Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Agile Instructional Design: ENVISION

A while back I wrote a post that elaborated on the flowchart I had embedded in a paper on how I envisioned Agile Instructional Design (AID). As I wrote the post I realized there was way to much information for a single post. I provided a high level description of the AID flow within this first post with the promise to provide detailed descriptions of each step in later posts. This post describes in detail the activities performed and outcomes desired from the ENVISION step of Agile Instructional Design.

ENVISION - this is the process of envisioning the curriculum of the lessons, the courses or the whole program. Envisioning is more big picture, though it does require rigor in understanding the content, context and outcomes for the learning. It is important to build a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge domain, its current innovations and how it fits with related and connected knowledge domains. The struggle with this first step is there is no waiting until it is finished before people can start learning. People should start learning as soon as the general direction is known. Envisioning iterates with the other steps and what is learned from subsequent steps adds to the envision step.

  1. High level Curriculum Planning should be done by those not overly tied to the learning outcomes or (from and individual learner perspective) without knowledge of any particular learning outcomes. This is due to those indoctrinated into the subject area may have difficulty seeing the breadth of the subject area. An outsider with broad understanding can see how curriculum plans relate to other subject areas. And from the individual learner perspective they begin to relate the knowledge domain to their personal knowledge. So the high-level curriculum planning should be done as follows;
    • From an individual learner perspective this should be done by the learner with input / feedback from their learning network.
    • Form a community of practice or peer learning group it should be done through discussion, collaboration and engagement.
    • From the institutional perspective this should be done by a librarian and the subject area experts should fulfill the SME role. 
    • Outcomes: Mind Map / Concept Map, Drawing or creative works, listing of keywords for knowledge domain. What the group or individual responsible for curriculum planning believes is the best way to capture the information.

    AID Themes as Concept Map
  2. Identifying Learning Themes is about creating a hierarchy of outcomes where the high level outcomes are the learning themes. This can be well done within a Concept Map where the group (or individual) tasked with identifying the learning themes would build the Concept Map. The hierarchy doesn't need to be a single headed hierarchy. If you were setting out to learn about AID the main themes would be the five steps within the AID methodology (Envision, Plan, Build, Stabilize and Deploy). Learning themes also are about finding the stories and anchors to ground the learning into problem based and real world situations so all learners can stay connected to the content.
    Outcomes: Elaborate on the document / drawing / artefact created during the high level curriculum planning. Learning themes may be documented as additional stories or highlights.

  3. Identify Learner Roles is about audience and context. Identifying the audience for learning is very important, for they will dictate the literacy levels, the breadth of knowing, the audience determines the appropriate stories and anchors. It is also important to identify the roles from all sides of the learning engagement; learner, facilitator, teacher, peer, subject mater expert, etc. And giving the roles human names, descriptions, and avatars will help learners to connect to the roles and the stories they participate. Context also has a big influence over stories and anchors. Is it professional development or graduate level academics? Is it in an urban surrounding or rural? Is the learning building on previous learning?
    Outcomes: User role descriptions. These could be cards or full pages describing each role with details of breadth of knowledge, background, role within the learning experience.

To a certain extent ENVISIONING is the brainstorming step of Agile Instructional Design. It may be worth considering alternative approaches when envisioning a new curriculum. Many new approaches exist for getting people together to discuss things that matter. Curriculum development matters, particularly when put into the context of global or community change. One particularly effective approach is the World Cafe. I suggest exploring this approach to discovering a shared curriculum.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Image for Progressive Inquiry

I like this new image from Tarmo Toikkanen describing Progressive Inquiry. The image is actually from 2008, but its new to me. I stumbled across it on flickr.

I like the additional detail and how they have learning themes determined by everyone working together. The addition of the icons denoting the participants is useful to know who does what and when. And having the critical evaluation with different next steps makes a lot of sense.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Concepts well Supported

As many of you know I have been a big follower of progressive inquiry for quite a while. I was first introduced to the approach back in 2006 when I was building some faculty development workshops out at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I needed a framework / approach to legitimize the use of social media for learning. Academics really need a peer-reviewed and academic approach before they will even start listening. So I found progressive inquiry; and when you think about the success of the Finnish education system, I think the Finns must be onto something...

So when my friend Dan Pontefract posted about what he considered a jaw dropping image used by Mitchel Resnick in a talk at the Future of Learning Conference and Festival I was pleasantly surprised by the similarity of the images. It reinforced my belief that progressive inquiry is a model for learning that works well online and off. And at its core learning is a creative endeavour that begins with a persons imaginative initiation to create, to share with others, to reflect, and to keep imagining.

So if you find yourself wanting to learn something new or begin a creative project, begin it! Imagine and create with reckless abandon, play at what you are doing, share with others, reflect and keep imagining and creating. And be rigorous about it, take HUGE risks, play with the humility of it all, engage those who can provide feedback and deepen you understanding, iterate!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Personal Curriculum Mapping (PCM)

Personal Curriculum mapping can begin with a Concept Map.

I believe one of the missing pieces of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is Personal Curriculum Mapping (PCM). I've thought this for a while and have discussed it with friends during my conversations around an OpenPhD. This was greatly reinforced by watching Dr. William Pinars conference speaking video regarding his recent paper "Allegories of the Present: Curriculum Development in a Culture of Narcissism and Presentism." I took many things from this video and what stood out from a curriculum development perspective is it needs to be individualized and have the engagement of the learner. This will provide the learner greater attachment to the materials, content and context for learning and force a reflection of the subjects history, present and possible futures. This reflection will provide them a deeper connection to their chosen subjects curriculum and to humanity as a whole.

I was also inspired by this 2011 Wilma Kurvink webcast from the ASCD conference. It provides some wisdom about how to map curriculum within a learner focused approach. It talks of how curriculum development, at a high level, is better done by others outside of the subject matter area who have insight into how the subject relates to other subjects and where learning content could be missing when looking at the whole of curriculum. Librarians are a good example for they can be unbiased regarding a subject area; therefore, not a stakeholder in curriculum mapping. You may want to consider finding a few librarians to be a part of you personal learning network.

If you want more reference to Wilma Kurvink's work on this subject follow these two links;
  1. accompanying ppt slides from the presentation.
  2. website that provides a hyperlinked description of the approach.
This is a follow your bliss kind of thing; but you really do need to get to know how you learn and what you are motivated to spend your time learning. This is step 0 of creating your own personal curriculum map.

This is how I alter Wilma's 5 step process to become more personal (Note: it is not not a linear process and therefore fits well within Agile Learner Design)
  1. audit the unit - get to know the subject matter landscape, review all the resources you can (academic and otherwise) to get an understanding of the subject area and what you know of it. What skills are needed for success? Where would you start your focus? Where does context fit?
  2. use student perspective - how do you personally relate to the subject area? Are you excited to emerse yourself in the subject? Where would you share your learning and excitement? How does all this relate to what you already know.
  3. confirm revised skills/content/focus to matching tools -  from the audit you may have identified new skills required, you need to develop learning plans to acquire the required skills. Look to new web2.0 tools to also assist here. Identifying the important skills is the best place to start. This is where it gets fun, for you need to devise / identify ways to assess your mastery of the skill. Be sure to communicate and engage you social network here. How does this iteration of learning relate to previous skills/content/focus iteration? What is new? What has changed?
  4. ensure tools align with key focus of unit - once all is done has your learning and work aligned well with the focus of the current iteration. Has your assessment approach worked. Would building your own rubric to assist here? Your personal learning network should be engaged here!
  5. evolution of student perspective - this is where you need to assess the current iterations learning against the skills and knowledge you set out to develop. This then feeds back into step 1. the audit of the unit. Iterate! And remember, keep blogging!
Creating a Personal Curriculum Map is a very important first step while envisioning and planning your Agile Learning. Having to develop your own curriculum is important to building your understanding of the knowledge domain being pursued in your learning. The process of creating the PCM is also iterative, so the map doesn't need to be complete to begin your learning. Once a skill or two has been identified within the subject (or curriculum) domain the learning can begin. And during the iteration a better understanding of the curriculum will develop. The curriculum map is also very personal for it connects you with the skills and knowledge from the past and the present. It will also provide insight into the future. As Dr. Pinar believes the understanding of the past and present of a subject domain connects you with all of humanity. And what makes this even easier is that creating a curriculum map that is personal could be one of the most important things you do. In the timeless words of Bruce Lee, "(Hu)man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system".

Getting Started with PCM
To get started with creating a personal curriculum map simply phrase the learning as a question and begin to build a concept map. In the above example I state that I want to learn to play the pipe and tabor and I begin to hang other nodes around the question. Put all you already know about the subject as nodes around the question. This should be enough to identify a few skills to begin your learning. For the time being, however you imagine the concept map is correct. The most important thing is to begin capturing the idea and what you already know. This concept mapping will be described in more detail in a future post. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Narcissism and Presentism

This is an important video when describing curriculum development and how it could offer a journey out of the current culture of narcissism and presentism. I wanted to watch this video as reference to my post on "Personal Curriculum Mapping". It supported well my belief that it is important every individual be engaged in curriculum development. And from my perspective, the development of their own curriculum. I have embedded the video and included the main points that meant the most to me and my idea of personal curriculum mapping.

William Pinar "Allegories of the Present: Curriculum Development in a Culture of Narcissism and Presentism" from Tallinna Ülikool on Vimeo.

  • Curriculum is mostly focused upon economy and society. In general, it is not localized to community needs. Most curriculum development is procedural and assessment focused.
  • Curriculum development should encourage ongoing forms of intellectual engagement.
  • Advanced capitalism has created an environment of narcissism and presentism. People have retreated from public life. People no longer engage with the past or future.
  • Allegory (storytelling) provokes reflection and engagement to the past and future. It also is an internal and external journey as one will reflect internally to the history. Allegory stretches in many directions and allows individuals to find personal relation to the story. Study of history is important, it fits very well to allegory.
  • Curriculum guidelines should be no more than guidelines. Teachers should have freedom to explore wherever their imaginations take them.
  • Intellectual labor is also an emotional undertaking. Allegory allows for intellectual depth mediated by the learner.
  • Allegory and analogy both connect the individual internally to external objects, events and other people. They connect people to the world. Contributing to curriculum development connects us to others, the past, present and future.
  • Self-reflective understanding transforms the present.
  • Move from curriculum standardization to curriculum differentiation. Working through the legacies of the past enables finding the future.
  • Presentism. All that we have is now. One task follows another task. It erodes the lived links among originality, creativity, spontaneity, anger, risk-taking, excitement, pleasure, discomfort, anxiety, all of humanity.
  • I don't want teachers to be the same, a good mix of people. We need teachers to be individuals. We need an intellectual differentiation.
  • The tests that only make sense are those that are devised by the teachers for the particular class.
  • Outcomes based curriculum are manipulative and too limiting, we want to keep the future open. It is the excitement of becoming educated.
My take away; distinctiveness of continents, nations, states, provinces, cities, municipalities, neighborhoods, families and individuals is good for humanity. Diversity will keep our knowledge base broadening. Curriculum development  needs to include the learner. It would connect the learner to the past, present and future of the subject domain when they have greater responsibility in creating the curriculum.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Harmony House Super Mentor

If you follow this blog you are aware of my inspired learner series of posts. The idea being that there are already many people learning online and using social media as a part of their learning. I also believe that the role of the super mentor will become increasingly important for self-directed learners.

Sandi Melody is a super mentor who has created something very special. She has created a school where youth can come for music and live performance training. What she provides goes far beyond the regular music teaching, she provides mentorship to many aspects of being a musician, not just the chops of playing your chosen instrument. What Sandi does is well described by Curtis Bonk in his book "The World is Open";
This will be a person to consult with at critical junctures in your learning process. Such individuals will be critical in helping sort out the myriad ways you can learn today as well as the interesting routes you might take to reach new learning milestones. As learning becomes increasingly essential in our lives, super mentors will continually provide the breath of life by leading us to relevant and meaningful learning paths.
What I also believe is done very well with Harmony House, Sandi and her students is their use of social media to promote their activities. Being public with your learning increases its depth and quality. And by engaging your social network during your learning increases opportunity for reflection, peer engagement and mentorship.

I believe Sandi Melody is an inspired super-mentor who uses many of the available social media technologies to deepen peoples learning by engaging others and provide opportunities for reflection and public support. Sandi is an Inspired Super-mentor and her students are Inspired Learners.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The days first task

Seth Godin often prompts me to think different. And this morning was no different, he essentially asked the question "what do you do when you start your working day?" Do you consume online media or do you create. I believe the morning sets the tone for the day so how you start is important, and most days I start by consuming online media. This has got to change for me. I consider myself a creative and I need to seize this important and productive time to create something. This is how I intend to flip my mornings around, I will start my daily online activity with an act of creation. Depending on the time available it will either be;
  • with a short time, I will reflect upon my learning and my professional life and post a tweet that I believe would have value to those who follow me.
  • with a longer time, I will use a pomodoro to add to my blog.
I will consume online media through-out the day using my netbook or smartphone. This is what I do already, so... I hope this new way of starting the day will add to the collective intelligence of everyone's day rather than my just lurking within the collective stream.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hire Me

After three years of recent project successes and an amazing adventure in Thailand with family I am back to Vancouver and looking for work. I am looking for short to medium term contractual opportunities as Director of IT or Enterprise / Solutions Architect.
  • My strength is to leverage my 25 years of IT experience in bringing complicated technical projects to completion. Regardless of when I join the project.
  • I am at my best as Enterprise / Solutions Architect,  Director of IT or Technology Focused Project Manager. Though I can take on a large number of technical roles as the project need arises.
  • I am looking for projects that will assist in making the world a better place by bringing balance and equality to all things.
If you have a technology team or project and want to get to finished, I can help you get there. I can start immediately and am willing to work both from home and in your office. The best way to get a sense of my professional abilities and my project successes is to visit my linkedin profile and my technology focused blog.


Peter Rawsthorne

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kickstarter Success

Back in May 2011 I contributed to my first Kickstarter project, Computational Thinking Illustrations. And this week I received my benefit for contributing; signed by the artist, prints of the created images. I completely agree with the goal of this project; to create some cartoon images to help teach computational thinking. In my opinion, computer science skills are neglected by K12 education, these images will assist as open educational resources.

I'd like to thank Benjamin Chun and Tim Piotrowski for bringing this kickstarter project to completion. Way to go Ben and Tim.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Emersive Learning

What is it about emersion that works so well? A couple of months back I wrote about how progressive inquiry and tranformative learning are a great way to learn. During my recent family adventure I was presented the opportunity to spend 24 hours in Wat San Goo. I was excited by spending time in a traditional Thailand Wat and was looking forward to what I would also learn. I really had no idea what was going to unfold and as the time to emerse myself neared I became increasingly hesitant. Throwing myself into a world I had never experienced and being surrounded by a language I was only just beginning to hear was creating a little fear. Needless to say I was pushing a few boundaries.

What emerged from the 24 hours became the subject of a rather detailed blog post. And what stands out for me was the amount I learned during the 24 hours. I would almost say I created a transformative learning experience for myself. Could it be that my hesitancy and mild fear pushed me into a heightened awareness that enabled me to assimilate more information and the unfamiliar surroundings increased my ability to learn about these surroundings?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The implementation of AID

I have many examples of using Agile Instructional Design (AID) over the last five years. Approaching my learning design using agile techniques is just what I do. This approach was developed by combining my 10 years experience using Agile software development techniques, my years of being an adult educator (both on-line and off) and my graduate studies in education and information technology. Whenever I take on instructional design / learning systems architecture projects I use agile techniques. Below is a list of project that I believe provide excellent examples of AID or have benefited from Agile techniques to get to completion.

Examples of Agile Instructional Design 

Personal examples
I am always looking for opportunities to learn. These become learning projects both big and small. My focus is in three main areas; (though I wont turn away from an opportunity that emerges).
  1. Folk music and dance
  2. Adult learning approaches and practices
  3. Learning Systems Architecture / Software Architecture
I follow through on all steps within AID with these personal learning projects. I envision the journey, I plan my approach, I build content and context, I test and review my materials, I assess my depth of learning, I stabilize the end result and I deploy and engage all materials I create during my learning. I iterate often when I am on a learning journey.

All of this activity can been seen across my blogs, wikis, social media, discussion engagements, etc. The best way to follow along or review what I have done is by reading my blog or drilling down on the links found within many of my projects.

WikiEducator is an exemplar for using AID when building a community of practice. There was no official ID methodology when WikiEducator was founded or as the learning content continues to be built. The people who learn most from working within WikiEducator are the learner participants who are using, reusing and building content (this supports the AID idea that learners are the Instructional Designers). When considering the AID steps they have been applied very well within WIkiEducator. This was not by design, but by what worked best for this dynamic learning community working toward building free learning content for the commonwealth countries. WikiEducator was envisioned and continues to be evangelized by Wayne Macintosh who, working with the Commonwealth of Learning, founded WikiEducator. The building of WikiEducator has been very iterative and has, not by design, followed the Agile Instructional Design (AID) approach. This is how I see WikiEducator has followed AID;
  • Its approach to envisioning curriculum (or learner) development has been twofold; first it had a handful of knowledgable educators and technologists, lead by Wayne Macintosh, to create learning content and modules within the collaborative environment of a wiki. As soon as the domain names were registered and the on-line resources (mediawiki platform) were available, content began to be developed. Essentially this small goup of founders became the stewards of the WikiEducator community of practice. Second, it allowed small groups of learners / instructional designers to create their own micro-wikis hosted within the WikiEducator platform. The success of the envisioning is due to being aware of the activities within the wiki to adjust and support the areas of greatest growth and success. WikiEducator envisioning supported the strength of self-organization.
  • The planning of wikiEducator oscillates between the exemplary benevolent dictatorship of Wayne Macintosh and the self-organization of its board members and micro-wiki groups. The planning process was very good at adjusting to areas of need and forming partnerships with domain experts. The planning process did amazing work in supporting all the micro-wiki curriculum / content developers. WikiEducator allows the planning process to influence its envisioning.
  • The build of content, curriculum and programs was most often put into the hands of self-organizing groups who worked together to create what they felt would best meet the needs of the learner. In some situations, existing content was utilized and improved upon. The content licensing scheme was. and is, seen as an important attribute of build success. The build process of learning modules also was allowed to influence the technical platform decisions of WikiEducator as a whole, this allowed the overall platform to improve and assisted greatly in setting technical direction. Learners were also engaged early in the build process to become creators, user and re-users of content.
  • Given the wiki environment the stabilization and deployment becomes a part of the build process. All content is immediately available to the learner community as soon as it is saved to the wiki. This creates amazing opportunities for learner engagement and self-organization. And allows the learner content to be improved and adjusted to suit a changing knowledge domain.
Even though there was no formal Instructional Design methodology utilized by WikiEducator, many of the content development practices within WikiEducator are great examples of an Agile approach. Reduce the rituals and empower the community.

Murder, Madness and Mayhem
In 2008, a University of British Columbia course (SPAN312) took it upon itself to integrate the coursework with Wikipedia and the UBC course curriculum. The course set out to create content (wiki pages) focused on Latin American Literature, with the goal of getting a page promoted to be a wikipedia featured article. The course far exceeded this goal. More than three wiki pages were featured (which is a huge accomplishment) and over eight pages were identified as good articles.

I consider this project as a good example of Agile Instructional Design for it exemplifies success when a vision is created and quickly engaging the learners to become the content creators / instructional designers. The plan was loose with well articulated success criteria and assessment approach. The learners were left responsible to build the content. To stabilize the materials and deploy them to the live environment. Similar to WikiEducator using the wiki to publish blurs the process of build, stabilization and deployment.

Continuing Legal Education of British Columbia
There were two particular projects build during my time with CLEBC that took an Agile approach and both had considerable success. There two projects were; CLETV and Search.

The CLETV project was tasked with creating an on-line live streamed episodic legal education "talk show". Each episode would include discussion with legal experts on a particular legal issue. The process of creating and deploying this video learning environment included a number of technical and pedagogical iterations. The technical iterations were to resolve issues around the capture and broadcast of video in a format well suited for the internet. The pedagogical iterations were to find a format and screen layout to encourage learner engagement and to ensure the time spent engaging with the video learning could be used toward required professional development credits. The elements of AID that were present within this project were;
  1. quickly getting a product to the learner so we could assess success, and improve the technologies chosen
  2. choose the minimum screen elements (software widgets) to allow quick deployment and begin to get live learner feedback regarding engagement
  3. test early and often within the development process to reduce stabilization time
  4. build upon successes and use open formats to enable re-use of saved video elements
  5. continually improve the product through learner and stakeholder engagement
The Search project was tasked with upgrading the existing CLEBC search to improve search times, include additional information sources and implemented a federated and faceted search. Search is an important tool for inquery based learning approaches as is provides access to information through both direct querying and focused browsing of information. This search project took a more traditional approach with additional elements of Agile. It was more traditional in that the internal project team spent time requirements gathering, investigating technologies and approaches and sourcing out vendors to implement the solution. It was also traditional from an instructional design perspective as it wasn't looking to innovate greatly, but stayed with proven approaches to inquiry. The agility came in via a pragmatism; traditional approaches can become very ritualized, they will often take the "correct" path rather than an immediate simpler solution. The project sought out ways to quickly learn what it required to make sound business decisions and committed to a vendor with proven search technology and approaches. Agility came into this project through;
  1. seeking the minimum solution which would provide success
  2. engaging end-users and stakeholders when making user experience design decisions.
  3. problem solving around the design of facets and in reconciling the taxonomy within search results
This post has been dedicated to providing implemented examples of what I consider Agile Instructional Design (AID). All of the projects (with the exception of Murder, Madness and Mayhem" the 2008 edition of SPAN312 facilitated by UBC) I have been directly involved. The common thread through-out all of these projects is the implementation of learning through the use of current and emerging on-line technologies. I strongly believe that using Agile / Lean techniques when designing learning and implementing the on-line technology to support this learning is how all instructional (or learner) design will occur in the future. Learner needs and knowledge domains change too quickly for traditional instructional design techniques to keep up and to keep the learning content current. Technology and social media changes to quickly for Agile and Lean software development techniques not to be adopted for technology based instructional design projects.