Silver Lining for Learning, a side conversation with Priyank Sharma

We have had a few regulars on the Silver Lining for Learning show. And one of them is Priyank Sharma who consistently joins us despite it being around 2 or 3 AM in in New Delhi when the show runs here in the US.

Priyank and I spoke on the 22nd of June about a range of different topics – and the video is embedded below. More information about Priyank, his writings and a sort of spinoff show he is part of can be found below the video. Enjoy.

Priyank recently completed his MPhil from the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) and is starting his doctoral program soon. He came to education, in a somewhat roundabout way – similar to my journey. He has degrees in engineering (from the National Institutes of Technology, NIT), social work (from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, TISS) and counseling (from the National Center for Educational Research and Training, NCERT). from (recently completed his MPhil in Educational Policy & Planning.

Priyank also writes about education and other related matters on his facebook page: A Random Educator

Also, Priyank and a few of his like-minded colleagues have also started their own version of SLL called, available as a Youtube channel: Approaching the New Normal

Teenagers, retirement and reflections on the new abnormal

Background image: Puzzlewarehouse | Image design: Punya Mishra

The economist and thinker Andrew Scott once said something that blew me away. He said that: 

The 20th century created the idea of teenagers and retirement.

I had never considered that the idea of teenagers and retirement was a 20th century idea. These seemed to be constructs that had been with us forever.

Through most of human history, people were born, did stuff to survive and thrive, and kept at it, for the most part, till they died. As this article on the history of teenagers says:

Humans have been turning 13 for tens of thousands of years, but only recently did it occur to anybody that the bridge between childhood and adulthood deserved its own name.

The article goes on to say that

The teenager emerged in the middle of the 20th century thanks to the confluence of three trends in education, economics, and technology. High schools gave young people a place to build a separate culture outside the watchful eye of family. Rapid growth gave them income, either earned or taken from their parents. Cars (and, later, another mobile technology) gave them independence.

Similarly, this article on the history of retirement points out that the first models of retirement emerged in 1889 in Germany, before spreading out over the world.  

Work until you die — or until you can’t work anymore.

Until the late 19th century, that was the old-age plan for the bulk of the world’s workers.

Only in 1889 did German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduce modern pensions. Bismarck wasn’t really motivated by compassion for the plight of the working class. He wanted to preempt a growing socialist movement in Germany before it grew any more powerful.

Think about this for a second. 

Teenagers and retirement – two things that seem so obvious and normal today, are relatively recent creations. Born out of technological, political and economic transformations that have created the world we live in today.

Andrew followed this statement by asking

What new life stages will we create now?


The trends and changes that fueled the 20th century continue today, just in different directions. These changes in technology and work (whether AI or automation) will change how we live, learn and prosper in unanticipated ways. 

The quote also made me ask myself: what else do I assume to be “normal” when in reality it is anything but?

This is particularly true today, in these COVID hit times when we often speak of the “new normal.”

That of course assumes that what we had before was normal.

But in our heart of hearts we know that the systems that were disrupted by COVID19 were not perfect—far from it. If COVID19 has taught us anything it is that there are deep, unjust inequities in our systems, and that the impact of the pandemic does not fall equally on everyone. The virus does not discriminate but our systems do and that has significant negative consequences for the most disadvantaged.

The virus did not cause these inequities. It just revealed to us the hollowness of much of what we took to be normal.

And COVID19 is not the last of the disruptions we are facing. There are many more coming our way.

But maybe the COVID19 crisis is a wake-up call.

And maybe, just maybe, there is an opportunity here for us to ask why we have the systems we do and how we can create systems that are just, equitable, humane and sustainable.

That, if anything, that is at the heart of the learning futures and principled innovation work we do.

Design by Punya Mishra


Call for articles: Failure and Creative Risk in Technology-Enhanced Learning

I am excited to announce a call for articles on Failure and Creative Risk in Technology-Enhanced Learning for a special section in the journal Tech Trends, edited by Danah Henriksen, Punya Mishra, Edwin Creely, and Michael Henderson. You can download the the announcement (PDF) or read more below.

Just FYI: TechTrends is a peer-reviewed, double-blind, Springer journal. It has a 2019 impact factor of 1.538, H-index=33 (Scimago), and a 2019 Scopus CiteScore of 2.3. As a journal of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology, TechTrends has a wide readership in educational technology. 

Continue reading →

A conversation with S. Giridhar, COO Azim Premji University: A Silver Lining side conversation

S. Giridhar (Giri), Chief Operating Officer of Azim Premji University (APU) and I had a chance to chat for a Silver Lining for Learning side conversation.

Giri is a good friend and we connect at multiple levels. We both went to the same undergraduate institution (BITS Pilani) though our paths did not cross then. We got to know each other better as we worked together on a partnership between APU and Michigan State University.

APU and the foundation of which it is a part (Azim Premji Foundation) are amazing organizations working across India in the areas of education and development. The foundation has engaged with state governments across India around issues such as teacher education, school leadership development, assessment, curricular development, institutional development and administrative reform.

My conversation with Giri was prompted by a piece he wrote for the Times of India (Back to school: A drastic rethink of primary education is needed in a post pandemic world). Our conversation covered a lot of ground particularly around how the foundation (and the university) has responded to the COVID19 crisis. Below the video I provide some links to resources etc. that may help contextualize all the things we talked about. Enjoy.

Here are some links for context:

Of metaphors & molecules: Bridging STEM & the arts

Update on blog post that was published May 30, 2018 – since the article is now published (2 years since it was accepted for publication).

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).

The published abstract can be found here and is also provided below:

STEM education in the United States is often described as being in a downward spiral, when assessed by competency test scores and lack of student motivation for engaging STEM disciplines. The authors suggest this arises from an overly instrumental view of STEM. While STEAM has arisen as a pushback paradigm, the application of STEAM in schools is challenging, and educators are often unclear about connecting STEM and the arts. The authors suggest envisioning STEAM through natural disciplinary interconnections. They focus on the integration of language arts and figurative thinking to blur the boundaries of STEM and the arts, and offer examples of figurative language—such as metaphor, linguistic etymology and synecdoche—for framing STEM teaching and learning.

Citation below:

Henriksen, D. & Mishra, P. (2020). Of metaphors and molecules: Figurative language bridging STEM and the arts in educationLeonardo (53), 3. p.316-320.

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.

A systems view of technology infusion

Image design: Punya Mishra | Photo credit: Pixabay

One of the significant changes in my way of thinking about technology integration has been a shift in focus—away from designing training and programs that target individual teachers to designing systems (both at K12 and higher education levels) that support teachers in the work they do. This does not minimize any way the teacher knowledge work I have done (aka TPACK framework) but it does situate that line of work within a bigger frame. This is consistent with my work on the 5 spaces for design that I have written about earlier. (More on that below.)

When Arelen Borthwick, Teresa Foulger and Kevin Graziano invited me to write a foreword for a book on technology infusion I decided to bring this broader frame into the discussion. In writing that foreword, Melissa Warr and I, expanded on a fun blog post I had written (Game of Thrones meets Toyota: 2 examples of systems thinking). More details below.

Borthwick, A. C., Foulger, T. S. & Graziano, K. J. (2020). Championing technology infusion in teacher preparation: A framework for supporting future educators. International Society for Technology in Education.

The publishers have made the table of contents and foreword freely available. Complete reference to foreword below.

Mishra, P., & Warr, M. (2020). Foreword: A Systems View of Technology Infusion. In A. C. Borthwick, T. S. Foulger, & T. S. Graziano, (Eds). Championing technology infusion in teacher preparation: A framework for supporting future educators. International Society for Technology in Education. (p. xvi-xxii).

For more information about the 5 spaces for design please see links below:

Us in Flux: A conversation with Sarah Pinsker

Image designed by Punya Mishra, based on Us in Flux YouTube title screen

The Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU has a new series called Us in Flux. Every two weeks they publish a (super-short) short story that explores “themes of community, collaboration, and collective imagination in response to transformative events.” They follow each story with a virtual conversation with the author and a guest.

The most recent story, written by award winning author, Sarah Pinsker, was titled Notice, and I was lucky to be the guest invited to the conversation. We had a wonderful chat, moderated by Bob Beard, with questions from the audience as well, that covered a lot of ground. Of specific interest to me, was learning how the story developed from an original idea to its final form, and the discussions on learning, noticing, community and values. The presence of some of these ideas is not surprising, given our current interest in learning futures and principled innovation.

You can read the story here, and watch the video below. Enjoy.

Play & Creativity Across the Lifespan: A conversation with Sandra Russ

Design: Punya Mishra | Sketches: Pixabay

As a part of our series of conversations with creativity scholars we recently spoke with Dr. Sandra Russ, Louis D. Beaumont University Professor, and interim dean at the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Russ is an expert on creativity and play and our conversation we explored her research on pretend play and creativity, the importance of nurturing play and creativity across the lifespan; as well as the role of play and creativity during crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Complete citation and link below. Enjoy

Singha, S., Warr, M., Mishra, P., Henriksen, D. & the Deep-Play Research Group (2020). Playing with Creativity Across the Lifespan: a Conversation with Dr. Sandra Russ.

Note: A complete list of articles in this series (Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century) can be found here; and, the interviews with creativity researchers can be found here.


Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Over the Memorial day long-weekend I just felt the need to create something to commemorate the 100,000 individuals, in the United States, who have lost their lives over the past few months to COVID19. That is a staggering number and one that is hard for us to grasp.

I have also been deeply troubled by the lack of discussion about the scale and the human dimension of the tragedy that we are living through. The New York Times front page (below) from Sunday (May 24) was an exception.

This video is the result.

It attempts to capture both the scale and the human dimension of the tragedy, the fact that this number is actually made of a hundred-thousand individuals – whose lives have been cut short by this virus. An incalculable loss.

The little details

Created by Punya Mishra ( | @punyamishra)

Created using Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop & Apple Keynote.

Image credit: Flag vector image from OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay.

Music credit: Mourning Song by Kevin MacLeod

From being to becoming: Keynote by Dr. Shawn Loescher

Image design: Punya Mishra (Splash image: Pixabay)

It is rarely that I hear a talk that blows me away.

We have all seen the TED talks, and their mutant offspring. The over-hyped music and catchy taglines; the speaker in front of a rapt audience; the crafted delivery with its carefully punctuated pauses and reveals, the self-deprecatory humor and, of course, the final insight or wisdom packaged in 30 words or less.

But it is rare to hear a talk that is measured and thoughtful and, most important, thought provoking. A talk that manages to be deeply philosophical and academic and yet connect, as deeply, to questions and issues of practice. A talk that is measured and relaxed yet powerful.

I recently had the good fortune of hearing my friend Dr. Shawn Loescher give the keynote at the Doctoral Research Conference at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. And it is my pleasure to share it with the world.

In his talk Shawn touches on many things, action research and design, the relationship of research and practice, the role of design in the futures of learning, and the importance of principled innovation (all ideas dear to my heart). [For more on our work on designing Learning Futures and Principled Innovation see these this and this].

To start, here is an introduction to the conference and Shawn’s keynote written by my friend and colleague Dr. Danah Henriksen. (Thank you Danah)

Introduction the Doctoral Research Conference and Dr. Loescher’s talk

By Dr. Danah Henriksen

The EdD program in Leadership and Innovation has been a flagship program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College for nearly 15 years. It began as a traditional face-to-face program, helping educators and educational leaders in Arizona who had dreamed of finding a better way to improve their collective practice and engage leadership and inquiry.

In 2015, a fully online version of the program was launched to great success and interest. In order to ensure that all students, both online and face-to-face, had the same opportunity for sharing of their research in a professional conference setting, the program committee decided to transition our bi-yearly Doctoral Research Conference into a fully online format. In this new online conference format, students from different cohorts, and geographic locations, come together one a year, in a one-day professional research conference. In sharing their action research efforts here, doctoral students connect across the program and the world with other students in the same program, who are working in a range of (sometimes very similar or drastically different) research problems and settings. This day-long event is an exciting celebration of the incredible work our students are engaged in.

The highlight of the day, each year, is the Keynote speaker. As a program, we seek out a Keynote speaker who can speak both to the challenges and rigors of research, as well as the complexity and messiness of practice. We hope the speaker can bring together ideas and concepts around innovation, action research and the intersection of research and practice, all within the context of current and emerging issues in education. This year, in 2020 we were honored to invite a recent and acclaimed graduate of the program—Dr. Shawn Loescher—to deliver the Keynote.

This is how I introduced him:

Dr. Shawn T. Loescher, Ed.D., is an active practitioner with over 25 years of experience, both domestically and abroad, in educational innovation and school system redesign. He currently serves as a Chief Executive Officer of an inner-city school system in San Diego, CA. In 2019, Dr. Loescher was named one of 16 worldwide recipients of the TED-Ed Innovative Educators award. He earned his doctorate from this EdD program, right here here in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU with a focus on leadership, innovation, theory, and policy. Dr. Loescher is an American Educational Research Association awarded scholarly practitioner in action research and sciences, where he won the AERA Action Research SIG Dissertation of the Year Award for 2020. He’s a sought-after keynote and TED talk speaker, guest lecturer, consultant, and think tank participant.

Action research as praxis: From being to becoming

Abstract: In the English language, there are two common understandings of the word Ontology, that of being and becoming. Action research is guided by understandings of the past, is grounded in the present, and is solutions orientated towards a more ideal future state. Guided by the literature and contextual knowledge, an action researcher may simultaneously be a disrupter of the status quo, an instrument of data collection, and the navigator of a political environment. This keynote address focuses on action research as a means of systemic improvement for the Friearian notion of praxis towards our first vocation, that of becoming more human. Dr. Loescher will discuss how action research is being used as a means of emancipatory practice in the service of our students and communities.

You can find the video below (and the slides here)

More about Dr. Loescher