Love Like Lacey

I could never do this story justice. The right words are just not mine, but the feeling I get when considering Lacey Holsworth and Adreian Payne’s story, their friendship, is incredible. I want to put a post up so that I can return to the feeling and reconsider this story in the future. Maybe this summer, maybe a year from now.

Every so often sports have the opportunity to transcend the pucks, clocks, whistles, balls, bats, hoops, sticks, clubs, jerseys, helmets, players, coaches and the games and set an example of the power of humanity. This story does it in such a pure way. No politics. No controversy. No question about the meaning. Just authentic caring, understanding, and friendship between humans. 

We all seek to experience life. Finding the moments when we are really living, when we are truly happy and feeling as though we have fulfilled our full identity is important. Lacey’s life was short, the opportunities to find those moments and experience them were few as a result. The fact that she was able to experience something, a concentrated form of the experience many of us seek and experience a number of times throughout life, is beautiful. It is a triumph. It is love. I hope I always remember how amazing this story was.


Three Thoughts

What does it mean to matter?

What does it mean to matter? To be the lynchpin. I want to know how a person becomes important, critical. Now, I work at a small university. It is my first job out of graduate school. It is an excellent job. I am an eLearning Designer for a small university in Michigan. I feel fortunate to have this job. It is the result of my experience, education, a certain amount of fortuitous timing, and a number of wonderful people who have helped by finding or offering opportunities to me. Despite my current circumstances, my thoughts always return to how I will eventually make a big impact. In my organization. In my field. In another field. In a person’s life. I yearn to have a legacy. 

Chasing dreams

Chasing dreams is hard when those dreams are being defined as you live. I wonder at my age exactly what my career will shape up to be. I have numerous ideas about where it could lead and what will make me happy. I can list off potential titles galore. The key to me is finding the space where I make a difference. Where I truly matter. I often wonder if other young professionals grapple with this same question. At what point does a career oriented job become a career? I look at the working professionals around me. Many I look up to. Some I envy. All have a mysteriousness to me. Each successful person arrived there by following a path. A path they walked, and no one else. A comforting thought: each one of these people I am referring to comes from a different field. 

My posts here

My posts here will seem vague and meandering. If you are reading these posts because you are interested in me professionally, then I hope they reflect well. My goal is to hone my ability to think, express and write. Putting these thoughts down, seeing them written, these are the experiences that will continue to shape me as a professional.

Thinking About Writers

Writers are so cool. They travel to crazy places. Talk to crazy people. Unearth crazy ideas. Expose crazy activities. And then relay it back to us. When I fantasize about “writers”, I think about the journalists at the New York Times and the contributors at magazines like The Atlantic and The New Yorker. These publications’ stories are so in depth and well investigated that I feel like I am getting a close to complete picture of the subject. Of course, there are the issues of writer bias, errors, the companies own political opinions, etc. But, as a reader, it is my job to know those exist (better yet to know what they are) and to read and think and consider in a discerning manner. What is cool to think about is the experience of the writers as they chase their story.

On a train between Helsinki and Turku. Sitting in the executive office of Air Force 1. Contacting lawyers and school presidents and consulting numerous legal documents and reports about the activities of the many fraternities across America. It is just plain cool. It makes you realize what an art great writing, reporting and thinking is. These people ask wonderful questions, and listen and relay. Writers help us define our world. I think about how few times I write. And how easy it is to take for granted what journalists, essayists and every form of writer does. They make it interesting. They offer us parts of the world we can’t access from our daily routines. But, maybe there is another way to think about that. Writers show us that amid our daily routine, hidden in the cracks of our awareness, are vast pools of interest and oddity. They are there for anybody to find. But so few do find them. So few times, even when they are found do we actually explore them.

Learning, Design, and Creative Thinking

Last week I completed study for a degree of Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. I was fortunate to be a part of an excellent program that allowed me to study in Dublin, Ireland and Rouen, France over the course of the past two years. The program is full of wonderful instructors who are knowledgeable about all facets of education, pedagogy, technology and the future of learning in our increasingly connected world. The final portion of my study focused heavily on creativity in learning and design, and I must say I can already feel the affect on my design process.

Just the other day I was presented with a challenging problem in one of my instructional design projects. As I pondered possible solutions, I thought about the book we read “Sparks of Genius” and one of the its essential messages: problems have more than one solution and taking time to examine them from a number of different perspectives can lead to multiple solutions. From a pool of possible solutions a designer can test many and select the best one. I employed this style of thinking and lo and behold it worked great. My client was ecstatic with the alterations to the product I delivered.

Creative thinking and problem solving can be employed at all levels of the design process, but it must be cultivated and studied. Creativity is natural for some. But, there is no gene that some have and others don’t. Yes, some people are just wonderfully creative by default, but do not let this discourage you or lose faith in those around you. Some of the first steps to cultivating your own creativity and that of your colleagues is to encourage looking at problems, projects and tasks from many different perspectives and angles, intellectually and physically. Do not simply maintain the status quo because it is easy. Ask questions about the purpose and the goals of the work and what will ultimately be produced. Truly observe all areas of what you or your group are working on and you will discover new levels of quality. I have, and I look forward to growing my creative capabilities.

And then you get it right…

I have been working on a specific elearning project for some time now. After each iteration I am given feedback about what the client likes and dislikes. I enjoy the process of trying something and then receiving feedback. It helps to develop my creativity. Over time I have found more a more ways to present the content, sprucing it up and designing different formats for delivery.

Last week I had a break through. My client loved the most recent iteration of the project. The key to getting to this point was having an open mind and being willing to try a myriad of different ideas before finally finding the best one. One success leads to another, and the project will present new and differing challenges soon. But, having conquered one aspect, I am excited to take this challenge head on.

Creating Engaging Online Learning Content

How can online learning materials better engage learners? This is the question I ask myself every time I go to work designing content. It’s easy to record a lecture, provide notes and make it available on the web. But, if this is all we do as instructional designers, we are forgetting to follow best practices, ignoring the powerful tools we have at our disposal and doing a disservice to our learners. I always consider how I can involve the learner with the content.

With my current job, this has meant converting slide based lectures into engaging Camtasia videos. The lectures discuss international business in different countries throughout the world. The module I am currently working on teaches students about doing business in Southeast Asia. The geographic attributes of the countries in Southeast Asia vary greatly, as does the size of each country. Using Camtasia, I am able to give students a strong sense of the geography of the region and the relative size of each country. When the modules discuss population and economic power throughout Southeast Asia, students are able to visualize the different countries, which guides a more intuitive understanding of the content.

The videos have been an excellent start, but now I want to model some of what I design next off of software simulations. Software simulations require students to experience the process of using a specific application, scaffolding the different tasks and features. I think a lot can be learned from this method. Languages and religions differ throughout Southeast Asia. Using interactive software simulations as a guide, the experience for students can become one of discovery.

I enjoy experimenting with different ideas and designs. As these modules continue to develop, I will be creating, testing and re-designing in order to provide the best learner experience possible.

“Digital Natives”, an Infographic

I ran across this infographic sifting through my Google Reader this morning.  I discovered it on Jane’s Pick of the Day, who acquired it via the Voxy Blog.  Although I do not know about Voxy, I do know it is a language learning service. I think the infographic clearlyt outlines the changing nature of education, even pointing out that digital natives have “fast paced minds”.  This implies that the style of education used currently in schools does not keep up with the speed at which students minds now move.  Education can keep up with the new information cycle.  I think we have to decide it will.

Via: Voxy Blog