this, and it was nothing short of reassuring to hear the face of science on Discovery channel say: It's okay.  Be honest - Your interests are different...they might even be weird.  But they're only perceived that way because the perceivers are the ones who are limited.  And the weird kids?  They grow up to be the cool(ish), smart(ish) "adults".  Trust me on that one.

But, At The End Of It All...Community Wins Again

I've exhausted my ability to recall the names of the people I used to simply watch from afar who now accept me as one of their of our I won't even try (with thanks to Mark Shepperd for the idea to not namedrop).  But, long story short, DevLearn is to me, and continues to be to me about COMMUNITY.  Plain.  Simple.  Truth/

YES...I get it, that's my presentation.  YES...I get it, that's what I wrote my recap on last year.  YES...I get's almost a softball response.  I get it all...ALL of it.'s true.  And every year I embed myself further, it becomes more and more true.  The people make the event.  The people who appreciate each other, draw from each other, and give to each other tirelessly.  Let's see if I can do a mass name drop (and if you're not in the mix...sue me):

Jane Bozarth, Ellen Wagner, Dave Kelly, Kevin Thorn, Sarah Gilbert, Cammy Bean, Mark Shepperd, Tom Spiglanin, Jeanette Campos, JD Dillon, Tracy Parish, Aaron Silvers, Sean Putman, Bill Brandon, Clark Quinn, Karl Kapp, Julie Dirksen, Mark Britz, Joe Ganci, Brian Dusablon, Trina Rimmer, Connie Malamed, Steve Howard, Neil Lasher...

Okay.  Enough.  But, as I told people in my session about Community, THESE are the people I can count on, day or night.  THESE are the people who respond at odd hours almost immediately to what questions about damn near anything.  THESE are the people I was nervous to approach and say "Hey...I think things...", only to find out they think them, too.  Just like me. 

And WE...well, we're still smarter then long as you just LISTEN.

Thanks again for another phenomenal experience...can't wait to do it all over again in 2016.  And there WILL be ukes.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Session 614 - Meme-ing the Innovative World of Learning (Dave Kelly, Cammy Bean, Jeanette Campos, Jane Bozarth)

Can you do a whole session centered around memes?  With these four rockstars/icons, anything is possible...20 seconds each slides...four speakers...all memes...GO!

Party Like It's 1532...or 1940 (Cammy Bean)

Cammy Bean discusses the rising prevalence of apprenticeships...taking it back to 1532...or 1940.  Relates an old training video, specifically focusing on the 5 things (in 1940) to find the right people for the right position.  Also mentioned that we're not providing the right training to our managers to be able to do so.  THEN, the managers can go so far as to give their employees the support they need, too.  GENIUS!

But where can we find this training?  Cammy relates a story of her husband fixing the car by going to "The Google" and trying...and it worked for a bit.  Are we supporting this kind of accessibility in the workplace?  In my experience, anyway, the answer is a resounding NO.  Cammy says to let go of looking to shiny things and buzzwords...just stop.  We're chasing buzzwords and objects.  How can we take the tools that work and use innovation to learn them?  Let's use the older models of learning (apprenticeships) and "play them forward".  How can we support learning naturally?  Ultimately, that's what matters.

Let's innovate, not by looking ahead, but by looking to the past.

Badges...I'm Gamified! (Jane Bozarth)

Jane worries sometimes that we're so concerned and transfixed on the technology that we forget exactly what it's being used for.  It's not just about being gamified, or badges...

We know that things are being automated/robotized.  Bookkeepers, sports writers, pharmacists, drivers...all being replaced.  We're seeing changes in the work is becoming more like Uber.  We'll see changes in daily commutes and issues, then, based on this vocational change.  People will be rewarded for the work they do, not for the hours they work.  We won't have IT departments...they'll become custodians as opposed to gatekeepers because they're not needed.

Created/making will take on a massive upswing (craft beer), independence and beyond.  Workers are going to walk away from the institutional structure, and more to freedom.  Work and social are going to be more tightly interwoven.  We'll develop our own personal networks, reaching out to who we need when we need them.  We'll be dealing with workers who can post ideas to something like Instagram, conferring within their own network, and become more immediate.

Education is going to change massively, away from the K-12 structure it's in now.  We're going to change media literacies away from text.  We'll get away from learning styles, and Myers-Briggs, etc.  We have a more tech-savvy, interenet-savvy workforce than ever before...and it's about damn time.  They can search for answers on YouTube, Google, and so on. 

Wearable tech is becoming more ubiquitous re: personal data.  If you need something during the day, your glasses and watch will provide.  Your "band" is monitoring your health. 

How do we get people to serve the organization's goals?  How do we get people to bring their best self to work?  We're going to have to do a lot better at accommodating, at allowing freedom, at allowing personal style and preference.

The Future is Now (Dave Kelly)

You can't talk about innovation without talking about how things are changing.  We are a group of people who don't move quickly.  We're still LEARNING PROFESSIONALS, but you don't learn someone...we train them.  It's not a bad thing, but it's an honest thing. 

"It's gonna take you 6-8 weeks to create an e-learning course?  AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!"

People are taking control of their learning.  Why are we still giving a SH*T about how many asses were in seats?  Why are we still acting like we care about 'reports'?  Well, what if I told you your role has already changed?

We have to wipe the slate clean COMPLETELY.  We bring old methodologies forward to new ones instead of just replacing them.  The "Course", for example, is the default solution...and they're fine, but it's not the only solution.  We have to stop people from learning to take them, but we should be focusing on being less disruptive with our knowledge-giving.  We need to be curious and look at things differently. 

Change is a good thing.  No, really...but we're all afraid of change...we need to do it.  The future has occurred, innovation is happening in our daily lives, not just our professions.  "The myth that we don't need to change?  BUSTED."

Turning Training On Its Head (Jeanette Campos)

J Campos is legitimate.  For real.

She loves learning and loves chemistry cat.  She spends a lot of time learning and how we can do it better.  Sometimes she breaks the rules and doesn't use memes. 

We aren't training learners in optimal conditions.  It's like putting lipstick on a pig.  Now, we're doing some things right, but we still have problems.  Jeanette recently spent an hour talking about flipcharts, and that's when she realized something had to change. 

Everybody knows how to do the Whip/Nae Nae and it doesn't have a learning objective!  Training is insufficient.  Training itself doesn't lead to meaningful performance.  So, what is the Innovation?

The Innovation is Integration of learning.  "If you could integrate learning...that would be GRRREAT."  Talent management, management, etc...if we could get learning closer to the work to learn while working, THAT'S the innovation.  What if we were able to go into a workplace and invest all of our training dollars teaching colleagues how to coach?  Managers should develop to be teachers and coaches...and it's HAPPENING. 

AM Keynote - The One, The Only...Adam Savage

Innovation in the Making

"When we look at Adam Savage, this is someone who doesn't learn in the traditional ways...he's not teaching anyone, but we're all learning through it." - Dave Kelly re: Adam Savage

His Father, The Painter, The Poet

Adam's dad was a painter and a poet and wrote a limerick, calling out the falsehoods behind academia.  "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" is the quote he references, and he's spot on - Too often we have to have some kind of fact or framework to find something appealing...we can't just like it, we just can't be curious about something. 

Art & Science - We often say about things that are complicated that it's an art AND a science.  Art and science are viewed as opposites, but Adam doesn't believe that they are.  We think of art and science as parts of our culture best handled by EXPERTS.  Three reasons why:

1.) We see Art and Science as opposites.  We see art as a loosy goosy thing that kids do, and science is something we suffer through.

2.) We view art as separate from ourselves.  If you Venn diagramed, we and science would be completely removed circles.
3.) When we don't know something, we don't even try.  Which is BS.

Let's Work Backwards

People look at Jackson Pollack and say "What's so great?  My kid could do that."  Fair enough...but Adam looks back through art movements throughout it's tore through subject and left a story.  But we do that same thing with science: Story is related re: the material science behind breaking spaghetti...and we're JUST NOW understanding how it breaks.

Ellie Lammer did a study of Berkeley parking meters, when she was 12, and whether they were timing correctly.  Her study was so rigorous and so revealing that a piece of legislation (Lammer's Law) was passed and enforces standardization.

Adam foes on to give more examples, but suffice to say...we've been trying to find the story behind the subject.

Every generation since we've been writing stuff down has felt the same way about science.  Want proof?  SPORTS.  All sports talk about science.

The Second Cause - Art is Separate From Us

"Art is ONLY what we like." - Adam's Dad

The only opinion about art that's wrong is when you take it from someone else.  But we do the same thing with science..."I'm just not a math guy".  But Adam's friend (a filmmaker) said "I'm great at math, I'm just not good at numbers."  The art of editing is all about algorithms.  So he's using it without identifying with it.


Let's see:

1.) Come up with a question.  Adam relates, though, that this is the hardest part.  You don't start, necessarily, with the question - You start at the end point and work back to discover where the TRUE question is at (see: Running/Walking in the rain).

2.) Form a hypothesis.  Based on the question, then, what potential truth is it you want to find/arrive at?  Forming a hypothesis is a self-generating act...the more you come up with, the more you come up with.  Ideas lead to questions, questions lead to hypotheses...

3.) Design an experiment that tests your hypothesis.  Pull away variables to get past your biases and test the actual truth in something.  Per Adam, this is one of the greatest ways to look at viewing art. "To know what is true in your secret heart is true for all men."

Conclusion?  The Scientific Method is MOST DEFINITELY a creative process.  Art and science are intrinsic to how we discuss who we are.  When cavemen came together, carving stones in different ways to kill bigger animals? SCIENCE!  When they got together to celebrate killing larger game and drew cave paintings of this process? ART!

It's All Story

When you stand in front of a Jackson Pollack, you'll find a story.  When you look at a map of the universe and its shape?  It's a story.  Art and science are simply two different versions of a narrative.  Science has rigor, art has everything else.  Stories are the reason we have language.  We evolved language in order to tell each other stories, which is a conversation.  Which is culture...and culture is a conversation.  We can be stewards of a better culture by realizing art and science are not opposites.  How do we do better?

1.) Pay Attention - Adam is confronted with ideas and concepts he's never been confronted with before, but if he reads enough about a subject (see: science of viscosity) he can be a steward of that knowledge.  What he came to learn was that viscosity wasn't actually a value, but a relationship.  But if he hadn't had a conversation, he wouldn't have arrived at those truths, and the episode wouldn't have happened as awesomely as it did. 

2.) Speak Your Mind - once you've investigated something enough, it's important to actually verbalize it.

3.) Stay Curious - Curiosity is something that tends to leave's a great moniker for life.  The more curious you are, the more interesting life is. 

4.) Ask Questions - Adam's had to work hard in life at being able to say "I Don't Know".  We have all pretended to know shit, but the most intelligent people Adam knows are the ones who can.  WOW can I relate...

5.) Tell Your Stories (But Listen, Too) - Share your stories, but listen to other people's stories, too.  Are you a listener or a wait-to-talker (!!!)?  Listen to the person in front of you, stop logging your stories.

I could wrap it up with some summary statement, but I'll let Adam speak for it:

"Art and Science are the twin engines by which we improve as a species.  They make us ALL better and NEITHER is beyond our understanding."

So, Adam Savage?  Unbelievable keynote? CONFIRMED.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Session 114 (J Bozarth/J Campos) - Designing for Performance...

Background Knowledge

Being friends with Jane in real life, I have followed the story of her husband and his health since day one.  I have looked forward to this session in the most profound way since I heard about here it is.

The Process

Leading up to K's surgery, symptoms were noticed...not surprisingly, these symptoms got bounced around by specialties until someone put their figurative finger on it and realized this had to be taken care of now.  So, they did...and there was little information that was helpful to prepare them (again, being in healthcare, this isn't all that's more in the moment-ish).  The procedure happened, and rehab began...and all involved felt unprepared for all that came with it.

But, as Jane oft does, she came out handling it all, not without the help of those around her.  Knowing her, and knowing K, it's great to know how things worked out, but i can't help but still feel very emotional listening to the story.  When you see a story such as this from square one, it's a reminder of several things, not the least of which how little your problems should appear.  When Jane talks about living wills and "not making it" makes my screen a little blurry...moving on.

Nobody's Worried About Anyone's Schedules But Theirs

The recovery process begins, but Jane was told to plan for a week off of work.  A week later, K was still in the hospital.  But Jane, AGAIN as Jane does, took it all in stride, going so far as to check out the homestead for any potential issues with a walker and mobility.  Therapy is recommended, and Jane is handed a calendar with 26 appointments on it.  26. Damn. Appointments.

But, guess what?  Jane can spring you out of a Turkish prison (so I've heard...*wink*), and she and K have both gotten way closer back to normalcy than anyone imagined...and we all couldn't be happier.

Now Over to Jeanette...

Jeanette swings it all the way back to slide one...and looks at the MRI image and asks the question: What is this?  Now, those of us who know Jane or just listened know, BUT...what about someone seeing it for the first time?  Tumor?  Brain?  That's about it...and we, as trainers, have to ask ourselves: How well and thoroughly do we really understand the content, and how good of a job do we do preparing our learners?

We look at the text of the awful "patient aid" titled "What to expect when you're expecting a craniotomy!".  Long story short, the people that wrote this and provided this are BEYOND out of touch with (what would equate with) the learner in this situation.  How many times do we simply posture up and say "Don't worry your pretty little head...we're smarter than you and WE'LL handle all the heavy lifting."  Let's not "gloss over" anything...let's tie the learner in...let's connect them...let's allow them to own something.

Tumor's Gone...Problem Over?

Jeanette shows the picture of K post-op, with the scar...and asks "Tumor's out...problem's over?", to which we all uttered a resounding NO.  Defining the problem, not just a facet of it, is IMPORTANT, and yet all too often we're happy to stop the figurative bleeding and not even consider the bandage...the healing...the wound care...etc.  In K's care, there was a wide range of concerns, a wide array of people involved...there's SO MANY ANGLES that unless you put solid effort into defining the entire SCOPE of the it ALL, your solution is incomplete.  Period.

Analogies and examples abound...but, Cliff Notes version is this: Despite how much we want to believe that we're working out of silos, we're still EMBEDDED in our silos.  Like BURIED.  Just like with a patient, we need to view learners as total pictures...not just a picture of one shortcoming/knowledge gap.


I've gotten a little more engaged verbally than typing-wise, but if nothing else is taken away from this, take this: Learners are our patients, and we need to see their entirety...not just the part(s) requiring our immediate attention.  Easily the most emotionally engaged I've ever been in a presentation, and I can't thank Jane enough for sharing this incredible story.

Morning Keynote - David Pogue "Learning Disrupted"

The Power of Music

(Starting to blog this a wee bit late, due to technical issues...go with it)

Ocarina...the importance of music...could bring us all together. "You can't play the F#?  ME NEITHER!!!"  Solid segue into our music presentations...

The Internet of Things

Thermostats, Video Cameras, etc...the technology is out there.  But most people who get a digital thermostat don't even program them.  Solution?  Infrared sensors make decisions based on your work/life balance, but the problem now is that every company is "making Internet of Things Things". Someone had a great idea to make a HUB of all the Internet of Things Things, and THEN someone made 40 of those..., yeah.  That's where we're at.

Apple made another laptop this year, too...and, with it?  A NEW TYPE OF CABLE!! (Jerks).  BUT's the same upside down as it is rightside up!!!  HOLY CRAP!!!  The Jesus Jack exists!  One cord to rule them all!!

Even better news is WIRELESS CHARGING...if you're not excited about this, you're dead on the inside.  Seriously.  "Why are we not worried about our intestines turning into cooked steak?" (Question I was wondering about, perhaps not in that fashion...but still).  Chinese manufacturers are devouring this, trying to build this technology into existing pieces of technology (refrigerators, TVs, etc.). 

Infiltrative, Yet Useful...
Wikipedia, AirBnB, TaskRabbit, the "Who's Sick Around Me"'s all-inclusive at this point.  Look at TaskRabbit - Dave's wife was sick, he went on this site, and people bid against one another as to who was going to go and get cold medicine and deliver it to his wife's office.  Bidding started at 40, he ended up paying a college kid 20 bucks to go, get it, and deliver it.  Insane.  Uber is another've got a personal chauffeur on call, but NOW there's uberX: Ordinary people like us with extra time in the family car, trying to make a couple extra dollars.  This technology is infiltrating...and it's not a totally bad thing.

So, this is the new way of doing things...but when did all this arise?  Answer - During the recession, out of necessity.  The genie's not going back in the'll never go back.  "Fiver" - People will do a variety of things for FIVE oil painting of your damn cat? Done.

Wearable Tech: Hot or Not?
Dave pretty much demolishes Google glass...which I'm just a little bit okay with (I never got the "draw").  Google's working on the followup, which will include a more comfortable design and a record light (to avoid the whole "Are you recording?" question).   Fitness trackers, on the other hand (FitBit, Nike+, etc.) are hugely successful...70 million sold this year.  Until this came along, the only insight into your body you had was once a year at the doctor.  But now?  We wake up, and we experience "fitness through humiliation" (turning health into almost a socially competitive "game").  T-shirts are now able to sense health factors, along with baseball caps, headbands, and so on.  So, catching on?  Hell yes...but definitely a niche market, at least for the moment.

 Oh, that one slide though...What has been seen cannot be unseen...

AND YET...there's a looooooong way to go.  For example, most motion sensors today identify the act of bicep curls the same as eating a bag of Doritos.  True story.  But they're working on it - Google's health band, Google's contact lens (which can sense glucose levels in diabetics from's coming.  Be ready.)  The data is there...and if it could somehow be universally extracted, we've got the answers to cancer.


Trying to tune into the rest of this, as Dave is showing some amazing medical technological advancements.  Go find him online (@pogue), like immediately...solid, solid stuff.  Long story short, while learning may be disrupted and our lives interfered with from new and emerging tech, we would do well to welcome these intrusions.

Conference Introduction - Dave Kelly

What Is Innovation?

So, Dots is a game I apparently shouldn't play, should I want a social life...I lack said social life already, so I'm all in.  Thanks, Dave...

"People make decisions on the dots they see...but the Innovators in the world see the dots BEYOND the screen...the ones that other people miss."  Dave mentions that innovation is more than that,'s about seeing patterns, it's about seeing what they do together and beyond.

Always Be Connecting Dots....
That's what we're going to be doing here at's about a community looking to do "stuff" beyond the status quo.  If any statement has ever encapsulated what it is we do here, it's that - It's why I present on the importance of Community, it's why I look forward, more than the conference itself, to the people...the interactions. 

Dave goes on to cover the conference details...awesome, but if you're following this on the back channel it might not be worth too much.  Suffice it to say, no matter what, that the statement still holds true: If you can get here, get here.  I told my Morning Buzz crew (handsome lot that they were), who were mostly first timers to DevLearn, that Community is the most important thing at any conference.  People make community, and without people, the community isn't as rich.  Your presence, just like everyone else's matters.  Make it happen.

More to come later, but SUPER stoked for this year...should be a great one.  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 31, 2015

Just One Of The #DevLearn Bloggers

I'm Shawn (aka Rosler)...And I Have A Blog

If you haven't quite gathered by the catchy title, and the subsequent header, I'm Shawn Rosler (@Rosler) and this is my blog.  Recently, Dave Kelly (@LnDDave) from the eLearning Guild (and, more specifically, the #DevLearn conference) asked for vict...err...volunteers to contribute a blog post on blogging - What it is to us, how we do it, and how we use it once it's out there.  Being a blogger myself, albeit a lazy one, I was all too happy to put together some thoughts on what I do, believe, and feel personally about the art of the blog.  It's more than just reading, it's more than just writing, it's more than just sharing - It's all these things, and so very much more.  Check it out...

Don't Be Like Me

My first and strongest warning is this: Don't.  Read the section header again..."Don't be like me".  YES, I'm writing a post on blogging, YES I'm known for my blog, but there's a lot of features to my 'blogging profile', shall we say, that are less than ideal.  Plenty that work, too...don't get me wrong, but let's get the ones that DON'T work out of the way first, shall we?

First and foremost, I'm a conference blogger...I'm 'streaky'.  What's a conference blogger, you might ask?   Truthfully, I'm certain you're not REALLY asking that, but let's pretend you are (over-explaining for the sake of over-explanation):  A conference blogger is someone (like me) who dusts off the blog for the sake of the conference and, sadly, not as much as I should.  I've tried over the years to instill some sense of consistency in myself, but life gets in the's hard to focus on something like this day in/day out.  So, my blogging waits until the sheer intellectual and obligational freedom of a conference to truly spread its wings, but I should be writing more.  I know this.  But I don't...three demerits for me.  More to come on the benefit and method to conference blogging in a bit.  Promise.

Second, I *rarely*, if ever, edit my writing.  Having taught English I'm familiar with the term (as many of you will be ) "Stream of Consciousness".  I like to just let the words and ideas flow and throw caution out the window of the speeding vehicle.  Maybe I'll pore over the "recap" post from a conference (more on that, too), but for the most part what you read is what I was thinking at the time.  Should YOU do it, if you're new to blogging?  Sure...knock yourself out...but be careful.  Like riding a motorcycle, you can do it, but caution, Will Robinson: I've received a periodic Tweet or message regarding a post's content which I've gone back and re-read...thought the better of and changed.  Frequent?  No. But necessary when I've done it. third.  OH's that I don't really plan my posts.  Very little planning at play here (goes with points one and two), my posts are very "mood driven" and come about in the blink of an eye.  Problem there is that I often forget to share them after (or give a preview via social media before...more on the social element soon, too) because of their very "in-the-moment" nature.  Are they a little more honest and heartfelt?  Maybe...but I can't help but feel like I'm a little disorganized when I write because of it (case in point, my outline is pencil scrawling on a post-it note stuck to my desk right now.  Can't make this stuff up, kids).

So, that's enough about what NOT to do based on my horrible example...let me share a couple of things I DO when I blog that might give you some benefit...

Recording History In The Moment...For Myself...For Others

Let's step back a bit - I live blog (for the most part, and for the part that is most relevant to this piece).  With that said, some of you might wonder what LIVE blogging is versus blogging.  Sadly, it's no The Walking Dead reference...doesn't even involve zombies (boo, right?).  Live blogging simply means that while I'm in a session, whatever it may be, my laptop is out and I'm typing as I listen and absorb.  I attribute this habit to a number of different factors, first and foremost being I am EASILY "Oooo, shiny!" easy.  What better way, then, to focus my mind on the words being said than to process them into my own thoughts through typed words, right?  Again, something that has taken, and will take you, practice, but the "Real Time" experience gives a very unique, honest imprint of the experience.

Also, when I write/live blog, I'm writing to record my own thoughts because my memory is absolute garbage.  Seriously...I wish I had some divine inspiration to write...that it was some kind of spiritual calling that I could embrace, plan, and elaborate on at a later time.  Nope - I choose to live blog because EVEN IF I TOOK NOTES, I wouldn't remember the context(s) of the various moments being written about...or details truly only experienced in the moment (including gut reactions to words, concepts, etc.).  Live blogging has become my method and means of taking just happens to be more in a spoken word/dialogue format than bullet pointed crib notes.  Hey, it works...

Those thoughts, then...let's look at those.  My written mental dialogue becomes my experience itself...seriously: Live blogging, for me, if I used it for nothing else, acts as my personal source of truth for my conference experience.  I can look at it and re-read my words, feel my emotions again, and realize what I learned.  Using them like this, the words benefit one person - Me.  Those of you who know me, and those who are reading and I hope to meet, know (or will know) that I'm all about I like to, in the words of the immortal Jane Bozarth (@JaneBozarth), SHARE MY WORK.  And when I share, it becomes less a source of personal truth, and more a source of opinion that can be compared/contrasted with hundreds of a little portion of the conference my friend Dave Kelly introduced me to called THE BACK CHANNEL.

The Back Channel, etc. - What It Can Mean to Others

What is the Back Channel?  Excellent a nutshell, it is folks like me, in attendance at a conference, blogging, then tweeting/FB-ing the link to said blog/re-cap with the conference hashtag (Ex: #DevLearn) so that others can glean/enjoy/and so on.  As a result of this, what I've learned over the years is that the ABSOLUTELY, HANDS DOWN, MOST REWARDING part of blogging, to me, is sharing.  The act of putting my meager words out to the Twittersphere and Facebook...sphere (you know what I mean) to people who are in attendance but couldn't check out the session, for folks who couldn't make the conference but are playing along at home...even for the students in a class who got stuck with some bum assignment of checking out a conference hashtag on Twitter, only to find out we're not all Project Management an ADDIE?  All of this excites me beyond words, like in a REALLY big way.

When you think about it, it's almost like community service in the eLearning community.  This is an expensive industry, and budgetary strings are tighter than ever (not that Training and Development runs with a huge budget to begin with, but I digress).  I've been TRULY blessed to be able to find a niche in my eLearning existence that involves presenting at conferences, and I'm honored to do it (even moreso that people want to listen).  Most people go to a conference to pick up "nuggets" from folks like me (and the hundreds of other speakers at #DevLearn and #PSUWebConference, for example, who I've had the honor to share air with).  So, after my hour and a half of speaking is up, and I'm attending other sessions, why would I NOT want to share my experience with as many people as possible?  Rhetorical question, to be sure: I want to, and I do.

Just Answer The Question Already, Shawn...Why Do You Blog?

Why do I blog, then?  Simple. I blog to share.  I blog to give.  I blog to hear my thoughts bounced off others, only to hear them come back to me in a different form than when I formed them.  But, most of all, I blog because, as so many of us know: WE are smarter than ME...and WE are all in this together.

If you checked this piece out, PLEASE come find me and let me know your thoughts...I'd love to hear them, and chat more.  All the best to you, and we'll see you at #DevLearn.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Impostor Syndrome (or The Post That Almost Wasn't)

While attending a recent conference (Penn State University's WebConference, to be exact), a table of my colleagues were discussing the very conference we were attending, and the fact that one individual was a chair of one of the tracks.  He was sociable enough and incredibly pleasant...and a couple of drinks in, he admitted something along the lines of "I have NO idea why they picked me...I always worry about that."  I asked what it was he was worried about, and he replied, "You know...being 'found out'." 

I knew all too well what he was referring to, but I pried a bit more and asked what he'd be found out ask.  "A impostor...I don't even know what I'm doing in this room with these people sometimes!".  I assured him he was not alone, and knew all too well what he was feeling: In a field populated with GENIUSES (not an overstatement by any means), when I go to conferences and sit at the tables I do these days, I'm waiting...just WAITING for someone to go, ", Rosler...enough of your bullshit.  Out of the pool, you you even eLearning?!?!"  (Or something like that...)

But I knew the feeling all too well...WAY too well.  And I swore I was going to write one of my conference posts talking about just that: Impostor Syndrome, and how I feel it, how it's damaging, and so on, and so on, and so go, to date.

Admittedly, I had thought about this blog post and let it go, as I had really only been at the conference for a day and a couple sessions.  I didn't feel the usual "Conference Wrap Up" spark I get when I'm embroiled in with my peers for three days.  It was amazing, don't get me wrong, but the mood passed, and I filed it under a "Would have been nice" category.

Little did I know that my wife, @gretarosler, was going to put that notion on its ear and give me the impetus I needed to pen these words.  See, my wife, when I suggested she should live blog her Nursing Leadership conference she was going to, said, basically, "Why?  No one would want to read that...What do I have to say?"  And it was at that point, that the ghost of conferences (very recently) passed reared its head and compelled me to say something.  I asked her to do it (again) blog/Twitter/etc., gave her a couple guidelines, and that was that.  If anything, I had given it as solid a try as any of us in eLearning do: We try to get the non-eLearning folks to see the magic in what we do, and (really) hope for the best. 

I heard nothing from her for the next couple of hours.  I honestly though the travel + dirty martini had gotten the best of her, as the clock struck 1000p.  Little did I know, she was about to change the way Nursing Leadership conferences communicate (albeit individually) and give me the greatest pat on the back an eLearning professional can receive:  She realized the importance of social media.  My Twitter pings, and I see it's from her handle...with an address.  What followed was nothing short of amazing, insightful, and (unnecessarily) complimentary to me.  Check it out here:

Shuttle Driver Likelihoods

If a fire had ever been lit under my ass hotter and brighter than her post did, I couldn't recall it.  It made me realize that just what said gentleman at the conference had suggested...what I have felt repeatedly...what we all know at some point in our life...that nasty "Impostor Syndrome" had been squelched by my wife, if but for a moment/blog post.  To say it made me proud is understatement of the millennia - That she realized she had something to say, and SAID IT.  I promoted it to all of my colleagues (likely, a good amount of you reading this), and they instantly got it.
With ALL that said, it's time all of you (who haven't already done so) realize a thing (or five) about Impostor Syndrome, courtesy of yours truly:

1.) Everyone has something important AND unique to say.  If you've never believed this before, believe it now.  If you're at a conference, you're the only you looking out of your eyes and thinking the thoughts your brain is thinking.  You're the only one who's lived the life you've lived and done the specific work you've done.  So, when you want to wring your hands and ask, "Why me?", it's because you're not ME.  You are you, and as the fabulous Tim Gunn said, "It doesn't matter what you wear, so long as you own it."  I'll do that a step forward...It doesn't matter WHO YOU ARE, so long as you own it.  You and your knowledge matter.  Own that fact.

2.) If you're there, BELIEVE you're there for a reason...because you are.  Your company sent you, or you've actually been selected to speak...or more...whatever.  That's AWESOME.  When you go, though, as soon as you hear a conversation elevating, do you retreat into your shell rather than suggesting something?  Why?  Because you think "Wow...these people are freaking BRILLIANT!  What am I even doing here?"  You're there for a similar reason!  Your knowledge and skillsets in your company made you an ideal candidate to attend, or your presentation was a cool representation of something that folks thought would be interesting to others.  Speak up!  Be heard.  Again, you and your knowledge matter.

3.) Remeber Number 1?  Shut up and listen to others, as well as saying your unique/important thing.  This is the one I struggled with most...I tried to talk so much sometimes just to drown out the silence.  But in that silence, someone else can speak...and you can listen...and hear something you've never heard before.  Let it happen.

4.) Help people feel comfortable enough to say/talk about their thing.  Empathy was the "E" in the TEACH acronym that I'm learning about in Tim Gunn's book, and it's important as ever when someone's trying to tell you about their struggle/situation 'back in the office', but they're a first time attendee and you're a speaker, host, docent...whatever.  Not only #3 (the shut up/listen to learn thing), but help others bring their knowledge out.  Remember all that stuff we want a learner to do?  We want them to be exploratory, we want them to pull (instead of us having to push), and so on?  Well, helping people find their way to that by asking guided questions, or just questions in general is one of the best ways you can give people that little tug they need to feel comfortable sharing.  

5.) You'll never stop feeling it completely.  With one through four being said, they don't completely eliminate the feeling...and that's not a bad thing at all.  I had a voice coach in High School (Joyce Schwinn, to be precise) and she said "The moment you stop being nervous is the moment you've stopped caring about singing."  That applies here - I think the moment you drop this feeling completely...the moment you just assume you matter...that's the moment you've become the Impostor.  A healthy amount of self-doubt keeps you from appearing as an egomaniac, pretentious, and/or any of a number of other nasty terms.  For as egotistical as I can be (ask my wife, please), when I get around the folks I respect/revere, I'm a totally different animal.  And I think that's why they respect me back...

So, that's wife inspired me to write, as I did she...and isn't that what this social media thing is all about?  Believe in yourself.  You matter.  You have a story.  Let it be told.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Visual Explanations: The Future is in Visual Communication (Malamed)

Professional Explainer

When you can sum yourself up in two words, I think you've concentrated your very essence...and Connie kicked off with just that.  "Really, we get so concerned as to whether the content meets technical (etc.) requirements, that we ignore the cognitive requirements".  Truer words, and words that hurt...we're so worried so often with if the content "works" for the task that we forget to consider if it "works" for the learner. 

What do we know about our cognitive architecture?

1.) Selective attention filters out what is unimportant
2.) Process 3-4 bits of info at once
3.) Limited duration of working memory (we can feel better about ourselves now)...but
4.) Infinite long term one has ever discovered the end of memory.  If you can't recall something, it's due to an ineffective cue...not your memory itself.

From Words to Images

Pictures increase recall.  We process them in parallel with others (as opposed to text (paragraph 1, paragraph 2, etc.). When you think of the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, realize how directly pictures speak to your emotions.  One of the best ways to see the gradual change to pictures is the US Department of Agriculture.  Early on, there was a rough attempt at using black and white pics....then in 1946, they used a infographic illustrating 7 food groups.  It changed to 4, and the infographs continued to evolve...visual info, visual format. 

Fast forward to today, we have the food pyramid: The original version showed donuts, candy, and cake AT THE TOP.  They WANTED it to mean that was the least amount consumed, but WE look at it and assume that "What's at the top is the best".  And, so, it was redesigned with little dollops of fat at the top (although, Steve Howard just found the original image with the donuts.  Now I'm hungry.  Thanks, Steve.).  Long story short, infographs are evolving day to day, and are constant works in progress, and food education is a perfect example of this.

Explaining With Stories

Using words in conjunction with pictures is key.  There are benefits to stories: They arouse and satisfy curiosity, provide a common understanding, and enhance your message overall.  This concept lends itself to the need to combine audio, visual, and bk in learning.  You can use a comic book format, but it's got to be story-ish.  Three steps to do so:

1.) Set up a problem
2.) Elaborate on the problem
3.) Resolve the problem

"What happens in the story is the Plot.  The main person is the Protagonist.  The story's question is the Goal.  How the person changes is the Story."  You'll become involved in a tale, story, or movie, if there's change in a person.  Even if it's a terrible movie, you'll keep watching to "see what happens to X".  Let learners become invested in a story, in an evolution, in a change, and interest will follow.

Visual Language of Comics

The visual language of comics is already set up in chunks, which is good news for those of us who love comics and do training.  Think about it:  The blocks, the narration "header" (typically in yellow), the gutter (space between blocks used for transitions, and when sizes are offset it leads readers to go left to right versus up to down), the balloons (which allow you to convey subtleties that text alone can't), the motion lines (context is key here...if the background is cold, you know they're shivering, but if it's a truck, you know they're on a bumpy road).  So much good stuff to work with here...HUGE possibilities with a variety of information.

Explaining with Graphs/Conclusion

Graphs allow you to show the "shape" of data, they make the abstract concrete, they serve as a cognitive aid, and they help you to structure information. 

I completely got sucked into the section on graphs (what to use, what not to, how to use them, etc.), so the last but of her presentation is in my mind...where it should be, I suppose.  Great presentation with incredibly useful content...will definitely be looking to implement a more visual, story-based  approach to our content.

PSU Web Conference #PSUWeb

Hey all...going to live blog a session or two from Penn State's Web Conference 2015...stay tuned!