Saturday, December 29, 2012

So long, 2012: You were a very good year

Wow, 2012. Way to bring it.

New job, new house, new coast, new climate, new amazing family and a wedding in the works. Heck, I even got a new tattoo.

For the past few years, I've really looked forward to saying goodbye to the old year and kicking off a fresh, new one. Ahh, but 2012, you are a tough act to follow.

I'll look back at this year with affection, for the changes it brought and the happiness that came with those changes. I am so very grateful.

Still, time marches on and as much as I'm reflecting on the past, I'm excited about what 2013 has to bring. As always, I've written a few to-do's for the new year:

  • Play more games. 
This one is pretty simple. Video games, board games, social games...whatever. Play more, not for work, just because I love it. (For what it's worth, I've already started on this one!)
  • Run another 5k.
I "ran" my first one this year. I'd like to do better, and I'd like to train a lot more. Looks like another round of P90X is in order...
  • Get to know my local UUs.
I'll admit it. One of the things I miss most about Pennsylvania is my church. I visited the local congregation here in Santa Barbara and it was lovely, but maybe because I'm stubborn or maybe because I was particularly missing my congregation in West Chester, I haven't gone since last summer. There was a lot of "new" that was good in 2012...this is a "new" that I want to embrace in 2013.

So here's to you, 2012, you tenacious and adventurous year! Thank you for the joy you brought, the excellent memories you leave with me, and the set up for an even better 2013. Cheers, everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sunsetting #weliveherenow

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed (not sure how you couldn't) the string of various pics since June of my new coast and the accompanying hashtag #weliveherenow. The genesis was pretty simple. As John and I finished our cross-country trip from Philadelphia to Santa Barbara, as we drove the final stretch around the coastline between Ventura and Carpinteria, John looked out at the ocean, then back at me, and said it. "We live here now." 

Just another day in Carpinteria
Four little words that meant such a dramatic change in my life. It meant I was taking a real job where I wouldn't be the boss for the first time in 5 years. It meant that the ocean was on our west and not our east (you would not believe how disorienting it STILL is sometimes.) It meant that WE had made this trek, this decision to blend our families, and we were embarking on an even bigger together. It meant that every day, I would see the ocean, the mountains, the palm trees...that I would be living in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. 

For the last six months, I think I've lived in constant amazement that I am HERE. Not just here geographically, but also at this place in my life. And so we started using the hashtag to remind ourselves that this was real. 

We live here now. WE live here now. We LIVE here now. We live HERE now. We live here NOW. 
Sunset on our beach
It was never meant to signified my thankfulness. My gratitude. My newfound contentment. My happiness. 

I'm retiring the hashtag now because this is the new normal. Yes, we DO live here now. I'm sure I'll still post pics (I haven't stopped being thankful), but I'm going to stop being amazed because this is my life now. Every beautiful, amazing second of it. 
Our family
If you want to see where I live, "our beach" in Carpinteria where John proposed to on this link and scroll down. See that beach, just past the tree on the far side of the field? That's the spot.

Ok, maybe I'm gloating just a little :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your "assessment" is probably bullshit

Every year, the first morning of DevLearn, I usually wake up with some crazy epiphany about learning and training that sticks in my brain throughout the conference. This year the revelation was "assessment is meaningless." I decided to try to spend the conference (when I wasn't presenting or hosting the Emerging Tech stage) trying to find examples of meaningful assessment.

My mission was by and large futile.

Let me start by clarifying: for adult education and training, knowledge might be important for dinner party conversation, and it might even help you in a job interview, but more than likely what you know isn't a fair representation of what you can do. Learning objectives are very different than performance objectives.

Why are we still writing learning objectives and assessing for knowledge acquisition when the only thing the business cares about is what employees can do?

If you're an instructional designer and you're writing learning objectives, please stop. STOP. What you learned in your graduate program or by reading Dick & Carey is meaningless to business objectives and business leaders don't know what the hell ADDIE is. Executives don't care if employees passed all of their knowledge checks with 100%. The bottom line is not improved by multiple choice questions. WHAT YOU ARE MEASURING AS A BENCHMARK OF LEARNING IS MAKING INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN OBSOLETE. Stop stroking your own ego. Stop trying to justify your decision to make a click-through elearning module or to drag the salesforce out of the field for two days for training by showing they all passed a multiple choice test. NO ONE BELIEVES YOU and NO ONE CARES (yes, I'm yelling).

Businesses care about performance. What are employees doing, and what do they need to do better, to improve business function. Is what you're teaching employees helping the business make more money or saving the business money? SHOW THAT. Use those words. Measure performance. Make what you do meaningful to your organization by setting performance objectives and measuring against those.  Provide performance support. Stop making the easy decisions. Make meaningful and relevant design choices.

If you can't assess something meaningful, it might be better to not assess anything at all.

/drops mic. walks off stage./

Monday, December 10, 2012

A year of living (mostly) bloglessly

I started this blog to write about starting a company, everything I learned along the way. It's evolved over the first I wrote a lot about starting Tandem Learning, then I wrote a lot about virtual worlds. Learning. Games. Gender issues. Taking risks. Occasionally, my kids. My goals. Music. I've written about so many things.

There's been a lot I haven't written about. I learned (the hard way) about what happens when you reveal too much about yourself out there to the world. It's still shocking to me that sometimes people read what I write. I had to learn to balance out the personal benefit I gain from writing my thoughts down in this blog, and the potential fallout for me when people read what I write. I have opinions, no doubt. I learned that sometimes I need to keep them to myself.

This year was a particularly tough juggling act, professionally and personally, in relationship to this blog and what I wanted to share publicly. Most of the time, I erred on the side of silence. My rationale was that this was a blog started to document my professional development and the stories of my personal growth and learning this year didn't really "fit."

So now it's December, and I look back at everything I didn't write about this year...I look at whole months where I stayed silent and didn't post the things I was learning. I look back on a year when I evolved more, learned more, and took more risks than I ever have. I didn't share most of it. I didn't document that evolution. And now, I kinda wish I would have.

Blogging is what you make of it, right? Maybe this is a professional blog, but it's a personal blog, too. Sometimes the personal is going to supersede the professional and sometimes it's gonna be all work, work, work. I made a resolution at the beginning of 2012 to apologize less. That hasn't gone so well...old habits die hard. For 2013, I'm just going to be me but I'm going to write about it here, because that's how I learn. So no apologies in advance for the posts about my upcoming wedding, my continued amazement at the beauty that surrounds me every day here in Santa Barbara county, my hilarious kids that push me to be better, and my partner, my love, who has made me reconsider my stance on fairy tales. 

I'm also about to write a post on why most assessment in learning is bullshit. Because, well, that's who I am, and what this blog is, too.