Work | Create | Share


During my search for free online courses last month (see my Keep Learning post), I discovered some great resources from an instructional designer and from a writer/artist. Each of them have websites, write blogs and newsletters, produce podcasts and write books just to mention a few of their pursuits.

Go Design Something

After taking a look at Kristin Anthony‘s online course, Go Design Something: The Course, I listened to her podcasts on the same subject, read some of her blog posts and viewed her portfolio. This week, I read Anthony’s ebook entitled Go Design Something: 5 Steps to a Kick-Ass Instructional Design Portfolio.

It’s a good read for not only instructional designers but anyone who wants to build or improve a professional portfolio. It inspired me to focus my efforts, search for examples and models to emulate, create and share. She includes some super resources to get any newbie started and gives “Go Do” assignments at the end of each chapter.

For someone who wants to create an online portfolio but doesn’t know where to start, the simple process that Anthony outlines in her book and podcasts will provide a great roadmap. I haven’t taken her course, but for those who need a more structured and formal learning experience this course may be something to consider.

Steal Like an Artist

Austin Kleon is an writer and artist who has written several books and has given TEDtalks on the subject of creativity. I learned some tips for structuring my time so I can make stuff that I like, but I am most excited about his ideas on the mash-up of passions we each posses and how we can remix others work through daily practice (not plagiarism) so that we can amply and transform our own work.

If all of your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew? Go make that stuff.

If you have two or three real passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life.

Get Busy

In each of these books, the authors outline frameworks for setting up a plan and establishing routines for getting “the work” done (whatever work you’re doing). The next step is to DO THE WORK.

  • Get out there and make stuff.
  • It’s ok to fail, in fact it’s necessary.
  • Share yourself and your work.
  • We live in a digital age, but don’t forget about the benefits of analog work.
  • A big part of work is PLAY.

If you have read either of these books, I would love to know what you learned and what you’ve implemented. Do you have any ideas and resources related to this topic that would help me stay inspired to create and to share?

No More Dumping


For the last seven months or so, I’ve been examining learning designs I’ve used for face-to-face and online professional learning (PL) experiences in the past. As I read blog posts and articles from Cathy Moore and books like Designing for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen, I see how I’ve been guilty of dumping all over my participants. The information dump phenomenon goes by many names… sit and get, drive by and spray and pray. Although  I see a progression in the right direction on many of my latest PL designs, my goal is to really let DOING instead of KNOWING drive my design choices. I want to also incorporate the idea of learner choice into the equation. Let me emphasize here that I’ve always been an advocate of learner choice and I’ve done so by providing multiply options for participants to choose which activity to complete. BUT, the problem in my design has always been in providing the information first (presentation) and then allowing time for learners to take action (do something). Sticking to such a linear progression keeps me from being able to differentiate for varying learner abilities.

Instead of marching through content in an information –> activity, information –> activity, information –> activity type way, I’ve learned how to provide a problem-based scenario in which the learner creates a solution. Now here’s the choice part. Participants are faced with the problem first but information they may need is provided and they can access it if they need it. This way, you’re not boring anyone who already knows the content but needs practice applying solutions using that content. And, anyone who needs information first before they begin to create a solution can access the information they need so that learning looks less like information –> activity and more like this.

Photo Credit: Cathy Moore – Action Mapping

Based on what I’ve learned, I was able to meet one of my professional growth goals by redesigning a mini-lesson that I co-created during the Kentucky Professional Learning Academy. Take a look at Design 1 and then Design 2 which incorporates scenario-based learning using action mapping and learner choice strategies. What do you think? Be a critical friend and leave a comment.

Learn with Video


I just participated in an awesome webinar presented by Ty Marbut and hosted by the eLearning Guild. What was most notable about this webinar, besides the interesting video production tips, was the connection he made between social learning and instructional video. Marbut highlights how we are best motivated to learn from those with whom we have respect. He explains how we observe and take in information about those around us and decide whether or not we will learn from them. We make judgements about someone’s effectiveness by observing their physical presence, the way they move, as well as their physical appearance. He notes an intriguing study which demonstrates that when students who had never taken a course by a particular professor were shown 5-10 seconds of muted video of the professor they evaluated him/her in the same way as those students who rated performance after taking a semester-long course. Wow!

Marbut uses these research findings to demonstrate how important physical presence is to video tutorials or training videos.  He compares a few sample videos, some with video of the instructor and some with audio only, so participants can see how much better a video is when it contains shots of the instructor. He also points out how to take that a step further by NOT using scripts and teleprompters which can make the speaker look stiff and boring.

Remember, if you want to engage your learner they need to respect you. They need to see something in you that demonstrates how you are someone who is worthy of listening to and engaging with so that learning can happen. It’s worth the time it takes to get comfortable in front of the camera so get out there and practice and assess your performance so you can improve your delivery and engagement of learners.