Archive for the 'All the stuff I love' Category

Empathy map: An excellent tool for planning change or any other initiative

I recently read through IDEO’s Tom & David Kelley’s book Creative Confidenceand I found a great deal of inspiration for helping build buy in for my designs and proposals. I also was able to add to my collaboration tool kit, as the book also presents stories and collaborative processes that can help kick start creativity on any team.

We have all worked on initiatives where we were so rushed that it felt if we built out our case logically and spelled out the benefits to our audience, they would naturally accept the change… or so we thought. But as we’ve found time and time again, “If you build it, they will come” often proves to be one of the most ineffective product launching strategies.

IDEO’s approach to design and change initiatives is a human-centered one that examines potential reactions to any sort of new product, object, service or change. The Empathy Map tool presents a simple start at mapping and envisioning how people will react to what you’re putting in front of them whether it is a user interface to a purchasing tool or an ice-cream scoop.

The Empathy Map asks four questions in regard to your change, product, or initiative:

  1. What will people say?
  2. What will people think?
  3. What will people do?
  4. What will people feel?
Empathy Map Questions

Ask these questions to think out how your audience will receive or react to your initiative or change.

Normally, you would put these questions up on a white board or pieces of chart paper and have your team write their answers to these questions on Post-It notes, but I work in virtual teams, so I created a PowerPoint version (see Resources below). These questions can help you sort through possible reactions and prioritize the ones that you should address. Then start making a plan for how you will address those.

In my example PowerPoint, I included the simple example of sending out a survey. Everyone loves taking surveys right? After listing a few audience reactions, thoughts, and feelings, I made an initial attempt at addressing those that I’ve seen in the past.  What I appreciate about this approach is that is a little more thorough. It allows you to separate and methodically map these reactions vs. coming up with the most ‘scary’ ones and reacting solely to those.

Resources:

My top tools for learning & design

I tend to explore tools and software selectively, but after I’ve discovered their uses, I like to work the heck out of them.  Christy Tucker inspired me to write a post on my favorite tools for learning and instructional design. The only ones that are new to my repertoire from over five years ago are Twitter & Storyline.

To enrich my own learning

Twitter – through hashtags & twitterchats I still am able to remain connected to new or trending conversations in my field. I also get to explore and hear other’s voices on topics I care about or am interested in. Yes, sometimes it seems that the chats provide a meeting ground for those who want to collect followers, but they do allow me to connect with others on Twitter who have similar interests.  While engaging in a few MOOCs I found the Twitter backchat most helpful in getting help or being directed to help during the class. The backchat also provided a great channel for starting conversation about topics.

I began using Twitter five years ago and I still seem to be engaged with it.  I have wondered what my choice in primary social media says about me, and apparently according to this article: “long-time Twitter users are found to use the site for cognitive simulation by uncovering information w/o much socialization.”  Considering my introversion this makes sense. Though to be frank, I have been attracted to the character restriction on Twitter because it forces you to be concise and pointed in your use of language. I imagine masters of literary wit from the past loving Twitter. How would Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker used it to hone their sharp observances or comebacks?

Dorothy Parker

What would Dorothy tweet?

Diigo

I still use Diigo to curate and organize resources I find on the Internet, especially when I’m trying to make a case for something I’ve tried using it to share resources with others, but I really only have one or two peers who gets the use of this tool, so I haven’t used it collaboratively.

LinkedIn

I’ve started using linked in more, to learn about what my professional peers and connections are interested in and sharing. I have used the discussion and participated in groups in the past, but not as much today.

For Design/Creativity

Articulate Storyline is my primary tool for developing online courses. The software itself allows me to easily create paths and experiences for learning content. It allows Instructional Designers like myself to focus more on design and delivery rather than programming functionality. Thankfully there’s a highly active learning community out there supported by Articulate and its users.

PowerPoint, like my former colleague, Christy Tucker, I use it for storyboarding course content. To some extent I’ve used it to create simple designs for online course backgrounds. I’m not a graphic designer by trade, but I appreciate the ability to create simple yet somewhat aesthetically pleasing backgrounds and containers for my content without a lot of fuss. No it’s not perfect by design standards, but it will do in a pinch and I can easily import into Storyline.

Sample of course page designed in PowerPoint

Sample of course page designed in PowerPoint

For Creativity Outside of Work

SlideShare – Slideshare allows me to port and share my presentations to the public and also apply audio to them. I also use the entire site as a resource for design inspiration in creating and developing presentation and course content visuals. And While Prezi seemed at first to have a slicker design & delivery, I eventually got tired of using it because the constant zooming left me a little motion sick. I never bothered to figure out a way around it.

Okay… so now I understand what Twitter is all about

Image originally from the Morguefile. Click to view the original

Image originally from the Morguefile. Click to view the original

I’ll admit the idea of telling people what you were doing at any given moment did not appeal to the side of me that adores my privacy. Also, being involved in conversations with others that absobed so much chatter didn’t spark the curiosity of that extremely methodical part of me.

Yet the side of me that has come to appreciate “Stream of Consciousness” really gets it.

But after first joining Twitter I can see what people like about it.

A few tricks I learned quickly to reduce the noise factor on twitter:

  • The more followers/followees you have the faster the pace of the conversation. It’s good to search for conversations using “key words.” You can also save the chat
  • You can easily save tweets you like by clicking the “Star” or favorites option.
  • Just accept that you’re not going to get every piece of information being shared. Twitter is pretty ephemeral and it embodies that life of ephemerality characteristic of some aspects of “Internet life.”
  • Make comments even ones that appear to have no point every now and then.
  • If you’re sharing something cool include the link (be forewarned… if the link is too long you may not be able to share it. Hopefully, web developers out there whose pages require long urls are noting this. Or the twitter people might be able to develop a feature that allows you to associate links to text so you don’t go over the 140 character limit).
  • Addressing someone directly requires including their Twitter ID (ie. @nlkilkenny) in your tweet or post.
  • If you must, you can search through the archive of a saved search. Depending on the volume of a conversation you may be searching for sometime till you get to the beginning.

I’ve actually learned a lot this weekend on Twitter. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I get this way when I learn a good deal of new and fascinating stuff.  I saved a search for Arduino technologies because I’ve very interested in learning how to make clothing and knitwear use electronic features using the Arduino Lilypad.

Arduino Lilypad
Arduino Lilypad

Can you imagine having a purse that’s hooked up to your cellphone so that it blinks a certain way when different people call? I’d also like to make some kind of garment (even just wristbands) for my brother that plays different sounds. He’s a musician that tries to bring traditional and non-traditional sounds and instruments together: OO-Ray.  I was searching through Make.com’s site and found some very fascinating applications with Arduino tech including this Fabric Synthesizer. What a wonderful way to showcase ingeniuity and creativity.

Art and textiles meet electronics and music

Art and textiles meet electronics and music

The Open Sourceness of Everything

\Ancient Remixes\

This comic strip is a rather cheap and quick cartoon I created in ToonDo in less than 10 minutes.

I attended this thought-provoking talk yesterday by Michael Amick (Dean of Academic and Technology Services at Central Lakes College) titled “Remix Culture Appreciation (aka Art Appreciation).”

He emphasized the idea that “re-mixing” of art (and in a larger sense concepts, ideas, inventions, etc.) is essential to human creativity.
During the lecture I had to think. “How many things in this room would actually be possible if no one had copied someone else to create them?”

No, really?

I tend to think that the Internet has empowered us to be immensely powerful in our creativity. I’m a big fan of Jame’s Burke’s Connections series, and one thing I learned from watching these shows is that advances in human technology and cultures happen when individuals, peoples and cultures interact and share ideas. If you think of the potential creative productivity of hundreds of millions of people having access to the Internet, some of whom are intensely creative and innovative, the possibilities are mind-blowing.

Today in the breakfast lecture Brian Lamb shared the simple example of the Free Learning site. This site was originally a link resource list created by one individual in Malaysia. Other interested folks in England and Canada volunteered their time to create an active wiki/resource/search engine for free materials. Lamb notes that this project was developed without a budget, without a project planning team.

And we haven’t gotten to some of the larger possibilities. I wonder what would happen if many people contributed to solving some of the larger issues we face today: climate change, economic collapse. What if there were several or dozens of dedicated individuals, including experts, who orchestrated discussions and problem-solving attack groups? Of course, I wholly realize that what I’m suggesting here frightens more people that it excites and invigorates. As a species we are so ‘inside-ourselves’ that we often cannot appreciate or even trust these attempts at such broad collaboration, and yet, as Brian Lamb pointed out in his lecture, Wikipedia is a prime example of mass cooperation among human beings.

I’d like to spend more time blogging/writing about this topic, but time is short right now. I need to move on to the next lecture at this conference (ITC).

Speaking of re-mixes here’s a really good example of re-mixing from the movie Amadeus. It’s also a good example of how people can get pissed off when their work is re-mixed, but this just demonstrates how Mozart’s character probably wasn’t so diplomatic. Then again why did he have to be? He just saw a better way of doing it.

Schools, Please Don’t Kill Our Creativity

At a workshop I attended yesterday, Barry Dahl mentioned this unforgettable lecture by Ken Robinson at the TED conference. In his incredibly adroit and humorous talk, Robinson maintains that schools today thrash the creativity out of kids. I would argue that the final death knell takes place once they enter today’s corporate work world.

In another inspiring lecture, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO champions the importance of play in productivity of design and innovation.

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

How can we, as educators promote creativity and play in our classrooms, while teaching important knowledge and skills? I feel that developing curriculum driven by “student created content” is key to developing the creative minds that will build our future. I don’t know about you, but as an old doddering woman, I would rather live in a world built by the next designer of earth shaking technologies and innovative policies that help promote progress and not in a world populated by people who are fettered by rules that squelch creativity and productivity.

“It’s in the making of things that kids actually do their learning”

(Exerpt below is from an article I wrote for our company blog.)

Creating content in schools extends past the traditional class-report or diorama making. I found this wonderful example of the King Middle School in Portland, Maine. I believe that this school is really putting the approaches to 21st Literacy Education in a Action. The video provides examples of how the school integrates subjects like science, English, math with technology education.


Click the photo to view the video. Note the video will open and play automatically in another browser window.

The kids participate in truly constructivist activities, by developing videos, artwork, and collaborating on the development of music and music scores. All of these activities and projects require formal knowledge in writing, math, science, research and history that used to be taught to students via textbooks in an isolated context. Here are a few quotes from the short film that really captured my attention:

“We don’t use textbooks, per se… we do a lot of research in class.”

“The approach is to bring out the best in every student.”

“It’s in the making of things, that kids do their learning.”

The school also partners with businesses like a local printing press to develop products. The students work together as teams to develop items such as books for the press. These students also have the opportunity to work with professionals like the professional documentary maker who help them improve the quality of their videos. They get real-life experience and are encouraged to stretch and deliver quality projects. They are not coddled or isolated from doing ‘real work’ because they are not ready to do it on a ‘professional level.’

As I finished watching the video, I realized that many teachers might have issues with the fact that some students contributed 7 pages of work to a final project while some contributed only three paragraphs. I like the attitude that these teachers at King have that “Everyone does what they can.” Plus everyone should contribute to the project using the skills and talents that they have. Perhaps a student who needs help with math but has kinesthetic talents can choreograph a dance, and teach the other students how to perform the dance to be included in a final project. A student who lags in writing but has design skills might lead the team that develops the costumes or set. Both students are exercising their communication and leadership skills in helping other get their tasks done. Students who are better at writing can help coach these students when they have to do the written component for the project.

I think the comment that sums up the value and power of this approach to education was made by the kids of King Middle School themselves, “No one feels stupid here anymore.”

Why wasn’t I born twenty years later? I would have loved to go to school in a place like this. Seeing examples like this really makes me excited about the work we do here at PLS because I believe that in what we do we strive to make learning experiences effective and powerful.

Amazing: “In My Language”

This made me think a great deal.  This is probably one of the best explanations or accounts of autism I’ve seen, and it’s told from an autistic individual’s point of view. Can you imagine… would this persons story and view of the world be communicated as easily without video-sharing (YouTube) and Web tech? Also, the video comments and feedback is just as though-provoking.
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc]

What I learned on my vacation – it’s easier to be green

  1. We can live in cities and still respect the environment and use less natural resources and decrease our carbon footprint
  2. Markets (traditional) are good
  3. Trains are good

aladyonbike.jpg
We can live in cities and still respect the environment

Amsterdam has a hundreds of years of history or dedication to the smart and responsible growth of their city. I hope that this Dutch ingenuity serves them well with the coming changes to the global landscape. I was in the grocery store and I noticed that they sold chocolate pudding in cartons. When I read the calories per serving I nearly flipped, but I guessed that if you’re riding your bicycle everywhere then you can afford to eat a few hundred calories worth of chocolate pudding.

EVERYONE RIDES BICYCLES IN AMSTERDAM! It’s really neat to see. Families cart small children and dogs in little trolleys or carts in front of their bikes. There are cars on the streets, presumably commuters from the suburbs, but I was astounded and impressed by how bicycle culture is the ‘transport culture’ in this city. If only we could build up or separate the bike lanes in Portland to make them more safe for bikers. Also, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of macho-mountain bike culture going on or people dressed ridiculously in tight Speedo shorts and brightly colored biker wear, instead you find just a bunch of normal people riding their bikes. I’ve decided that my next big purchase is going to be a used city cruising bike. I live just a few minutes bike ride from the local grocery store so why not.

Also, most of the cities in Spain have recycling containers labeled on their streets. Huge containers that stand about 5 feet high. Alicante, I noticed, was nearly immaculately clean. There was no or little garbage strewn on the streets. Also, power must be expensive in Spain because no one uses an electric dryer to dry their clothes. Where ever you go, you can see laundry left out window sills to dry. In nicer neighborhoods, the apartments all have inner courtyards with balconies and common areas for hanging up clothes. In addition, I noticed that all the hotel rooms we stayed at require the insertion of a room key to start the power in the room. This insures that power won’t be lost from lights or appliances left on. I did notice that there were no digital clocks in the rooms.
jamon.jpgMarkets are good (I wish we had more of them)

In all three cities we visited in Spain we visited a public market of some sort. In Barcelona and Alicante we walked through the Mercado Central. The markets were amazing, brightly colored booths with spices, meats, and candies. I did find a sweets vendor that was selling several kinds of metallic non-pareil (sp?) decorations for cakes, as well as many kinds of dried and candied fruits. I was kind of pissed off that I couldn’t spend more time in the Barcelona market, but we were on a mission and could not stop. As we walked through the Mercado in Alicante, Eric puzzled, how can all these vendors could make any money if they were selling the same products right next to everyone else. I made the assumption that it was a combination of personal relationships merchants made with their customers as well as the general volume of people who would come to the market over anywhere else because the selection was good. No one is going to offer crap if they have to compete with all the other vendors. The reputation of the market as a great place to purchase goods holds firm with the people. The meat market here, is a horror fest for most vegetarians, but for those of us who partake, it sure beats having to settle for the water injected chicken at the Win Co. The fish and seafood vendors sold everything from snails, tuna steaks, something that looked like baby geoducks, and octopus. Also, I was able to buy and eat some of the most delicous Empanadas and Ensaymada (sweet bread) I’ve had in my life from the bakery vendors.

mercado.jpg

Alicante Mercado Central

Alicante Mercado Central

The front of the Mercado Central in Alicante

btrain.jpg

Trains are good

In Spain we traveled everywhere by train. When traveling between big cities it seems like most people in Spain use the train system. Now, I’m no scientist but I suspect that using this mode of transport is easier on fuel consumption that a couple hundred people driving their SUV’s from city to city. No doubt with fuel prices being what they are here, who would? I liked riding the train, it was pleasant, quiet, nice and I had the opportunity to finish knitting a whole pair of socks.


More about good things people are doing to reduce their carbon footprints:
Smart Growth (NRDC) – http://www.nrdc.org/smartgrowth/default.asp


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