ALC One Pagers

I’ve been working on some single page info sheets that explain ALC and some of our tools. Over the past several months these pages have grown into a nice little package. I’ve just given them a design pass to spruce them up a bit based on the work I’ve been doing developing the ALC Style Guide.

Download the Full PDF Package
Which includes:

ALC One Pager

Download ALC One Pager PDF

Agile Learning Centers (ALCs) are an expanding network of micro-schools leveraging agile tools to support self-directed education.

alc-tools-one-pagers_alc

 

ALC Tree One Pager

Download ALC Tree One Pager PDF

Our tools and practices emerge as leaves on one or more branches and are constantly evolving to meet the needs of our unique ALC community.

alc-tools-one-pagers_tree

 

Kanban One Pager

Download Kanban One Pager PDF

The Kanban is a tool for visualizing and managing work in progress. It is divided into columns and populated with sticky notes.

alc-tools-one-pagers_kanban

 

Community Mastery Board One Pager

Download CMB One Pager PDF

A tool for creating sustainable culture within a community through iterative trial and error.

alc-tools-one-pagers_community-mastery

 

Gameshifting One Pager

Download Gameshifting One Pager PDF

GameShifing is a tool that allows a group to better facilitate meetings by making the implicit social rules explicit, thus giving permission to shift them when useful.

alc-tools-one-pagers_gameshifting

The post ALC One Pagers appeared first on Drew the ALF's blog.

ALC Network Holding Proposal 2016

Nearly 2 years ago I attended the first ALF Summer at ALC Mosaic in Charlotte, NC. This event marks, in my opinion, the creation of the ALC Network. It was a point when the people and resources came together to support new and emerging ALCs. Now, as we enter our third year, I feel that we are on the precipice of powerful, sustainable growth.

In this post will present a vision for the superstructure of the ALC Network. How the Network, as a group of individuals, relates to the people and places that make up the network. I will cover where we are currently, what work has been done to formalize the structures and ideas that make up the ALC Network, and what is left to do to make my proposed vision a reality.

Unpacking some words

ALF: Agile Learning Facilitator, when used generally it means anyone who is facilitating at an ALC or within the ALC Network. Specifically it means a person who has been officially recognized by other ALFs as a member of the community. Put another way, anyone can facilitate in an Agile Learning environment, but ALFs are “entitled” facilitators.

Holding: Holding is explicit role within a group. A holder is a person whose responsibility it is to “hold” the group together. They are not in charge of the group, but rather in charge of making sure the group is maintained. A project manager by another name without the power dynamic.

Network Holder: This is an Agile Learning Facilitator who has shown up and been recognized as holding the ALC Network. One who supports the ALC Network and the people within it.

Coherence Holder: This term is a bit tricky, it will probably change, but it has two meanings. When used generally a coherence holder is someone holding a project, group, or idea. When used as a proper noun it means a ALF who has been recognized as holding a domain within the ALC Network. This could be an ALC or a working group or something not yet considered.

Vision Holder: In this context a vision holder is a person (or small group of people) who hold a vision for an ALC or learning community. In a young community the vision holder is the foundation that keeps everything together, they are the key to the success of any group (and eventually the source of its undoing, but that’s a story for another time).

Where we are now

As we enter our third year the ALC network has a number of achievements to be proud of. Some of these achievements come in the form of clarity around shared ideas and others are more material.  Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Functioning website that allows the ALC Network, individuals, and ALCs to promote themselves as well as share ideas.
  • A solid brand.
  • Membership process which has brought over 10 new groups in the ALC Network.
  • Foundation for a strong network social media presence.
  • Emerging consensus around ALC Network membranes, or definitions about what is inside and outside of our organization.
  • Processes, practices, and protocols for dealing with interpersonal conflict (culture committee), collective decision making and organizational culture hacking (change up), and work responsibilities (ALC WORKS!).
  • Emerging network vision/mission.
  • Pilot training/presentation process for sharing the ALC idea and planting seeds for new ALCs.

Vision for Network Holders

Currently there is little clarity around what ALC membership in the Network entails and who is responsible for maintaining these relationships between the independent ALCs and the ALC Network. This has fallen to a small group of people who have the interest and time to dedicate to holding the ALC Network.

This small group of “unofficial” network holders has been managing relationships with new groups, creating the processes through which groups pass through membranes within the network and supporting existing groups. It’s been an amazing effort but has lacked a vision which in turn makes it difficult to act in strategic ways.

The core of my vision is quite simple. Network Holders explicitly hold specific ALCs, ALC Startups, and Vision Holders by supporting their integration into the ALC Network.

alc-network-holder-post_single-nh

Network Holders (NH) are responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with Coherence Holders (CH) of ALCs, ALC Startups, or other domains within the network.

This pattern is already present throughout the ALC Network. Coherence Holders (such as the director of an ALC) hold space for Agile Learning Facilitators to facilitate (ALF) allowing  ALFs to facilitate students/parents/resource people within that space. Network Holders hold CHs in the same way.

Let’s look at a real world example. ALC Oahu’s CH is @nina, she holds space for ALF @mandy who facilitates relationships between students (like @seamus) and resource people like Alex. Mandy helps Alex and Seamus work together by holding space for them within the larger ALC Oahu structure, which Nina in turn holds. I, as a Network Holder, facilitate the relationship between Nina (ALC Oahu) and the rest of the network by connecting her with fellow CHs and ALCs. This might look like help with website, sharing legal docs from established ALCs, or coming out and doing in-person support.

alc-network-holder-post_network

What this creates is a centralized body of Network Holders who work to maintain a decentralized network of ALCs. The Network Holders can create and quickly share protocol with their ALCs through personal relations. The aim of this configuration would be to leverage the best of both a centralized and decentralized network. With Network Holders supporting the connections between CH and ALCs they would limit the bottleneck of going through a centralized system. ALCs can support each other without requiring NH intervention. All while important information can quickly be shared to the entire network through the centralized NH infrastructure and their personal relationships between the ALCs in their care.

Another real world example of this comes in the form of picture sharing. Our social media always needs pictures of people thriving in ALCs. The Network Holders could come up with a strategy for collecting images (based on conversation with CH) then reach out to their associated ALCs with clear instructions for how to opt-in to add images to a community pool. Right now for something like this to happen our social media people (person) would have to shout out to all the ALCs at once and hope that people would be able to take the time to listen and act. In this scenario I already know where ALC Oahu keeps their photos and would be able to add them myself without having to bother Nina or Mandy at all.

alc-network-holder-post_single-nh copyIt is important to note that Network Holders wouldn’t want to be a bottleneck or gatekeeper but foster direct peer to peer communication between people within the network.

Harbor Piloting or Guiding New ALCs Into the Network

When ships enter a new harbor often a “pilot” will be dispatched to assist the captain in navigating the waters. Network Holders would serve this role with new Startups, assisting them in connecting to resources and people within the ALC Network. Further, Network Holders would be available to help “Vision Holders”, or people who are interested in starting an ALC, move forward with their dream.

This is already happening to an extent with the recent trainings that @bear has been doing across the US. Under my proposed practice people who are identified as “Vision Holders” (VH) would have a Network Holder to help them create their own ALC.

alc-network-holder-post_vision-holder-path

I see a clear pathway to becoming an ALC that Network Holders will want to foster. The above graphic describes someone moving from having a vision for “something” to becoming a full ALC. Along that path there is support that the ALC Network can provide to assist them. Presentations, print-outs, trainings, membership benefits, and so on can be deployed to help people realize their vision, build a team, create a learning center, and join the ALC Network.

Limit Your WIP

Currently we are spreading our message and creating many vision holders, like throwing seeds into our garden. I feel that by making Network Holder’s relationship explicit with Vision Holders and limiting the number of explicit relationships to a manageable level, in the same way that ALCs keep a healthy ALF to student ratio, we can cultivate these seeds with more care and grow stronger ALCs.

Network Vision Holders

The above vision I’ve outlined leaves out a different kind of Network Holder. Those who work mainly in their own ALC but who hold the vision and ideals of the ALC Network. @nancy, @ryan, and @abby comes to mind here, they are constantly engaged in Network level discussions (even if it’s only listening) on top of their full time jobs running their respective ALCs. There is a great need for this kind of Network Holding that isn’t covered in my description above.

Having people who actually run and work in ALCs be part of the Network Holder inner membrane will be very important and should be maintained.

What we Need to Get There

We are very close to having a clear pathway to the vision I’ve outlined. To achieve this we need to finish a few projects that are still in process.

Annual Report

“To see where we are going we must know where we are.”

The Annual Report, a project started over ALF Weekend Spring 2016, aims to create a document that describes what the ALC Network has achieved over the past year. It should highlight what the team of volunteer unofficial Network Holders (and other ALFs) have been able to achieve over the past year. This document will serve as an exclamation that says what the ALC Network is capable of. This document will provide the incentive to invest in our awesome little experiment.

Currently very little content has been created.  There is, however, a detailed outline available via this Trello Board which @rochelle put together. It contains information about writing an Annual Report as well as cards describing the requested content, which is outlined below.

You can support this project in the following ways:

  • Collect member stories, how has ALC upgraded existing learning centers or provided the foundation needed to start new ones.
  • Collect powerful stories, images, and testimony from ALCs
  • Write ups about the following programs
    • Membership model launch
    • ALF Summer 2015
    • Upgrades to the website
    • ALC Starter Kit + it’s impact
    • ALF Weekend(s)
  • Other content (pictures, images, videos) that highlights the impact the ALC Network has had

I am currently coherence holder of the Annual Report so please contact me, drew@alc.network

Vision

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”

If Network Holders are going to act strategically they will need a clear vision to guide them. Network Holders will be able to weigh actions against a shared vision. This shared vision has been in development for over 5 months. I’m pushing forward a Network Vision which compiles the responses from a questionnaire delivered to the community.

Currently a super rough draft of the vision statement exists, which has been compiled from community feedback. Let me know if you would like to work on this, @sara is the coherence holder but also running an ALC, so contact me.

Membrane

Over the past 2 years consensus has been forming around our Network’s structure. What @art introduced to us as a “boob diagram” for layers  of engagement at ALF Weekend Fall 2014 has been guiding our work in developing the ALC Membranes. Currently the process and community ritual for entitling people who show up in our network is at a new level of functionality. Before we can have Network Holders we will need to agree on an explicit process for entitling them.

Initially it might make sense to simply declare that “I am a Network Holder” or “Holder” in front of our group. I feel that it will be better to have a clear process and actually practice the ritual around entitling people so that we can on board people as we grow.

Currently the ALC Membrane is best described in the Network Membrane Notes spreadsheet, which contains a few iterations as attached sheets. I have been working on a very explicit ALC Membrane Process document that describes the steps taken to perform a peer review.

Both these projects need a coherence holder to actually practice and test the peer review system and make the process of entitling people into ALFs, CH, and NH explicit. Then determine a way to record it. As it stands people implicitly hold these titles but we are missing the functional, technical means to perform and record anything explicitly.

Membership

The final piece to this vision will be the membership process. Currently the membership process (which I think needs a different name!) works quite well. It only needs more automation (working on it!) and to include a process for a Network Holder becoming an advocate for new members.

This process should be decided by the Network Holders once they (we) are an implicit group.

Putting it all together

This is my proposal for the Network focused work we should do at ALF Summer 2016. By recording our achievements in the Annual Report we can advocate for an investment in ourselves. When we complete and come to agreement on a shared vision we will be able to think and work strategically. Once our membrane process is agreed upon we will be able to entitle each other and maintain a clear path for introducing new people into our ranks. Finally with a few polishing tweaks to our membership process we can realize the explicit formulation of having Network Holders hold all members of the Network. With these elements combined we will have everything we need to consolidate consulting, info, and startups working groups into a single group of Network Holders who execute the Network Vision by supporting ALCs, Startups, and Vision Holders.

Emerging Strategy for ALF Summer

  1. Write the “story” of Agile Learning Centers from the last  year (to 18 months) in the form of an Annual Report.
  2. Invest in some structural improvements to our online database of users, ALC and ALC Startup organizations.
  3. Adjust the membership model ($10/student, $95/minimum)
  4. Determine and describe NH’s specific strategy moving forward
    1. Some (or all) NHs taking on a coaching/support role with a handful of ALCs and Startups
    2. Define goals and desired outcomes (specific/concrete as much as possible)
    3. Define any other known, essential roles that people would be taking on to accomplish these outcomes
  5. Formalize Network Holders WG
  6. Determine best options for funding
  7. Create a Pitch Book, or any other materials necessary for appealing for funding

 

The post ALC Network Holding Proposal 2016 appeared first on Drew the ALF's blog.

Karass Website

After creating The Karass Inn’s logo I set to work creating a website for them. They used checkfront.com to handle the booking side of things so I was left to simply create the presentation side.

http://thekarassinn.com/

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 11.34.47 PM

I used the Make Theme with only slight modifications to the CSS. Mainly to create the pop-ut Book Now button. The site looks great on mobile too:

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 11.35.02 PM

The address, phone, and email at the top work incredibly well on mobile. By using proper Uniform Resource Identifier schemes with the links available applications will launch when they are clicked. You’re probably already familiar with mailto: which almost all email links use, it looks like this:

<a href=”mailto:TheKarassInn@gmail.com”>TheKarassInn@gmail.com</a>

While the phone uses tel: like so:

<a href=”tel:8028755878″>(802)-875-5878</a>

So when you’re on a phone and click the link it automagically launches the phone application and makes the call.

I love being able to add these little details!

If you’re ever in Chester Vermont you should stay with The Karass Inn

Two Old Guys Go Hiking Book Cover

My dad recently wrote a book about hiking on the Appalachian Trail. He reached out to me to do a book cover, here’s what I made him:

old-men-book-cover-DRAFT1

I used one of my favorite fonts: norwester and integrated a public domain hiking icon from the noun project

The real fun bit was that the original photo he wanted to use only had one old guy hiking, so I used some photoshop magic to add in the other old guy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 11.57.27 PM

A surprisingly quick project that came together really nicely.

Hate Has No Business Here Poster

msa-welcome_fb-ad-censor-face

So there’s been a bunch of mean people supporting terrorists by spreading xenophobic hate speech in the news recently. In response Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis put up a sign in their window stating that “All are welcome here“.

All are welcome here

I was contacted by The Main Street Alliance to re-create the poster for the #hatehasnobizhere campaign.

msa-welcome-poster_poster-11x17

I also created social media assets for sharing across the internet.

msa-welcome_prim-fb-ad-stand-with

msa-welcome_fb-ad-just-black

This included Twitter and Facebook cover images and profile pictures.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.30.24 PM

I added all these into a shared Google Drive folder.

It’s been amazing to see my poster pop up in small businesses across the country, check it out.

 

Platform Cooperativism Dump!

A few weeks ago I went to the Platform Coop conference in NYC. It was an interesting cross section of several circles of friends. There was my coop chums, and my nerd friends, and my free libre open source people, and the intentional community folks. Everyone who is doing cool things was there.

What follows is a dump of links and information I randomly collected in my notebook. It’s not really linear and you can just jump around picking up links and little gems.

Is it Valuable to Them!?

Get your value proposition correct. Why should I join your coop, platform, group, etc. what’s in it for me? Nail this down early. Why is your thing valuable.

There was a lot of talk about how Airbnb and Uber are bad actors who exploit their providers (the drivers and homeowners) yet again and again people said how happy those same providers were with these exploitative platforms.

Personally I think that most people have been trained to roll over and accept abuse, especially if it’s not as bad as it could be. Most people don’t seem to care who steals their data or if they get a fair cut. At least they are getting a little scratch while some big guy fucks them.

College Educated people are taking blue collar jobs.

All these over educated millennials are taking jobs that others in their cast would scoff at. Taskrabbit and house cleaning services are making it okay to work jobs that only immigrants and high school dropouts would do.

Labor Displacement, or stealing jobs from immigrants. Which is kind of funny considering how freaked out everyone seemed to be about it being the other way around. Turns out cleaning someone’s home isn’t beneath a masters in art history… This, of course, means that tech savvy young people are pushing out the working poor (they just can’t get a break).

Start with the people you want to end up with.

This is a cool idea, when you start a project consider that the people you start with might very well be the people you end up with. So you might as well pick good people.

I think this also gets into diversity of groups. If you want a diverse group you can’t start with a homogeneous one, or you can but it will be more difficult to end up with something that isn’t just as homogeneous.


 

Society seems to think that Monopolies are okay, but we hate cartels.

Check out OuiShare:

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.16.37 PM

New economy from Europe! I love the new economy, it makes so much more sense than this current economy.


 

Through ownership we become free.


 

http://backfeed.cc/

Triangle-SideWay-300

I don’t quite get what backfeed is, but it’s something.


DEMAND MANIPULATION FACEBOOK


New Economy

http://www.cicopa.coop/

The International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives, or CICOPA, has been a sectoral organisation of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) since 1947. Its full members are representative organisations of producers’ cooperatives from different sectors: construction, industrial production, services of general interest, transport, intellectual services, artisanal activities, health, social care, etc. Its associated members are support organisations promoting cooperatives in those sectors.

marketing cooperative

This idea seems close to what Agile Learning Centers is becoming. A coop of small businesses (schools) that pool their resources to manage a central marketer who maintains branding, web, social media, etc. for the coops involved.

Business Model Canvas

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.30.02 PM

This is a tool to figure out your business! I found this tool for creating it.

What is your Coop’s accountability process?

Blockchained Together

So what is the blockchain? Decentralized Digital Property. You own digital property with no need for a centralized authority to grant (or remove) access.

La`Zooz – Rideshare on the blockchain

http://lazooz.org/

I’ve converted their white paper into a PDF you can download here.

trustless database…?

DCO

Distributed Collaborative Organization

DAPPS

Distributed Applications (read more)


“The trust web” vs “The trustless web”

6097bc9eb4a1f881cba1f1d138a88327ee032089

http://www.swarmbot.io/


Liquid Democracy

https://liqd.net

There was so much more, but I am out of time now.

Four Step Game Development

I’ve been binge watching Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit series on YouTube. Mark is a game critic that has been creating these video reflections on games, typically on aspects of their mechanics. I’d like to discuss one of Mark’s videos called Super Mario 3D World’s 4 Step Level Design in which he looks at the super successful level design of Super Mario 3D World. Have a look:

The game introduces a dazzling amount information to the player. Looked at as a whole it might seem overwhelming yet, according to mark, it works really well. I’ve been seeing this idea of overwhelming game mechanics a lot lately. Some of us at ALC recently consulted with a school who wished to introduce self directed learning to their students. This is like going from a linear 2D scroller—where everything is spoon fed to you—to a massive open world game. In ALC we have a number of games (or tools) such as Kanban boards, Set-the-Week, and Gameshifting that support self directed learning. When put together all these games seem, to the uninitiated, as overwhelming and complex. Just look at the Kanban, with it’s infinite variations and ability to expand to fit almost any situation.

kanban-examples

The teacher at this school was keen to introduce our tools to her students, but it was clear to the ALFs present that this would be too much too fast. I wanted to support her in doing this, but more level heads were able to “limit the work in process” and we ended up suggesting a super simple Kanban and Gameshifting board to start.

I think that we can look toward Super Mario for inspiration when trying to introduce our games.

The 4 Step Game Design

As outlined in Mark’s video Mario is using a “four step” design principle.

  1. Introduction
  2. Development
  3. Twist
  4. Conclusion

This provides a useful template for introducing our tools, let’s focus on the Kanban, as it lends itself to this methodology.

One: The introduction

kanban-post-elements_simple-kanbanWhen Mario introduces a play mechanic it will typically do so in a safe environment with low stakes for failure. The player can then try and fail without risking a life while they feel out the mechanic.

The introduction to the Kanban can happen in two ways. First, it can be simplified into it’s most basic form, which I would describe as a two column board with these headers:

  • What I want to do today
  • What I’ve done today

I use the word want very deliberately here. It’s lower stake than will and makes failure a bit less sharp (changing a players perception of failure is for another level). The instructions are absolutely clear in these titles. Hand this Kanban and some sticky notes to someone and it’s instantly clear what they are going to do with it.

I’ve used a method like this when introducing ALC or our tools to people in the past.

endor-foldy-kanban-crop

By using a kanban to manage the presentation I am able to model the tool in a useful way. This, again, is a safe way to introduce people to it. They are participating with the tool, but not having to take care of it themselves.

Two: The development

kanban-post-elements_dev-kanban

As we move through our Mario level we are challenged by a slow development of that mechanic. More complexity is added as the player moves through the development.

With our Kanban it’s easy to see how to do this. We can just start adding columns. In the example of introducing Kanban to a school we might start with a two column and after a few weeks add a third column then a fourth.

The idea is to develop the tool over time with the player. Add new columns as the player realizes new needs.

Three: The twist

kanban-post-elements_twist-kanbanIn Mario the twist is typically the addition of an unexpected challenge that makes the player have to interact with the mechanic in a different way.

With our Kanban the twist can come in the form adding elements that expand the functionality in unexpected ways. For instance adding rows (“swim lanes”) to group tasks.

The twist, I think, should be drastic and complex. It’s meant to show where such a tool can go. The twist opens up the players imagination to possibilities.

Four: The conclusion

kanban-post-elements_dev-kanban copyNow we are done. In Mario the conclusion consists of one last use of the mechanic to show mastery by the player. Like a pat on the back for learning a new skill.

For our Kanban the conclusion can come from having our student walk away with their own modified Kanban. After seeing the “twist” they might well be inspired with a concrete way to improve their Kanban.

We expand the possibilities then conclude with an appropriate application of the flexibility.

Games as tools, tools as games

I think there is quite a lot to learn by thinking about our tools and practices in the context of games and game mechanics, especially video games. For the past 20+ years video games have been teaching people a wide variety of skills. Video games are coming to be the dominate storytelling medium in our society. Modeling our own pedagogy from the best that games have to offer gives us a powerful ally in expanding the reach of our ideas. I will certainly be looking more at game development and its practices to see how I can leverage it in my own practice.

The post Four Step Game Development appeared first on Drew the ALF's blog.

ALF Cheat Sheet v 0.3

I’ve updated the ALC Network Cheat Sheet and updated it to a more accurate title. The updates better describe some of the communication channels, add the new ALC WORKS! Trello board (formally the projects board) and bring in a whole new column that describes protocol in the network around what channels and infrastructure are used for what kind of activity. I am drawing from a number of sources such as @tomis’s Network Ecosystem Charter and the Virtual Culture Committee process which have not been widely agreed upon in the network. That means this document does NOT represent the consensus of the network, but my interpretation of it and how it might be soon. With that disclaimer out of the way, have a look (after the jump) and please leave your comments! 

alf-communication-channels_main

 

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