Jabberwocky goes to graduate school

September 9, 2014 § Leave a Comment


The 5th floor of Erickson Hall is a fun place to be. Typically a bunch of graduate students hang out there, working on their readings, talking shop and in general having a good time. For some reason, last week, I promised Josh Rosenberg that I would write a poem for them. I don’t know why I promised this… I just did. So now that I had said it, it had to be done.

So I wrote a poem building from one my favorite poems of all time, Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. It wasn’t the greatest thing but hey, whatever. I shared the draft with others and asked for suggestions to help make it better. And all hell broke loose. Suggestions came from left and right, via email and conversations in passing. And at each step the poem became richer, more consistent, better connected to the original…

So here is Blabberjocky, on the fifth… a poem that ended up becoming something greater than the sum of the individual contributions. A special shout out to Danah Henriksen, Spencer Greenhalgh, and Andrea Zellner for their help. Since the first version was prompted by an unsolicited promise made to Josh Rosenberg, it is clear that a large part of the blame for this poem being inflicted in the world lies with him.

Here it is:

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International Literacy Day, new ambigram

September 8, 2014 § Leave a Comment


In celebration of International Literacy Day, here is a new ambigram design – it reads, “Literacy” one way and “Reading” the other! Enjoy. See below for an attempt to use CSS to use to make the rotation automatic when you move your cursor over the image. Check it out. I think it is pretty cool.






Happy Teacher’s Day (new ambigrams)

September 5, 2014 § Leave a Comment

September 5 is Teacher’s Day in India. It is celebrated on the birthdate of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian philosopher and statesman who was also the first Vice-President and the second President of India. He famously said, “teachers should be the best minds in the country.” To celebrate this day, here are three new ambigram designs (see image below). The first, goes around the circle, reading “teacher” one way and “learner” the other way. You can read these words from left to right starting from the top OR the bottom. In the center are two new designs where the word “teacher” and “learner” map onto themselves (when rotated 180 degrees). Enjoy. (Note, you can click on the graphic to view a larger version).

And yes, Happy Teacher’s Day to all my educator friends!!! (Move your mouse over the image to rotate it!)




There is no app for that

September 4, 2014 § Leave a Comment


Ideas.TED.com has a new article titled—There’s no app for good teaching: 8 ways to think about tech in ways that actually improve the classroom. It quotes a bunch of scholars and researchers, one of whom is yours truly. I am just posting this, for the record.

Image created by Punya Mishra, using https://imgflip.com/memegenerator


Technology in schools: Detroit Free Press & Edutopia

September 2, 2014 § 1 Comment


For the record, I was quoted in today’s Detroit Free Press in an article titled: School districts expanding technology, but training is key to success. In addition, two of my partners in crime (Matt Koehler & Candace Marcotte) were mentioned in an Edutopia article titled: How to Integrate Tech When It Keeps Changing. The idea of TPACK connects both articles, though the Free Press article does not mention the idea directly.

Image created by Punya Mishra using https://imgflip.com/memegenerator

Soham starts college, new ambigram,

August 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

We dropped off my eldest at the University of Michigan today. He begins the next stage of his life. We couldn’t be more excited. Here is a new ambigram design to mark this occasion. Soham whichever way you look at it, with UMich colors! Mouseover the image to rotate it and enjoy.




Art is a lie… that tells the truth

August 25, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Picasso famously said, “Art is a lie that tells the truth.” This design below is my attempt to represent this quote – at least the first part of the quote. Move your mouse over the image to see a change…

You can see the combined image below
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Why math ed sucks (not just in India)

August 22, 2014 § 3 Comments


My friend Hartosh Bal (author of A Certain Ambiguity, a mathematical novel) has a piece in Caravan Magazine titled “Why Fields medalists are unlikely to emerge from the Indian educational system.” He mentions the fact that of the three winners of the Field’s medal (the highest accolade in mathematics) are Brazilian, Iranian and Canadian respectively. The Canadian, Manjul Bhargava, however is of Indian origin and, it appears that the Indian media have “rushed to claim him as India’s own.” As the title of his article suggests, Hartosh uses the fact that Bharghava was not educated in India, as a starting point for a broader discussion of how the manner in which mathematics is taught in India. He makes some wonderful points and I would recommend reading his entire piece.

The only quibble I have with his argument is that (as indicated by the title of my post) is that the problems he identifies with mathematics education are not limited to just India. Similar issues (such as an instrumental approach towards learning mathematics, focus on rote memorization of rules etc.) exist right here in the US as well. As Hartosh writes:

We believe students learn only at one pace, and even more damagingly in the case of mathematics, in only one way. Far too many parents in this country have told me about their children being penalised in tests for solving a mathematics problem by a method other than the one taught in the class. It should be quite the contrary, a student who correctly solves a problem by innovatively thinking her way to a solution deserves more marks rather than less. 

I love that last sentence.

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Here we go again, the recurring cycle of hype and despair around ed tech

August 20, 2014 § 3 Comments


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana (1905, p. 284)

The Atlantic has an article titled “Why tech still hasn’t solved education’s problems” focusing on the failed promise of MOOCs and asks the question

Why has the promised boom in educational technology failed to appear—and why was the technology that did appear not very good? 

And my response to that question is … here we go again!!!

The history of ed tech is littered with stories of how the advent of a new technology (and its potential for learning) leads to a significant level of hype about how it would transform education and then when these extravagant promises were not met, leading to an inevitable conclusion of the uselessness of all technology.

I have written about this so often that I don’t even know where to start. But again that has never stopped me!

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Vijay Iyer, polymath & a fantastic example of trans-disciplinary creativity

August 17, 2014 § Leave a Comment


Vijay Iyer,  (http://vijay-iyer.com/) is an Indian-American jazz pianist and composer. He is a MacArthur Genius grant winner and is currently Franklin and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University and is widely regarded as being one of the most innovative composers and musicians today. His music transcends national boundaries through creatively bringing together traditional jazz, Indian classical fusion, and various other musical styles.

Mr. Iyer is a true polymath whose career has spanned mathematics, science, the humanities and the arts. According to his Wikipedia page, he has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics from Yale. He then went on to pursue a doctorate in physics but dropped that to complete an interdisciplinary doctoral in Technology and the Arts focusing on music cognition. In his dissertation he applied the ideas of situated and embodied cognition to West African and African-American music.

I found out about Vijay Iyer recently and was immediately struck by how he is an almost perfect example of the kind of polymathy we (in the deep-play research group) have been describing in our research and scholarship around creativity and trans-disciplinary learning. Below are some excerpts from interviews that match up to the work we have been doing.

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Innovation in hybrid/blended doctoral courses (new article)

August 17, 2014 § Leave a Comment

The July 2014 issue of Tech Trends has two articles co-authored by me. The first is part of our ongoing series of articles on Rethinking technology and creativity in the 21st century (you can find the more recent article here and the complete series here). The other article was part of a special issue devoted to online/hybrid doctoral programs, edited by Kara Dawson and Swapna Kumar. Essentially we argue that:
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Good-Evil ambigram makes the cover of a German Magazine

August 17, 2014 § Leave a Comment

My Good-Evil ambigram made it to the cover of Screen Guidea special interest magazine for web-developers! Here it is for the record.


Perceiving & Patterning as skills essential for creativity (2 new articles)

August 17, 2014 § Leave a Comment

We have been writing a series of articles for Tech Trends titled Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century. You can see the full list here.

One of the key focus areas of these articles is on what we call trans-disciplinary thinking i.e. a set of cognitive skills that cut across disciplinary boundaries. As Michele & Robert Root-Bernstein’s write in their book Sparks of Genius:

…at the level of the creative process, scientists, artists, mathematicians, composers, writers, and sculptors use…what we call “tools for thinking,” including emotional feelings, visual images, bodily sensations, reproducible patterns, and analogies. And all imaginative thinkers learn to translate ideas generated by these subjective thinking tools into public languages to express their insights, which can then give rise to new ideas in others’ minds. (pg. 11)

Inspired in part by the Root-Bernstein’s we have analyzed and listed seven such “tools for thinking” as being key trans-disciplinary skills needed for creativity. These skills encapsulate the ways in which creative people and effective learners think. They include, Perceiving, Patterning, Abstracting, Embodied Thinking, Modeling, Play, and Synthesizing.  The next seven articles in the series will focus on each of these thinking skills.

The first two articles in the series, focusing on Perceiving and Patterning are now published. Complete references and links to pdfs of the articles are given below

The next article in the series will focus on Abstracting and is currently in press, and I will post it once it is published.

  • Henriksen, D., Fahnoe, C., & Mishra, P.  & the Deep-Play Research Group (in press). Abstracting as a trans-disciplinary habit of mind. Tech Trends (58)6.

MAET Words: 123 creators – 1 cool video

August 13, 2014 § Leave a Comment

This summer over 120 educators met in three different locations both here in the US and overseas, as a part of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program hybrid classes. The video below, visualizing a quote by Steve Jobs, was created by all of us – one word at a time! The students and instructors featured here are as follows: The first cohort of the MSU-Wipro STEM & Leadership Fellows (in Chicago); three cohorts in the MAET Overseas program (in Galway, Ireland); two cohorts in the MAET East Lansing and MAET Certificate program (in East Lansing MI).

Each word was visualized by a different person, in their own way… but these diverse representations fit together to form a coherent, integrated and powerful message. How cool is that and what an awesome representation of the unity in diversity of the MAET program.

Self-similarity in math & ambigrams, article 3 in series

August 8, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Self-similarity in geometry is the idea of repeating a similar shape (often at a different scale) over and over again. In other words, a self-similar image contains copies of itself at smaller and smaller scales, such as the image below of the word “zoom.”


Self-similarity is a rich mathematical idea and connects to other powerful concepts such as infinity, iteration, fractals, recursion and so on. As it turns out self-similarity is also a rich source of ambigrams. This is why the third article in the series Of Art & Math is devoted to Self-Similarity. This series written with my friend Gaurav Bhatnagar is published by At Right Angles (a mathematics education magazine). 

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Having fun with TPACK (songs, skits & more…)

August 7, 2014 § Leave a Comment

A search on YouTube reveals a wide range of videos related to TPACK. Most of them are serious descriptions of the framework (heck, I have created a few of those myself).  But there is a smaller genre of TPACK videos that don’t necessarily seek to explain the construct. They are just good fun.There are songs and skits and things in between. Here are a few that I managed to find. Most of these were created by students in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program. « Read the rest of this entry »

A couple of images… (for the heck of it)

August 6, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Here are two images I created recently…

August is the 8th month, so here is a little design to celebrate that fact!


I had no particular reason to create this… but then again why let that get in the way of doing something… anything!

The next is an image based on a quote by Albert Camus, from his book/essay The myth of Sisyphus.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Ambigrams in new book

August 5, 2014 § Leave a Comment


The Art of Deception: Illusions to Challenge the Eye and the Mind is a new book edited by Brad Honeycutt. Brad is a graduate of Michigan State (Go Spartans!) and maintains a blog (anopticalillusion) devoted to optical illusions. A few of my designs have ended up on his site (see here for previous mentions of Brad on this blog), and now two of them have ended up in this book.

The books is beautifully done and features work by a range of internationally celebrated artists. The foreword is written by John Langdon and the epilogue by Scott Kim (may two of the best ambigram designers in the world). It is a truly an honor to have my work selected to be in this book. Here are a couple of images – one the cover and the other the pages devoted to two of my designs.


TPACK Newsletter #20: May 2014

May 16, 2014 § 2 Comments


TPACK Newsletter, Issue #20: May 2014
Welcome to the twentieth edition of the (approximately bimonthly) TPACK Newsletter! TPACK work is continuing worldwide. This document contains recent updates to that work that we hope will be interesting and useful to you, our subscribers.

If you are not sure what TPACK is, please surf over to http://tpack.org to find out more.

Gratuitous Quote About Technology

Technology is anything that was invented after you were born— Alan Kay

In This Issue

-1. Gratuitous Quote About Technology
0. In This Issue (You are here.)
1. TPACK Newsletter Update
2. Recent TPACK Publication
3. Recent TPACK-Related Dissertations
4. Recent TPACK Presentations
5. Recent TPACK-Related Blog Entry
6. TPACK Newsletter Suggested Citation
7. Learning and Doing More with TPACK
–. Un-numbered miscellaneous stuff at the end

« Read the rest of this entry »

Discrimination in Academia, an experiment with a personal connection

May 9, 2014 § Leave a Comment


Try as we might to be open-minded the truth is that we all have biases. These biases can be subtle and insidious and it is rare that we get to confront them head on. A recent story that has been making the rounds on  NPR, InsideHigherEd, and The Washington Post about racial and gender bias in higher education, forced me to face this issue, and though, as it turns out, I turned out OK in the end, it did raise some important questions about us academics.

It is a longish story, mainly because I have to provide some context for the study. So bear with me…

In a study titled “What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations,” the researchers (Milkman, Akinola, and Chugh) sent identical email messages to 6,500 professors across a range of disciplines in 250 of the top universities in the US. Each message indicated that the “student” was impressed with the professor’s work and requested a meeting. These messages were identical in every respect except in one crucial way: the names of the fictitious students.  These were the names used in the study,

Brad Anderson, Steven Smith, Meredith Roberts, Claire Smith, Lamar Washington, Terell Jones, Keisha Thomas, Latoya Brown, Carlos Lopez, Juan Gonzalez, Gabriella Rodriguez, Juanita Martinez, Raj Singh, Deepak Patel, Sonali Desai, Indira Shah, Chang Huang, Dong Lin, Mei Chen, Ling Wong

As you can see the only thing that distinguishes them is that they varied along two key dimensions Gender (male v.s. female) and Race (white, Latino/a, black, Indian or Chinese). What the researchers were looking at was how often professors wrote back agreeing to meet with the students. From this they could infer whether the gender/race of the person writing to the faculty member made a difference to the response rates?

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Creativity in the lives of accomplished teachers: Pre-pub version

March 28, 2014 § 2 Comments

creativity.001How do exemplary teachers incorporate creativity in their teaching? In this dissertation study, Danah Henriksen  interviewed National Teacher of the Year award winners (and finalists), to better understand their beliefs, interests, and practices involving creative teaching. Analysis of the data help us identify key themes of how these teachers approach the creative process, as well as the connection between their personal interests and professional creativity.

This paper has been accepted for publication in Teachers College Record. The link below is to a pre-publication version, so please contact us if you would like to quote from it or cite it.


Henriksen, D., & Mishra, P. (in press). We teach who we are: Creativity in the lives and practices of accomplished teachers. Teachers College Press.

Extended Abstract

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Of math and ambigrams: Exploring Symmetry

March 26, 2014 § Leave a Comment

01-symmetryAmbigram for Symmetry displaying rotational symmetry

I have been writing a series of articles for At Right Angles (a mathematics education magazine) with my friend Gaurav Bhatnagar on the art and mathematics of ambigrams. The first article in the series (Of Art and Math: Introducing Ambigrams) was published back in December. It is now time for the second column: Of Art & Math: Introducing Symmetry.


I had a lot of fun working on this with Gaurav. He challenged me to come up with some new designs… and there are couple in there that I am truly proud of. So click the link (or image) above and enjoy.


TPACK Newsletter Issue #19, March, 2014

March 25, 2014 § Leave a Comment


TPACK Newsletter, Issue #19: March, 2014
Welcome to the nineteenth edition of the (approximately bimonthly) TPACK Newsletter! TPACK work is continuing worldwide. This document contains recent updates to that work that we hope will be interesting and useful to you, our subscribers. If you are not sure what TPACK is, please surf over to http://www.tpack.org/ to find out more.

If you are not sure what TPACK is, please surf over to http://www.tpack.org/ to find out more.

Gratuitous Quote About Technology
We’ve got 21st-century technology and speed colliding head-on with 20th- and 19th-century institutions, rules and cultures.— Amory Lovins

In This Issue

-1. Gratuitous Quote About Technology
0. In This Issue (You are here.)
1. TPACK Newsletter Update
2. Recent TPACK Publications
3. Recent TPACK-Related Dissertations & Theses
4. Recent & Upcoming TPACK Presentations
5. Recent TPACK-Related Blog Entries
6. TPACK Newsletter Suggested Citation
7. Learning and Doing More with TPACK
–. Un-numbered miscellaneous stuff at the end

« Read the rest of this entry »

What is the value of a theoretical framework?

March 25, 2014 § 2 Comments


One question that all doctoral students dread (and rightfully so) is “What is your theoretical framework?” Why, they wonder (silently), why do we need a framework?

This question popped up recently in, of all places, Facebook. Pilar Quezzaire, a graduate of our MAET program, posted a question to our overseas FB page as follows:

Busy writing away about technology integration frameworks like TPACK, and I’ve been asked to come up with a few definitive articles about their effectiveness in general (not the effectiveness of a particular framework.) Has anyone come across a source that looks at the difference between integrating tech with a framework in mind, versus integrating technology without one? … I can (cite/list) lots of articles and case studies, but no one seems to have looked at the trend of using frameworks. Thanks!

This was not something I had given much thought to before. Theory is sacrosanct in academia, its the air we breathe so why question it. Reflecting on Pilar’s question prompted me to respond at length (maybe at greater length than she needed or wanted). Interestingly, the discussion moved form citing specific studies into the deeper philosophy of science issues. This is what I wrote (edited lightly to make it work as a blog post):

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EPET at SITE, 2014

March 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

SITE2014 (the annual conference of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education) is being held in Jacksonville, Florida starting the 17th of March. As always, the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at MSU has a significant presence at the conference. This includes presentations and symposia organized by faculty, graduate students and graduates of our program. Thanks to Rohit Mehta, we now have a list of all the various events EPET people are involved in. Here it is, arranged chronologically:

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21st century learning article receives ISTE award

February 19, 2014 § 2 Comments


Back in July 2013, the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education (JDLTE) published our paper on 21st Century Learning. This paper written with Kristen Kereluik, Chris Fahnoe and Laura Terry looked at over a dozen different 21st century learning frameworks and attempted to come up with a coherent overarching framework—and its implications for teacher education. I have received occasional emails from people who have stumbled on this article and have liked it. What has been gratifying is that most of these messages are from practitioners! And then… yesterday, we received an email, as follows:

This year marks the beginning of an annual recognition for researchers who have published in the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education—the JDLTE Outstanding Research Paper award. This award is in recognition of the single article from the prior volume year with the highest possibility to advance the field of teacher education, based on the criteria of potential impact and contribution, innovativeness, and generalizability or usability.
As Chair of the JDLTE Outstanding Research Article Award Committee, along with the editors of JDLTE, I am pleased to let you know that your article, “What Knowledge is of Most Worth: Teacher Knowledge for 21st Century Learning, by Kristen Kereluik, Punya Mishra, Chris Fahnoe, and Laura Terry, has won this prestigious honor.
We would like to recognize your work during the ISTE conference this summer, and invite you to present your study during a full one-hour session that has been set aside for this purpose.
 How cool is that!!

Here is the full reference with a link to the article.

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learningJournal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 29(4), 127-140.

Also the diagram synthesizing our findings can be found here: http://punya.educ.msu.edu/2013/05/10/2-diagrams-21st-century-knowledge-synthesized-7-trans-disciplinary-skills/


Of clouds, lentils and deep geometries

February 16, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Back in March of 2012 I was on a plane flying back from the SITE2012 conference in Austin, Texas and noticed an interesting cloud-formation through my airplane window. This intrigued me enough that I took a picture. Here it is (click on the image for a larger version).


What intrigued me were the manner in which the clouds were lined up in almost prefect parallel lines! I had no real explanation for this – just something interesting worth recording. That image has been sitting on my phone for a couple of years now… and haven’t really given it much thought, till this morning…

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Research to practice : 3 articles

February 3, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Matt Koehler and I are co-editors for an ongoing series of articles “From Research to Practice” for Education Matters, an educational magazine published by Educational Technology & Management Academy (ETMA). ETMA is non-profit organization based in New Delhi dedicated to pioneering innovations through research and development. Three of these articles are now available online. I had posted about the first a while ago and as I wrote then, this series has been great fun to write, allow us to work closely with graduate students in writing for a popular audience. I am quite proud of how our students have managed to take complex research and present it in a manner that is simple and accessible, but never simplistic.

What is TPACK? Updated article

January 22, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Infinite Mirror(?) | Josh Otis | Flickr

There are some articles that sink without a trace. There are others like our 2006 TCRecord article introducing the TPACK framework that continues to be cited… and then there are some that keep getting published over and over (albeit in an updated manner). Here is one of them… the gift that keeps on giving!

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Where do creative ideas come from? 2 articles

January 7, 2014 § Leave a Comment


The new year begins with the publication of 2 key articles in our series Rethinking Technology and Creativity in the 21st Century. Co-authored with Danah Henriksen and the Deep-Play Research Group these two articles seek to develop a better understanding of where creative ideas come from.

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & the Deep-Play research group (2014). Twisting knobs and connecting things: Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century. Tech Trends, (58)1, P. 15-19

Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play research group (2014). Revisited and Remixed: Creative Variations and Twisting Knobs.Tech Trends, (58)1, P. 20-23

In these two articles we question the “myth of the genius” and argue that creativity is not a “magical” process, but rather creative ideas emerge from combining pre-existing ideas and concepts in unique and new ways. Though this may appear to be a simplistic formulation, we suggest that it is far from that. Creating these novel, effective and whole combinations is unpredictable and requires people to bring together a wide range of background knowledge and experience. It is this breadth of knowledge and experience that allows creative individuals to see novel connections and act on them. The second article extends and grounds these ideas by offering specific examples taken from the world of puzzle and game design.

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