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

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 § 1 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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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.


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.


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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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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Designing shared spaces, one example

December 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

Design is about engineering. It is about art. And most importantly it is about the psychology of individuals and groups and their interactions with artifacts.

I am always on the lookout for examples of good (or bad) design. Sadly I too often come across the latter than the former!

One fantastic example of good design I recently came across (thanks to Chris Rust and the PhD-Design List) ‘one of the most ambitious examples so far of “shared space” street design.” You have to see the video below to understand how design changes how humans behave and interact.
YouTube Preview Image

10 seconds is all it takes … to judge a teacher

November 5, 2013 § 2 Comments


I just read of the sad demise of Nalini Ambady, social psychologist at Stanford. Her research on the accuracy of first impressions connected with me (from the moment I first glimpsed it). As the NYTimes reports (Nalini Ambady, Psychologist of Intuition, Is Dead at 54) Dr. Ambady’s research on how people make snap judgements tells us just how important first impressions are.

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Creativity, Technology & Teacher Education, Call for papers

November 1, 2013 § 12 Comments

We (Punya Mishra and Danah Henriksen, faculty at Michigan State University) are currently planning a special issue for the Journal of Teacher Education and Technology, on the topic of creativity. At the moment, we are looking for brief abstract submissions from educational scholars/authors, who may be interested in eventually submitting a full length piece on creativity (in the context of technology and teacher education). See below for a formal call for papers (with the brief abstract due at the beginning of December).

Drop us a line if you want to know more or forward this link to anybody who you think may be interested. Your help would be greatly appreciated.


~ Punya Mishra and Danah Henriksen (editors)

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special issue on Creativity, Technology & Teacher Education

Banksy’s biggest trick OR why I hate art museums

October 15, 2013 § 4 Comments

I have been a fan of Banksy, the subversive British street artist, for a long time. I love the visuals he comes up with, the subversive quality of his art and most importantly his ability to take art out of the galleries into the real world. His most recent trick, during his New York residency, struck a chord deeper than ever before. Here is the description from the Huffington Post

On his website on Sunday, the artist announced that he had set up a stall along Central Park on Saturday—selling “100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each.” That’s right: Banksy, whose works sell for millions at auction, sold canvases for $60 on the streets of New York. And the most unbelievable part? Almost no one bought them. It was part stunt, part social experiment…

What’s ironic is that

A limited edition print of Love Is In The Air — the image of the man throwing a hand grenade of flowers, which was stationed on the center of the table — sold for $249,000 at Bonham’s last June.

And here’s the question

If people don’t know they are looking at work from a world-famous artist, do they even care?

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A NEW definition of creativity: Next article in series

August 27, 2013 § 1 Comment

Creativity AmbigramThe latest in our series Rethinking Technology and Creativity in the 21st Century is now available. The article was co-authored with Danah Henriksen (and the Deep-Play Research Group) and it titled: A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. In this article we seek to provide a definition of creativity, and in turn offer an example of an ongoing research project in which this definition is being used to develop rubrics for evaluating the products of the creative process. Here is a link to the full article

Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013). A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. Tech Trends (57) 5, p. 5-13. 

Here is a key quote from the article: « Read the rest of this entry »

The search for pattern, beauty & intelligent life…

August 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Connecting birds nests to “crop circles under the ocean” leading to some thoughts on perception, beauty and finding intelligent life in the universe (or maybe even on this planet).

The other day I found a bird’s nest on my front lawn. Most probably it had fallen down from the tree above. Here it is. It is a tiny thing. One regular egg would fit snugly in it.

nest « Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of leadership

August 9, 2013 § 1 Comment

Matt and I were invited to Sydney, Australia a year ago as a part of the Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) project. You can see a report in the New Educator: TPACK takes hold in Australia. As a part of this visit we were interviewed to speak a bit about leadership. I just found the video online… so for the record, here it is. Enjoy (or not).

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Why don’t students like school… In 30 mins!

August 8, 2013 § 11 Comments


One of the challenges faced by all instructors is ensuring that students actually read the textbook. This summer we came up with a innovative assignment to address this issue. The book in question was  Daniel Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School? A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom. 

We called it the 3 x 3 x 3 project since their task was to create a video overview for each of the chapters in the book under the following guidelines:  the video should be no more than 3 minutes long, it would provide 3 key ideas from the chapter and 3 practical implications of these ideas for educators and for teaching (hence 3 x 3 x 3!).

Beyond that we provided no constraints on the technology to be used, style to be followed. SInce we had 5 groups and the book has 9 chapters and a conclusion, each group got to create two of these short videos.

Here are the 10 videos the students created. In essence these 10 videos are a video summary of the book in 30 minutes! Enjoy.

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Design thinking, some resources

August 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I teaching CEP817, Learning Technology by Design in the spring semester. This is a course I love but it also one that needs to be redesigned. So I am always on the look-out for new resources that can help me rethink the class. I just came across the following website: Design Thinking Resources for Educators that seems to be just right for what I do (plan to do). So here it is… merely for archival purposes.

Living words, MAET Summer 2013

July 31, 2013 § 1 Comment

Steven Jobs famously said,

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw 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.

This summer the students and instructors of the East Lansing cohort of the MAET program created a short video around this quote.

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How not to conduct research

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Note: This post has been edited somewhat to (a) clearly hide the url, which I had not done a good job of before; and (b) to add a few suggestions in the last paragraph for some strategies to make it easier for the participants to take part in the study.  (September 18, 2013).

There are many pitfalls one can face while engaged in conducting research with humans. For instance, if you are designing a survey it is important to make it easy for participants to actually complete it. Matt Koehler pointed out to me one person who just got it totally wrong.

Here is a flyer, recruiting participants for a study on college students’ use of social media, that has been posted near the elevators here at Erickson Hall.

survey « Read the rest of this entry »

Website problems

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

hardhat image removed

My website has been facing all kinds of problems over the past few weeks. We have been working on figuring out what went wrong and trying to ensure that it doesn’t recur – but it has taken a while and it’s not clear to us whether we have it all figured out. So the site is up now (with a default template), but in essence I am not sure if it will crash again. So apologies to all who have tried to access the site and here’s to hoping that we have it all figured out.

P.S. (added March 3, 2014): I received a note today letting me know that I had been using an image on this page without giving proper acknowledgment. I truly do know better. So my sincere apologies to for not giving them due credit, and I have removed the image from the page.  

New ambigram: Motivation

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just as the subject line says, new ambigram design this time for the word “motivation”

Trans-disciplinary creativity takes root (slowly)

May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wanted to bring attention to two articles that came across my desk today. The first was in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled Creativity: a Cure for the Common Curriculum on efforts at range of universities seeking “to train students in how innovative thinkers …[and] use the tools of creativity to solve problems.”

The second article in yesterday’s Washington Post was titled Engineering students learn how to swing dance during class to help with problem-solving skills.

I have been thinking and writing about this for a while now – and it is good to see some of these initiatives taking root. These are difficult issues to deal with mainly because the return on investment, as it were, for teaching creativity is hard to measure. But that just makes the task all the more interesting.


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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