Equity-focused Connected / Participatory Learning

As we do every last Wednesday of the month, today we were supposed to have a speaker for our Emerging Technologies & Creativity Research Lab Speakers Series. These days though, normal is not looking so normal anymore. Since many of us, who are privileged enough to have access to reliable internet have been spending (willingly or not) a lot of time on zoom, as a lab we decided not to forego this week. Instead we are sharing a recording from one of our past speakers. It is amazing how the April 2019 presentation is equally relevant to April 2020.

Dr. Maha Bali was our speaker for April 2019 and presented on “Emerging technologies for Equity-focused Connected/Participatory Learning”. In her talk, Dr. Bali discussed the potential for using emerging technologies for equity-focused learning that includes connected and participatory learning, while recognizing the nuanced and contextual nature of when technologies can reduce or exacerbate inequalities. She shared and built on examples from her experiences of Virtually Connecting, Equity Unbound, and working with Open Educational Resources.

Dr. Maha Bali is an Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. She is co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org and co-facilitator of Equity Unbound. She is an editor at Hybrid Pedagogy journal, and editorial board member of: Teaching in Higher Education, Online Learning Journal, Journal of Pedagogic Development, Learning, Media and Technology and Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. She has blogged for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Prof Hacker, DMLCentral blogs and Al-Fanar media. She is former International Director of Digital Pedagogy Lab. She is a learnaholic, Writeaholic and passionate open and connected educator. She blogs at http://blog.mahabali.me and tweets @bali_maha

eSports in Education

We had the privilege of hosting Dr. Raymond Pasotre and Dr. Jason Alphonso Engerman as our February 2020 Emerging Technologies & Creativity Research Lab 2020 Speakers. The recording for this exciting conversation on eSports in education is available below, as well as more details on our speakers. Dr. Pastore presentation was titled “eSports – A new pathway for the Instructional Technologist” while Dr. Engerman presented on “eSports – for Learning in the Age of Experience.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Ray Pastore
Associate Professor and Program Coordinator
of the Instructional Technology Master’s program
Esports Club Advisor at the
University of North Carolina Wilmington

eSports – A new pathway for the Instructional Technologist

“eSports in education have been shown to satisfy “the growing desire to train and educate students on the soft skills emphasized in STEM and Career Technical Education (CTE) education, as well as in programs such as English and Language Arts” (Rothwell & Shaffer, 2019). Much of the learning takes place during events and competition, which is considered an extracurricular activity. These extracurricular activities can lead to school identities, behavioral engagement in the classroom, higher grades and test scores, higher educational achievements, more regularity in class attendance and higher self-confidence, leadership and teamwork abilities in students (Im, Hughes, Cao, & Kwok, 2016; Tariq, 2018). Without school eSports, passionate gamers often feel left out of mainstream school social life. Organized eSports bring these kids into the fold. Thus, it can help them become accepted and respected members of their school community. The following presentation will discuss how to communicate these advantages to stakeholders, how to start an esports program, and what esports curriculum looks like.”

Dr. Ray Pastore has extensive corporate, government, K-12, and higher education experience. With a background in management consulting and instructional design, he earned his Ph.D. in Instructional Systems including a minor in Educational Psychology from Penn State University in 2008 and is currently an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Instructional Technology master’s program as well as Esports Club Advisor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

He has worked on projects for fortune 100 companies, the department of defense, as well as a myriad of schools and universities. Over the last several years he has developed eSports curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate students, helped start eSports programs at middle and high schools, organized large tournaments, coached teams who have competed at the collegiate level, and worked with professional eSports organizations.

Dr. Pastore also runs a technology Youtube channel which has over 4 million views. More info can be found at his website: http://raypastore.com.


Jason Engerman PictureDr. Jason Alphonso Engerman
Assistant Professor Digital Media Technologies
East Stroudsburg University

eSports – for Learning in the Age of Experience.

“As educators and learning scientists seek to prepare learners for the Age of Experience, new digital tools have technical social and cultural meaning. A McCrindle (2020) report shows the drastic differences in intergenerational digital consumption habits and learning preferences among people over the last 70 years. These BabyBoomers, Gen X and Y represent the parents and grandparents for a new generation of digitally responsive youth. For example, Generation Zers prefer learning through collaboration and are influenced by social forums compared to directing learning through structure and being influenced by self-identified experts as their Baby Boomer counterparts (McCrindle, 2020). One specific emerging interactive movement revolves around Esports ecosystems. This spectator sport (Esports) is house forums that revolve around intense digital competition, teamwork and collaboration according to several academic scholars in the field. However, the definitions that are used to develop these fields neglect to inform the connection between economic evolution of a new age of human development which drive sociocultural and sociotechnical behaviors intergenerationally as well as internationally. The current presentation will unpack the trends associated with digitally competitive ecosystems known holistically as Esports and the impact these environments can have on preparation for an evolving economic landscape.”

Dr. Jason Alphonso Engerman, is an American learning designer, philosopher, learning scientist, educational change agent, youth advocate, and playcologist. Dr. Engerman is an assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University where he teaches courses in Digital Media Technologies, emphasizing the intersection of sports, entertainment, and digital media technology. Recently Dr. Engerman received a highly competitive Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers through the National Science Foundation to leverage Esports as STEM development for at-risk youth. He has published journal articles and book chapters and served on international editorial boards. He mentors and coaches young adults, particularly those from underrepresented populations, to help them leverage their passions towards advancing career opportunities.

With over 15 years of experience in education, instructional design and learning, his primary work and research revolve around the use of digital media, such as games, as learning tools. Dr. Engerman believes that as a Learning Designer, he is an engineer of understanding with the ability to design learning for all ages at all levels even across geographical space and time. Dr. Engerman advocates for learner empowerment so that they can take control of their own learning pathways by understanding the systemic implications of their learning ecologies. Instead of being passive consumers of traditional systems, learning designers should help young learners shape their own futures for the Experience Age. Based on his research and interest Dr. Engerman considers himself “The Pioneer Learning Design Playcologist”.

Emerging Technologies in the Age of Epidemics

by Yam Chaivisit

During the spreading of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 epidemic, I have received messages from my friends in China and South Korea to pray for students in the countries that are affected by the virus. During this turbulent time, people are trying their best to survive and be optimistic. I also had a conversation with my friend from Mongolia who told me that schools and universities have been closed for the entire month. My thoughts go to students who need help physically, intellectually, and mentally. As a student in the Educational Technology field, I was wondering how emerging technologies could help students during this difficult time. 

In the medical field, some hospitals are now using robots to interact with patients in order to reduce the chance of contracting and transmitting the virus. Technology has become crucial in aiding communication and interaction between medical staff and patients. In fact, the Japanese companies (e.g. Sony and Fujitsu) allow employees to work from home so that they don’t have to risk spreading the virus.

How about the educational technology field? What is the role of educational technology when facing these types of situations? Our world today is already advanced with online learning, where students can learn anytime and anywhere. Students can use virtual meeting spaces like Zoom and Skype. Additionally, they can control telepresence robots from their tablets. These robots are able to move and attend in-person classes. The reality is that there will be other challenging situations similar to this and possibly other epidemics that prevent people from traveling to their classrooms or places of work. 

Actually, we face this in a different way daily. There are people who are limited by mobility issues but would still like to fully participate in everyday activities. Therefore, what role can we play in ensuring that physical time and space is less of an issue? In the field of Learning, Design, and Technology, we need to consider how to better include individuals that want to take part in learning activities but might not be able to. My hope is that with various emerging technologies, we can think creatively about how to assist students to learn without the obstacle of the distance and the risk of other concerns.

AECT 2019 Poster Session from the Perspective of an EdTech Graduate Student

by Ayodeji Ibukun

For us in the Educational Technology program, like so many in our field, we are preparing proposal submissions to the AECT conference. So, it seems like a good time to reflect on last year’s AECT conference and make a connection between the lab and our work at professional meetings.

Our lab provides ample work spaces and facilities such as 3D printers, smartboard, flight simulators, HoloLens, EEG machine, iPads, and iMac computers for varieties of student learning engagements. The Spotty Rain Campaign NSF grant project is one of such projects, on which our students get hands on experience. Below are the excerpts of Ayodeji’s experience during a national conference where he presented the outcomes of the work developed in the lab (combining educational technology with citizen science) for the Spotty Rain Campaign project.

In this picture, Dr. Tutaleni I. Asino, Director of the ETC Research Lab and Ayodeji Ibukun representing the Spotty Rain Campaign at the opening session of the AECT International Convention held at Westgate Hotel and Resort, Las Vegas on October 22nd 2019. Ayodeji was the lead presenter on 3 different presentations, a co-presenter on 1 paid workshop, contributed to 1 departmental showcase and a participant on 1 paid workshop. He also served as one of the three selected technical supervisors for the AECT Tech Center).

About the poster

The poster’s title was “Educational Technology Tools and Citizen Science: A Perfect Synergy”. The main objective of the poster was to bring awareness and clarity to how educational technology tools are used to support citizen science such as the drought monitoring collaborations between researchers in the great plains of the United States as applicable to the Spotty Rain Campaign project.

Feedbacks from the Poster Session’s Visitors

Most of our visitors were students and professors from various schools across the United States and a few other countries such as Korea, Nigeria and South Africa. We hosted about 15 visitors during the poster session who were eager to know more about what the Spotty Rain Campaign is all about. The poster generated a lot of conversations based on its clarity and description of some project related activities and community science in general. In the same vein, some visitors were also interested in the design and implementation of the AR app.

In this picture, Yam Chaivisit and Ayodeji Ibukun from the OSU Educational Technology during the poster session

The conversations we had with visitors on the community science and drought monitoring was centered on the Spotty Rain Campaign’s outreaches and efforts in engaging with librarians in rural communities in and around Oklahoma State. Some visitors believed it is a good idea to have people come together to implement a citizen science project but are wary of the realization of expected end results due to perceived bottlenecks and other challenges expected when people of different backgrounds and ideas are required to perform a task. Some of them suggested the integration of instructional design models such as Dick and Carey Model to help structure and evaluate the effectiveness of volunteers and other key participants of the project. One of the most important feedbacks we got involved the possibility of the AR app becoming easily adaptable to several scenarios of operation. In conclusion, the general belief is that AR is a good way to implement instructional design and more research should be carried out to determine its efficacy to varieties of users. Going forward an AECT Systems Thinking and Change Division officer commended the poster and suggested that it will be a perfect idea to develop the poster into a full paper for submission to the division as a full paper.

In this picture, Dr. Suha Tamim, President of System Thinking and Change Division of AECT and Ayodeji Ibukun shortly after the poster presentation


The poster session served as a good learning experience with a lot of positive feedback thanks to the creative spark enhanced by the ETC Research Lab. The lab is available for use to all students to come and experience their own unique journeys in the world of emerging technologies. As the director of the lab always says our experiences in the lab should be in such a way to engage us in having conversations surrounding what we are supposed to be doing that we are not yet doing. Having these conversations and backing them up with adequate actions will guarantee our position as a top emerging technologies facilitator in the country.

In this picture, Ayodeji Ibukun inside the Emerging Technologies and Creativity Research Lab

Supporting and Permitting Creativity

It is incredible what we can do when we feel supported. When you feel supported, you are free to explore; you are not as afraid to make a mistake, and as a result, I think you can be more creative and innovation in action and thought. In other words, the support that we receive or give is akin to receiving, granting, or denying permission. I saw this a few days ago when we had guests in our lab.

This Saturday, we had a group of 15 male students of high school age visit our lab from Class Matters. The students were brought in by the chairperson of the organization, Darron Lamkin, who is a PhD student in our EdTech program. We did not have a very structured program. The goal was to have students in our lab, have conversations about creativity and show them the different tools in the lab.

I don’t know if it is the outcome of the Class Matters program or what, but the students seem to have a keen understanding of how to support each other. There was never an instance of any of them working on activities alone. When one was on the flight simulator, there was at least two on each side, giving input and guidance. When three were playing Just Dance 2020, there were at least three others with cheers of “go, go, go!” “you go!” “Show ‘em!” When one could not figure out how to use the telepresence robot, another went over to problem solve. What was happening (in my view), is that the support was giving permission. There was no fear of “I’ll be laughed at” or “I don’t know how to do this.” What was present, however, was permission to try, think outside the box or to be creative within the box.

This experience had me thinking about the way we give or deny permission to others, in the way we act in support or in opposing their ideas. The support can come in many forms and can be extrinsic or intrinsic. However, in the end, I think we have to find a way to be more supportive or to seek out support that frees us to be more creative and innovative.


To be successful in this dynamic and fast world, we need the ability to multitask. We must develop the skill of answering the phone, work, cook, and even pay attention to our kids, all at the same time. After some practice, it is impressive the way we can divide ourselves and perform many activities in parallel. But I wonder, is multitasking detrimental to our creativity?

We are pushed to carry many hats and to be successful wearing all of them. To do so, we live in a rush, and, hopefully, most of the time, we can complete all the work. Yet, some of the most creative ideas arise when we are taking a bath, when we close our eyes, when we are looking through a window, and often when we are merely taking a break. This lead to a larger queston: Are we creating or completing?

I like to think about this question, and when I feel I am not in the innovative and critical thinking path, I know it is time to slow down the phase. But then I begin to regret and blame myself for “loosing” time, and I speed up again. I think just as we practice being successful multitaskers, we must also rehearse to take productive breaks.

When writing this post, I did a little research about mindfulness. The dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Even though there is no consensus about the positive relationship between mindfulness and creativity, there are studies indicating that mindfulness training fosters the critical thinking and observation required to be creative.

If you are struggling to solve a problem, if you don’t find creative solutions, think about how to relax your mind, stop multitasking for a while, AND BREATHE…

Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

Lighting cards to bring smiles

A new semester begins in our Emerging Technologies and Creativity Research Lab! We are looking forward to more events, new technologies, and plenty of guests willing to have fun in our place. So do stop in!

December was a productive month that gave us a chance to use the ETC Research Lab to host a meaningful activity called “Let’s illuminate someone’s Christmas.” Our playground got noisy with the presence of six elementary schoolers. They worked on a STEM activity while creating a Christmas Card for less privileged kids in Colombia. These awesome kids used the Maker’s corner materials available in the Lab to build a lighting card. They used conductive tape, led lights, 3V batteries, and lots of creativity to put their hearts in beautiful creations.

Each kid-created a card to a kid in Colombia, and these were delivered with some gifts on December 23rd during my travels over the holidays. Our place enabled a breathtaking moment that brought many smiles and happiness to kids that struggle daily. Meanwhile, our guests learned exciting facts about circuits, energy, and light.

We are fortunate to have a place were many things can occur. We have fantastic technologies, but also many materials to enhance instruction and learning. Building a lighting card is a productive activity to work with elementary students. Hopefully, this new year will bring us the opportunity to host many more events like this one. We are always happy to have creative guests that play, learn and teach us every day new exciting things!

What I am thinking about today…

When emerging is not so emerging anymore.

Embed from Getty Images

In the ETC Research Lab, we have been fortunate to play around with a lot of new technologies. The goal has always been to bring into the lab, cutting edge technologies so that the college community can try them out and engage in creative conversations regarding their potentials in education. However, as the years have gone by, we are now faced with a new challenge. The issue we are thinking through is, what do you do with the technologies that are no longer emerging?

It is easy to dismiss this as a question of privilege given the various digital divides that exist in the world. To do so, though, would be to disregard a broader issue. The problem has more significant global implications. What do we do with technologies once they are of no longer of use to us? One suggested solution was to donate technologies to others who could still use them. That is a good suggestion but is a temporary fix with short term benefits. It is similar to passing down the clothes you have outgrown to a younger sibling. The sibling benefits, but inevitably the sibling will outgrow the clothes as well. What do you do then? The question of what we do with the technologies we outgrow is one that I do not think is receiving enough consideration.  There is some research in this area, especially as it relates to the “good intention” of donating equipment to less wealthy countries. Sadly the outcome is not always a positive one, and sometimes these “good intentions” have turned those with less globally into a dumping ground of what the wealthy have outgrown. 

For those of us engaged in Learning, Design, and Technologies in education, this is something we should be thinking about as we continue to pursue emerging technologies. While trying to build the next best new machines or integrating existing technologies, we also have to answer the question of social responsibility. What we do when the once emerging technologies are not emerging anymore?


Looking Glass, Again


This February, the ETC Research Lab was fortunate to host some MS/HS Stillwater Public School teachers exploring classroom processes whose benefit could be strengthened through the integration of digital technology. We enjoyed playing with some of the gadgets in the Research Lab, mixing it up with the Hololens, and brainstorming ways the 3D printer could enrich the classroom environment. As part of our exploration, the teachers shared some of the challenges experienced when considering the integration of digital technology. It’s time to wipe the glass, to make room for new ideas, but I don’t have the heart to erase the challenges they noted without finding at least a couple possible solutions. Perhaps, if we all work together, we can get a bit closer. Below is a list of some of the “opportunities”:

  • Students (mis)use phones during tests
  • Students lack home access to digital technology
  • Classrooms are physically full, quite frequently holding 30 or more students
  • Limited Space/No money, resulting in limited access to digital technology
  • Varying levels of student technological fluency
  • Varying levels of student motivation to use digital technology (do they wanna?)
  • Students do not see the phone as an educational resource
  • Student engagement
  • New technology requires training time, sometimes takes longer to grade student work

How do you address these “opportunities” in your own world? We look forward to hearing from you!

~Kathy Essmiller

Confident Failure

20180201_111730Several things have been happening in the Emerging Technologies Creativity Research Lab this week! One, our 3D printer is having some filament issues, and as a result not all the prints are completing as expected. Two, our EDTC 3123 students (preservice teachers exploring processes through which they can incorporate digital technology into their classroom practices) are coming through to explore the resources in the Lab. The 3D printer is a big draw, and the challenges the filament issues present have given us some nifty opportunities.

Brad Hokansen (2018) suggests creativity can be developed as make connections and new ideas from their experiences and knowledge. Additionally, studies indicate that intentional incorporation of student misconceptions (celebrate and use your mistakes!) helps students learn. Our fidgety 3D printer allowed us to help our preservice teachers experiment with combining these ideas.

The print pictured above was originally intended to be two yellow flower stems. The filament slipped, the print stopped, and we ended up with an interesting yellow outline. Rather than being bummed about not getting flower stems, the future master educator wondered aloud what story the shape could tell, embracing the print failure and stretching her creativity. What story do you hear?

I hear the story of yet another amazing, talented educator on the way to our kids’ classrooms.

~Kathy Essmiller