A Checklist to Encourage Feedback, Feedforward, Reflection and Learning

Checklists have never been big in my life. That is until I read Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. The book tells the story of how the humblest of tools, the checklist, has made profoundly positive inroads into medicine, financial services and airline safety. Gawande argues for more extensive use of checklists, but he is very clear that they are not panaceas, just helpful tools. He calls them “cognitive nets” and argues that while they are great at dealing with simple problems, they can also be a prerequisite for dealing with complex ones as well.

I recommend you read the book to see how he makes that argument. Don’t accept it uncritically. Don’t be like the usual crop of ed reformist morons anxious to foist “checklist reform” onto all classrooms. I am sure you won’t, but I really don’t want the idea ‘ruined’.

Happily, checklists remain where they should–in the hands of teachers and learners as a way to provide feedback on practice. Which is to say that for now the teacher and learner are still in charge of checklists, thank you very much [fingers crossed].

I saw the infographic below on twitter and followed up by doing a screencapture and some modification using Diigo’s simple but effective annotation tools. Thanks to Reid Wilson for the generous Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license where I can share and modify his work. I hope the graphic is self-explanatory. I plan to use it as a checklist this semester. I plan to use it as a writing prompt after classes every day. I plan to add more ‘little heads’and checkboxes as I blaze a trail through the semester.

I am also planning on using this as one of my projects on my ‘Smallest Federated Wiki’ in the fond hope that others might join in. I will post more on this later, but I am twitchy with adrenal juice over the prospects.

learning checklist
A learning professional’s checklist

No Hiding Your Talents and No Bad Dogs: Happy New Year

Three things to note.

1. Sandra Sinfield has been hiding her candles under a basket. We need to let her shine, a nova in the winter’s dark. No, really you gotta see these beautiful projects her students did.

2. You need to join us in celebrating her post below by helping to annotate it and share it. You can join Diigo here  and you can join the #ccourses annotation group here   AND if you don’t want to do either of those you can see what others are doing by clicking on this annotated link.

3. And last and least, but still pretty cool: did you know that you could embed stuff into the the Diigo annotation boxes? I embedded a picture via Flickr, a gif via Giphy, a sound file via Soundcloud, and a zeega inside Diigo text boxes. Diigo ain’t just a text annotation machine anymore! I have only gotten this to work within the Chrome browser so your mileage may vary.  Still being able to put reaction Gifs in the text box is a mongo Happy New Year’s gift for me.  I really don’t know why I hadn’t tried this earlier, but I did today thanks to Sandra’s post.  I just wanted to try to learn just as hard as she tries to teach.


Holy Meta, Batman! Posting about Podcasting then Podcasting the Posting about Podcasting

20141212_141941-EFFECTS (1)

I don’t really buy into learning styles as a classroom management tool, but I do buy into sound, sight, connection, and practice as personal knowledge, or as Michael Polanyi defined it, “tacit knowledge”.

I bring this up because I just finished reading a post in Medium by Matt Haughey about podcasts that rings with my own tacit practices and connections. According to Haughey, blogs have flourished, podcasts…well..they haven’t. That resonates for me. I am forever saying to myself, “I really need to podcast.” I want it to be a practice and a regular intellectual process . I want it to be an active verb in my life.

Haughey points out that podcasting has two issues that have kept folks like me from adopting it as a ‘writing’ practice. First, subscribing has too much friction and there are tech gaps to listening across platforms and across spaces. Second, there is what Haughey calls the “social problem”. You are tethered to the podcast as an audience of one. Much like reading, listening is profoudly non-social. There are exceptions to this rule (Soundcloud annotation, Vialogues, Kindle highlighting, Genius for lyrics), but Haughey is mostly right here. We are sociable beings confronted by a technology that removes us from the milieu.

In order to really take podcasting to the next level, the natural social habits of people needs to be included in how they are found, downloaded, listened to, and discussed afterwards.

Haughey has some suggestions:

1.  Make the subscription process easy, perhaps browser based, so that when you come across a podcast you can subscribe to it automatically.

2. If you want a podcast to be sociable you have to create a social space.  Haughey advises that every podcast needs a meeting place much like the one he helped create at MetaFilter.

3. Use all the potential that already exists for embedding data in the podcast RSS feed.  Yes, there really is quite a lot of meta you can cram into that feed.

4. Podcasting needs a “clip and share” app that allows you to cut out just the right moment in a podcast that you want to share with others.  This would be the biggest help as far as I am concerned.  This is what inspired me to write this.  I want audio clips to be ubiquitous in my blog posts.  I want them just like Haughey wants them.

Podcasts are usually large mp3 files but mobile apps could offer share options that give you a scrubber to highlight the audio you want to share, create a short clip, and make that shareable and embeddable in tweets, facebook, and blog posts.

Yeah, exactly what he said.  Wouldn’t this expand their use much like YouTube-to-gif apps have done for video and multimodal creation tools like Zeega and Weavly?

5. Extend the value of podcasts by having automatic transcription services.  Some are already working on this.  Although I have not done this myself, perhaps podcasting needs to be something that YouTube can do.  You can already use tools like Mechanical Turk to do a hybrid transcription.  Sorry for the density of this paragraph, but I think it shows just how up in the air and klug-y podcast consumption and production have become.  No one is jumping in to make the frictionless desktop-to-app product that works from a bookmarklet or extension in a browser.  Huffduffer shows some possibilities, but early days.

6.  Podcast MeetUps.  We go from analog (ourselves and our ears) to digital (podcasts) so why not from digital analog and use podcasts as an excuse and more to get together?  Maybe that is all one needs to build a real community, just that one little push to get together.  Who knows?

7. Connect desktop to mobile and sync.  Instacast does this on the Mac but it isn’t cross platform.  Pocket Cast syncs across platforms (Android & IOS), but doesn’t have a desktop presence.  Plus, how can we share with others, family and friends and colleagues and online buddies.  I would love to share a podcast space where I could comment back and forth asynchronously or just note where they are in the audiobook we are listening to together. Haughey’s point is that we are nowheresville on this.  He’s right.

8. Somebody needs to figure out what everybody else is listening to in your community.  Just thinking out loud here perhaps folks working in a federated wiki can share a page of podcasts that they listen to or just include an RSS feed from their podcatcher which an aggregator like Inoreader could subscribe to and share back out as another RSS feed.  OK, that’s crazy talk, but what starts in the sandbox stays in the sandbox, cat turd ideas like the above included.Is it too much to ask for a podcasting tool that is part curatorial much like Amazon reviews?

I realize that I have taken most of the content from Haughey’s post.  Not much original added to it on my part, but it has served as a template for acting.  In this case that means that I have done a pretty close reading of Haughey’s post, I have thought more in terms of my own podcasting possibilities, and I am inspired to do my own Soundcloud podcast of this blog post.


[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/183465223″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


Some meta thoughts on podcast making.  I used my fav tool right now for a more finished sound product–Bossjock.  I am able to set up sounds in ‘cartridges’ like radio stations use stingers and commercials. I then record live adding these preset sounds.  After I am done then it encodes it and I can export it numerous places including Soundcloud (as above).  My workflow here is getting simpler all the time.