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Slowing Down to Go Faster: Year of the Project Mid-Year Review

In: Showing my Work

I’ve been on hiatus for the last couple of weeks, spending my evenings and weekends playing Banished waaaaaay too much. (It’s all fun and games until a tornado wipes out half your town). Though I’ve been resting my brain, I’ve also been taking some time to think more about my “Year of the Project” and where it’s taking me. So far this year, I’ve written 55 blog posts (pretty consistently at 2 a week) and shipped 15 side projects, which is pretty mind-blowing actually. I had no idea I had done so much in 8 months!

Sorting Out My Priorities

That said, there’s so much more I want to do. So many tools and technologies I’d like to explore. But I know from experience that, without the opportunity for consistent practice, anything I try to learn will fall by the wayside, forgotten in a couple of months. That’s why consistent making has been such a big thing for me. But making takes time, right? Time I could be using to sleep, reboot, walk my dogs, cook, clean. All the stuff I put off so I can make stuff. I’m starting to really feel the opportunity costs and I’m thinking that a re-prioritization is in order. So here are my top three things that I want to keep learning about and practicing:

  • JavaScript Development
  • Game Design (particularly with Construct 2 and Twine)
  • Interaction Design in MicroLearning Contexts (creating more instructables)

The first two have been on my radar for a while. I’m feeling very confident with my Storyline and Lectora skills and though I still think I’ll probably want to continue making things with those tools, I’m not sure I want to prioritize that right now. I think that finding ways to use JavaScript and learning to design games are things that will require some focus to get better at. Then, perhaps, over time, I can begin to integrate them with a project in the authoring tool. The last point is a new one, spurred on by recent conversations. I love Will Thalheimer’s idea of subscription learning as something that:

provides an intermittent stream of learning-related interactions to those who are subscribed. These learning-related interactions–called “nuggets”–can involve a great variety of learning-related events, including content presentation, diagnostics, scenario-based questions, job aids, reflection questions, assignments, discussions, etc. Nuggets are short, usually presented in less than five minutes. Nuggets are intentionally scheduled over time to support learning, often utilizing research-based findings related to the spacing effect. Learners subscribe (or are subscribed) to one or more series of learning nuggets, called “threads.” Learning threads can be predesigned, selecting nuggets based on anticipated learner needs or they can be dynamically created based on learner performance.

– Will Thalheimer,

And that’s got me thinking that a lot of examples of micro-learning or chunked learning I’ve scene are akin to job aids. A video on a product to increase product knowledge. A how-to video to show how to work through a particular step in a process or accomplish a task. These are awesome in and of themselves, of course and very useful. But, as Sharon Boller points out, aren’t cut out for everything. So that got me wondering how an interaction might work in the context of a microlearning or subscription learning model. How might you integrate a short scenario interaction into a subscription? I’d like to explore where that goes and hopefully bolster my own offerings of instructables.“,

What Has To Go?

That said, the next question has to be, what am I giving up? While I think I can still go for shipping one project a month, those projects will now be a lot more varied and may not have as much of an elearning focus as some might like. Given that and the fact that Go Design Something still isn’t getting any participation other than from myself, I think I’ll reign in my posting there and just re-consolidate my energy back here. That will allow me to refocus. (Perhaps I’ll just post the projects I’m working on. I did want to give it the 12 months.) While I’m still really passionate about promoting making and makerspaces and the practice that those involve in the instructional design community, both of my experiments now have been failures. Which tells me that there isn’t a desire in the larger community for this or that I’m not the right person to be advocating for it. So, I’ll keep working myself and maybe over time, I can start more conversations about the importance of making.

Whereto Next?

My project for next month explores a Carmen Sandiego-like game that I’m really excited about. Beyond that, I’m hoping to switch it up month-to-month to make sure that I give myself practice time in each area I want to improve in. Any other makers out there? Are you shipping projects? Are you able to balance making stuff and resting your brain? Let me know in the comments.