Unexamined Assumptions 

In Broad’s book, “The Art of Being Unreasonable,” he postulates that the best opportunity for innovation is in the areas of an industry where assumptions are clung to and unexamined. He broke through in the both the housing industry and the life insurance industries building on this premise. I find that I’m doing the same.

I have felt for years that there are assumptions about and in the education industry that I whole-hearted DON’T believe must be the status quo. Therefore I will examine those and consider how my ideas about learning can change the industry.

Here are some of the assumptions I believe we have clung to for too long. If you have more I would love to hear them.

  1. Age determines the best place for a learner to start school, the level he/she should enter and progress, and what he/she should learn.
  2. Mechanical writing and reading should come before exploring ideas and asking questions.
  3. One year is enough for every person to learn the expected “knowledge and skills.”
  4. Individuals are EITHER Math/Science or Language/Artist – not both.
  5. Knowledge/Information is still the foundation and purpose of education.
  6. Socially, you need kids the same AGE in the same grade/class.
  7. Creativity is art and storytelling.
  8. Experts (teachers) should make the learning choices not the learner.
  9. Graduation = Employment.
  10. It’s necessary to take 4 years to earn a HS diploma and a college degree.
  11. Direct Instruction is the best pedagogical tool for learning.

Would you add any more? Do you feel there was a premise/assumption about education that worked against you as you went through school?

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Distance Learning / E-Learning and Trailhead

When I was in college in the early 90’s I took a “Correspondence Course,” in order to complete my whole program in 4 years. It was my first exposure to Distance Learning, although at the time I didn’t even realize that is what it was.

Early 90’s – I received a book, a list of readings and correlated assignments, and a time-line for possible final test dates.  I completed the assignments in 6 months and took the assessment, a written test they sent my department chair who proctored it in her office, and submitted for my final grade.  I received two assignments back with some written feedback before my final.


In 2010 – I taught a Distance Learning / E-Learning course that existed entirely on-line through Moodle. However, with limited understanding of technological possibility it more closely resembled a face-to-face course in the digital space with taped “lectures,” written assignments and due dates (submitted through email), videos (housed in Youtube), and a final reflection on their portfolio. Although my course was more creative than lecture, papers, and a final it still mimicked the face-to-face course and didn’t reflect any pedagogy now possible through technology.

At this conference, one of the things I learned was the continued struggle of Professors/Teachers with designing courses that take advantage of the possibilities through technology.  Some of this is due to limited tools available for relevant 21st century learning, some is due to limited understanding of the possibilities of these tools for design, but a larger part is due to limited understanding of good pedagogy.

While Distance Learner/ E-Learning is the future, I believe with my whole heart until these three things are addressed, educators will be forced to struggle.

  1. Limited tools available for relevant, 21st century learning
  2. Limited understanding of how to use these tools for design
  3. Limited understanding of pedagogy for either face-to-face or the digital setting

We at Trailhead are actually addressing all three of these through our Blueprint Learning Model, our MMO-LRPGs, and our educator/parent Professional Development Plan.

Trailhead is poised to jump-start 21st century E-Learning and we are excited to partner with organizations like USDLA http://www.usdla.org, IFWE, and others to support the future of Learning.

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Trailhead Paints It’s face into the Distance Learning / E-Learning Portrait: Presenting at our First Conference


It has been almost 10 days since Karen and I presented at the IFWE (International Forum for Women of E-Learning) conference. It was a blast. Not only did we share our Trailhead model for *E-Learning through the game, but we met many other educators who joined our enthusiastic mission.

Our workshop shared the LRPG (Learning Role-Playing Game) as an excellent medium for better learning and we walked 10 women through our development process in attempt to help them develop a portion of an LRPG for their learners. It stretched us to to think of LRPGs for groups like
Social workers who need to learn how to engage in conversation with individuals on the worst day of their lives.
Learners in a Public Relations program who need to learn to how to handle a myriad of public responses and situations.
Law Enforcement workers who need to learn how to diffuse difficult situations i.e. worried neighbors, possible witnesses, emotional family members etc. at the scene of a crime or in the interrogation room etc.
Group of faculty who need to learn a)to value and b) to execute different teaching methodologies.
High school learners who need to learn how to design a game for some specific purpose.

This opened my eyes to the VAST number of games that could be built for learning. I saw huge potential to partner with organizations, individuals, and educators to design LRPGS for their learning needs.

It was also an amazing opportunity to connect with women who want to better learning experiences for our 21st century learners, no matter the age or stage of learning.
I felt empowered and ready to come back and tackle our first project.

* Distance Learning = E-Learning (a current term for the same idea – learning outside of a face-to-face setting)

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Accepted as Conference Presenter

In June, I submitted a proposal to present about the SRPG, Strategic Role-Playing Game, it’s role in learning, and how to build one on a boxed-wine budget. Karen will be joining as we present in San Antonio, Texas in December.


Will keep you posted on our planning and trip.

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Grit, Practice, and Rewriting – The True Creative Genius

This is a great blog entry about creative genius. For all the times I’ve been frustrated that development of our model for this project has taken so long I am comforted by this blog. Creative genius is all about grit, practice, and rewriting not luck.


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Good Article about Meta-level thinking

Unfortunately, we spend more time on what is learned and less on how. This article introduces this learning idea nicely.


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Book Review – “What Do You Do With An IDEA?”

Pursuing your own business, especially one as big as mine, one can get discouraged. In my dark hours I pull out this children’s picture book and read it out loud to myself. While I don’t think I’ve gotten through it once without crying, it is inspiration at the most basic level.

I read it to the kids in my book club. I read it to my husband. I read it to my team. I read it to my nephews. And I read it to myself.

If you don’t have this book on your shelf you are missing out.

Thank you Kobi Yamada for your simple picture of how an idea can change your world.

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