Education by Design, 1 year progress report

“Time” 180-degree rotational
chain ambigram © Punya Mishra

I have been at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College for two years now (actually two years and a month, but who is counting). In many ways this has been an incredible two years, a period of personal and professional growth and an opportunity to truly engage with some of most difficult and challenging issues facing education today. And this engagement has not just been theoretical, it has been hands-on and minds-on, frustrating at times but always exhilarating.

At the heart of it is this idea of reimagining what a college of education can be. Carole Basile started as Dean just a month or two before I joined ASU, and within weeks of meeting her I realized (as I am sure many others did as well) that she was a different kind of leader. She had a vision for the college and how we operated, both externally and internally. It was a vision not bound to convention or prior successes. It was an evolving vision guided by a openness to ideas, a willingness to experiment, coupled with a strong desire to make a difference at scale. It moved from creating one-off projects, programs, and activities to changing systems and culture. It brought a design lens to the educational enterprise.

A year ago Carole wrote about her broader vision in 3 articles: find them herehere and here). Some of these ideas were also captured in a presentation we made to AACTE titled: Reimagining the Role of the College of Education: One College’s Ongoing Story.

And last week, almost a year from her first set of articles, Dean Basile looks back and offers a first year progress report: Education by design: A year of thinking and doing. In this article she offers “a summary overview of a year of thinking and doing as we work with partners to create effective innovations that will improve education.”

Carole’s article provided me with an opportunity to think about the work we are involved in the Office of Scholarship and Innovation (OofSI). Two years ago, when I started, it was the Office of Scholarship with two people: Clarin Collins and I—working on supporting faculty in their scholarship. In the last year office expanded dramatically both in terms of personnel and also the scope of the work we do. (A change in name also happened along the way.) OofSI has grown to over 20+ people, engaged not just in supporting faculty research; but also creating digital solutions for learning; and bringing collaborative design-based problem-solving to educational systems. You can learn more about what we are involved in by going to the OofSI website, specifically the What’s New page.

As I look back on the past two years I am proud to be part of this awesome team (both at the College and within OofSI) engaged in building this new future.

Douglas Adams & Computational Thinking: New article

Illustration by Punya Mishra.
See sketch of Douglas Adams at the end of this post. 

I have always been a huge fan of Douglas Adams, trying to sneak in his ideas into my academic writing whenever I can. I had written about my previous attempts in a blog post titled: Douglas Adams, technologies & anticipatory plagiarism. I should admit that am lucky to have co-authors who share my love for Adams and enjoy playing these games together.

Danah Henriksen and I were recently asked to write a Foreword to a book on Computational Thinking in the STEM Disciplines and that gave us another opportunity to bring in Douglas Adams and his ideas. In this pieces we built on an insightful talk given by Adams in 1998 at Magdalene College, Cambridge.You can read a transcript of the talk here or listen to it here. As we write in the article:

In a wide ranging, extempore speech, Adams covered a range of topics, in his inimitably funny yet insightful manner, including the cultural and intellectual history of the human civilization. One of the insights he shared with the audience how human technological history consists of, what he referred to as, the four ages of sand. Specifically, Adams seeks to describe how technological change has changed and broadened our understanding of ourselves and the world.

You can read our article by following the link below.

Mishra, P., & Henriksen, D. (2018). Foreword. In M. S. Khine (Ed). Computational Thinking in the STEM disciplines: Foundations and Research Highlights. Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93566-9

Sketch of Douglas Adams by Punya Mishra ©2018

On taking beautiful risks: An interview with Dr. Ronald Beghetto

Dr. Ronald Beghetto, Professor of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, is an internationally recognized expert on creative thought and action in educational settings. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Creative Behavior (the oldest and longest standing journal devoted to creativity research), and creativity advisor for Lego Foundation. His research focuses on promoting creativity in everyday teaching, learning, and leadership practices. A central theme in his work examines how making small changes to existing teaching, learning, and leadership practices can offer. As he says speaking of creativity in education:

I talk about the concept of lesson unplanning. Its not about starting all over again, its about starting with what you already have, which may be an over-planned lesson, where youve predetermined what the outcome is, how to get there, what itll look like when you get there and the criteria. All that is fine when youre initially introducing a concept and rehearsing it. But once students have it, consider whether you can start removing pieces? Maybe have them come up with a different way of meeting the criteria, or come up with their own problems? So, we as educators maintain the criteriabut what if we allowed students to come up with the ways theyre going to meet that criteria?

As he says:

Its not about thinking outside the box, its about thinking creatively inside the box… were really really good at defining and specifying the task constraints down to an almost ridiculous level of detail. But were not that great about creating spaces for originally meeting those task constraints in different and unexpected ways.

Dr. Beghetto is also the latest creativity researcher to be interviewed in our ongoing article series for Tech Trends. You can find a list of all the articles in the series here, and if you are interested in just the interviews, go here. Read the complete article by following the link in the citation below:

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P. & the Deep-Play Research Group (2018). Creativity, Uncertainty, and Beautiful Risks: a Conversation with Dr. Ronald BeghettoTech Trends.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0329-y

Photo credit: Punya Mishra

The TPACK diagram gets an upgrade

The evolution of the TPACK image (1999 – 2017)

Note: Apologies in advance for the long post. This has been festering / brewing for a while and I wanted to get it right. In essence this post offers a tweak to the canonical TPACK image, explained in greater detail below. 

The TPACK (or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework describes the kinds of knowledge required by teachers for successful integration of technology in their teaching. It was an idea that had been in the zeitgeist, so to speak, in the early 2000’s, with a number of scholars working in that space. Back in 2006, Matt Koehler and I wrote the key article in TCRecord that really put TPACK on the map.That article has over 7000 citations and Judi Harris, who maintains the TPACK newsletter, informed me that since 2009 there have been over 1100 journal articles and book chapters, almost 300 dissertations and 25+ books written with TPACK as the central theoretical construct. The TPACK framework has been called one of the most significant ideas in educational technology in recent history and has a huge influence on both research and practice in teacher education and teacher professional development across the world. All in all a pretty big deal.

The framework is most easily recognized by the diagram given below.

The canonical TPACK image (from TPACK.org)

This image didn’t just happen. It went through multiple iterations before it got to the final shape and version that it has (some of these iterations are given at the top of the page). The evolution of the image itself is an interesting story, full of blind alleys and external factors that guided its evolution. (See this video “Why Theory: The TPACK story” for my take; this one for Matt’s version “Blurred visions, another history of TPACK” and an addendum to my story here.)

The TPACK image has pretty much stayed the same since 2009/2010, though to be fair there have been there have been some attempts to revise, reimagine, and redesign the existing model, some of which are shown below. That said, the canonical image is the one that has persisted, relatively unchanged, for a decade or more.

Alternative suggestions for the TPACK image

What I am presenting here (in this post) is a tweak on the canonical image—a revision that seeks to resolve a semantic inconsistency in the diagram. This inconsistency has bothered me for a while, since it was first pointed out to me, many years ago, by a student at Twente University (sadly someone whose name I do not remember). The new version of the image can be found towards the end of this posting, but first the inconsistency and why the canonical image needs a (relatively minor but, I think, important) makeover.

The inconsistency in question has to do what a circle (or more accurately, an enclosed space) means in the diagram. Clearly, the three overlapping circles at the center of the diagram (T, P, & C) represent aspects of teacher knowledge, the K in TK, PK and CK. A circle encloses space – so one can say that (in the TPACK diagram):

An enclosed space = knowledge.

This why the overlaps (TPK, PCK, TCK) though not circles, can be considered as being knowledge as well—they enclose space!

This brings us to the larger dotted circle, and the inconsistency. The outer dotted circle encloses a space but it is not designated as being a form of knowledge. It is just labeled “Context” or “Contexts.” Since TPACK is a framework for teacher knowledge, every enclosed space should represent some aspect of teacher knowledge. That works for TK, PK and CK (and the overlaps, TCK, PCK, TPK and TPCK) and should for the outer dotted circle as well.

Of course, once this issue is identified, there is an easy solution. Just rename the outer dotted circle to be “Contextual Knowledge” (i.e. the knowledge the teacher has of the context), and then everything will be A-OK. Contextual Knowledge would be everything from a teacher’s awareness of the kinds of technologies available to them and their students; to their knowledge of the school, district and state policies that they have to function within.

There is an added benefit to calling the outer circle Contextual Knowledge. Doing so makes the outer circle another key knowledge domain that teachers need to possess for the integration of technology in teaching. This, in turn, implies that contextual knowledge is something that we (as teacher educators) can act on, that we can seek to change, and something that teachers need to develop. Just as we seek to increase teachers’ PK, CK and TK and through that their TPACK, it becomes clear in this new view of the outer dotted circle, that we ought to work towards increasing their contextual knowledge as well. In fact, I would argue that contextual knowledge is of critical importance to teachers and the lack of it would limit, in significant ways, the effectiveness and success of any TPACK development program, or an individual teacher’s attempts at technology integration.

This is not to say that researchers and practitioners have not paid attention to context – that is why that circle was added to the diagram. It is just that this nuance was not integral to the current representation of TPACK, hence limiting its application.

Coming back to the representation. If we agree that this outer circle should be labelled “Contextual Knowledge” the question that arises is what its acronym should be. CK is already taken (for Content Knowledge) and adding another CK would be confusing.

My suggestion is that we should call the outer dotted circle XK for “conteXtual Knowledge” allowing us to distinguish it from CK. It is also cool, I think, to us X for conteXtual because X is usually used to denote a variable – which is what contextual knowledge often is—highly variable.

Image credit: here

So without further ado, here is the final (hah!) version of the TPACK diagram.

The addition of XK to the diagram has another additional benefit. It allows us to highlight the organizational and situational constraints that teachers work within. Often the success of their efforts depends not as much on their knowledge of T, P, C and its overlaps, but rather on their knowledge of the context. This allows us to go beyond seeing teachers as designers of curriculum that apply within their classrooms but rather as being intrapreneurs—aware of how their organization functions, the levers of power and influence that they can engage with to effect change. This is XK – Contextual Knowledge. 

I could go on and on about this idea of intrapreneurship—in fact developing intrapreneurship is one of the key goals of the work we are currently engaged in at the Office of Scholarship and Innovation at the Teachers College at ASU. That, however, is a post for another day.

A new TPACK Typographical experiment for a new (tweaked) TPACK image

Collaborative Haiku

A silent white board
Scribble a first line, and wait
Emergent haiku.

Last Friday, goofing off between meetings, I scribbled one line, five syllables long, on one of the  white-boards in our office space. Within a few minutes, lo and behold, was a lovely haiku, courtesy of my colleagues Clarin Collins and Jennifer Stein, each contributing a line. Below is my visual representation of it. Enjoy.

Contemplative eye
Flash of red, a balloon floats
Wander where it may

*****

Haiku created by Clarin Collins, Jennifer Stein and Punya Mishra.
Image created by Punya Mishra. 

LanguageART: Meaning making through type & image

I love collecting quotations—usually related to learning, design, and creativity. Over the past couple of years I started trying to visualize these quotations, playing with type and image, to tease apart their meanings, sometimes to undermine, sometimes to enhance. I call these verbo-visual experiments LanguageART (shout out to Danah Henriksen for the suggestion).

Of course, there are rules to the game, certain self-imposed constraints within which I choose to play. By their very nature these rules are arbitrary, as rules for games should be. For instance, all of these images are created in Keynote, Apple’s equivalent of Powerpoint. It is not that I do not have access to other more powerful graphic design software but in some sense using a presentation software to create something relatively interesting and sophisticated is the challenge. Similarly the only font I am allowed to use is Futura (and its different weights)—though this is a rule I have violated on occasion (but rarely). I also restrain myself to a relatively tight color palette, but again this is a rule I have broken a few times. Over the past two years, I have created hundreds of designs, poured hours of my life into them—usually at meetings—and, till recently have not shared them widely. That changes now. Enjoy.

John McCain, RIP

• • • • • • • • •
John Sidney McCain III
August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018

The above image is a visual / typographic representation
of one his favorite quotes
from For whom the bell tolls,
by Ernest Hemingway

Image © punyamishra

Arizona in black & white

Over the past two years in Arizona I have had the opportunity to indulge in my love for photography. Recently I felt the need to play with Adobe Sparks – and what better way to learn a new tool than to use it to create a photo album.

Enjoy.

ARIZONA

Expert eyes on creativity

Since 2012, the Deep-Play Research Group has been publishing a series of articles under the broad rubric of Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century in the journal Tech Trends. This has led to 33 articles (and counting) and two books. For the past couple of years we have focused our attention learning from some of the top creativity researchers in the world. We have 15 interviews / articles completed with more to come. I just created a page to give easy access to all these interviews. Check out:

Focus on creativity through expert eyes

More info on the series (and the Deep-Play Research Group) can be found here. Enjoy.

Image credit: Punya Mishra

Fractals, ambigrams and more

Photo & and design © Punya Mishra.
The photo of bubbles was taken with cell phone camera (equipped with a macro lens). 

Fractals are mathematical/geometrical structures that exhibit self-similarity at increasingly small (or large) scales. Fractals were popularized by Benoit B. Mandelbrot in his 1982 book “The Fractal Geometry of Nature.” Recently, Ambigram.com magazine set up a competition to design fractal ambigrams, i.e. design and write words related to fractals in such a way that it could be read in more than one way.  I was inspired to create a bunch of designs that, in one way or another, attempt to capture fractals typographically.

Here for instance is a typographic fractal design for the word “Fractal.” You can see an animated version of this and many more designs here

Enjoy.

Fractals, ambigrams, and more…

 

Contemplating creativity with Jonathan Plucker: New article

Photo/Image Credit: Punya Mishra

Dr. Jonathon Plucker is an educational psychologist at Johns Hopkins University where he is the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development in the School of Education. He has received numerous recognitions for his work, including the 2007 E. Paul Torrance Award for his research on creativity. We interviewed Dr. Kaufman for our latest article in the series we write for TechTrends  (under the broad rubric of Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century). In this interview Dr. Plucker discussed a range of thoughts regarding creativity, education and technology. Describing a course on innovation that he teaches, he said:

No grade is final in any of my classes until the day that I have to turn my grades in. Students have until that last day to convince me that their work is more creative than I thought it was. One semester two students designed a new makeup brush. It made no sense to me and I thought at best it was an incremental improvement. But, almost every [feedback] slip I got from the other students had them as most creative or the invention to buy tomorrow. I thought, hmmI am clearly wrong!’ They sat down with me and they convinced me by the end that I didnt get it. Theres no reason we cant be doing that for all our students. That is how creativity works in the world. It is not turning in something and getting a grade. And yet we do it to students every single day. That models something that they will never experience in the real world. So, as educators we need to ask ourselves how do we model this better for them?

This and lot more in the complete article. Citation and link below:

Richardson, C.,  Henriksen, D. & the Deep-Play Research Group (2018). It’s Not ‘Hippies Running Barefoot Through a Field of Daisies’ and Other Contemplations on Creativity with Dr. Jonathan Plucker. Tech Trends. DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0323-4

Quest 2 Learn conference in Bangalore & more

I just got back from a lovely few days in Bangalore. I was there to participate in the Quest 2 Learn Annual Summit organized by the Quest Alliance. Convened at the  National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, the two day conference focused on The future of work and learning. 

This was my second time participating in a conference organized by the Quest Alliance. My first time was back in 2008, which was also the first such conference organized by Quest. So it was great to back there again 10 years later. (You can learn more about my previous trip through these posts: 1, 2, and 3).

I addition to my keynote (titled The Future of Learning) I also conducted two workshops. The first, at the conference, was on the TPACK framework and the second was a 2-day affair with the staff of the Quest Alliance. The first day of the workshop focused on designing transformative learning experiences and the second on leadership and systems change.

I also had a chance to meet with some wonderful educators and people during my stay there. I was particularly impressed and inspired by Kiran Sethi founder of Riverside School and Design for Change. Below is a photo montage from my time there as well as as short movie (courtesy of Google Photos). A special thanks to Aakash Sethi, and the rest of the Quest Alliance team for a wonderful four days.

 

Paradoxes, illusions & visual wordplay

Figure 1: Eye-llusion

Over the past few months I have been somewhat obsessed with visual illusions,  ambiguous images, impossible figures and other such fun stuff. This led to the design of a brand new optical illusion, combining an ambiguous image with an impossible figure (more details here).

Figure 2: An ambiguous-impossible image

It was somewhat inevitable that these explorations lead to the creation of ambigrams of related words. Here are some of the designs that emerged. In a couple of cases I have been inspired by work by other ambigram artists—as mentioned in the descriptions below.

First, are two similar designs for the word “illusion” (inspired by an original design created by Scott Kim). An earlier version of this design can be found here.

Figures 3/4: Illusory stripes

Next up, a set of three designs that, though they appear to be 3-dimensional, cannot exist in the real world. These are similar other impossible figures such as the Penrose triangle (see image at the top of this page), the impossible cube or the trident (see examples below).

Figure 5: Penrose triangle, impossible cube, necker cube and impossible trident

In the three designs below the top half of the design is not consistent with the  bottom half. In the first design, the top and bottom half consist of two incompatible perspectives, while the next two (for the words “illusion” and “paradox”) merge two incompatible shapes. Incidentally the first design below was created a few years ago for my exhibition at the MSU Museum.

Figures 6/7/8: 3-D Con-structions

The next few designs are figure-ground illusions, starting with two similar designs for the phrase “visual paradoxes.”

Figure 9/10: A pair-of-doxes

The next three designs explore the word “illusions” or the phrase “optical illusions” in slightly different ways. The final design (a merging of the words “optical” and “illusion”) is inspired by a design by John Langdon.

Figures 11/12/13: Figure-atively ground-ed 

All images © Punya Mishra, 2018

TPACK newsletter #37, June 2018

The latest version of the TPACK newsletter (TPACKNewsletterIssue37) is now available and can be  found here (pdf). All previous issues are archived here. This issue is 60 pages long!!! The amount of work being done in this area never ceases to astound me.

As always, thanks to Judi Harris and her team for all the work that goes into this.

Note: Figure ground TPACK design by punyamishra

We are hiring… join our team

Over the past year the Office of Scholarship and Innovation (OofSI) at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers CollegeASU has been engaged in supporting faculty research; creating digital solutions for learning; bringing collaborative design-based problem-solving to educational systems. You can find out more about all of these things by going to the OofSI (pronounced just as it is written) website. All this is part of a broader vision to reimagine what a college of education can and should be. (You can read more about Dean Basile’s vision herehere and here). Of course none of this would happen without the right group of individuals – the OofSI team.

We are now looking to expand our team in two critical areas: one around technology and learning and the other around supporting innovative teaching in higher education.  

The IgnitEd Lab Coordinator will be a creative educator who is passionate about emerging technologies and their role in education. The IgnitED Labs are open, hands-on, learner-centered creative spaces where users can explore and play with new and emerging technologies. More details here.

The Instructional Innovator will support faculty and instructors at the Teachers College in the design of innovative and creative learning experiences for students. More details here.

What is NOT in the job description is how critically important this work is. Both these roles provide opportunities to influence and transform teaching and learning in one of the best colleges of teacher education in the country. How cool is that!

We are looking for highly engaged, creative, energetic, passionate individuals who can jump in to build and grow these opportunities. A passion for learning and play, a service orientated mindset, a willingness to take risks, a sense of comfort with ambiguity and an openness to collaboration and learning are key. A sense of humor is always a plus.

If you fit this profile or know someone who does, or just want to learn more, drop me a line at punya.mishra@asu.edu.

Education by Design, new fall course

I am excited about my new fall course, titled Education by Design. This is a heavily reimagined version of a class that I taught a couple of times at MSU and once here (last fall at ASU). The MSU version that I co-taught with Danah Henriksen received First Place (in the Blended Course category) in the 2013 MSU-AT&T Instructional Technology Awards.

This is the course description that I just shared with the students at MLFTC.

DCI 691 is a course about design. Design as a way of thinking and as a process that values collaboration, context, and diverse perspectives. Design as an approach that generates creative solutions to complex (wicked) problems of practice, particularly in education.

Design is both a noun and a verb, a product and a process. Design is central to the construction of any process or artifact—be it a website or a car; an ATM machine or educational policy. Design touches on many different disciplines—science, technology, engineering, education, psychology, sociology, organizational behavior, and art, to name a few. A multi-dimensional issue like design, particularly in education, requires a multifaceted approach. As a class, we will do many different things this semester. We will read, discuss, analyze widely from research and theory. We will examine design practice, and build new conceptions through exciting mini-projects. In particular, we will seek to ground our understandings and learnings into an open-source book that we will co-create.

Drop me a note if you want to learn more about this class.

Finally, below is a typographical design based on, what I believe, is one of the greatest and most insightful quotes about design.

Of metaphors & molecules: Bridging STEM & the arts

Square Roots: Illustration by Punya Mishra

What do President Kennedy’s speeches have to do with cell biology? And what does the vegetable “radish” have to do with mathematics or chemistry? Learn about all this and more in a soon to be published article where Danah Henriksen and I explore the use of figurative language as a bridge between the arts and STEM disciplines. Part of the fun in writing this article is that I got to create the illustrations that go with the article. These illustrations are reproduced below (click on them to see larger versions). Citation and link to a pre-publication version below…

Henriksen, D. & Mishra, P. (2018). Of metaphors and molecules: Figurative language bridging STEM and the arts in educationLeonardo. Just Accepted publication Jan 25, 2018. doi: 10.1162/LEON_a_01607

Figure 1. Multiple metaphors for energy. 

Figure 2: Complex systems are dynamic, self-organizing, evolving networks that can operate without central control (e.g. ant colonies, rainforests, human brains, or cities).

Figure 3. Chiasmus, Chi and chiasmata.

Unleashing Creativity: Interviewed in ISTE article

A few months ago I was interviewed for an article in Empowered Learner, an ISTE member magazine. The final article, Unleashing every genius: Creative genius isn’t rare – but the conditions that nurture it are is now online. You can access the entire issue of the magazine here or if you just want the article you can find it here. A shout-out to my partners in crime Danah Henriksen and Carmen Richardson whose work (and words) are also featured in the article.

James Kaufman on creativity: New article

Dr. James C. Kaufman is Professor of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut and a highly-renowned creativity researcher. He is also a writer and playwright, having recently written the book and lyrics to the musical Discovering Magenta, which had its New York City premiere in 2015.

We interviewed Dr. Kaufman for our latest article in the series we write for TechTrends  (under the broad rubric of Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century). In this wide-ranging interview Dr. Kaufman describes his research and perspective on creativity. In seeking to describing creativity he says:

Most people aren’t good at knowing what creativity isyou see that a lot with teachers. They want to nurture it, but most education programs don’t have any classes on it. So teachers aren’t really sure what it is, or how to improve it, or what would nurture it or what would stifle it. And how could they, if they haven’t been taught it?

You can read the complete article below.

Keenan-Lechel, S., Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2018). Creativity as a Sliding Maze: an Interview with Dr. James C. KaufmanTech Trends. DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0279-4

Developing a culture of creativity: Research news

Danah Henriksen and I were featured in a recent news story on the MLFTC News titled: Developing a culture of creativity, instead of compliance, in educators. The article provides an overview of our work over the past few years. Given the nature of a news article, it does not include links to the actual research articles. For those who are interested they can be found below:

Danah’s work on creative teachers can be found in:

Carmen and my work on evaluating creative learning environments can be found in

Our work on evaluating creative products can be found in:

Rethinking 7/8 curriculum at Miami/Globe

One of the most exciting parts of my job are the cool people I get to meet. Glen Lineberry is one of them. Glen is Principal at Miami Junior-Senior High School. He describes his school as a “small rural school on the move.” The first thing that strikes you when you meet Glen is his curiosity, energy and passion for ideas. He is widely and deeply read, and conversations with him are often peppered with connections he makes between literature, philosophy, history and art. He truly has an inter-disciplinary mind, one that sees the human endeavor as not being siloed by tradition but rather as being a rich interconnected whole. 

It is not surprising then to see that the project he is passionate about is to completely rethink the 7th and 8th grade curriculum in his school. We on the community design lab team had an opportunity to spend a day on April 13 with the faculty at Miami Junior-Senior High facilitating their curriculum planning experience. The goal of the day was to look at the 7th-8th grade curriculum through an integrated lens. Students, Glen argues, often do not see the connection between their school subjects, and his goal is to create a new curriculum that foregrounds the connections between them and better engages students.

One framing that was discussed for a unit was around history – specifically the time period from the beginning of the first World War to the end of the second. The challenge for the teachers was to create activities and lessons for their particular subject areas (from language arts to STEM, from journalism to music) that would connect with that time in history. Also up for discussion were ways in which people and organizations outside of the school could be brought into the classroom.

The sessions were led by Ben Scragg (our lead design strategist) and it was exciting to see the teachers take on this challenge and explore new ways of thinking about curriculum, student engagement and much, much more with great engagement and creativity. This is ongoing work and we will provide updates as things progress. For now, we are just thrilled to part of one school’s attempt to reinvent teaching and learning.

New optical illusion: An oscillating visual paradox!


A design for the word “illusions” inspired by a design by Scott Kim. 

I have been obsessed with optical illusions for for a long time. This interest has played out in many ways: from the hundreds of ambigrams I have created to the new year’s videos we create as a family. In this post I want to share, what I believe is an original optical illusion, something I have never seen before in my years of playing with such objects.

But first, some context.

Optical illusions come in a variety of types. Two types that I am love are ambiguous figures and visual paradoxes/impossible figures. 

Ambiguous figures are images that can be interpreted in more than one way. The “face-vase” illusion or the “duck-rabbit” illusion are famous examples of such illusions. These illusions usually have two alternative and competing interpretations—and the mind oscillates/flits back and forth between them unable to settle on one. Also, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see both these interpretations at the same time. We see one, or the other, never both together.


Three examples of ambiguous illusions, do you see “two faces or a vase,” “a duck or a rabbit,” and finally, do you see a bunch of cubes with the yellow shape is at the top or at the bottom? 

Visual paradoxes / Impossible figures are images that look like real objects that can never exist in the real world. M.C. Escher created some of the most iconic of such images – the unending staircase and waterfall being great examples. There are many other examples, some of which are represented below.

Three different impossible figures. The first is an impossible cube and the other two are different representations of an impossible triangle (also known as a Penrose Triangle). 

So with this we come to my key discovery/invention—an optical illusion that is both an ambiguous figure AND a visual paradox, i.e. an image flips between two interpretations that are cannot exist in the real world.

Here it is…  spend a moment on it. What do you see? Try focusing on the white “stars” at on the left and on the right? What changes? What happens if you focus on the blue shapes?

What we have is essentially a combination of 2 different impossible triangles. Can you see each of them? Can you see both at the same time? (Note: If you have difficulty seeing the triangles, focusing on the “star-shaped” pattern may help.)

The images below, and the animated gif should be self-explanatory – demonstrating the two independent interpretations of the image.

Better late than never, 21st century learning: New article

Quest Alliance is an NGO based in Bangalore that seeks to equip young people with 21st century skills by enabling self-learning. I have known of Quest and its director, Aakash Sethi, for over a decade now. In fact I had blogged about Quest back in 2008 here, and here and here. Aakash got in touch with me a year or so ago to write a piece for an annual publication they were starting, titled The Learner. I took this opportunity to rewrite our analysis of 21st century learning frameworks for a broader audience. Of course the more academic versions of the article can be found here and here. The diagram of 21st century knowledge can be found here.

Mishra, P., & Mehta, R. (2017). Creating a 21st century educatorThe Learner. Quest Alliance, Bangalore India.

 

Richard Buchanan on Design, Intuition & Creativity: New article

Chain-Rotational ambigram design for the word “design.”
One can read the word both clockwise from the top or anti-clockwise, from the bottom.

Our latest article in the series we write for the journal TechTrends (under the broad rubric of Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century) is an interview with Dr. Richard Buchanan. Dr. Buchanan is Professor of Design & Innovation in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University, as well as being Chair Professor of Design Theory, Practice, and Entrepreneurship, in the College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University.

The interview covered a wide range of topics: from philosophy to history; from the role of intuition in perceiving the world in new ways to the relationship between design and creativity. Speaking of the latter he says:

I call design thinking creative inquiry. It is a form of creative action… It means asking and answering good questions about every situation we run into. [Designers have the] ability to ask questions of the environment, to interrogate the environment, and to find the answers shows this great perceptive capability.

Buchanan also speaks to the need for developing a systems view of design, saying:

Every product is a system, whether it’s tangible, intangible, information, actional. But the ability to grasp the wholeness takes us beyond the bits and pieces, takes us beyond the tricks of skill that are such an obsessive concern in design education today.

You can read the complete article below.

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P.,  & The Deep-Play Research Group (2018).  Creativity as Invention, Discovery, Innovation and Intuition: an Interview with Dr. Richard Buchanan Tech Trends. DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0279-4

Community Design Lab at Madison

One of the greatest pleasures of my work here at ASU (with the Office of Scholarship & Innovation) has been the work we have been doing with local school districts. Essentially we collaborate with partner districts and community organizations to develop innovative solutions to the “wicked” problems in education. To achieve this, we use an intentional, collaborative, open-ended design process that values local context,diverse perspectives, intrapreneurial thinking and iterative testing of solutions. More here.

And yes, we are hiring!

The video below is about one such partnership with the leadership team at Madison School District  to address the broad challenge of how might the district’s leadership team become more innovative in their approach to problem-solving? Enjoy.

 

Thanks to the marketing team at MLFTC for shooting and creating the video. “d sign” image created by Punya Mishra

Squaring a circle on Pi day!

Pie upon reflection is nothing but 3.14!
A new version of a design I had created a year ago.
Original idea stolen from the Interwebs

Since it is Pi(e) day, I thought it would be fun to share another design I had created a while ago in response to one of the longest running challenges in geometry: the challenge of squaring a circle. As wikipedia says:

Squaring the circle is a problem proposed by ancient geometers. It is the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge.

Turns out this is impossible to do—and the main reason are the fascinating properties of the number Pi. More on that here. As Wikipedia goes on to say:

The transcendence of pi implies the impossibility of exactly “circling” the square, as well as of squaring the circle.

This is why “squaring the circle” has come to represent trying the impossible.

Impossible you say? Hah! I laugh at the face of such odds.

I am here to announce that after thousands of years of failure I have finally done what no one has ever done before – I have squared a circle. Not just that, I have gone one step further, I have also circled a square. The proof is in the pudding-pie you say! Well see for yourself. The design below should be self-explanatory.

Squaring a circle by circling a square

The square in the middle is actually a circle and the circle outside is actually a square! Or is it the circle inside is actually a square or the square outside is actually …? Hmmm… Either way, Happy Pi Day!

Join our amazing team

Over the past year the Office of Scholarship and Innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, ASU has taken on a wide array of projects – everything from re-thinking how we support faculty research to reimagining what a computer labs can be; from building cool websites to support the college of education to developing partnerships with schools and districts to rethink education. You can find out more about all of these things by going to the OofSI (pronounced just as it is written) website.

I am lucky to have a dean who has a no-boundaries, cage-busting view of leadership and has provided us with the freedom and the structure to experiment and play. (You can read about her vision in a 3 part series here, here and here). Of course none of this would happen without the right group of individuals – the OofSI team.

This is just a long winded way of saying that we are hiring.

If you want to be part of this amazing team, who are truly at the forefront of educational change (at multiple levels), we are currently looking for one Multimedia Specialist and two Design Strategists. Follow the links to read the job descriptions.

So we are looking. We are looking for highly engaged, creative, energetic, passionate, individuals who can jump in and help the work we do (in partnership with schools and districts). A passion for improving education, a service orientated mindset, a willingness to take risks, a sense of comfort with ambiguity and an openness to collaboration and learning are key. A sense of humor is always a plus.

What typically does not make it into the job description is how important this work is. Maybe the most important work I have ever been part of. This is also the most fun job I have ever had and the potential for significant impact on the world of education is exciting. If you fit this profile or know someone who does, or just want to learn more, drop me a line at punya.mishra@asu.edu.

TPACK at SITE, AERA & ISTE: Newsletter #36

Modification of the TPACK diagram to capture all the sessions
related to TPACK in three upcoming conferences.

Here is a link to Issue #36 of the TPACK newslettera special spring conference issue that contains citations and abstracts for all of the TPACK-focused and TPACK-based presentations that are scheduled for this year’s SITE conference in Washington, D.C. in March, AERA meeting in New York City in April, and ISTE conference in Chicago in June (a total of 46 TPACK-focused sessions in just 3 months!). As the introductory note in the pdf says, this newsletter includes:

… only those presentations that use TPCK/TPACK extensively as either a theoretical framework and/or a focus for investigation throughout the cited conference papers/presentations. The construct is used so extensively in educational technology research and professional learning that including all presentations that mention TPCK/TPACK, but do not focus upon it – even at just these three national/international conferences – would make this newsletter unreasonably long.

Thanks always to Judi and her team for pulling all this information together and sharing it with the world. Previous newsletter are archived here.

TPACK newsletter #35, March 2018

The latest version of the TPACK newsletter (#35) is now available and can be  found here (pdf). All previous issues are archived here. As always, thanks to Judi Harris and her team for all the work that goes into this.