COVID19 & Education

The COVID19 crisis has disrupted education globally at an unprecedented scale. In some ways, we are living through the largest educational social experiment in history! Over the past year I have been involved in a range of initiatives, discussions, interviews, and writing on the implications of the crisis for education. A short list below the break:

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STEM Futures at AAAS

ASU recently hosted, what is known as, the world’s largest scientific gathering, the annual conference of the American Association of the Advancement of Science. As as part of this conference I was invited, along with Ariel Anbar and Trina Davis, to talk about our recently concluded STEM-futures project (more about that on this blog and on the website). The conversation was moderated by Larry Ragan, who had also been involved in the design of this project (and had also, masterfully, moderated the webinars that had preceded the STEM-futures design sessions).

It was fun to revisit this project with Ariel, Trina and Larry. Below is a video of that session—The future of STEM education: A conversation.

Youth participatory creativity in digital spaces: An interview with Ioana Literat

Ioana Literat is Assistant Professor in the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Associate Director of the Media & Social Change Lab (MASCLab). Her research focuses on the dynamics of youth engagement and online participation, specifically attempting to understand what the colliding forces are when looking at agency, empowerment and voice in the context of youth activism. She has also developed a game called LAMBOOZLED!, to enhances skills to deal with fake news. In the game, the objective is to collect as “much evidence as possible to figure out whether the news stories are real or fake.”

In this article we explore various aspects of her professional, scholarly work. Specifically we discussed:

… how she layers theories of distributed creativity onto her internet re- search agenda to examine how youth use online spaces and digital media to make sense of current events. [We discuss] her path to engaging in creativity research through the use of digital media and a dedication to amplifying voices. We explore how her work has changed and sharpened around participatory creativity as she saw shifts in creative outcomes and conversations around the political landscape of recent years.

Citation and link to article below:

Keenan-Lechel, S. F., Capurro, C. T., Henriksen, D.. & the Deep-Play Research Group. (2021). Creative potential for positive social change: An interview with Dr. Ioana Literat. TechTrends.

Fishing for problems: Podcast interview

I was recently interviewed by Matt Schneidman (Curator, Creator, Podcast Host) for his Fishing for Problems podcast. Matt also publishes an  ed-focused newsletter. Our discussion was broadly framed around educational technology and the TPACK framework – but I think we covered quite a bit of ground beyond that as well—from whether “educational technology” even exists to the idea of teacher agency and design; from the philosophical ideas of Niel Postman to science fiction of Ted Chiang. As must be obvious, we had a great conversation. A large part of of the fun was that Matt had clearly done his homework, as evidenced by the very first question he asked me about my “23rd Law of Parenting.”

For that and more, listen to Episode #13: Educators as designers.

Tipping point for online learning: The interview

I had written a blog post towards the beginning of the pandemic (Tipping point for online learning, OR the postman always rings twice). In this piece, I built on something Neil Postman had written back in 1998 to try and better understand the current context. (Incidentally, this blog post ended up becoming an article in the journal ECNU Review of Education).

I was contacted by the team at about this article and the interview they conducted is now available online. You can listen to the entire interview by clicking on the link below.

Designing STEAM

Designed by Punya Mishra. Photo credit: Punya Mishra & Pixabay

Danah Henriksen and I were recently invited to present a keynote (and conduct two workshops) on design thinking and STEAM education at the 2021 NV STEAM conference, organized by the Nevada Museum of Art and Desert Research Institute. Of course, given the pandemic times we live in, the entire conference was conducted online.

You can find a video of our keynote titled, Creating STEAM by Design: Beyond STEM and Arts Integration below. I should add that my internet gave away during our presentation, which meant Danah had to step in and pretty much do the entire presentation. Thanks Danah. Thankfully I did manage to hop on for the QnA. You can find a link to our slides here and video below.

The workshops were trickier to create and navigate. We had 50 minutes to provide a hands-on, crash-course on design thinking to 80-100 participants—all that over Zoom! A huge shout-out to Cassandra Kellaris who helped Danah and I figure out what to do and how we could pull something like this off. Essentially, the participants worked both collaboratively and individually on a project of their choice and interest. We leveraged the chat function of zoom to tap into the collective wisdom of the large group to a predetermined set of prompts, and had them complete a design workbook around a problem or challenge that they were interested in. Suffice it to say, it was super fast-paced, challenging and fun. And we did it twice back to back with different groups of educators. You can watch one of the videos of the workshop below – and download our slides here. (And just for the record, here is a link to the video of the second workshop.)

Thanks to Claire Munoz, Craig Rosen (and their team) for their support and help in making these events a success.

Educational Change by Design: Creating a school of the future

How do we design a school for the future? This recent article seeks to capture (in the form of a case study) our recent experience in designing such a school. The design process was a collaborative process involving a partnership with a local school district and the design initiatives team at the Teachers College. More about that here and here. Abstract and citation below.


This case study, framed within a school–university partnership, highlights the tensions inherent to employing design-based approaches for educational change. The case illustrates core tensions between an abductive, open-ended, design-based approach to change versus more traditional (deductive/inductive) approaches to managing change in schools. The design process serves as a way to break away from the traditional “grammar of schooling” (Tyack & Tobin) in a system unaccustomed to radical change. The case highlights the challenges of maintaining fidelity to the design process within a range of logistical and resources constraints, such as the time available to participants to engage in the process, and the difficulty of rapidly prototyping a new school model within an existing educational ecosystem. In the teaching notes, we recommend a theoretical lens and set of questions for educational leaders to reflect on as they consider approaches to educational change in their own settings.

Wyatt, L., Scragg, B. S., Stein, J. Y. G., & Mishra, P. (2020). Educational change by design: Creating a school of the future. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership.

Why creativity, technology and education don’t play well together? New paper

What is the relationship between technology and creativity, particularly in educational contexts? In this article, we provide a critical thematic literature review of existing scholarship at the intersection of creativity, technology, and teaching/learning in classroom contexts. We identify the contours of existing research in these areas and note their alignments and gaps to point to future research needs. Abstract and citation (and link to publication) given below:


Internationally, creativity is a widely discussed construct that is pivotal to educational practice and curriculum. It is often situated alongside technology as a key component of education futures. Despite the enthusiasm for integrating creativity with technologies in classrooms, there is a lack of common ground within and between disciplines and research about how creativity relates to technology in teaching and learning—especially in the uncertain space of classroom implementation. This article provides a critical thematic review of international literature on creativity and technology in the context of educational practice. We identify four essential domains that emerge from the literature and represent these in a conceptual model, based around: (1) Learning in regard to creativity, (2) Meanings of creativity, (3) Discourses that surround creativity, and (4) the Futures or impacts on creativity and education. Each of these clusters is contextualized in regard to emerging technologies and the developing scope of twenty-first century skills in classroom implementation. We offer conclusions and implications for research and practice.

Henriksen, D., Creely, E., Henderson, M., & Mishra, P. (2021). Creativity and technology in teaching and learning: a literature review of the uneasy space of implementation. Educational Technology Research & Development.

Learning futures: Designing the horizon

I was recently invited (along with Sean Leahy and Jodie Donner) to present at the Winter Games, Digital Immersive Experience organized by ShapingEDU at Arizona State University. Our talk was titled Learning Futures: Designing the Horizon. We described our session as follows:

The maxim we cannot predict the future, but we can invent it (and its derivatives) is often cited as a call to engage in design and strategic forecasting tools and methodologies. Join us as we create a space to explore what we describe as Learning Futures. Visualize with us how we might rethink our teaching and learning environments by harnessing the opportunities of our collective uncertainty. We will explore emergent strategic foresight frameworks as we consider multiple future scenarios to reveal the risks and opportunities of disruptions, and propose strategies for engaging in futures thinking in your own organizational contexts.

Video embedded below:

Teachers ARE designers (in many different ways)

Image ©Punya Mishra

One of the pleasures of academia is working with awesome graduate students. This paper is an example of such a collaboration. Melissa Warr, for some reason or the other, decided to do a network analysis of some of the top-cited papers related to teaching and design. Over the past couple of years this work that she initiated has morphed and mutated through rounds of discussion, analysis, writing and (re-writing). I am thrilled to announce that that work is finally out in the world. For reasons I should not get into here it took a while even after we thought we were done. Aah… the pleasures of academic publishing :-)

This is a publication that I am quite proud of and will be quite influential to the field—seeking as it does to combine two different areas of scholarly literature: teacher education and design. A huge (HUGE) chunk of the credit goes to Melissa and I am glad to have been part of this journey.

The key question this paper seeks to answer is the following:

What does it mean for a teacher to be described as a designer, or for the act of teaching to be considered an act of design?

You can read the abstract and complete article from the link below but I would like to share some of the key findings of analysis of a decade of work in this area.

A key part of the work was identifying some key journal articles in the field and then analyzing their citation patterns to identify emergent clusters or strands of work. 10 such emergent clusters were identified. The first two images below represent the network analysis, showing clusters/strands and the patterns of citation. The table after that provides a list of the 10 “teachers as designers” strands that emerged.

One of the important findings was that the roles teachers play as designers varies across time. The table below gives a mapping of the 10 strands to different times or stages of teachers work (or development).

There is a lot more in the article. Citation, link and abstract given below:

Warr, M., Mishra, P. (2021). Integrating the discourse on teachers and design: An analysis of ten years of scholarship. Teaching and Teacher Education.

Abstract: This article presents a content and network analysis of a decade (2007 – 2017) of highly-cited literature on teachers and design. Constructs and definitions were compared in an interpretive content analysis, resulting in 10 strands, each a cluster of literature that frames teaching and design in a particular way. A citation network analysis provided insight into how the strands are conceptually related. Further analysis highlighted how each strand described what, when, and how teachers design, and the value of considering teachers as designers. The results suggest that teaching not only includes design activities, but could be considered a design profession. This perspective has implications for teacher education, specifically the development of professional knowledge.