MYNDDCAST: Season 1 Episode 5 — Nick Fuller, The Tactical Mind

Athletic performance is part physical and part mental. In this episode, Owner and Chief Performance Officer at The Tactical Mind, Mr. Nick Fuller, discusses the mental models he uses to help high school and college athletes perform. Nick’s passion for his work shows in every word. Slightly past your high school days? No worries. The concepts Nick shares help business owners, entrepreneurs, musicians, creatives and customer service representative achieve success no matter what field you play on.

Entrepreneurs: Build Something, to Do Something, that Leads to Something

Todd Henry, an incredibly inspiring author, shares a simple model for “Creatives”, those who’s work demands they be creative. He presents a model that includes being Prolific, Healthy and Brilliant. Shift, remove, or lessen just one part of that model and the expected outcome (being a Creative) shifts to another outcome (being tired and not healthy for example). Here’s a link to the Accidental Creative podcast covering this topic to learn more.

What I love about this simple, three-part model is that it provides the opportunity to look at the inter-dependency of the parts and how they lead to an emergent “thing.” In the entrepreneurial world, a similar model can help us understand how to “be entrepreneurial.”

As entrepreneurs, we often get so into the weeds we’ve grown, we get distracted from our purpose. If we’re building a widget, we get blinded by the shiny parts and if left unchecked, we can start to think what the widget does is what we ultimately seek. For example, if we build a new high performance electric car, the performance of the car can easily become sweat nectar and lure us into a sense of significant accomplishment. However, have we forgot the real reason we’re building the car? What about our vision to end the world dependency on oil? Oh yeah. So, now, our high performance, $100,000 car seems not so capable of reaching the masses and that means achieving our initial vision is at risk. We just went 0-60 in 2 seconds but got nowhere. (But it was fun ūüôā

Following a model of entrepreneurism can help us focus on key aspects of being entrepreneurial. Whether your an entrepreneur by title (i.e., you launched your own business) or you’re an employee with an entrepreneurial spirit, how can a simple model such as this one keep you on track?

Following Todd’s lead, what if you just Build Something that doesn’t do anything predictable? What are you then? And, what are you if you build something that does something awesome but doesn’t result in anything specific? Flip it. What if you spend all your time mapping the results you want, but don’t build something to get you there?

At the far right, let’s change that box to Vision (our future state, our dream). The middle box, make that Mission (what we do every day). The left box, that will be our Capacity (the systems we build to do our work). I made a decision years ago to pursue my entrepreneurial visions and that includes surrounding myself with entrepreneurs in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Every day, I get to unite with entrepreneurial minds in my community. Amazing, local rock stars doing amazing things. Yet, one thing we all often struggle with is the model above. Sometimes we loose sight of the far right as we keep our heads down building the something. When we get that something up and running, and it’s cranking out something, we feel a sense of “doneness.” We can get comfortable. Our vision (far right) can get fuzzy. By using the model as a whole we build a mindset (a perspective) on entrepreneurism that is simple and powerful.

How can this help you in your entrepreneurial efforts?

Crowd Developed Entrepreneurial Mindset

These two simple formulas changed how I approach presentations, workshops, training events, teaching, life…pretty much everything I do.

K = I x T
L = ‚Ė≤K

Knowledge = Information (times) Thinking
Learning = a change in Knowledge
Cabrera Research Lab, Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera

Any time I have the opportunity to lead a crowd on an educational journey, I remind myself….If I DON’T get them THINKING about the information we explore, they won’t build new knowledge. And, if they aren’t building new knowledge, they aren’t learning. And, my job is to help people learn.

Crowd-based learning is INCREDIBLY powerful. Why? Because it harness these two formulas. So, that was my approach this week when I lead a session titled “Entrepreneurism is a WORKFORCE Issue.” My goal was to have the crowd build a model of an Entrepreneurial Mindset and then align that model with current needs of employers (to build a strong workforce). With over 50 people in a small room, they went about building a model. Yesterday, I roughly pulled together their thoughts.

It isn’t pretty, but it is powerful. Yesterday, I wrote this article on RISK. The group felt rather strongly that embracing, taking, accepting RISK was an attitude entrepreneurs exhibited. That was just one of the attitudes that bubbled to the top of their work. Others include:

  • Visionary Thinking
  • Leader Mentality
  • Energetic, Driven Approach
  • Creative and Innovative Thinking
  • Confident

These attitudes and ways of thinking lead to the behaviors that wrap up into what this group thought of as describing an Entrepreneur. And, I agree. This collection of attitudes, this MINDSET, exhibits what an entrepreneur is (much better than any definition of an entrepreneur). And, the important take-a-way is the one hour journey we took together to build this mindset model.

My last request of the group was “Now, look at wall and remove any item you don’t believe employers want in employees today.” No one moved. There was a rather audible “ah ha” moment. Our effort to build and understand the entrepreneurial mindset with the crowd lead to a level of learning and understanding much deeper than the attendees thought was going to take place in that one hour session. And, they have themselves to congratulate for it.

Youth is Wasted on Youth….An Entrepreneurial Perspective

This morning, I visited my Twitterverse and one of my trusted sources and fellow follower Mr. Michael Crawford (Real World Scholars) had posted this article “The Importance of Entrepreneurship in School Curriculum.” I thought the article was a great conversation starter around the reasons all schools, no matter what format or focus, need to have their ears to the tracks and be responsive to entrepreneurial youth skill-set, mind-set development.¬† This is my follow-up to my post and I hope it sparks conversation and more importantly ACTION.

I hate to talk about entrepreneurial benefits in any way that makes entrepreneurial work within education seem like an add-on.¬† Why?¬† Because add-ons are optional, our system is overburdened with them, and the add-on approach to school development is akin to a ship collecting barnacles or our refrigerators collecting magnets and family pictures.¬† Eventually, add-ons weigh down the host.¬† When I consider the scope of our US-based K12 education system, it seems we’ve done little more than continue to treat education as a place to add on an endless set of options this or that group feels is important.¬† Folks, our schools are full.¬† The model of continuing with add-ons has to stop and I don’t want to send any message that states I feel entrepreneurism should be another add-on.¬† So, with that context, I’ll send my message.¬† Entrepreneurism should be core!¬† Not an add-on.¬† Why?

Ego Check!

We’ve all experienced the realities of youth egocentric behavior.¬† There is a prevailing mental model of youth that the ego needed for growth doesn’t turn off and leads to ego-centric teens and ego-centric adults.¬† There are tenants of entrepreneurism requiring confidence, self-reliance, sure-footedness, and laser-focus.¬† From the outside, those may seem like ego.¬† But there’s a distinction.¬† Entrepreneurism brings about solutions for others, solves problems others can not, seeks answers to other’s troubles, worries and progress inhibitors.¬† In my experience, employees are more often than not rich with ego.¬† It often comes from over confidence in their security and roles within organizations driven by weak vision exchanged for high dollars.¬† Entrepreneurs however must deal every minute with how they are helping others. If they don’t, they won’t survive. Granted, there are plenty of ego driven entrepreneurs just as their are employees who care passionately about those they work to serve.¬† Remember, I’m presenting a perspective in a way to get us thinking…to spark thoughts we often have to deal with emotions.¬† Oh yeah, our egos!¬† In my entrepreneurial ecosystem, what I see are entrepreneurs who have pushed aside destructive ego and moved to action.¬† I think that’s a lesson all youth need as CORE.

There’s no reason for a lot of what we teach without a connection to products and services.

I feel like we know this, but we don’t seem to want to embrace it.¬† We like to say “we’re preparing kids for the future.”¬† Ahh, what does that mean?¬† Job? Work?¬† Life?¬† Sure, all of that.¬† And for each, what is central?¬† Seeing problems and opportunities. Yes.¬† Solving problems, designing solutions, products and services.¬† Yes.¬† This is why I see entrepreneurism¬† as a core way of being rather than a business management topic or activity to be assigned.

Who’s Responsible?¬† Ecosystems Are.¬†

After talking with schools over the last six years, I’ve learned that K12 schools should not be asked, nor are they in the position to take youth entrepreneurism on alone.¬† As I stated above, they are bombarded with add-ons every day.¬† New state or national regs and local groups attempting to get schools to single-handedly be the care-takers of growing entrepreneurial youth aren’t the answer.¬† Enter Ecosystems.¬† Ecosystems are mechanisms that unite local, regional and even national resources (such as Real World Scholars) in the efforts to build core entrepreneurial competencies.¬† Locally, I’m partnered on VISIONEURS-PA, our efforts to build a specific youth entrepreneurial ecosystem.¬† Ecosystems exist for adults, but few for youth.¬† Why?¬† It goes back to the school is everything mentality.¬† Schools are expected to provide ALL education.¬† The more we count on that, the less likely we’ll build an entrepreneurial nation.

Ecosystems can be responsible for youth entrepreneurial development because the end result is truly focused on solving big problems and making life better.¬† They are made up of groups, companies, service agencies, individuals, investors and charity organizations that believe in the power of entrepreneurial spirit.¬† Yes, we need students with essential literacy, behavioral, scientific and creative skills.¬† We need schools to do that good work.¬† As we think about applying those skills, the more we can make entrepreneurial core, those lessons gain more meaning.¬† The ecosystem can then be there to support the work that we can’t add-on to schools.¬† While some schools have cleared away enough clutter and created entrepreneurial cultures within, many can not and will not.¬† In those cases, the ecosystem can offer out of school supports at the community level.¬† When I think about those services, I think of prototyping, product testing, commercialization, business structure development, and a host of other real-life business supports.¬† Ecosystems add capacity to our schools.¬† That’s the key.¬† As we expect more from educational entities, we must be willing to help build those capacities.

Love to hear your thoughts.¬† I know this is somewhat polarizing.¬† And in no way is anything here meant as a dig to schools.¬† We’re in this together and we have to realize capacity building is needed.





Applying Thinking Patterns to Ethics Case Study Activity: Destructive Emotions Avoided

At PFEW 2018, I serve as a Company Advisor (CA). The program has an incredible history which means they have a well developed educational program for the students. With 447 students at this week’s camp, a plan is certainly a necessity. As a CA, one of 23 other professionals, I join my peers in the effort to bring our experiences to the students within the PFEW framework. Since learning the Thinking Patterns (dsrp) by Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, I’ve evangelized how all learning and organizational situations benefit from their application. Today, I witnessed first hand what I consider a Mission Moment.

MYNDDSET’s Vision (My Dream or Future State) = Transformed People, Transformative Organizations.

MYNDDSET’s Mission (The repeatable work I do. What gets me to my Vision) = Map (Make thinking and ideas explicit), Advance (Build knowledge and “grow” people using thinking), Transform (Use Systems Thinking to shift people and organizations.)

Mission Moment = A rare moment in time when all of the parts of your mission are evident.

This Mission moment exemplifies one of those rare moments in time worth sharing. During the camp, the students are exposed to a fantastic ethics situation. The challenge I have personally with the study of ethical situations is that we (the collective education system) teach kids to debate ethical issues. Debate meaning they “argue” for or against a particular scenario. Presenting sides and creating a “I win, you loose” situation was the approach I planned to avoid during the session I would help facilitate. Enter THINKING.

I certainly didn’t have the floor to teach students about dsrp. That’s not needed. I used dsrp to help me design the event, the student role, the rules, the context for the interactions between the students. With 60 students, a process suitable for the educational goal was paramount.

I created a perspective table in the middle of the group. Each team faced one side of the table. The forth side was used by myself and the other CAs. I placed three paper tents on the table. One said “Questions”, one “Perspectives,” and one “Ideas.”

The three student groups were asked to have their representative explain their perspective on the ethics case. After, the two groups would have time to respond through individual representatives coming to table and standing on opposing sides of the table. From there they would ask questions in an effort to understand perspectives and build new ideas.

Before this happened though, we discussed the framework. To ensure we moved beyond a debate and to knowledge building, we agreed that responses would be in the form of questions. “I disagree with you because…” statements were replaced with “Have you considered the impact of X and if so, describe your thoughts.” We discussed how these questions would help us uncover more information and that sharing perspectives would allow us all to build on our mental models or create new ones (new ideas). We adopted this approach to avoid little to no progress (ie, everyone stays put on their idea because they are fighting for it).

This group of 60 teens did an amazing job. The occasional slips into old routines took a few down the path of showing how emotions made them stubbornly attempt to prove they were right and others wrong. But we corrected each other. The students policed each other and demanded their peers ask good questions rather than simply attack their position.

Without teaching dsrp, Thinking about Thinking created a Mission Moment for me. I saw respectful teens demonstrating empathy and a thirst to learn, agreeing to be okay with the ambiguity of an ethics conversation and the willingness to participate in a structure that helped them pursue a learning goal.

The best result was the lack of teen emotions that often cloud their thinking. In this case, their emotions allowed them to share ideas openly. It was an awesome thing to be part of.

STEM Locomotive

STEM ‚Ȇ Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

That’s right.¬† I am standing in front of the multi diesel locomotive driven train we call STEM with my hand up saying, “Hold up a second.”¬† I know the lag time to come to a stop will be great and I risk being flattened.¬† I have faith however, that the embedded systems we are attempting to instill in our students via STEM education will prevail and thus, create a way to slow the train quickly, and I’ll be safe.¬† So, here it goes.

STEM Locomotive

“Hold up a second.”

Those systems are kicking in and so far, I see the train beginning to slow.¬† While I start to sweat the reality and weight of that approaching mass of metal, let’s talk about why I am standing here.

I imagine many of you have limited time to play out this scenario. So, I’ll jump to the end.¬† STEM…it may be popularly represented as an abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but, it shouldn’t be.¬† I suggest we re-frame our conversations to something more like,

STEM = Service, THINKING, Engagement, Modeling 

Why?¬† STEM as we know it is just a list of subjects.¬† That means, we’ve opened the door for subjects NOT on the list to feel left out.¬† They may not be left out, but boy, when you’re not on the list, you can feel that way.¬† Enter the “ARTS.”¬† Now, I am a life-long musician and past music teacher.¬† With the current STEM labeling, I can see why those supporting the arts feel like STEAM should be our focus.¬† But, I think that’s wrong. I’ve shared with my fellow music educators my justification for that reason.¬† My life has given me a ton of great opportunities, and one of those was serving as a project manager for a multi-year, grant-funded after-school “STEM” project.¬† I learned, through intense focus on the real meaning of STEM that the arts are inherently present in true STEM education.¬† I know the argument is that we need to build the arts into the name or it won’t “stick.”¬† That’s why it makes more sense to redefine the STEM formula.¬† Maybe tomorrow, we think Sociology is missing and we’ll need to add another “S”. That gives us “STEAMS.”¬† Maybe then we notice History, Interpreting, and Photography are missing.¬† Then, we’ll have “STEAMSHIP.”¬† I kind of like that though…humm.

Anyway, my point is, we’ve create a label that is nothing more than a short list of subjects, not much different that labeling courses such as SCI 101, or ENG 204.¬† STEM is just a perceived list of prioritized subjects that is supposed to do more than list the subjects.¬† And, I believe our intent is to focus on the deeper meaning behind STEM.¬† So, let’s get there from the top.¬† Let’s change our model of STEM by NAME so it reflects what we really see as the value behind the pedagogy.

Enter…STEM = Service, THINKING, Engagement, Modeling.

Service:¬† I can’t think of a better word to start off our new modeling of STEM.¬† Service describes the very purpose behind any work done within the fields of study embedded in STEM.¬† When we teach kids about Service, we are teaching them to discover with purpose.¬† And, that purpose is one of Service.¬† Service to others, Service to community, Service to Country, Service to Self.¬† Making the world a better place is a pretty awesome endeavor.¬† Scientific discovery is aimed at Service, or at least it should be.

Now, I want to share a bit about current methodologies.¬† STEM solutions abound.¬† Apps, gadgets, tech, games, computational devices, and kits fill our shelves.¬† I am a techie, so don’t think I don’t defend our gadgets.¬† I’ll take a little bird walk and share a story to set my perspective though.¬† If you’re pressed for time, you can jump ahead.

From 1993-1998, I was a music educator.¬† I taught for a district that was tech focused and eager to integrate tech tools.¬† Remember, this was 1993 and the internet was just finding a mainstream purpose in schools.¬† I helped setup labs, test computers and fix printers even though it wasn’t in my job description.¬† I loved helping others move past the basics so the kids could use the tech.¬† In my classroom, I established a tech presence.¬† The school supported the purchase of equipment to turn my classroom into a recording studio, MIDI lab and digital music performance center.¬† I had multiple keyboards, a digital drum set, a wind machine, multiple computers with notation and composition software and other gadgets.¬† My story is about that digital drum set.¬† I had a student in general music who profoundly changed my perspective on gadgets.¬† His name was Jack (for this story), and Jack struggled.¬† He struggled to be a motivated learner.¬† He struggled to come to school on time and struggled to pretend to be asleep in my general music class.¬† He had no real musical training or skills, but one day, after the arrival of the digital drum set, he came and ask me if he could use it.¬† I showed him the basics (that took about 1 minute) and he was hooked.¬† He would put the headphones on and pound away.¬† I say pound because that’s what he did.¬† This barely awake kid, pounded away.¬† The tool created something for him an acoustic drum set could not.¬† He could be in his own world through the headset, change sounds, and experiment and create within his own capabilities.¬† He showed up each morning for some time to play.¬† He seemed excited and more motivated to come to school.¬† And, he stayed awake in general music.¬† I don’t know what he’s doing now, but that story reminds me that our gadgets are vehicles, not destinations.¬† And, we need not elevate them beyond.¬† I spent ZERO time teaching the gadget.¬† It taught itself.¬†

That brings me to my second point about Service.  The apps, gadgets, tech, games, computational devices, and kits are NOT stem.  They Service our human needs to create and we must always keep that in mind.  The new model of STEM is meant to be bi-directional.  From one perspective, Service gives the work focus.  From another perspective, the tools we use to teach provide a Service back to our efforts and those of the learners.

With a focus on Service, let’s explore the rest of the new framework.

THINKING:¬† I capitalize THINKING for a reason.¬† THINKING is everything.¬† STEM pedagogy prioritizes THINKING.¬† We have to think in order to be Service minded.¬† We must think to create solutions (oh…wait…a sub category of Service.¬† If we are Service minded we THINK in order to create solutions…Love it!).

Metacognition in a framework of STEM is not my idea.¬† Many way smarter people than me created that connection.¬† I started the conversation around gadgets above for another reason.¬† Consider the tools you use most.¬† Why do you use them more than others?¬† Could it be they help you produce?¬† Produce ideas, products, and results.¬† The tools, i.e., gadgets we use should do that for us.¬† I recently had a conversation with a local start-up company about the shelf-life (life of customer interest) of their invention.¬† It is a game with physical movement and measurement involved.¬† It is winning many awards and being well placed within large sales channels.¬† I applaud the group.¬† They’ve done amazing work.¬† I also see a significant challenge.¬† During a recent awards ceremony, a mother shared with me that she bought the game for her two kids.¬† I asked her how the kids liked it and she said, they used it a bit during Christmas and haven’t had it out since.¬† What’s missing?¬† I think, the THINKING of the user is missing.

No matter what device, or gadget we put in the hands of learners, we must frame it around the THINKING to be done.¬† It is great that we have shelves of gadgets to choose from.¬† But, we must keep in mind that the even the best gadgets may not get kids THINKING on their own. That’s where our educational systems must play a role.

THINKING is not just related to gadgets.¬† The projects, challenges¬†and problems presented to learners within a STEM context will be solved via THINKING. The effort to think must be prioritized so students understand how to do it.¬† A fundamental purpose of STEM is to create problem solvers.¬† A friend of mine also says, we need “problem identifiers.”¬† I love that phrase.¬† As we think about STEM, we have an opportunity to build a student’s capacity to THINK, to identify unnoticed problems, and solve them.

Engagement:¬† By now, you should see the relationship between the components of the new STEM framework.¬† When we humans are THINKING, and taking a perspective of Service for the purpose of helping solve problems, we are…wait for it…yes…. we are Engaged.¬† That’s fantastic.¬† So, what’s the challenge with engagement?¬† If we get the students thinking and they have a perspective of service, they will be engaged, end of effort, right?¬† Noooooooo…… Let’s talk about sustainable engagement.¬† Long term, not lesson engagement, project engagement, activity engagement, conversation engagement as our measure.¬† Let’s pull in our gadgets again.¬† We try gadget A, we try gadget B, we are engaged, we move on to gadget C and a new day, I am engaged.¬† Great…What am I engaged in?¬† Is there a relationship between gadgets and my engagement?¬† Is there a theme I am engaged in or am I engaged in the moment and not the mission?

As a music educator, I saw the power of true engagement. A year, after year, after year commitment of my students to their gadget, their musical instrument, meant they had to be engaged in the bigger picture.¬† That shiny new instrument dulls over time and the repetitive lessons start to become tiresome if they aren’t engaged in something higher, something beyond the idea of playing the saxophone because their best friend does too.¬† As a musician myself I feel the pull of engagement that is lasting and so personally gratifying.¬† That quest, that inner, untiring ability to keep “at it”, call it GRIT, call it what you want, but it should be our focus in STEM.¬† Engagement beyond the moment, engagement in the deeper journey.

Modeling:¬† I feel like I saved the best for last.¬† But, it’s just because I had to build a new Framework that ended in an M.¬† Modeling ties everything together.¬† I’m doing it now.¬† I’ve modeled a new way of thinking and I am adding the words to share my thinking.¬† I’ve shown a picture (the formula above) to help explain the complexity of my thinking, but simply.¬† I read an article on the Feynman method.¬† The gist was that to test what you are thinking, teach it to a young child.¬† This forces you to REALLY know your stuff. Using simple language enables you to explain clearly and assume little.¬† Modeling is similar from my perspective.¬† Modeling takes the complex and simplifies it.¬† What if we could get every student to build a model showcasing the thing they are going to pursue in life after high school?¬† What would that mean to our country?¬† Where are we teaching modeling?¬† Modeling can and should be applied to ANY subject area.¬† Therefore, I started this effort to redefine STEM.¬† We don’t just model in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.¬† We should be teaching modeling in all subjects.¬† Why?¬† Because we need more modelers, more content creators in the world.¬† We need ideas to come to life and they won’t come to life if we can’t model.

I hear the wheels of the heavy locomotive screaming against the momentum of STEM as we know it.¬† Yet, I have faith we can be introspective and use the core values STEM is intended to create in learners and quickly find a path that goes beyond four subjects and the perceptions that naming convention communicates.¬† I see great work in this area and by no means feel it is my place to say this work is not happening. I am not a bait click producer hoping to get 100’s of comments saying, “this is already happening, open your eyes.”¬† I believe it is happening and that’s why I am writing this.¬† I want to see more evidence, more stories shared, more perspectives on the meaning of STEM.

I’m feeling the breeze from the air being pushed by the approaching train. Will it pause for this moment and consider these thoughts?¬† Let’s find out.





Project Management: A New K-12 Core Subject

By Mark T. Burke

Project Based Learning (PBL), Graduation Projects, team, short and long-term projects, these are all common educational frameworks in our K-12 schools.¬† I call them frameworks because they are more than “assignment types.”¬† Yes, students are assigned projects.¬† But, those projects are not isolated activities.¬† They are connected (or should be) to previously acquired knowledge and skills as well as lead toward new knowledge and skills.¬† And, projects are often interdisciplinary.¬† Math is connected to science, science to social studies, social studies to art, and so on.¬† Projects by definition in our K-12 school systems are from my perspective:¬† “Opportunities for students to connect a variety of subject knowledge to build solutions to complex problems.”¬†

THINK’ID8 PM Tools for K-12

Looking at the most popular trend today, PBL, there are several definitions.

“Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.”¬† Edutopica (

Project Based Learning¬†is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” BIE (

The trend is certainly valid.  Exposing K-12 students with real-world problems to solve is a fantastic educational framework.  In fact, I believe all work students complete should serve as some type of a valuable output to something bigger (more specifically defined than simply getting a good grade or earning a diploma).  While we in education space have spent time developing what PBL (and projects overall) should include and provide, more thought is needed in regards to actually managing those projects.  Yes, we can guide students through the work for a project using a series of reflection and inquiry questions.  But, in order to work on a project OVER TIME, students need a structure to stay on track, communicate progress, share results, and determine project success.

Many may not know that Project Management (PM) is a field of study.¬† PM dependent industries exist across our economy.¬† These industries require highly skilled PMs (those who have earned degrees or are specifically PM certified).¬† I don’t want to trivialize the field of PM study but for K-12 students, there is no need for a complete PM certification program.¬† In fact, I believe use of a good PM tool can meet many of the PM needs for students.

I use DaPulse for all of my client-based work. The more time I spend in this tool, the more I recognize how valuable the tool would be in a K-12 environment.¬† The tool provides a simple to use interface for listing tasks (Work Breakdown Structure), documenting dates (Earliest Start Dates, Earliest Completion Date, and any other customized date), notes (Status, text based updates), people (Responsibility Roles), and more.¬† For each task, a complete communication channel can be created for the team including comments, updates, files and even social media style “reactions.”

Why are these features important?  Because they point to the valuable skills we should be spending time addressing as we support students on the PBL journey. If teachers simply added a tool such as DaPulse into the workflow of their PBL opportunities, and explained the core features, students would be exposed to topics including:

  • Planning:¬† Breaking down complex tasks into a set of actionable, measurable efforts.
  • Inputs:¬† Assimilating information valuable to the start and ongoing management of the project.
  • Time Estimation:¬† Determining the efforts to complete the tasks requires thinking about the effort and relating it to efforts the student is familiar with.¬† This requires extrapolation.
  • Status:¬† Updates require tracking and communication.
  • Reporting:¬† Developing stories and showcasing data.
  • Outputs:¬† Showcasing real products.

If these topics are not directly addressed, PBL and projects overall, exist as assignments to be completed and checked off like compliance issues.  If a PM tool is used in the classroom, students have a hands-on method of teaching themselves about the value of planning and ultimately results.

Another reason to support growth in PM skills is the direct relationship to possible careers.¬† PM skills are in growing demand.¬† For more information on this topic, please review this report from PMI (The Project Management Institute, the world’s leading PM Organization).

How have you taught PM skills or used a PM tool to benefit your students?

Simple IM Example

Instructional Design Model vs. Instructional Model

By Mark T Burke

Over the past 20 years, I’ve consistently asked curriculum providers to share their Instructional Models.¬† With few exceptions, I get asked to clarify what I’m asking for.¬† Often an immediate response is “We use ADDIE” or some other in-house instructional design model.¬† It could be that knowing I have an instructional design background, others assume I am interested in learning HOW they’ve built their instructional content.¬† As a client representative however, I want my clients to understand the true value of the content being considered for purchase.¬† I need to hear WHY the content looks and feels the way it does.¬† I need to know the design was purposeful.¬† I need to know that a model was followed based on knowing HOW a learner will build knowledge.¬† I need to know the components of the instructional environment, the methods used to actually get the users engaged in the content and how the user will be guided through a journey to THINK about the content and build knowledge.¬† In other words, I need to know the Instructional Model.

Let’s look at how Instructional Design Models and Instructional Models differ.

Instructional Design Model:¬† I’ll use ADDIE as an example since it’s rather ubiquitous.¬† I won’t go into detail about ADDIE.¬† If you would like to learn more, here’s a great link on the Articulate Heroes page that covers the model components.¬† In brief, an Instructional Design Model (IDM) showcases HOW the content was developed.¬† The IDM model will describe the process followed by the writers, project managers, media developers, artists, instructional designers, subject matter experts, clients and others to assess the need, design the instruction and build the instructional components. Knowing a vendor follows an IDM is nice, but it does little to add value to the end product.¬† It’s very possible to follow an IDM and end up with a poor instructional product.¬† For that reason, I don’t ask to discuss the IDM, I ask for a conversation and visual of the Instructional Model (IM).

Instructional Model:¬† IM’s communicate several important instructional components including:

  • The main instructional delivery method.
  • The activities learners will engage in.
  • The assessment types used.
  • The media types (movies, sound, graphics, etc.) and their purpose.

The IM’s overall purpose is to communicate the structure of the learning so that those of us who are reviewing curriculum can “see” its value.¬† Here’s a really simple example of an IM.¬† This one is somewhat incomplete, but it starts to show how an IM should look.

Simple IM Example
Simple IM Example










This example shows that at the heart of the instruction, the learners interact (reach, watch, listen) with a story.  In this case, the instruction is delivered via stories that convey a relationship between the topic being covered and how that topic influenced either a fictional or non-fictional character within the story.  As the story unfolds, the learner is presented with a variety of activities that get the learner to think about the topic from several perspectives, including other experts and their own with the help of other devices such as maps, journals and actual products (other pieces of work including papers, articles, plans, designs, drawings, poems, models, etc.).

In a quality course, the IM will be witnessed throughout.¬† The example above is an adaptation of a model I used to build a course.¬† The model is evident through the course.¬† By building the IM prior to starting the writing and building process, I was able to construct the entire course based on knowing what would best help learners build knowledge.¬† That was discovered during the analysis phase of the project, something demonstrated in the IDM.¬† (NOTE…there is a relationship between the two models).¬† That’s an important aspect of IM creation.¬† IMs are NOT built after a course is written, they are always built PRIOR. They serve as a guide and later a tool to communicate the value of the instruction.

I hope you see the important distinctions between IDMs and IMs. If you’re a vendor and want to showcase the value of your instruction, showing an IM is a must.¬† Not all courses will be the same, and that can cause some providers a bit of angst.¬† However, within curriculum and topic areas, it is important to have a communicable approach.¬† If that isn’t something you have as a vendor, you can work toward that level of systems thinking and ultimately, marketing and promotion.

Thanks for reading this article.¬† I would love to hear how you’ve made use of IMs in your work.