ShapingEDU Unconference 2020: Taking It All Online During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Pt. 2 of 2)

March 26, 2020

An innocuous little note at the bottom of the “living” online agenda for the 2020 Arizona State University ShapingEDU Unconference (for “dreamers, doers, and drivers shaping the future of learning in the digital age”) earlier this month proved, in retrospect, to be one of the most prescient and useful comments anyone could have injected into the planning process: “While the start and end tines each day will not change, all activity times are fluid/subject to change…because it’s an unconference.”

The two previous ShapingEDU unconferences (in 2018 and 2019) had been tremendous examples of what can happen when a blended (onsite-online) community of learning meets face to face on an annual basis with an understanding that the agenda—and the Unconference itself—is subject to change in any way that fosters positive conversation and action. (As I noted in the first of these two sets of Unconference reflections, the 2018 Unconference produced a framework—10 Actions to Shape the Future of Learning—for action and archived materials, including graphic facilitator Karina Branson’s visual representations of what occurred there; the 2019 Unconference produced an online 18-page communique of “actionable ideas and strategies that can humanize learning, promote greater access to and equity in learning experiences, better connect education to the future workforce and world, and nurture highly collaborative communities of practice” that continues to be shared globally.) The overall structure of both events—an clear, concise statement of purpose provided the framework for discussion, planning, and implementation; the flexibility of the living agenda allowed and encouraged participants to alter the agenda at any time during which it became apparent that changes would produce greater results than the previous version of the agenda nurtured—fostered the perfect response to the swift transformations that literally took place overnight during the event this year. It also suggests a framework for trainer-teacher-learners to emulate as we move forward in designing and facilitating the best possible learning opportunities for those we serve.

The key moment in the ShapingEDU community’s response to the spread of the coronavirus occurred at the end of the first full day of onsite-online activities. Unconference organizers, responding to the fear that airlines might soon be cancelling flights and leave onsite participants separated from their families, made what was for them a very difficult decision: cancelling the onsite portion of the Unconference and simultaneously moving the mostly-onsite event completely online.

More importantly, they used every avenue available to quickly disseminate news of the decision and provide clear instructions on how we would continue during the second day of the two-day event. There were face-to-face conversations in the lobby of the hotel where many of us were staying. There was an email message sent to all participants. There were posts in the ShapingEDU Unconference Slack channel. To say it as bluntly as possible: there was complete transparency about what was happening and there was a magnificent effort to convey the news in the most positive way possible.

It’s well worth sharing a slightly-edited version of the note that was drafted by Samantha Becker, who serves as a driving force and supportive colleague in virtually everything related to the community and the Unconference, and that went out to all of us:

“Dear Dreamers, Doers and Drivers:

“Thank you so much for your brilliant participation and rallying today to advance some awesome and actionable outputs to better education. You made it insightful and you made it fun. You have truly embraced the spirit of the unconference!

“We have made a decision to pivot to online-only activities tomorrow, beginning again in our Zoom room [the link was shared here to make it easy for attendees to continue participating] at 9am AZ time / 12pm Eastern US Time. This was a very difficult decision to make, and one that has been made to take every precaution for our community, given the updates unfolding around us in real-time. Those here in person that wish to take earlier flights can.

“That said, we except a robust online program tomorrow, kicking off at 9am with a special talk from Adobe’s Todd Taylor on digital and creative fluency. Our graphic facilitator Karina Branson will be online and making her graphics all digital! Watch us flex. :wink:

The goal tomorrow online is take all the actionable ideas and products we came up with in our neighborhood working sessions, narrow them down and start firming up concrete plans for the ShapingEDU community to weigh in on. Even if you couldn’t make today or only part of today, you can jump in tomorrow and contribute in a major way.

Zoom Room: [again, the link was provided]  (9am – 1pm AZ / 12pm – 4pm Eastern US)

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The Slack workspace has been lively and we’ll pick our conversations back up there in the #unconference2020 channel.”

Reading that note can’t help but leave us with an appreciation for how quickly, effectively, and positively Samantha and other Unconference organizers (with input from available attendees) made and publicized the transformation. We can’t help but notice how effectively they used every resource available to them. And, above all, we have to acknowledge how well-prepared (through its consistent exploration and use of online communication tools) community members were for this massive shift in plans—the same sort of massive shift that is occurring in training-teaching-learning worldwide.

Visual Summary, by Karina Branson (ConverSketch), of Virtual Planning Session

The result was that when we reconvened (online) the following morning, most of us were present. Ready to work. And deeply appreciative for the creative, playful way with which the change was managed. One of the first spur-of-the-moment adaptations came from Laura Geringer, the community engagement, writing, and project leadership consultant who does much of the day-to-day work of reaching out to ShapingEDU community members to keep us informed and involved. Acknowledging that this was a group that thrived on collegiality and effective use of videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, she encouraged all of us to activate the webcams on our laptops so we could produce a global wave. And even for those of us who found our webcams choosing that moment to malfunction, the gesture was a success. We waved. We laughed. And then we got down to business, putting the technology in the background and bringing the interactions into the foreground to produce a set of proposals for projects the community will consider pursuing as a result of the time we spent together at ShapingEDU 2020.

ShapingEDU 2020 Virtual Wave

So, let’s hear it for flexible/adaptable communities of learning and all that their members do to make them successful through an approach of considering everyone a co-conspirator in the training-teaching-learning-doing process. A willingness to work with technology that sometimes produces spectacular results and sometimes leaves us frustrated by short-term failures. And living agendas that are created with an understanding that “all activity times are fluid/subject to change”…because that’s one of many approaches we can take to produce first-rate learning opportunities and the results they can produce.

N.B.: Trainer-teacher-learners worldwide are creating and sharing magnificent resources to help colleagues make the transition from onsite to online learning. Among those are Cindy Huggett’s “Virtual Presenter’s Guide to Using Zoom Meeting Tools” and the numerous suggestions posted in the Facebook  Pandemic Pedagogy group. If you want to share your own resources, please don’t hesitate to respond to this post via a comment.


ShapingEDU Unconference 2020: On Learning, Pandemics, and Rapid Adaptability (Pt. 1 of 2)

March 25, 2020

While trainer-teacher-learners globally are struggling to adapt to a rapidly-changing learning environment created as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, examples of communities of learning adapting quickly through positive actions are abundant. It’s fascinating to watch—and participate in the growth of—global networks including the Facebook Pandemic Pedagogy group which, as of today, has more than 26,000 members online creating/sharing/absorbing information, resources, questions, and ideas regarding the large-scale, blink-of-an-eye movement from onsite instruction to online learning opportunities. It’s exciting to be part of smaller communities of learning, including Maurice Coleman’s T is for Training group centered around his biweekly podcast exploring training-teaching-learning-doing in libraries across the United States, as they create and facilitate informal online community discussions via Zoom and numerous other videoconferencing tools as a way of keeping up, staying socially connected in a time of social distancing, and doing what it they do best: promoting the best possible approaches to fostering positive learning experiences for those who rely on them for support.

In the midst of all this, the 2020 Arizona State University ShapingEDU Unconference (for “dreamers, doers, and drivers shaping the future of learning in the digital age”) earlier this month stands out as a stunningly successful example of how those of us comfortable with and experienced in working in blended (onsite/online) environments are well-positioned to pivot on a very small (digital) dime when necessary. More importantly, it may be useful example/case study for trainer-teacher-learner-doers globally not only during the current coronavirus pandemic but during any period during which our approach to the work we do has to change as fast as the world around us is changing.

The third annual Unconference was planned, over a months-long period of time, as an onsite gathering (in Tempe, Arizona) with the potential for some online interactions for those community members unable to attend onsite. It was scheduled to begin onsite with an opening reception on the evening of March 11 and conclude around noon on March 13. Registration—by invitation only—peaked at nearly 220 participants in the days before the event was scheduled to begin. But when coronavirus concerns increased in late February and early March, cancellations accelerated; by the time participants began arriving in Tempe, there had been more than 50 cancellations, and the opening night reception had fewer than 50 people in attendance.

What could have been a deal- (or Unconference-) breaker simply became a challenge in adaptability for those onsite as well as for those online. Onsite participants doubled down on our efforts to draw our online colleagues into the conversations via Twitter, via the Unconference live feed (via Zoom) that was already in place, and through quick adaptations in the way onsite sessions were managed.

It’s important to acknowledge that quite a bit goes into creating a community and an event as flexible/adaptable, focused, innovative, and productive as the ShapingEDU community and Unconference have proved to be during their first couple of years of operations. This is not something that we master and implement overnight. It starts with a shared vision: in this case, a commitment “to assemble a diverse collection of dreamers, doers, and drivers who believe that we can collectively shape a rich and impactful future for the application of emerging technologies to the design of learning and learners over the next chapter of the digital age” [the quote is from the invitation to attend the first Unconference, held in April 2018]. It grows through the work of first-rate planners and facilitators with a talent for including, at every possible opportunity, all interested community members in the actual planning process through numerous tools including a “living” online agenda. It is supported year-round through formal and informal online interactions, including webinars focused on specific elements of the overall ShapingEDU initiative and online publications that serve as resources for trainer-teacher-learner-doers worldwide. And, most importantly of all, it is grounded in a commitment to maintain a positive approach—particularly in times of adversity.

The community and its annual unconferences are seamlessly interwoven: the onsite interactions support the year-round online interactions, and the online interactions and projects fuel the onsite gatherings. ShapingEDU as an initiative and a community, furthermore, thrives through a combination of cherishing and promoting dreaming as well as doing—there is plenty of room within this community for those who love contemplating big ideas and those who want to get something done. In fact, one of the biggest strengths of the ShapingEDU community is that the dreamers are also drivers and doers who are not at all satisfied with coming up with ideas and then leaving the development and implementation to someone else. It’s a community that values and seeks and produces results. (The 2018 Unconference produced a framework—10 Actions to Shape the Future of Learning—for action and archived materials, including graphic facilitator Karina Branson’s visual representations of what occurred there; the 2019 Unconference produced an online 18-page communique of “actionable ideas and strategies that can humanize learning, promote greater access to and equity in learning experiences, better connect education to the future workforce and world, and nurture highly collaborative communities of practice” that has been shared globally.)  

Acknowledging everyone involved in the development of the community and the unconferences would invariably result in an unbearably long post here on Building Creative Bridges and inadvertently leaving someone out, but a few key players are well worth mentioning as resources to anyone interested in knowing more about how to replicate its early successes. There is Lev Gonick, Arizona State University chief information officer and a founding force behind ShapingEDU. There is Samantha Becker, a cherished long-time colleague and collaborator who, as community manager for ShapingEDU, serves as a driving force and supportive colleague in virtually everything related to the community and the Unconference. And there is Laura Geringer, the community engagement, writing, and project leadership consultant who does much of the day-to-day work of reaching out to ShapingEDU community members to keep us informed and involved. Working alongside them physically and virtually are the volunteers who take bite-sized pieces of the overall initiative and work toward transforming dreams into positive, meaningful, measurable results.

What Lev and Sam and Laura nurture was clearly visible onsite. Because we are used to blended onsite-online interactions, it wasn’t much of a stretch for us to integrate our online colleagues into our activities on the first full day the 2020 Unconference. And when it became clear that the much lower-than-expected number of online participants was going to radically curtail the effectiveness of the breakout sessions we had planned for each group pursuing a part of the overall ShapingEDU framework, we quickly merged some of the groups with overlapping areas of interest and expertise to create more dynamic conversations, then further improvised by fully integrating what had initially been envisioned as conversations divided between onsite and online groups—which meant, for example, that my colleague Kim Flintoff (working from Australia) and I quickly snagged a room with projection and audio/loudspeaker capabilities—so we could hook my laptop up to those systems; the result was that we co-facilitated a session that extended from our room in Tempe all the way to Kim’s home on the other side of the world—and also drew in a couple of other onsite facilitators and a few online participants into the same highly productive completely blended session. One of the most rewarding signs of success came when we stopped paying attention to the technology that was making the session possible and focused on the results we were hoping to produce.

Just when all of us at the Unconference thought we had pushed our ability to adapt to its limit, another unexpected twist occurred—at the end of our first full day together: the increasing fear of cancelled flights home because of the then not-yet-implemented shelter-in-place orders that started going into effect less than a week later in parts of the United States drove the unexpected decision to move everything online overnight. Which meant that almost everyone had to scramble to rebook flights. Cancel their overnight reservations at the conference hotel. Scramble to pack everything that had been brought to the conference. And take actions that would have us all back together the following morning for Day 2 of what was about to become a completely virtual conference—with just a handful of us continuing to work together (in the Unconference online environment) from the dining room of the Unconference hotel.

Next: Going Online to Continue Dreaming, Driving, and Doing


Adapting to Change, Loss, and Possibilities: Rejoining Our Families

May 15, 2020

“Family,” for me, has always been an expansive term—one that has only taken on even more importance and meaning to me during what is now about to become a third month during which I am gladly following shelter-in-place guidelines adopted in response to the current coronavirus pandemic. “Family” obviously includes spouse/partner, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, cousins, and much more. It’s something we are celebrating today through recognition of International Day of Families—a celebration that came to my attention quite accidentally as I was watching the latest in the wonderfully funny Pluto Living videos written and produced by Nancy Wight. And, for me, it includes the numerous friends and colleagues with whom I am in touch—sometimes frequently, sometimes sporadically, but always in ways that involve trust, respect, affection, and a sense that my life would be far less rich and fulfilling if they were not part of it.

Sheltering in place and engaging in social distancing has not in any way left me feeling socially isolated; I’m lucky to have “family” as committed to working at maintaining strong, positive relationships as I am. In a pre-coronavirus world, I frequently came across those family members while walking around San Francisco. Or sitting in any caffè that served as a meeting place for us. Or during business trips that gave me an excuse to work in various places around the United States. Or while attending onsite conferences. Or while engaged in online gatherings such as the biweekly recordings for Maurice Coleman’s T is for Training podcast or monthly meetings and webinars facilitated by members of the ShapingEDU family. Or via Slack…or…or…or…

Maintaining an overly busy schedule has often resulted in my stepping away from some of those “family” gatherings, as has been the case with my involvement—or lack thereof—with a first-rate family in the form of a magnificent community of learning: #lrnchat, a family that has been meeting weekly (Thursdays, 8:30 – 9:30 pm ET/5:30 – 6:30 pm PT) via Twitter, in the form of a well-facilitated tweet chat that always is centered around a pre-announced topic of interest to trainer-teacher-learner-doers. I have, occasionally, taken the time to reflect on and write about what that family means to me. But I fell out of the habit of participating in those weekly gatherings a couple of years ago when shifts in my work habits made those meetings much harder to squeeze into my schedule.

Although being lucky enough to stay very busy while following shelter-in-place guidelines, I have used this unusual period of time to re-examine how I spend my time, and one of the changes I have made is carving out time to dive back into my #lrnchat-family gatherings on a biweekly basis—on those weeks when T is for Training isn’t recording within part of that same time slot. And, as is always the case with family reunions, it has been a wonderful opportunity requiring very little transition. I just show up. Others continue to show up—or rejoin after similar periods of absence. We spend a few minutes with introductions and in-the-moment observations. Then we get down to the heart of what draws us together: interactions with those we love and admire. Listening to (or, since this all takes place as an online typed chat, reading) what other members of our family want to say and share. Responding—sometimes seriously, sometimes with tongues deeply in cheek, but always with curiosity and respect. And, most importantly of all, learning. Together. In ways that make us better than we were before the latest family conversation began. And, as a result, make us better at serving those who, in turn, look to us, for support in their own lifelong learning endeavors.

The conversations, facilitated by family heads Jane Bozarth, Tracy Parish, and David Kelly, always draw us in quickly. Engage us from start to finish. And leave us with important questions, including “what did you learn from this conversation?” and “what will you do with what you learned?” Those are critically important questions for any trainer-teacher-learner-doer, and, because of what I have learned over the years from my #lrnchat family, those are questions I put to every one of my co-conspirators in learning at the end of classes, workshops, webinars, and other learning opportunities I design and facilitate. They are questions that continue drawing me back to #lrnchat and my other families. They are fruitful questions to ask every day that we continue following shelter-in-place and social-distancing guidelines. And they are questions that, when asked, serve as fabulous reminders of why we cherish our families. All they offer. And whatever demands they place upon us and the limited time we have. For if we don’t have time for family, for whom do we have time?

–N.B.: This is the tenth in a series of reflections inspired by colleagues’ reactions to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place experiences and our continuing interactions online.


Adapting to Change, Loss, and Possibilities: The Learning Revolution Online

April 22, 2020

On a day when friends and colleagues are feeling isolated by current shelter- in-place guidelines designed to fight the spread of the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic), I’m feeling lucky. I have been immersed in plenty of live, stimulating, rewarding, interactions with dozens of teacher-trainer-learner-doers attending a global conference. We have been listening to and asking questions of a first-rate set of presenters. We have been chatting with each other about what we are seeing and hearing. We have been sharing resources we can all begin to use—or continue using—with the learners we serve. And we have been doing all this, without needing to wear protective masks and by abiding with shelter-in-place guidelines, by maintaining distances of hundreds, if not thousands, of miles between us—because the fabulously innovative “Emergency Remote Teaching & Learning; Survive, Thrive, & Plan for What Comes Next” daylong miniconference organized and facilitated by Steve Hargadon and his Learning Revolution colleagues has been entirely online.

One of the most interesting responses I’ve seen to cancelled face-to-face learning opportunities among trainer-teacher-learners is the rapid, often positive transition from onsite face-to-face to online face-to-face interactions through the use of Zoom and other teleconferencing tools, as I have noted in previous blog posts. (The transition obviously works best for people who were already comfortable working online, and obviously is problematic where people lack online access and/or lack laptops or mobile devices.) At least two of my favorite learning organizations have made the decision to move their popular, well-attended onsite conferences into onsite environments this year: the Association for Talent Development (ATD) Virtual Conference and the American Library Association (ALA) Virtual Conference). A glance at news updates suggests that ATD and ALA are far from alone in following this innovation-in-response-to-necessity approach to supporting members of their communities in times of need.

As we consider the gargantuan task of implementing such massive change within short timeframes, it’s worth returning to the Learning Revolution miniconference to see what made it work. It helps, of course, that Hargadon, his longtime partners, and his colleagues are hardly new to this endeavor; they routinely organize and facilitate global worldwide virtual events, including the Global Education Conference (since 2010) and Library 2.0 online conferences.through collaborations with the spectacular Learning Revolution project. And it helps that the presenters were uniformly engaging and well-prepared.

In a day full of ideas and inspiration, it’s impossible to try to summarize the content in a meaningful way, so I’m left with recollections of moments and themes that somehow capture the overall beauty, creativity, and fun of the entire endeavor. Like opening session presenter Candy Mowen’s reminder, during her “Engaging Online Learners” webinar, that enhancing online learning flows from the creation of great learning environments. Or Zaretta Hammond’s commitment, during “Culturally Responsive Teaching Through Remote Learning,” to the idea that culturally responsive teaching “focuses on improving the learning of diverse students who have been marginalized educationally.” Or Steven J. Bell’s opening comments, during “Let’s Commit to Making Webinars Better,” about the importance of being relaxed, being ready, and taking your time getting started when working with our online learners. Or John Spencer’s sharing of numerous resources during his “Empowering Students in a Distance Learning Environment.” Or the opportunity to see George Couros, Katie Novak, and A.J. Juliani do wonderful variations on the themes they explored in an earlier webinar a few weeks ago and add updated material, including a very short, very funny video in which a music teacher performs a song she wrote to demonstrate her process of making the transition from onsite to online learning.

I didn’t try to attend every session; extensive experience attending conferences has helped me to realize that creating some time for reflection between sessions is an important and integral part of learning through the act of being a conference attendee. And I didn’t make the mistake of thinking that I would remember more than a few of the numerous points made or more than a few of the numerous links and other resources shared by presenters and participants; I took more than a dozen pages of hand-written notes and actually took the step of copying the extensive chat from a few of the sessions and then pasting it into a Word document—a document that ended up running more than 80 pages—that I can later review, in a more leisurely fashion, to jog my memory and help me continue my learning far beyond the day of the live event.

There’s plenty to learn from the miniconference in terms of how to successfully create and facilitate an online conference. It was, first and foremost, very well organized. Registration was easy; it simply involved applying for membership in the Learning Revolution for those who were not already members (a straightforward process that results in an amazingly quick response). Information was easily accessible online through the Learning Revolution website. A page on the Learning Revolution website itself served as the program book, with session descriptions and links to each online session. The presenters themselves were uniformly engaging and learner-/participant-focused in their approach to leading their sessions. Bandwidth issues did, at times, temporarily make the presentations a bit choppy, but Hargadon was there to smooth the gaps and help presenters and audience members quickly reconnect and move beyond those momentary blips. Interactions among participants was lively, and the numerous question-and-answer sessions between presenters and audience members were well-supported by the presenters themselves as well as by Hargadon in his role as producer/co-host/trouble-shooter. And best of all, the conference didn’t end when the live sessions formally concluded. Archived recordings are scheduled to be posted on the Learning Revolution website within a day or two after the conclusion of the live event, so the training-teaching-learning-doing can and will continue as long as any of us continue to call attention to those recordings and continue the conversations in any onsite or online setting we care to use for that purpose.

I’ve seen—and disagreed with—numerous comments I have seen online about how the cancellation of onsite conferences is creating a gap that simply can’t be replaced. I’ve seen—and disagreed with—numerous comments about the irreparable losses those cancellations are causing in terms of missed opportunities for interactions. I am not at all suggesting that onsite and online conferences and other gatherings are completely interchangeable. I know and recognize that going online creates barriers—particularly for those who don’t have adequate (or any) access to online activities; I also know and recognize that onsite conferences create barriers—costs of food and travel, the amount of time it can take to travel great distances to attend an onsite conference. But I am suggesting, based on my own short- and long-term experiences, that online conferences are far from the death knell for community gatherings as we know them; they have been and are increasingly becoming fascinating, engaging opportunities for communities to survive and thrive.

Observing and participating in today’s daylong virtual conference offers plenty of hope and guidance for anyone interested in sustaining strong communities of learning that thrive on online as well as onsite engagement. The conference is providing yet another example of the benefits and challenges of taking a conference online. And it suggests that if we positive approach our challenges collaboratively, we can sometimes produce positive results far beyond anything we might have ever imagined.

–N.B.: This is the sixth in a series of reflections inspired by colleagues’ reactions to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place experiences and our continuing interactions online.


Adapting to Change, Loss, and Possibilities: Sheltering, Associating, and Thriving

April 17, 2020

One of the most stunningly impressive and inspiring displays of positive action coming out of the current sheltering in place efforts to fight the spread of the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic is the display of flexibility and adaptability I’ve seen in a variety of sectors—not the least of which is the training-teaching-learning environment that is so much a part of my life.

I’ve seen firsthand, written about, and talked extensively and been involved in discussions about the way in which the mostly-onsite ShapingEDU 2020 Unconference moved, overnight, into being a completely online gathering of dreamer-doer-drivers committed to help shape the future of learning in the digital age. I’ve been observing (through news articles, blog posts, participation in webinars, and personal conversations) how rapidly and radically administrators, teachers, and students are moving from onsite to online environments—sometimes successfully, sometimes painfully much less so—in attempts to avoid a complete shutdown of our formal education systems globally. And I continue to be impressed, fascinated, and supported by associations—those wonderful groups that even in the least challenging of times, bring us together—through a shared interest—to commiserate, learn, play, survive, and thrive together.

My colleagues in local ATD (Association for Talent Development) chapters as well as in the parent organization, for example, have turned the very bitter lemon of having to cancel onsite gatherings into an incredible pitcher of lemonade in the form of highly interactive, engaging, and productive online gatherings—what I have consistently referred to as “face-to-face sessions online.” It’s a fairly straightforward—and hardly new—approach that is becoming more and more easy to implement through the use of an increasingly varied array of teleconferencing tools designed to pull us as near as possible to a sense of telepresence—the perception that we are sharing a physical space, side-by-side, regardless of the actual physical distance between us.

It’s as if we had formally decided to counteract the frustrations of social distancing by engaging in an updated version of virtual proximity—and we are, increasingly, seeing this virtual proximity become widespread through necessity. The ATD South Florida Chapter, for example, reacted magnificently to shelter-in-place by proposing and implementing, in less than a month, a series of online weekly gatherings that have all the spirit and camaraderie of the long-standing onsite chapter meetings that are a staple of ATD chapters throughout the United States. When chapter leaders decided to experiment with this face-to-face online approach through the use of Zoom, they immediately put out a request for proposals from chapter members interested in being part of this initiative. I saw the first request, via email, on Friday, March 27, 2020. A week later, I was in the virtual audience for the first session, led by longtime colleague and chapter member Jennifer Dow, on the topic of “Engaging Your Audience While Facilitating Virtually.” Two weeks after receiving that email message, I was in the audience for the second session, led by chapter member George Romagosa, on the topic of “Quick and Easy MicroLearning.” And this morning—three weeks after seeing the initial request for proposals, I was leading a session centered on a few case studies of organizations that were making the switch from onsite to online operations almost—if not virtually—overnight.

As we look at how my colleagues in that first-rate, highly innovative, and very playful chapter managed to create this new series so quickly, we would do well to begin with a glance at the cordial, transparent, collegial manner in which they invited participation while also creating awareness of what was in the works. Under a banner containing a simple message—“Let’s support one another at this time”—they quickly drew us in: “ATDSFL remains focused on supporting your professional needs. During this time, we are seeking talent development professionals who would like to share best practices, tips and strategies in virtual training delivery. Small and large organizations alike may be struggling with how to transition quickly to online or virtual training and we would like to equip our members with the skills to tackle this challenge! Please contact the Director of TD Talks Selen Turner at selenturner@comcast.net if you are interested in being a virtual speaker.”

It’s all there, and completely reflective of the tenor of all interactions with ATD South Florida Chapter members: the statement of need, the proposed action to be taken, a clear statement of what is being sought, and guidance on how to respond.”

As a rare chapter member whose interactions are all virtual except for those rare times when I’m actually in Florida (rather than San Francisco or other parts of the country) for a project, I was intrigued. And as a prospective session facilitator, I was as impressed as I always am by the quick response I received to my initial proposal. This is what makes an association thrive. This is what makes an association be seen as the place to be. And this is an association that, through its collaborative approach to implementing its mission, vision, and value statements, is there for us—and we for it—in the best and the worst of times.

The parent organization, at its best, is every bit as creative and responsive as its chapters are; no surprise there. Faced, for example, with the difficult decision so many associations are currently having to make—to go ahead with planning for large conferences that are routinely held on an annual basis or cancel them in acknowledgment that gathering large numbers of people together during a time of pandemic—ATD recently announced that its annual gathering (as usual, scheduled for May) is being cancelled, and that the Association would look forward to gathering onsite next year for its five-day conference and exposition—presumably when health and safety issues had been overcome. But it didn’t stop there. Several days later, a follow-up note went out to the thousands of us around the world who belong to ATD: an invitation to attend an ATD 2020 Virtual Conference to be held a couple of weeks later than the onsite conference would have been held. It’s still very early in the process of disseminating information about what specific sessions will be held, but signs are already promising that our Association colleagues are doing everything possible to recreate, virtually, what is being lost through that onsite cancellation: dozens of formal learning opportunities; networking opportunities in group and one-on-one situations; and an opportunity to “be a part of ATD’s history as we come together for a new learning experience.”

I have often reflected on and written about the value of associations—and association! I’ve documented the high regard in which I hold colleagues in the American Library Association, ATD (initially in those years when it was still ASTD, the American Society for Training & Development), ShapingEDU, the New Media Consortium before financial difficulties led its board members to make the decision to dissolve the organization, T is for Training, and others. And I was inspired to do so again today after coming across a prompt from ATD on its Facebook page: “What does being a member of ATD mean to you?”

The answer flowed effortlessly, without requiring much thought: It means the world to me. ATD is a magnificent community of learning. A large laboratory/sandbox for exploring and engaging in lifelong learning. A source of support in the best of times and the most challenging of times. A meeting place. A testing ground for new ideas and a place to improve what we have already developed. A professional family. A state of mind. A place we can call home. And because it is so good at what it does, it helps define the word “association” in numerous, varied, nuanced ways.

So, there we are: association in all its glory, even in times requiring us to shelter in place…while still offering us opportunities to nurture proximity in all the important ways.

–N.B.: This is the fourth in a series of reflections inspired by colleagues’ reactions to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place experiences and our continuing interactions online.


Adapting to Change, Loss, and Possibilities: Our Communities of Learning Are Responding

April 10, 2020

The massive transformation of our onsite world—at least temporarily—into a coronavirus pandemic shelter-in-place online world dominated by social distancing (but far from complete social isolation) has been breathtakingly quick, as I noted recently in two posts about how the ShapingEDU 2020 Unconference went online overnight.

There has been plenty to make our heads spin: a global “incompetence pandemic” displayed through lack of leadership; the massive spread of misinformation contributing to “an infodemic: ‘an over-abundance of information’—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”; an ever-increasing spread of the pandemic in terms of confirmed cases and deaths attributed to the coronavirus, which may be only the tip of a terribly large iceberg, given the low percentage of people tested globally; increasing levels of fear, and much-needed sources of information about how to cope with fear and anxiety in challenging times; and the rapid move from onsite learning into online environments by countless people who are ill-prepared—yet valiantly struggling to—successfully support that move in academic and workplace learning settings.

All that head-spinning, however, doesn’t mean that all of us are completely in a shut-down, wait-it-out mood. For those of us lucky enough to have great friends and colleagues, good internet access, and decent infrastructures in place for online communication, our work continues. Our interactions remain strong. And our desire to be of positive use to those we serve is finding plenty of outlets.

Family, friends, and colleagues are responding creatively and positively to the need to avoid isolation in a time of social distancing. We are spending a bit more time than usual taking advantage of the opportunities provided by social media interactions—some playful, some completely work-related, and all of them in some way keeping our communities as strong and thriving as they can possibly be in the current situation. I am, for example, sure I wasn’t alone in being part of an effort to take a celebration—in this case, my father’s birthday party—online via Zoom a few days ago, and creating some online “face-to-face” (telepresence) time via FaceTime a few days earlier to offer happy birthday wishes to a cousin on the other side of the country. Friends and I have been having rudimentary virtual brunches by phone and informal community drop-in gatherings via Zoom to stay in touch, share resources and updates about what we are seeing in training-teaching-learning, and offer support to those who, at any particular moment, might be struggling more than the rest of us are—because we know they will be there to do the same thing for us when we find ourselves falling into a dark place that threatens to overwhelm us.

Through all of this, my colleagues and clients and I are continuing to do business as we always have by phone, email, and a variety of online social media and videoconferencing tools. We are continuing to work on our online projects—courses, webinars, and publications, for example—and plan new ones to develop and facilitate to meet the ongoing training-teaching-learning needs we are committed to meeting.

Among the many developments for which I remain grateful is the magnificent way so many organizations and individuals are stepping up to the plate to provide much-needed information and support. The American Library Association (ALA) Public Library Association division, for example, has done a spectacular job in quickly documenting how public libraries are responding to community needs while shelter-in-place guidelines remain in place—an invaluable resource for those of us working with colleagues in libraries as well as for anyone interested in learning what is available in communities across the country at this point through these wonderful learning organizations. Local libraries including San Francisco Public are doing a great job of publicizing online resources such as kanopy, a service through which we can watch up to 15 movies a month free of charge—which has been a wonderful opportunity to catch up on old favorites while viewing some I hadn’t previously seen. And the San Francisco-based Internet Archive, in a somewhat controversial move, has tremendously expanded access to its online holdings through creation of a National Emergency Library providing access to millions of resources for trainers, teachers, and other learners who would otherwise be cut off from those volumes while library buildings remain closed.

My go-to professional families, including ALA, have been as responsive as they have ever been. ATD (the Association for Talent Development), for example, has curated “resources for virtual training design and facilitation,” on its website, for its members; there are numerous links to articles, videos, blog posts, and webcasts for those of us who support the parent organization through our membership dues throughout the year. And the resources extend to the regional and local levels through the wonderful way that colleagues in chapters including the ATD South Florida Chapter are strengthening their already strong communities of learning by quickly scheduling events along the lines of South Florida’s weekly Virtual TD (Talent Development) Talks via Zoom. What they are doing, by the way, is far from unique; I can’t even imagine trying to keep up with all the wonderful online learning opportunities I’m currently finding online every time I open my email and social media accounts to check for updates.

As if that weren’t enough, I am seeing—and taking advantage of—highly-interactive webinars offered by colleagues whose work I consistently admire, including George Couros. The spectacularly successful “Opportunities for Learning and Leading in a Virtual Space” webinar that he, Katie Novak, and AJ Juliani designed and facilitated last month, and have made accessible online free of charge, was a tremendous example of leaders responding to the needs of their co-conspirators in learning—and further nurturing the informal communities of learning they have fostered through innovative massive online open courses and other creative online learning opportunities. The event attracted more than 600 participants who engaged with Couros, Novak, and Juliana via a speed-of-light chat flowing down the side of the screen while their slides were visible and they were facilitating the session. It was a tremendous example of engaging, effective, memorable online learning in action. And if you’re still looking for thoughtful resources, check out the George Couros blog, which offers new, consistently high-quality posts with unbelievable frequency

Sardek Love, a cherished ATD friend/colleague/mentor who knows equally well how to work and play, has consistently been reminding all of us that it is during times of challenge or crisis that we can find some of our best opportunities, and that we need look no further than our own mirrors to see some of our best resources reflected back at us. I love, admire, and only partially succeed in attempting to emulate his commitment to pushing everyone as hard as he pushes himself. To remind us what we are possible of achieving. To remind us of how to nurture all that is most positive within us.  And to remind us that, through our actions—alone as well as collaboratively—we will respond to the best of our abilities. And come out of this with as much to celebrate as we might be left with to grieve.

–N.B.: This is the second in a series of reflections inspired by colleagues’ reactions to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place experiences and our continuing interactions online. Next: Our Communities Are Smiling.


Adapting to Change, Loss, and Possibilities: The Clivias Are Blooming

April 2, 2020

The clivias are blooming in our atrium and in our backyard. They don’t care that, for the moment, our world is again completely topsy turvy. That we are sheltering in place in an effort to lessen the impact of what is obviously a terrible situation. That our loved ones (and we) are losing loved ones, and that the losses are increasing exponentially. That some of us are struggling just to make it through another day.

And yet…and yet…as difficult as it is to struggle through our current circumstances under shelter-in-place guidelines implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m finding plenty of inspiration from colleagues around the world. The ones, like George Couros, who are making time to blog honestly, rawly, and inspirationally about how they are reacting and what they are doing to support efforts to recognize that this is an opportunity to focus on “creating a ‘new and better normal’” rather than simply looking forward to entering “a new normal.” The ones like Jill Hurst-Wahl, whose continual postings of links to fantastic resources along the lines of the article, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, on “Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure” as well as much-appreciated links to humorously thoughtful (and thoughtfully humorous) sites like the Pluto Living Facebook page with its (nearly) daily Pluto Service Announcements from Pluto the schnauzer and her online co-conspirator, Nancie Wight, remind us that “social distancing” doesn’t have to mean being distanced from friends and colleagues. The ones, like Laura Fothergill, who combine their family-oriented social-media postings with links to thoughtful observations about what it means to currently be working remotely: “You are not ‘Working From Home’, you are ‘At your home, during a crisis, trying to work’,” which is from a tweet by Suparna Chaudhry

Perhaps that is one of the keys to surviving, if not actually thriving, during the current separations: links. The word “link” has never felt more multi-faceted or encouraging, for it not only applies to what connects us to resources online, but it also reminds us of the cherished connections we work diligently to nurture and maintain with family, friends, and colleagues—during this time when we cannot be together onsite as well as during times when “distancing” is not an overarching theme. “Link” can be the quick-and-easy act of pushing a button on a computer or mobile device to reach something we want to reach, or can be the much more meticulous and rewarding act of carving out time to make family, friends, and colleagues the center of our universe in ways we often forget to do.

Which brings us back to clivias. In spite of all the demands on our time, we’re still finding ways to nurture them, so the clivias are blooming. Because we tend to them. Because we nurture them. Because we care about them. And we, inspired by their beauty, try to create as much beauty in our world as we can at a time when sadness threatens to overwhelm all thoughts of beauty. The beauty that comes from reaching out to someone by phone or online tools just to say “hello,” or ask how that person is doing, or offer condolences. The beauty that comes from members of communities reaching out to laugh together or share a link to something that will make us laugh. Together. Collaboratively. In friendship and support. With a commitment to finding ways to work together rather than allowing ourselves to be torn apart even further than we were before “distancing” became the tremendously unsatisfying word of the day. And with a commitment to apply everything we have ever learned into our efforts to better function—short-term as well as long-term. We see this on a daily basis in the way members of our various and varied onsite-online (blended) communities reach out to each other via social media posts as well as by taking the time to set up and participate in online sessions via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and other videoconferencing tools, as well as through some of the other tools we routinely use, e.g., Slack.

It’s all about our commitment to maintaining our relationships—in good times as well as in times of overwhelming adversity. Keeping our commitments to each other. To the communities which we serve. To the individuals who are essential elements of those communities. In a world that appears to be much different than the one we knew a month or a year ago. But is the one that’s left to us. A world where the clivias are blooming.

–N.B.: This post is an expanded version of something I wrote for my Instagram and Tumblr accounts, and is the first in a series of reflections inspired by colleagues’ reactions to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place experiences and our continuing interactions online.


Resume/CV

June 7, 2019

Paul Signorelli
1032 Irving, #514
San Francisco, CA 94122
E-mail: paul@paulsignorelli.com

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulsignorelli/

Overview

Photo by Dennis L. Maness, taken on the Hidden Garden Steps

Opportunity is at the heart of all I do in learning—the opportunity to work more effectively and collaboratively, and to produce results that are meaningful to learners, to organizations, and to the customers/clients/communities we ultimately serve.

I collaborate with clients and colleagues in higher education and other learning environments to produce engaged, motivated, productive learners and partners. I see learning and collaboration as a process rather than solely as an event. I want to make a positive difference in our workplaces and within our extended onsite and online communities. I want to be sure that our learning efforts and the way we work within our communities are collaborative, learner-centric, results-driven, and designed to extend well beyond the physical and virtual learning spaces we create.

I work with you to nurture these results through highly-interactive presentations and facilitated learning sessions designed to respond to the specific challenges you are facing.

Education

University of North Texas, MLIS
Golden Gate University, M.A., Arts Administration
UCLA, B.A., Political Science

Skill sets:

  • Program management
  • Collaboratively designing and implementing innovative, effective workplace learning and performance (training) projects and programs onsite, online, and in blended environments at the national, regional, and local levels
  • Creating and nurturing sustainable face-to-face, online, and blended communities of learning, collaborations, and partnerships
  • Leadership on boards, committees, programs, and projects
  • Online research to track future-thinking ed-tech, social media, and lifelong learning trends
  • Facilitating group discussions to produce positive strategic outcomes
  • Entrepreneurship that connects a variety of stakeholders to produce positive, concrete results
  • Writing and editing
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Strategic planning
  • Fundraising
  • Quickly absorbing new information to keep up with developments in educational and workplace technology
  • Professional Experience

Professional Experience:

Writer, Trainer/Educator, Presenter, Project Manager, Consultant
2007 – present

ALA TechSource/ALA Editions, ATD, PCI Webinars, and Others (September 2010– ongoing)
Writer/Trainer/Presenter/Consultant – Contract
Designing/delivering/facilitating onsite and online courses, workshops, and highly-interactive keynote presentations on a variety of topics
Subjects include “Artificial Intelligence in Learning,” “AR/VR/XR in Learning,” “Developing Community Partnerships,” “Incorporating Technology into Your Workplace,” “The Future of Libraries,” “Rethinking Social Media,” “Rethinking Digital Literacy,” “Rethinking (Library) Instruction,” “Working With Difficult Customers,” and “Nonprofit Management Basics”
Environments: Adobe Connect, Moodle, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, PowerPoint, WebEx, Word, and others

iLRN—Immersive Learning Research Network (2019-)
Consultant/Project Manager – Contract
Working with partner, on behalf of the Immersive Learning Research Network, to prepare a report on Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Extended Reality in Learning

ShapingEDU (2018 – present)
Facilitator/Committee Co-chair
Serving as “co-mayor” of a ShapingEDU committee seeking to strengthen connections between higher education and employers on behalf of students

American Library Association (2011 – 2018)
Project Management – Contract
Worked with ALA staff to recruit, orient, place, and coordinate onsite volunteers for the Association’s annual conferences in cities throughout the United States

OCLMOOC (Open and Connected Learning Massive Open Online Course (2014)
Instructional Design and Online Course Facilitation – Volunteer
Worked with Canadian and Australian colleagues from the ground-breaking Educational Technology & Media MOOC to design, produce, and facilitate this connectivist MOOC for educators interesting in learning about learning in online environments; more information at https://oclmooc.wordpress.com/about-oclmooc/.

Hidden Garden Steps Project (January 2010 – December 2013)
Founder/Co-chair – Community-based Volunteer Project
Was involved in every aspect of bringing this $450k effort to create a public artwork with accompanying gardens in San Francisco’s Sunset District; worked collaboratively to:

  • Create and implement strategic, fundraising, and marketing plans to bring the project to a successful conclusion
  • Serve as project liaison with City/County officials and employees, nonprofit organization representatives, local business representatives, individual community volunteers, and the company installing the completed mosaic
  • Chair monthly meetings of organizing committee members during the four years the project was underway, and document the proceedings
  • Serve as project manager working with key stakeholders during the installation of the 148-step mosaic installed on an existing City/County of San Francisco concrete staircase
  • Continue to serve as one of two site stewards to help maintain the site

Hospice of Palm Beach County, Florida (August 2011– January 2012)
Training Analyst, Content Developer, and Trainer – Contract
Commute between San Francisco and West Palm Beach (FL) to:

  • Help key players in the organization focus on the change-facilitation aspects of learning as much as they focused on the technology (HomeCare Homebase software and Samsung Galaxy tablets) being introduced
  • Rewrite vendor’s manuals to correct errors, list learning goals and objectives so learners could see what each section offered, and create a consistent use of key learning terms to make the manuals easy for learners to use
  • Create job aides that were consistent in appearance to what learners found in the manuals; these were designed to help learners quickly find concise step-by-step resources for use in the field (i.e., at the moment of need)
  • Help create focused and manageable agendas for each of the workshops (more than two dozen), with strong focus on how much could be assimilated in a single learning session
  • Facilitate more than 10 in-classroom instructor-led training sessions for a variety of learners (nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides) so they could begin using the Homecare Homebase PointCare software on Samsung Galaxy tablets during the Wave 1 roll-out of this project

Blue Shield of California (September – November 2010)
Instructional Designer – Contract
During the two-month run of this project to help employees company-wide learn what they needed to know to begin implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

  • Co-write the first drafts for three five-minute video scripts in one day at the end of my first week onsite
  • Wrote three additional scripts while helping to fine-tune the initial three scripts
  • Worked with the colleague who filmed and translated those scripts into polished videos
  • Translated each script into a PowerPoint presentation that was posted as a consistently branded back-up learning object for employees
  • Worked with staff to create a simple online resource to help employees find the various learning objects available to them
  • Supported efforts to market the learning objects to employees

Sutter VNA & Hospice (February – July 2010)
Training Specialist – Contract
Traveled throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento area during the course of this project to:

  • Assist the client’s permanent education department staff in step-checking learning materials (manuals and job aides)
  • Assist management in sessions preparing learners for the change they were about to experience while moving from paper- and laptop-centered record-keeping onto smartphones using the Homecare Homebase PointCare software
  • Facilitate more than 40 in-classroom instructor-led training sessions for a variety of learners (nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides) so they could begin using the Homecare Homecare Homebase PointCare software on smartphones during four different four-week roll-outs of this project
  • Provided one-on-one face-to-face and phone support for learners after they completed their two-week series of workshops

NorthNet Library System (April – September 2010)
Writer & Editor – Contract
Helped shape and edit the extensive (93-page) online consumer health toolkit that remains available at http://www.library.ca.gov/lds/docs/HealthToolkit.pdf)
Environment: Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, Word

LE@D (September 2009– 2011)
Writer & Instructional Designer – Contract
Writing asynchronous online courses
Completed a course on “Mentoring Basics” and mentoring webinar
Environment: Word to produce the course content before a designer translated it into the online format

Infopeople (October 2007 – May 2009)
Training Consultant – Contract
Coached and edited online webinar presenters
Wrote for training blog
Participated in initial efforts to shape and upgrade a “Master Trainer” series of courses
Assisted with marketing efforts
Environment: used PowerPoint, Word, and Excel; presenters’ webinars were via Angel and other platforms

ALA Editions, ATD Science of Learning newsletter, Rowman & Littlefield, Others (October 2007 – ongoing)
Freelance Writer – Contract
Writing Change the World Using Social Media for Rowman & Littlefield (publication projected for 2019)
Co-wrote Workplace Learning and Leadership (published by ALA Editions, April 2011)
Contributed chapter to Sandra Hirsh’s Information Services Today: An Introduction (1st Edition) (published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
Contributed two activities to Elaine Biech’s The Book of Road-Tested Activities (co-published by Pfeiffer and ASTD Press, May 2011) and one to her 101 More Ways to Make Training Active (published by John Wiley and Sons, 2015)
“Revolutionizing e-Learning: Innovation through Social Networking Tools,” e-learning Guild online publication
“Skype as a Reference Tool,” American Libraries magazine
Links to selected other published articles
Environment: Word

Personnel Analyst (Director, Volunteer Services & Staff Training)
San Francisco Public Library
1993 – 2007

  1. a) As a Library Personnel Analyst (2001-2007), I served as Director of Staff Training for the entire Library system. Assisted in employee recruitment, hiring, orientation, and continuing training needs for the system’s more than 850 employees. Developed the Library’s annual training plan and oversaw the training budget. Wrote curriculum and delivered training on a variety of topics; hired instructors; developed and scheduled classes and workshops; produced a quarterly print and online training schedule listing more than 40 workshops from a variety of sources; and was an active member of the statewide Infopeople “Master Trainers” program for those managing training programs in libraries. Also worked on a variety of special Human Resources projects including preparation of a revised Employee Handbook, which included extensive material about employee health-care benefits; serving as the Library’s representative on a city-wide healthy-city initiative supported by the mayor; and serving as an ergonomic evaluator after helping shape the curriculum for an ergonomic train-the-trainer program with City Department of Public Health colleagues.
  2. b) As Director of Volunteer Services (1993-2007), I designed, implemented, and managed and marketed a program which had over 150 volunteers on assignment weekly and others who were available for short-term assignments throughout the year in the Main Library and many of the 27 branch libraries in San Francisco. Participated in Human Resources Division negotiations with Library union members on issues affecting the Library Volunteer program. Developed and maintained ties with business colleagues in other libraries throughout California and in Bay Area nonprofit organizations.  Wrote, edited, and oversaw production of manuals (human resources, computer and docent training), newsletters, and other program materials. Developed and conducted orientations and training sessions. Wrote press releases and prepared monthly calendars of events for the Library system. Responsible for programming and marketing a well-attended series of author readings at the Main Library.

Environment: used Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, LotusNotes, WordPerfect

Executive Director, Teens Kick Off
In charge of management, budgeting, human resources, volunteers, financial, fundraising/grant-writing and marketing/public relations operations for this theater group in which teenagers in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction performed for other teenagers through California; program focus was peer-to-peer alcohol and drug intervention. Developed and implemented new programs to meet business needs. Worked with board of directors, maintained financial records, prepared financial reports for board review, and collaborated with a board member with human resources expertise to prepare the organization’s first personnel manual. Wrote and produced publications.

Publications Editor, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Strong involvement in project management and assisting public relations director and admissions staff in marketing the Conservatory to a worldwide audience during a period of substantial increases in student enrollment. Wrote, edited, and oversaw production of Conservatory publications (collegiate and other department catalogs, recruitment brochures, annual reports, monthly calendar of events, and many others). Worked with designers and sometimes designed publications. Arranged for media coverage of student and faculty recitals. Was in charge of budgeting, budget supervision, and box office operations during director’s leave of absence.

Managing Editor, Prelude Magazine
Established and managed project production schedules and was in charge of human resources operations. Worked on all aspects of producing this 64-page monthly classical music and arts magazine (writing, typesetting, editing, layout and paste-up, including redesign of the magazine).

Assistant to the Director, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art
Assisted director in screening and hiring new staff. Helped write and edit grant proposals. Involved in managing projects including selecting and implementing installation of a computer system which included the collection inventory and membership lists. Responsible for marketing and public relations operations during a period when media coverage of museum exhibitions and activities increased rapidly. Wrote press releases and cultivated media contacts. Wrote, edited, and did layout and paste-up of monthly calendar of events and Museum catalogs.

Instructor, Foreign Language Schools, Tokyo
Taught English as a Second Language courses in two large vocational schools in Japan.

Freelance Writer
Please see “Publications” section for partial listing of published writing.

Reporter/Bureau Chief, San Joaquin News Service
Wrote, edited, and photographed on a variety of topics including county government, local social issues (gangs, child abuse, problems within the San Joaquin County Housing Authority, difficulties faced by new immigrants), agricultural land-use and statewide water development issues, Sheriff’s Department activities, and general features for the three newspapers supporting this news service in California’s Central Valley.

Related Experience

Technology

Currently working extensively to explore how artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality are affecting lifelong learning and current workplace operations globally; remain involved in exploring and using technology that facilitates onsite, online, and blended learning and community collaboration. Work with clients and their employees to help facilitate the positive, effective introduction of new technology into their worksites.

Languages
Have studied Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, and a bit of Hebrew.

Professional Affiliations
ALA (American Library Association)
ATD (Association for Talent Development)
Learning Guild
PEN America
ShapingEDU (Future-facing Arizona State University-based group exploring ed-tech trends in higher education and other learning environments)

Volunteer Work
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at San Francisco State University, Curriculum Development Committee (June 2019 – present)
ShapingEDU (2018 – present)
FOEcast (Future of Education Forecast), founding partner (2018)
NMC (New Media Consortium) Horizon Project advisory boards/expert panels (2010-2017)
San Francisco Parks Alliance, Parks Policy Council member, one-year term (2014)
Hidden Garden Steps, organizing committee co-chair (2010-2013); one of two site stewards (2014-present)
American Library Association: two two-year terms, including a year as committee chair, on the American Libraries Advisory Committee, and one year on the Publishing Committee
ASTD/ATD: variety of local, regional, and national positions, including Chapter President (Mt. Diablo Chapter, 2010) and member, National Advisors for Chapters (2011-2012)
Asian Art Museum, helped with public relations (six months)
National Kidney Foundation of Northern California Authors Luncheon Committee member (four years)

Presentations/Resources

Presentations/Facilitated Sessions (2019)

ALA Editions (online courses/webinars)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—International Conference & Exposition (Washington, DC)

eLearning Guild—Learning Solutions 2019 Conference and Exposition (Orlando, FL)

PCI Webinars (webinars)

ShapingEDU Second Annual Unconference (Tempe, AZ)

Presentations/Facilitated Sessions (2018)

ALA Editions (online courses/webinars)

American Library Association Ambassador Program (online and onsite orientation sessions for volunteers; New Orleans, LA)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—International Conference & Exposition (San Diego, CA)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—San Diego Chapter monthly meeting (live onsite/online blended presentation)

PCI Webinars (webinars)

Pursuitica (webinar for staff of global telecommunications company based in India)

ShapingEDU First Annual Unconference (Tempe, AZ)

SWFLN (Southwest Florida Library Network) webinars

Presentations/Facilitated Sessions (2017)

ALA Editions (online courses/webinars)

American Library Association Ambassador Program (online and onsite orientation sessions for volunteers; Chicago, IL)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—Southern California Regional Conference (Los Angeles, CA)

New Media Consortium Summer Conference (Boston, MA)

PCI Webinars (webinars)

SWFLN (Southwest Florida Library Network) Staff Development Day Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator (Fort Meyers, FL)

SWFLN webinars

Presentations/Facilitated Sessions (2016)

ALA Editions (online courses/webinars)

American Library Association Ambassador Program (online and onsite orientation sessions for volunteers; Orlando, FL)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—International Conference & Exposition (Denver, CO)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—National Advisors for Chapters (webinar)

Five-County Regional Library Consortium Staff Development Day Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator (King of Prussia, PA)

Mount Prospect Public Library—Staff Development Day Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator (Mt. Prospect, IL)

New Media Consortium Summer Conference (Rochester, NY)

PCI Webinars (webinars)

Presentations/Facilitated Sessions (2015)

AEJMC–Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication–Annual Conference panel discussion member (San Francisco, CA)

ALA Editions (online sessions/courses/panel-discussion participant)

American Library Association Annual Conference/Library and Information Technology Association (San Francisco, CA)

American Library Association Ambassador Program (online and onsite orientation sessions for volunteers)

ATD—Association for Talent Development—Chapter Leaders Conference (Arlington, VA)

#etmooc—Educational Technology & Media MOOC learning community (facilitated/co-facilitated tweet chats)

KIPA—Knowledge & Information Professional Association—Conference (Denton, TX)

Library of Virginia Directors’ Meeting (Richmond, VA)

NEKLS—Northeast Kansas Library System—Innovation Day virtual presentation via Google Hangout

New Media Consortium Summer Conference (Washington, D.C.)

New Media Consortium (online panel-discussion participant)

PCI Webinars (multiple online sessions)

Saint Mary’s College of California session for faculty (Moraga, CA)

Virginia Library Association Annual Conference (Richmond, VA)

Links to Presentations & Other Resources

“Best Practices: Creating and Managing Mentoring Programs”
Tips, Sample Applications, and Resources—Updated July 2009
(PDF)

“Best Practices: Creating and Managing Volunteer Programs”
Tips and Basic Template—Updated May 2009
(PDF)

“Blend It 2015: Using Technology to Create Effective Onsite/Online Learning Spaces”

American Library Association Annual Conference Presentation (LITA) —June 2015

San Francisco

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Building Meaningful Collaborations”
ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) Mt. Diablo Chapter—December 2008

Danville, CA
(PDF)

“Collaboration, Technology, Social Media, and Learning: The 2012 Horizon Report–Higher Education Edition”

ASTD Mount Diablo Chapter Monthly Meeting Presentation—June 19, 2012

with Samantha Adams

Danville, CA

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Community and Collaboration in an Onsite-Online World: An Annotated Bibliography”
Updated March 19, 2013
(PDF)

“Community Collaboration: Helping Shape Our Communities”

Northeast Kansas Library System: Library Directors Institute—November 7, 2013

Valley Falls, KS

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Community Partnerships: How to Get It Done”

ALA Editions Webinar—April 2013
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Conflict Resolution/Difficult People:

Why Am I So Angry (And What Are You Going to Do About It?)”

Webjunction Webinar—October 2010

with Maurice Coleman
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Connected Learning for Library Staff and Users”

PCI Webinars—November 2015
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Continuous Change & Innovation: Developing Skills to Deal With Black Swans”

New Media Consortium Summer [ed-tech] Conference—June 2015

with Samantha Becker

Washington, D.C.

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Cover to Cover: Redefining Books and Library Collections in Learning”

PCI Webinar—June 2014

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Critical Thinking and Assumptions in Decision-making”
Updated April 18, 2011
(PDF)

“Designing Engaging Learning for Library Staff and Users”

PCI Webinar—October 2013

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Developing Communities of Learning”

PCI Webinar—December 2013

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Ed-Tech, Learning, and NMC Horizon Reports: What’s In It for Us…and Our Learners”

ATD (formerly ASTD) Golden Gate Chapter Monthly Meeting Presentation– May 15, 2015

with Samantha Adams Becker

San Francisco, CA

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Ed-Tech Trends: Identifying and Incorporating Them Into Your Workplace”
ATD (Association for Talent Development) 2016 International Conference & Exposition — May 2016

Denver, CO

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“E-learning: Annotated Bibliography for Library Training Programs”
Updated February 23, 2011
(PDF)

“E-learning: Basics and Best Practices”
Updated July 1, 2010
(PDF)

“E-learning: Google Chat as an E-learning Tool (Transcript of a Live Session)”
Live online session held October 13, 2009, with University of Nevada, Las Vegas Journalism students
(PDF)

“E-learning: Tools, Resources, and Innovations”

Postings on Building Creative Bridges Blog

“From eLearning to Learning: A Daylong Highly-interactive Exploration”
Mount Prospect Public Library—May 2016

Mount Prospect, IL
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“From eLearning to Learning: A Daylong Highly-interactive Exploration”
Mount Prospect Public Library—May 2016

Mount Prospect, IL
(Five-part Case Study Posted on Building Creative Bridges Blog)

“From Words to Pictures: Imagery in PowerPoint Presentations”
California Library Association Annual Conference Presentation — November 2008

Long Beach, CA
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Horizon Report for Libraries (2014)”

PCI Webinar—December 2014

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“How to Teach Online: A Beginner’s Guide”

ALA TechSource Webinar—January 2014

with Dan Freeman
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Ignite, Interact, & Engage: Maximizing the Learning Outcome”
ALA Annual Conference Presentation—Learning Round Table

with Sharon Morris — June 2012

Anaheim, CA
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Instant Professional Development (podcast)”
Episode 101 of Maurice Coleman’s T is for Training biweekly one-hour podcast; focuses on the use of Twitter backchannels as learning tools in conferences and expands into an exploration of how we all play the role of trainer-teacher-learner in many different parts of our lives; additional thoughts posted on Building Creative Bridges blog

June 2012

(Archived 45-minute audio-recording)

“Leadership: Trainers as Leaders–Introduction and Resource Sheet”
Updated July 1, 2010
(PDF)

“Leadership: Trainers as Leaders (Overview)”
American Library Association Presentation/Panel Discussion—Learning Round Table—June 2010
with Maurice Coleman, Sandra Smith, and Louise Whitaker

Washington, DC

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Learning that Sticks: A Demonstration” (PowerPoint Version)
Original PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes, delivered face to face to a prospective learning client February 2013

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Learning to Learn: Tips for Thriving in Tech Training” (Video)
This 11-minute presentation, prepared with Captivate and posted on YouTube for learners who are about to tackle any new tech tool, addresses the challenges of overcoming unfamiliarity with these tools and the need for help with the learning process itself. It is also designed to demonstrate how trainer-teacher-learners can address the challenges their learners face.

October 2013

(Captivate Video)

“Learning to Learn: Tips for Thriving in Tech Training (Summary Sheet)”

Updated October 1, 2013
(PDF)

“Libraries as Partners in Lifelong Learning”

PCI Webinar—July 2014

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“LibraryThing” List of Books on Training, Collaboration, and Other Topics

Includes Ratings and Reviews
Updated Regularly

“Lifelong Learning (Learning for the Future: Habits of Mind and Teaching Life Skills)”

Saint Mary’s College of California Faculty Workshop—November 2015

Moraga, CA

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Making Space: Exploring Innovations in Onsite and Online Learning Spaces”

KIPA (Knowledge & Information Professional Association) 2015 Conference “Invited Talk”—March 2015

Denton, TX

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Marketing 101: Creating the Voice of a Successful Organization”
ASTD Chapter Leader Webinar—June 2011
(PowerPoint Presentation and archived audio-recording of this one-hour live webinar)

“Mastering Online Facilitation (Part 1 of 4): Leading Engaging Meetings and Webinars”

SEFLIN Webinar—July 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Mastering Online Facilitation (Part 2 of 4): Assessing and Addressing the Need for Meetings and Webinars”

SEFLIN Webinar—August 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Mastering Online Facilitation (Part 3 of 4): Organizing, Scripting, and Preparing”

SEFLIN Webinar—August 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Mastering Online Facilitation (Part 4 of 4): Keeping Sessions Lively”

SEFLIN Webinar—August 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Memorable Meetings: Planning for Successful Encounters”
ASTD Chapter Leader Webinar—August 2016
(PowerPoint Presentation, free archived recording of the session)

“Mentors and Proteges: Creating Successful Workplace Programs: Resource List”

Prepared for the LE@D—Lifelong Education @ Desktop–program,
University of North Texas

(PDF)

“Mentoring Onsite and Online”
PCI Webinars—May 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation with Speaker Notes)

“MOOCs, Online Learning, and Higher Education”
Association for Education in Journalism and Higher Education Annual Conference Panel Discussion—August 2015

San Francisco, CA
(Storify Document—no longer available online because Storify shut down)

“Nonprofit Basics”

ASTD National Chapter Leader Conference Presentation—October 2011

with Walt Hansmann

Arlington, VA
(PowerPoint Presentation/later adapted into a webinar for ASTD)

“Perfect Blend (Creating and Facilitating Onsite/Online Meetings)”

ATD (Association for Talent Development) National Chapter Leader Conference Presentation–October 2014
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Playing With Collaboration Tools Online”

Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS): Innovation Day Session—April 29, 2015

Blended Session Delivered via Google Hangouts to Onsite Audience

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Playing With Collaboration Tools Online—Supplemental Resources”
Handout Prepared for Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS) Innovation Day Session—April 2015
(PDF)

“PowerPoint Best Practices for Onsite and Online Presentations”
ALA Annual Conference—CLENE Training Showcase

June 2008

Anaheim, CA
(PDF)

“Social Learning Centers” (Learning to Meet the Future: Libraries Developing Communities)
Library of Virginia Directors’ Meeting Presentation—September 2012

with Maurice Coleman

Richmond, VA

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Social Learning Centers and Libraries”
ALA Annual Conference Presentation—Learning Round Table Presentation/Panel Discussion—June 2011

with Maurice Coleman and Buffy Hamilton

New Orleans, LA
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Social Learning Centers: The New Fourth Place”
Computers in Libraries 2011 Conference Presentation (via Skype) —March 2011

with Maurice Coleman and Jill Hurst-Wahl

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Social Learning Centers: Thinkers Worth Knowing”

A Visual Bibliography Prepared with Maurice Coleman—September 2012

(PDF)

“Social Media, Library Partnerships, and Collaboration: More Than a Tweet”

PCI Webinar—February 2014

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Strategic Planning 101: Working in the Construction Zone”
ASTD Chapter Leader Webinar—March 2011
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Technology in Face-to-Face Training”

ALA TechSource Webinar—September 2010
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Technology in Online Training”

ALA TechSource Webinar—September 2010
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Ten Tips for Incorporating Ed-Tech Into Your Own Development”

Article Written for ATD Learning Technologies blog and newsletter—March 2016
(Article)

“That Was Great! Now What? (Providing Learning That Is Used)”

American Library Association Annual Conference Presentation (Learning Round Table) —June 2014

Las Vegas, NV

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Training, Teaching, and Learning 2012: State of the Industry Reports”
ASTD Sacramento Chapter Meeting Presentation—January 23, 2012

Sacramento, CA (repeated for Mount Diablo Chapter in February 2012)
(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Training-Teaching-Learning: State of the Industry (Summer 2015)”
PCI Webinars—July 2015

(PowerPoint Presentation)

“Volunters Management: Annotated Bibiliography on Using Web. 2.0 (Social Networking) Tools in Volunteer Programs”
Updated January 11, 2010
(PDF)

“Volunteer Retention 101: Thanking and Rewarding Our Supporters”

Webinar co-presented with Rick Kerner for ASTD chapter leaders—December 5, 2012

“Web Conferencing and Presentation Skills for Meetings. Trainings, and Learning Sessions”
Updated July 23, 2014
(PDF)

Publication (Partial List)

Books

Change the World Using Social Media (projected publication date: 2019, by Rowman & Littlefield)

Workplace Learning & Leadership, a staff training guide co-written with Lori Reed for ALA Editions to highlight examples of trainers as successful leaders within their organizations (April 2011)

Also:

*Contributor to 101 More Ways to Make Training Active (Elaine Biech, editor; April 2015)

*Contributor (“Infinite Learning,” a chapter on fostering lifelong learning through libraries) to Information Services Today: An Introduction (Sandra Hirsh, editor; March 2015)

*Contributor to The Book of Road-Tested Activities (Elaine Biech, editor; May 2011); online excerpts available

*Editorial Board Member for 2nd edition of Sandra Hirch’s Information Services Today: An Introduction

 

Blog Postings

Building Creative Bridges (Articles on training, learning, technology, collaboration, and innovation)

American Libraries Magazine blog (Guest contributor providing articles on learning, technology, innovation, and libraries for this group blog)

ATD Learning Technologies blog (Guest contributor providing articles on learning, staff training, technology, and innovation for this group blog)

The Tambellini Group’s Top of Mind [ed-tech] blog (Contributing editor providing articles on technology/ed-tech, innovation, learning, and creativity for this group blog)

Book Reviews

“Abandoned in the Wasteland,” Minow & Lamay, SF Review of Books (10&11/1995)

“AI: Mind-MELDS With Our Learners and Our Machines,” ATD blog (2/7/2019)

“The Craft of Research,” Wayne C. Booth and others, SF Guardian (5/1996)

“Get Lucky,” Thor Muller and Lane Becker, ASTD’s Learning Circuits (online) (8/7/2012)

“The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly,” Greg Hrbek, SF Chronicle (10/31/1999)

“Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard,” Kiran Desai, SF Bay Guardian (9/1998)

“LibraryThing” List of Books on Training, Creativity, Collaboration, and Other Topics

(Includes Ratings and Reviews), updated regularly

“Myth Buster: Debunking What Otherwise Might Lead Us and Our Learners Astray,” ATD blog (8/7/2018)

“The Business of Speaking for a Living,” ATD Blog (1/17/2019)

“The Life of God (As Told by Himself),” Franco Ferrucci, SF Bay Guardian (11/1996)
“The Silent Duchess,” Dacia Maraini, SF Bay Guardian (11/1998)

“Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahneman, ASTD’s Learning Circuits (online) (7/16/2012)

“Unlearning What We Think We Know to Inspire Successful Learning,” ATD’s Science of Learning blog (online) (12/30/2015)

Us+Them: Tapping the Positive Power of Difference“, Todd Pittinksy, ASTD’s Learning Circuits (online) (11/21/2012)

Print and Online Articles

“Adult Learning: When Miracles Happen,” ALA-APA Library Worklife Newsletter (5/2010)

“Are You Following Me?” (with Lori Reed), American Libraries (11/2008)

“Artificial Intelligence: Transforming the Nature of Work, Learning, and Learning to Work,” Top of Mind blog, The Tambellini Group (August 21, 2018)

“Be Ready for the Learning Space of the Future,” ATD Learning Technologies blog (8/14/2014)

“Books, Technology, and Learning: Looking at the Past to See Our Future (MOOCs as Textbooks),”New Media Consortium blog (6/11/2014)

“Breaching the Language Barrier: Literature in Translation,” SF Bay Guardian (5/1997)

“Collaboration Leads Way in ALA Editions’ Social Media Basics Course,” ASTD’s Learning Circuits (online) (10/15/2012)

“EdTech Continuous Change and Innovation: Nesting With Black Swans,” New Media Consortium blog (7/22/2015)

“E-Learning: The Product of a Risk Is a Lesson,” American Libraries online (2/15/2011)

“Fighting for Arts Education,” Teaching Theater (Summer 1991)

“Mixing and Extending Reality: EdTech Options in Higher Education,” Top of Mind blog, The Tambellini Group (12/11/2019)

“Professional Growth Through Learning Communities,” (with Lori Reed), American Libraries (5/2011)

“Imagine, Creativity, and Communities of Practice,” ASTD’s Learning Circuits (online) 6/6/2012

“Open Innovations: #etmooc, Connected Learning, and ‘MOOChorts’ of Lifelong Learners,” New Media Consortium blog (9/30/2014)

“Remodeling on a Budget,” American Libraries online (4/2010)

“Revolutionizing e-Learning: Innovation through Social Networking Tools,”
Learning Solutions Magazine (10/12/2009)
“Skype as Conference Tool,” American Libraries (5/2008)
“Skype Me: When Learning Is Just a Call Away”

Learning Solutions Magazine (2/28/2011)

“Technology, Road Rage, and Customer Service” (with Maurice Coleman),

WebJunction online (11/22/2010)

“10 Tips for Incorporating Ed-Tech Into Your Own Development,” ATD Learning Technologies blog (3/23/2016)

“The 2010 Horizon Report: What Learners Look to Us to Learn,”

Learning Solutions Magazine (3/5/2010)

“The 2011 Horizon Report: Keeping Up with Learners and Technology”
Learning Solutions Magazine, (3/16/2011)

“Up and Out of Your Seats: Engage Learners Through Movement to Produce Tangible Results,” TD Magazine (11/18)

“What Makes a cMOOC Community Endure? Multiple Perspectives From Diverse cMOOCs,” Educational Media International. Routledge. (6/19/2015)

“When (Big) Data Changes the Way We View Our World: A Brief Case Study,” New Media Consortium blog, (9/11/2014)

Writing Workshops/Conferences Attended

Squaw Valley Community of Writers’ Conference (2001)
Margo Perin’s two-week writing workshop in Vagliagli, Italy (1999)
Novelist Molly Giles’ one-day writing workshop in Marin (1996)
Part of a six-member writing group in San Francisco (1995-98)
Novelist Anne Lamott’s weekly writing workshop in Marin (1995)

Professional Memberships/Affiliations

ALA (American Library Association)

ATD (Association for Talent Development)

eLearning Guild

ShapingEDU (Global Initiative, through Arizona State University, to reshape higher education)

Languages

Have studied Italian, French, Japanese, and Spanish


Shaping Education Unconference 2018: The End is the Beginning (Pt. 4 of 4)

May 3, 2018

I’ve always appreciated a thought I’ve found in the work of a variety of writers I admire—the end is the beginning—so it was wonderful to find that the formal end of the Unconference for Dreamers, Doers, & Drivers Shaping the Future of Learning in Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona late last week immediately initiated series of new beginnings that are continuing to unfold as I write this piece nearly seven days later.

It was an inspiring, transformative day and a half of presentations, discussions, and planning by teacher-trainer-learner-dreamer-doers from several different countries on a few continents, preceded by an informal evening reception to initiate the entire gathering arranged by Arizona State University Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick with the assistance of Samantha Adams Becker and many others. It immediately produced many productive conversations and initial plans for action. It extended beyond its formal conclusion through a couple of post-Unconference sessions that expanded the group of participants to include members of the Arizona State University community. And, in a stunningly quick follow-up, those involved with organizing the Unconference announced, within days, that as many materials and resources as could be gathered had already been posted on a publicly-accessible website—a site, which in essence, provides a virtual Unconference experience for anyone interested in participating asynchronously. More importantly, the website creates an additional avenue to assure that what happened in Arizona won’t stay in Arizona.

It was—and is—dreaming, doing, and driving at a global level. And it is, in essence, a wonderful example of a high-end blended (onsite-online), synchronous-asynchronous experience at its best, with the possibility of rhizomatically-growing conversations and actions that, if successful, could lead to positive changes that will benefit the global community that previously was drawn together and served very well by the New Media Consortium (NMC). The Unconference is simply the latest wonderful manifestation of that community, in a post-NMC environment, seeking familiar as well as new places (onsite as well as online) to continue the work it does so well—in long-term NMC partner organizations including EDUCAUSE and CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) as well as community member-generated groups including the Slack Beyond the Horizon community which has spawned FOEcast (Future of Education forecast) for those who did not want to lose the global community of teacher-trainer-learner-doers NMC had so effectively nurtured across a variety of sectors in our lifelong-learning environment. There is also a newly-formed LinkedIn group created expressly to continue Unconference conversations regarding the present and future of micro-credentialing not only in higher education but also in many other parts of our lifelong learning sandbox—and many other offshoots that will gain more of our attention in the weeks and months to come as dreams begin to be transformed into actions.

Lev himself, in an email message to the 129 of us who participated onsite in Tempe and Scottsdale last week, does a great job of setting the context for anyone interested in knowing what the website offers:

“Our minds are still racing with all the ideas and insights you contributed on shaping the future of learning in the digital age. It’s amazing what can transpire when a collection of diverse perspectives are in the same place at the same time. Thanks for coming with an open mind, ready to share your knowledge, dreams, and concerns.

“As you know, our talented graphic facilitator Karina Branson of ConverSketch created visual representations of the Unconference discussions as they unfolded. Additionally, lightning talk speakers presented their big ideas and questions. All of these materials, from Karina’s visuals to the slide decks, are available on a special website we’ve created for this community:

The site also includes a link to the Twitter feed produced through #ShapingEdu hashtag which many of us used to extend the conversations beyond the physical walls of the Unconference meeting room and the outside-the-room conversations that continued in restaurants, the hotel lobby, the hotel parking lot, and numerous other locations so that conference “participants” included many colleagues who weren’t physically with us but, in a very real blended-world-sort-of-way, very much with us; accessing and adding to that Twitter conversation was just one of the numerous ways in which the Unconference can be said to have already taken on a extended life far beyond the short period of time during which we were interacting face to face.

­­And, in what can be seen as a commitment to leave no Unconference stone unturned, the website organizers have even added a “Media and Blog Reflections” section that, as I write this, includes a few of the articles that are already available from participants and will, without doubt, include many more that are either freshly-posted or on their way to being posted. (Karina herself has an interesting set of insights, on her own blog, about into how graphic facilitation primed the pump for many of the productive conversations that began during the opening reception.)

We have a lot of work ahead of us. And we know that those who were skeptical of and/or critical of what the New Media Consortium and its numerous partners and community members produced, will probably be equally critical and skeptical of what the Unconference dreamers and members of our extended global community of learning are in the early stages of pursuing. But our openly-expressed desire to be inclusive and transparent in our work—in this lovely, dynamic, innovative community of Edunauts in higher education, the kindergarden-through-12th-grade sector, community colleges and vocational schools, museums, libraries, and workplace learning and performance committed to supporting lifelong learning at its best—means we look forward to working with you and anyone else interested in being actively engaged in the process of dreaming, doing, and driving that was so wonderfully visible at the Arizona State University Unconference last week.

N.B. — This is the fourth of four sets of reflections inspired by the Unconference for Dreamers, Doers, & Drivers Shaping the Future of Learning in April 2018.


Shaping Education Unconference 2018: Micro-Credentialing and Exploding the Classroom (Pt. 3 of 4)

April 30, 2018

If any of us had mistakenly thought that all the dreaming, planning, and neighborhood-building that took place all day last Thursday during the Unconference for Dreamers, Doers, & Drivers Shaping the Future of Learning in Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona had drained us, we quickly learned otherwise when we formally reconvened for a final half-day of activities Friday morning.

A few lightning talks by participants primed the dreaming-planning-doing pump once again, and we were soon back in some conversational neighborhoods that had been established Thursday within the Unconference meeting room on the Scottsdale campus of the University of Arizona. At the same time, we were establishing a couple of additional neighborhoods Friday morning—including one centered on the topic of micro-credentialing in the temporary physical city of LearnerDreamerUnconferenceville. (I suspect this particular city is going to have a very long and productive life as a blended community existing in rhizomatically-growing online discussion groups and face-to-face meetings whenever we can again find ways to gather.)

For me, the fast-paced, very focused micro-credentialing discussion brought together interwoven threads of nearly a half-decade of conversations onsite and online with colleagues—all grounded in recognition that higher education is facing a tremendous challenge in finding/redefining its place in a world that increasingly questions the value of a four-year education and the higher-degree programs that are often extremely expensive and time-consuming. As one colleague mused shortly after the final formal Unconference session ended: Formal education will change radically within 10 years. We don’t stay in a job for five years; why would we stay in college for four? (And while I think there are plenty of great reasons why some of us will continue to see, value, and cherish those four-year experiences with occasional returns to onsite/online formal educational settings, that question is one that is well worth asking of anyone committed to lifelong learning and survival in the sort of rapidly-changing environment that my colleague Jonathan Nalder is attempting to address through his tremendously creative Future-U/First on Mars efforts.)

Following the pattern we used in our Thursday neighborhood conversations, participants in the micro-credentialing neighborhood set out to accomplish three things: define our unifying dream, establish what we hoped to do in one-, three-, and five-year periods of time, and document what was driving us toward those dreams and actions. The dream, with graphic facilitator Karina Branson helping keep us on track, quick came together: to connect formal and informal learning credentialing and create a confirmed, shared taxonomy so it would be useful to learners and those needing to know how those learners’ experiences match what is needed in contemporary workplaces. Looking toward the three- and five-year time horizons, we dreamed of helping create a system wherein empowered learners can express goals that would be documented through micro-credentialing; foster more opportunities for compound diplomas; and nurture a lifelong-learning pattern in which earning and learning remain intertwined.

Karina Branson/Conversketch

ShapingEdu–ASU Unconference_Micro-Credientialing_Group_WorkActions to be taken in the first year of our efforts include attempting to partner with on-campus registrars to see how this system can be created, nurtured, and sustained; see what standards need to be created to serve the overlapping interests and needs of learners and employers; and establish a mechanism to continue the conversation—efforts already taking shape through the creation of a LinkedIn discussion group and efforts to provide a forum for the discussions/planning/actions through our Slack Beyond the Horizon community which has spawned FOEcast (Future of Education forecast). Projected long-term actions to be taken by the micro-credentialing group include attempting to design a visual framework for micro-credentialing and continually seeking ways to foster collaboration with all identifiable partners in the (lifelong) learning process—not just those involved in higher education.

There are a number of factors driving many of us toward an effort of this magnitude at this particular time, and there are certainly numerous barriers behind which any skeptic could easily retreat. But that in-the-spur-of-the-moment question about why anyone would commit to four-year learning programs in a world where job and career changes are so prevalent offers one of the best reasons to pursue this effort. And an offhand comment made by my colleague and fellow Unconference participant Tom Haymes made about the need for “exploding the classroom” in the most positive of ways playfully pushes the conversation forward even more.

If we’re going to avoid the prediction that at least one colleague made at the Unconference—that our four-year colleges and universities could disappear or be much different in ten years than they are today—then all of us Edunauts who love the richly rewarding and highly varied onsite, online, and blended environments available to us today need to be actively engaged in the process of dreaming, doing, and driving that was so wonderfully at the heart of the Arizona State University Unconference last week.

N.B. — This is the third of four sets of reflections inspired by the Unconference for Dreamers, Doers, & Drivers Shaping the Future of Learning in April 2018.

Next: After the Unconference


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