On performing one’s identity: A thought inspired by Jonathan Miller

March 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment

It is difficult, in a world buffeted by change, to know what to hold on to. I often wonder about this when thinking of teaching and learning, when thinking of the speed at which technology is changing the world we live in… What do we hold on to? What do we let go? How do we know that we are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater? (Some earlier writing that allude to some of these issues can be found here, and here.)

I was thinking of these questions in the context of the series on creativity and trans-disciplinary learning I am writing for TechTrends (see the latest article, with links to previous pieces, here). And yesterday, while speaking with my partner-in-crime, Danah Henriksen, I was reminded of an insight I had many years ago… and one that I had somewhat forgotten. Which led to some searches on google, a few steps back memory-lane, and this blog post. Bear with me here…

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Designing 917: A conversation

March 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Danah Henriksen and I taught CEP917 (Knowledge Media Design) last semester. This was a somewhat unique class, with half the students being present here on campus and the other half online. We met synchronously once every two weeks and the rest of the class happened through the course website. We recently created a video introducing our experience in designing and teaching this class.

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Square Peg, Round Hole, Good Engineering (new article on creativity & learning)

February 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Our latest article on the series Technology, Creativity & 21st Century Learning  is now available (link and the complete reference given below).

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New TPACK themed book on English Education

February 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

My friend Carl Young of NCState recently released an edited volume (co-editor, Sara Kajder a the University of Pittsburgh) titled Research on Technology in English Education. It is a volume in the series: Research Methods for Educational Technology, edited by Walt Heinecke, University of Virginia.

Just as an aside, I edited a book in this series as well (with Matt Koehler & Yong Zhao) many years ago. You can find out more about our book Faculty development by design: Integrating technology in higher education by going here

Coming back to Carl and Kajder’s book… the description and table of contents is given below: « Read the rest of this entry »

Books on visualization & info-graphics

February 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment

There was a recent query on the PhD-Design-List regarding sources for designers on how to make good info-graphics and data-visualizations. I am collating the options being put forward by people here, just for the record. « Read the rest of this entry »

My Illusions on the web

February 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

There are a couple of websites that feature work done by me. I had written earlier about Brad Honeycutt’s website An Optical Illusion at (http://www.anopticalillusion.com/). He now features four different ambigrams created by me: You can find them on this page on his site devoted to my work.

More recently, I received an email from Leon Stein the webmaster for Optical Illusion World (at http://opticalillusionworld.com/) letting me know that our family new year’s video was featured on his site. (If you haven’t seen the video, it is embedded below.) I was pleased to read that he had promptly recognized that we were playing with anamorphosis (something we never really explicitly talked about in the video). As he said:

When I first saw this anamorphic video created by Punya Mishra I was blown away. I immediately played the video again so I could make sure I saw it correctly.

It is always great for one’s work to be appreciated–for it to be appreciated by someone with knowledge of how illusions work is icing on the cake. Thanks Leon. The only thing to add here is to give credit where credit is due. I was part of a great team (called my family) in creating this video. So Shreya, Soham, Smita take a bow as well :-)

Here’s the video:


Happy Valentine’s Day (new ambigram)

February 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Happy Valentine's Day (ambigram)


A quick and dirty ambigram for Valentine’s day, scribbled on the back of an envelope (literally), and photographed using my phone!

Have a great day everybody :-)

The future will not be a multiple choice test

February 7, 2013 § 1 Comment

From Chris Sloan, teacher at Judge Memorial Catholic High School and a student in our hybrid PhD program, comes a link to a TED talk. The description is as follows:

Creative genius Drew Davies and forward-thinking educator Jaime McGrath propose a new approach to classroom teaching: Turn curricula into design challenges, classrooms into workshops and teach students to think like designers.

Key quote:

Dancing with words, Good/Evil in a new ambigram context

February 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

Many years ago I constructed an ambigram for the words “good” and “evil.” The idea came to me while waiting for a traffic light to turn green. The memory of it is so vivid in my mind that even today when I come to that particular intersection I remember that moment when the visual insight struck. Out of that came one of my most popular designs—one that has been replicated many times in books, websites, crafted in wood—sometimes with my permission, sometimes without.

The most recent use of the design (with permission) comes in Janet Smith Warfield’s blog post titled: Dancing with words- dancing with wisdom. Looking at this design Janet writes:

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TPACK goes to graduate school

January 28, 2013 § Leave a Comment

This is a paper that had come out a while ago, and I just didn’t get a chance to post it (actually I just forgot). Anyway, here it is:

Mishra, P., Koehler, M. J., Zellner, A., & Kereluik, K. (2012). Thematic considerations in integrating TPACK in a graduate program. In D. Polly, C. Mims, & K. Persichitte (Eds.),Developing Technology-Rich Teacher Education Programs: Key Issues (pp. 1-12). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.


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Student engagement in school, the tale of 2 graphs

January 21, 2013 § 3 Comments

Gallup recently released a poll on student engagement – and the main finding is that “the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become.” As the post says:

The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged.

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Creativity, 21st Century Learning & Self-Regulation

January 13, 2013 § 4 Comments

Our latest article on the series Technology and Creativity is now available (link and the complete reference given below). Co-authored with Chris Fahnoe, Dr. Danah Henriksen, and the Deep-Play Research group, this paper builds on Chris’ practicum research study and investigates whether students embedded in technology-rich, self-directed, open-ended learning environments develop self-regulation skills? This is an important question because:

Creativity and in-disciplined learning requires balancing the forces of order and chaos. Learning environments need to provide students a flexible structure within which students can experiment, collaborate, and problem solve. These are contexts that allow students to learn from both success and failure. Such open-ended environments, however, can be challenging to learners as well. They can appear chaotic and offer little guidance to students on how to navigate them.

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New ambigrams, Mert-Demir and one more…

January 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I recently received an email with the following request:

I am an engineer living in Turkey and I am going to have my second son hopefully in April and I would love to have their names as a tattoo. However having such a special work that will remain with me for my whole life should be art. Therefore I was thinking if you could perform a symbiotogram of my sons names for me (Demir and Mert).

I love creating ambigrams but haven’t done so in a while… but a challenge is a challenge and over the break I took a stab at the task. As I said in my reply back:

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Happy 2013!

December 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

Our family has a Christmas-break tradition. Over the past 5 years or so, every winter-break, we work together a create a video new-year’s card. And of course, we made one this year as well. As you can imagine, coming up with original ideas has become increasingly harder, and the set-ups increasingly complicated. What has not changed is just how fun they are to make. Take a look at the video below, and let us know if you think we managed to pull it off this year as well…

Have an out-standing 2013!
From Shreya, Soham, Smita & Punya

Just to let you know, these videos always have a few common elements. First, they are usually stop-motion videos (though this year is an exception). Second, they are always typographic in nature, having some kind of play with words and their representation. Third, they are usually animations of inanimate objects, synchronized to music, rarely, if ever, including us (or any other humans). Finally, we try to sneak in some kind of an  “Aha!” moment— something that surprises the viewer in a nice kind of way.

Speaking of videos made in the past, you can see them by following the links below:

The font of truth i.e. the beauty of Baskerville

August 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I have been a great fan of Baskerville, the font for a long time. I love the manner it looks on a page and most importantly I love its italic ampersand! Check it out below… isn’t that beautiful.


I remember setting my doctoral dissertation in Baskerville and receiving grief from the University of Illinois dissertation formatting police because it was not in the listed list of fonts. I believed in this strongly enough that I fought it – and won! My dissertation remained in Baskerville.

Anyway, I had always assumed that my preference for Baskerville was a matter of personal taste (of course my taste was better than that of others… but still). But now there is scientific evidence of how Baskerville is better than other fonts. « Read the rest of this entry »

Good Evil Ambigram

May 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

Brad Honeycutt, a fellow Spartan (he graduated 1996 a couple of years before I started here at Michigan State) is fascinated by optical illusions. He has completed a couple of books on optical illusions the first of which will be coming out in July. Scott Kim, one of my favorite ambigrammists, contributed a foreward and it includes work by Scott and John Langdon (he of Angels and Demons fame).

Brad also runs an optical illusion blog at http://www.anopticalillusion.com and recently featured one of my ambigrams.


This design is one of my favorites… do check it out on Brad’s website, he includes the ambigram and a short note from me regarding how it came to be.

Games & Learning, an analysis

April 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

TCRecord has an interesting essay on the role of games and learning, by Alexander, Eaton & Egan, titled: Cracking the code of electronic games: Some lessons for educators. As they say, “This is an analytic article that provides a description of an array of attempts to derive educational principles from the perceived success of students’ learning while they are engaged in electronic games.” They identify three key ways that games have been used in educational contexts. « Read the rest of this entry »

Happy 2012

December 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

Every Christmas-break our family creates a stop-motion video new year’s greeting card. We have been doing this for 4 years or so and it is an incredibly fun way to spend time together. It has become a “signature” thing we do as a family. Anyway this year was no exception – though it took us much longer than before to come up with a good idea – and then to execute it was another challenge. Anyway, here it is (on Vimeo).

A very wonderful holidays and a very happy new year to all of you,
from Shreya, Soham, Smita & Punya

Just a few comments on the making of these videos. First, all our new-year videos are stop-motion videos. That’s how we made the first one and it has stuck. Second, all these videos are somewhat typographical in nature – playing with words and their representation. Third, these videos rarely feature us either individually or as a family. A hand or a still-frame may show up once in a while but for the most part our videos are made with inanimate objects.

This year I tried to change all three of these, suggesting that we make a live action video, with us as actors – and have some kind of a puzzle that was not related to words. After spending days thinking about this, working with various ideas, this whole line of thought was vetoed down by both Soham and Shreya. It was interesting to me that over time we had not only become a family that makes videos but a family that makes stop motion videos! How cool an identity is that! Of course, this meant that we then had to start over from scratch to come up with something that fit what we had done in the past.

Speaking of videos made in the past, you can see them by following the links below:

Sketching on the iPad

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Over the past few weeks I have been experimenting with using my iPad as a drawing/painting tool. The sketches below were created by tracing on an existing image – usually a photograph. So this is not “freehand” drawing per se – but given my limited talents that may not be such a bad idea.

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Deep-play, creativity, design and teaching with technology: New journal article

September 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment

I am extremely proud of what we do as a part of our Master’s in Ed Tech (MAET) program. It is a unique program and over the years we have worked hard to make it a multi-faceted and unique experience for your students. Over the next few weeks I (with some help from doctoral student Laura Terry) will be posting examples of the excellent work our students do in this program. (See here for the first post about representing educational tensions with photography.)

The design of our program is very carefully thought through—driven both by powerful theoretical ideas grounded in the pragmatics of teaching and learning. Just this week I found out that a paper we had written about the kinds of activities we do in the MAET program just got published. If you are interested in teacher education and teacher professional development or specifically in the MAET program please check out: « Read the rest of this entry »

Creativity is just connecting things

September 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Steve Jobs retired as CEO of Apple this past week. The Wall Street Journal marked this event by creatingSteve Job’s Best Quotes compendium. There are all worth reading – but a couple stood out for their connection to this course.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something… It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985] « Read the rest of this entry »

Ambigrams on the web

May 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Many years ago I got bitten by the Ambigram bug and before I knew it I had created hundreds! This was of course long before Dan Brown and Angels and Demons made ambigrams wildly popular. It has been fun to see what was once a fringe activity take on a wider popularity. There was a time that I could actually count the number of ambigram artists on the fingers of my hand, and, in fact, most of us knew each other, either formally or informally. Things are very different today as a Google search will easily reveal, but this also means that keeping track of all that is going on in the ambigram field is extremely difficult. « Read the rest of this entry »

Palindromic poetry: Falling Snow

May 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

A few weeks ago I had written about an email that I received from an eighth grader in Colorado. Jake, a budding poet, was interested in learning more about me in the context of some palindromic poetry I had written many years ago. I wrote back to Jake (you can see the correspondence here) and a couple of days ago I received another email from him, this time containing a palindromic poem written by him. With his permission, I am including his email and poem below:

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Rethinking Ed Tech Research…

April 29, 2011 § 6 Comments

I have been a huge fan of Don Norman ever since I first ran into his book on the Psychology of Everyday Things (which he later renamed as The Design of Everyday Things, and the story behind that name change is worth reading as an excellent example of design). Don Norman also was the inspiration behind my collection of examples of good and bad design, something that ended up in the CEP817, Learning Technology by Design seminar.

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TPACK & Creativity at Cedar Rapids

March 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

I had a wonderful day at the Grant Woods Area Education Agency at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was invited there by Andy Crozier and his team as a part of their 21st Century Learning Institute. I spent the day with 50+ teachers, library media specialists, and administrators talking about TPACK, creativity, technology integration and other fun stuff. This was a great group of people and I had a great time (and I hoped that they did too).

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Learning Games & TPACK @ Drexel: Video now online

March 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Back in January I was invited to speak at the Drexel Learning Games Network (DGLN) seminar series. As I had written in my original post (TPACK & Games @ Drexel), DLGN is the brainchild of  Aroutis Foster, former graduate student, now rising star academic and researcher. As the DLGN website says

The Drexel Learning Games Network is made up of faculty and staff at Drexel University interested in game-based learning initiatives. It was established in the School of Education in Goodwin College with the goal of supporting teaching, researching, and designing of games for learning from K- to infinity.

I had mentioned that though I am not primarily a games and learning researcher, I have done some work in the area, primarily through collaborations with colleagues and students around MSU. I had a lot of fun constructing this talk, attempting to make some connections between my TPACK work and the idea of learning from games.

I see digital games as being an important part of learning – but in a somewhat different way than merely learning by playing games. In fact I have been somewhat skeptical of how one can use games for developing disciplinary knowledge. My experience has been that there is a fundamental tension in designing educational games – where the demands of designing engaging gameplay often conflict with the broader pedagogical goal of respecting the core concepts of the discipline or content to be covered. For instance a recent dissertation on how participants were learning Chinese from playing a massively multiplayer online role playing game (Zon) showed that my concerns were justified. Most participants focused on the gameplay rather than on the tasks that were connected with learning the language. I don’t think that finding this balance between gameplay and learning content is impossible to achieve – but that it is maybe the most important challenge faced by educational game designers.

I tried, in my presentation, to make some connections to learning from games by repurposing games – i.e. seeing their pedagogical potential outside of just playing with them. I of course used the TPACK framework as guiding my talk – but also brought in issues related to trans-disciplinary learning and design.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, the entire talk is now available online as a video. You can see it in its entirety by going here: http://gcpsx.coeps.drexel.edu/videos/dgvls_ep2public/


Indipix Gallery, cool photographs

February 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

The International Conference on Indian Education: The Positive Turmoil. is being held at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi. This Habitat center is a rather cool building and, apart from academic conferences (I saw two different conferences going on at the same time), it also hosts open-air sculpture and art galleries. One of the galleries right near where the IEPT conference was being held was a photography exhibit by Sanjay Nanda. Sanjay is a graphic designer by profession and a passionate photographer in his spare time. He also runs IndiPix Gallery, what he described as “a space for contemporary art photography.” I can’t find an easy way to embed any of his photos here, so you will have to visit their website to check out Sanjay’s work. Trust me, it is will be worth your time.

Oh, Shi(f)t! Only in India…

February 6, 2011 § 5 Comments

I just came across this sign on a wall in Bhubaneswar. Check it out, nothing less than “Tension free shiting!” All you have to do is dial a number!

Here is the sign cropped close

Here is the complete sign.

It is part of an advertisement for a packing and moving company. The painter droped the “f” in the word “shift!” I love the fact that this service is available through dialing a single phone number, from anywhere in the country and you can use any mode that you like to dial it in!

Vote for Leigh

December 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

Leigh Wolf, is many things: techie, teacher, foodie, and friend. She is also a doctoral student in our program and coordinator of our Master’s in Educational Technology Program. Recently Leigh was nominated and short-listed for the Learning without Frontiers awards in the Further & Higher Education category. I really don’t know anybody more deserving of this honor and I know that many of you would agree with this assessment.

So I would request you to take a moment to go ahead and vote for her. It’s really easy. You can send an SMS or use Skype-SMS and send “WOLF” (without the quotes) to 07950 080 667 (if you are calling from within UK) or +44 7950 080 667 if from outside UK.

That’s it. Its that easy.

To see all the finalists, check out the Learning Without Frontiers 2011 Award Finalists and here is a link to Leigh’s info on their website.

So what are you waiting for? Vote for Leigh – send WOLF to 07950 080 667 (+44 7950 080 667 NON-UK)

Voting ends midnight UK time on January 4th, so hurry.

Thanks in anticipation

Happy New Year

December 25, 2010 § 15 Comments

For the past couple of years now, our family has been creating new year’s greetings using stop-motion video. This year was no exception. Here it is (on Vimeo)

A very wonderful holidays and a very happy new year to all of you,
from Shreya, Soham, Smita & Punya

You can see other videos made by us… just follow the links below:

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