New ambigram, Algebra

May 29, 2013 § 3 Comments

I have been thinking about the relationship between ambigrams and mathematics – instigated in no small part by an email conversation with Gaurav Bhatnagar. That inspired me to create ambigrams of words that are related to mathematics. There are a few ideas percolating but the first one that came through was the one below— a mirror reflection ambigram of the word “Algebra.” I like this design particularly the manner in which the “e” separates the left-hand-side from the right-hand-side of the equation. This effect is heightened (at least in my mind) in the fact that the “E” looks like an equal-to sign (except with an extra stroke thrown in).

Here it is


2 diagrams: 21st century knowledge synthesized & 7 trans-disciplinary skills

May 10, 2013 § 3 Comments

As I go around presenting my work around 21st century learning I get requests for some of the visuals I show. In particular, I have been receiving requests for

  • Synthesis of 21st Century Knowledge
  • 7 trans-disciplinary skills for creativity in the 21st century

If you choose to use these diagrams in your work please credit it as follows: © Punya Mishra | 2013

So for future convenience, here they are…

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New Gandhi ambigram

May 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment

The quest for a better design continues… Much better, I think, than my previous attempt

New ambigrams for AERA

May 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I was invited to give two talks at the the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco. One was a Ignite presentation (5 minutes, 20 slides set to move at 15 seconds per slide), and the other was an ED Talk (sort of like a TED talk just without the tea). I chose to speak about creativity and technology – though in very different ways in each of these talks. I think both talks went well… While I was preparing for these two talks, I got inspired to create a bunch of new ambigrams. I recently posted four new designs, and now here are three more. I think all three are pretty good, though I am partial to the last one (the 3rd design).  « Read the rest of this entry »

4 new ambigrams (STEM, STEAM, Research & Gandhi)

April 25, 2013 § 4 Comments

Here are four new ambigrams I have created over the past few days. All related in some ways to things I have been thinking about. The first two are for STEM (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics). The next two are for Research and Gandhi. Why I have been thinking of Gandhi is a long and complex story that I shall leave for a later date. Anyway, here are the new ambigrams.

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CEP917 receives AT&T award, update

April 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment


I had written beforeCEP917: Knowledge Media Design, a course taught by Dr. Danah Henriksen and myself, in the Fall semester of 2012, received First Place (in the Blended Course category) in the2013 MSU-AT&T Instructional Technology Awards Competition. The awards ceremony was a couple of days ago, and sadly I had to miss it because I was/am out of the country (busy doing this). 917 was well represented at the awards ceremony by Danah as well as William Cain and John Bell (representing the CEPSE/COE Design Studio). Here, for the record, are a couple of links if you want to find out more about the course and the award: « Read the rest of this entry »

New ambigram book, with 3 of my designs

April 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment


Ambigrams Revealed: A Graphic Designer’s Guide To Creating Typographic Art Using Optical Illusions, Symmetry, and Visual Perception is a new book edited by Nikita Prokhorov. The book showcases the works of ambigram artists from around the world. It includes commentary, writing from some of the world’s top ambigram artists as well as case studies and tutorials.

Three of my designs made it into the book! I think for someone who does this sparingly, and as a hobby, it is just fantastic to be sharing pages with artists such as John Langdon, Scott Kim, Douglas Hofstadter and more. The three designs that made it into the book are the following:

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Creativity Symposium at SITE2013

March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

We just completed our symposium at SITE titled: Breaking Disciplinary Boundaries in 21st Century Learning: Creative Teaching with Digital Technologies. The symposium consisted of 7 presentations followed a summary by Teresa Foulger (of Arizona State University). In brief, we argued the following:

The past few decades have seen a tremendous burst of creativity and innovation fueled by digital technologies.  From Google to YouTube, from cloud computing to mobile devices, new technologies have had an immense impact on how we live, work, play, and thereby how we teach and learn (Florida, 2002).  Given the relationship between creativity and technology, it is not surprising that educators have argued that teaching and learning in the 21st century must emphasize both the issues of technology and creativity (Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group, 2012).  This symposium suggests that a new framework for creativity – trans-disciplinary thinking – provides an invaluable set of meta-level cognitive skills for flexible use in creatively teaching with technology (Mishra, Koehler & Henriksen).  Presentations will describe the framework, present a broader context for 21st century skills such as technology and creative thinking, and discuss a range of examples of ways this framework has been used by skillful, creative K-12 teachers.  The symposium will conclude by describing new directions for research relating to trans-disciplinary thinking among teachers learning to use the framework.

The complete set of slides that went with the presentations can be found below, as well as brief descriptions of each of the presentations.   « Read the rest of this entry »

EPET at SITE 2013

March 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment

SITE2013 (the annual conference of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education) is being held in New Orleans starting next week. 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 Josh Rosenberg, we now have a list of all the various events EPET people are involved in. Here it is, arranged chronologically:

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Of Art and algorithms: New article

March 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

The latest in our series Rethinking Technology and Creativity in the 21st Century is now available. The article was co-authored with Aman Yadav of Purdue University (and the Deep-Play Research Group) and focuses on the art and science of computational thinking. We offer a slightly broader frame for thinking about computational thinking, a frame that includes artistic creativity.

Here is a link to the full article

Mishra, P., Yadav, A., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013). Of Art and AlgorithmsTech Trends, (57) 3. p. 10-14.

This article continues the series of papers that the group has been writing. Here is a complete list « Read the rest of this entry »

EPET in the Spotlight!

March 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment

The current issue of TechTrends (Volume 57, Issue 3, March 2013) is a special spotlight issue, and the spotlight this time around is on the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Programs at Michigan State University! This special spotlight issue was edited by myself with help from Laura Terry and Danah Henriksen. A special thanks to Abbie Brown (former editor of the journal for starting the process) and Dan Surry and Chuck Hodges for all their help and hand-holding to bring it to fruition. Thanks also to all the authors for being thoughtful and prompt and dealing with our idiosyncratic editorial demands.

Most importantly thanks to all our faculty, staff and students without whose hard work and creativity we would have no programs, assignments, or achievements to write about.

Here are the articles: « Read the rest of this entry »

CEP917 wins MSU-ATT Award

March 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

CEP917 (Knowledge Media Design) a course I co-taught with Danah Henriksen, in the fall semester 2012, received the First Place (in the Blended Course category) in the 2013 MSU-AT&T Instructional Technology Awards Competition. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention John Bell and William Cain as being part of the design team that made 917 possible. You can read our proposal (here) AND see the video that we made as a part of the proposal below.  


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 § 2 Comments

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 ( 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 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 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:

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