A Conversation on the Future of Education, Educational Technologies and Instructional Design

Emerging Technologies & Creativity Research Lab

2020 Speakers Series

September

Enjoy this recording of our conversation with Dr. Kyle L. Peck as our September 2020 Emerging Technologies & Creativity Research Lab Speaker.

Dr. Peck recently retired from Penn State University, where he holds the rank of Professor Emeritus, and is involved in a few studies and projects related to personalized online learning, competency-based education, and digital micro-credentials (digital badges).

Kyle was also Co-Founder of the innovative “Centre Learning Community Charter School,” served as Principal Investigator for the NASA Aerospace Education Services Project, and served as Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Technology, Head of the Learning and Performance Systems Department, and Professor in Charge of the Instructional Systems Program while at Penn State.

Before coming to Penn State, Kyle taught middle school for seven years in Pasadena, California and in Leadville, Colorado.

The Curiosity, Creativity and Exposure Alliance

Curiosity and creativity exist naturally. However, they can be enabled, nourished or squashed by exposure. Let me explain what I mean through an example of my own experience. It’s a bit long, so bear with me.

I was a standard 5 (grade 7) student at the Namibia English Primary school when a group of students from town came to play music at our school. They brought all kind of musical equipment that before then I had never seen or never heard being played in person.

I don’t know if the music was beautiful, nor do I even remember what was played. All I is that after their performance, I was hooked!! I knew I wanted to play an instrument! I wanted to make music just like them. This was not a fleeting thought of youth, like wanting to be a superhero or to be the most popular student in school. It was a desire unlike any other, and I knew I had to satisfy it. So, I decided that I was going to find out where this school was and enrol. That day I walked from my school to town, which according to google maps is a bit over 7 kilometres, so it was a distance. I walked the distance because I was going after school without permission from my family (so yeah, I snuck away). I did not really speak English at a time, so I must have asked a teacher or a friend for the name of the instrument that most fascinated me or I looked up the picture and found the English word. Either way, I remember walking from school to town practising the word “organ” and repeating it over and over to the point that if someone had asked me what my name was, I would’ve probably said organ. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember seeing anyone or anything while on my quest. I was in my determined world. I was on a mission!!

I finally reached the school. A bright yellow classic looking building that could be mistaken for a castle with white window trims, a black metal fence with a big black gate to match (to be fair, I was a kid and everything was big). I rang the bell excitedly a few times. I had arrived, and my musical career was merely a step behind the big black gate! The building door opened, and a woman came out. 

“Yes!?!”…she bellowed out in a voice that reeked of annoyance at the audacity that I dare have the nerve to push the bell. “What is it??!” 

I was a small boy, and suddenly the excitement turned to fear, but I gathered myself because Damn it, my musical dream! I mustered the courage and finally responded in a proud, loud voice (although it probably came out sounding like a squeaking mouse). In my broken English, I told the lady emphatically, “I want to learn how to play organ.”  Ok, maybe with my broken English it could have very well been – I Learn Organ!…either way, I communicated my desire.

Without skipping a beat, she yelled: “you’re too short to play an organ!” She walked away and slammed the door. 

I walked away, with my shame to keep me company on my walk back home – all the 7+km of it – angry at myself that my height has prevented me from achieving my musical greatness.

Years later, when I was fluent in English, I would discover that the instrument I saw at school was a piano and not an organ!!! I wanted to learn how to play the piano!

Beside it traumatizing me as a child, that was a formative experience. It all happened after I was exposed to a piano on that one day when a musical ensemble, visited my school. It was my first experience at the power of exposing people to new things and how that can either nourish curiosity and creativity or adversely impact it. I am not sure what comes first in terms of curiosity and creativity and exposure. I can make a case for any of the three being a starting point so I would probably conceptualists it as a cyclical process where no matter where you start the other follow or feed each other.

Connection to the Lab

How does this relate to the Emerging Technologies and Creativity Research Lab at Oklahoma State University? For me, this is why this space exists. It is the place where someone can come to because they are curious about something and explore it. It is a place where students and teachers alike can be exposed to things that they did not know existed, or they had a sense off but did not know what they were called. It is where people can come to be exposed to virtual reality, 3D printing, telepresence robots to many other exciting tools so that hopefully it will spark curiosity and take them on their journey of creativity.

There is though one major difference. The ETC Research lab is a supportive environment where a person does not need to know what the appropriate name for a tool is; where the person does not even need to understand how something work, all that is required is to be open to exploring their curiosity. In the end, isn’t that what education is all about? Shouldn’t learning spaces be environments where we can be exposed to ideas, where we can explore our curiosity and, in the process, find creative solutions? In our lab, we are learning how to do all of this, in a time when playing together is not encouraged, and virtual space is becoming the norm. But regardless, our mission in the ETC Research Lab remains the same, to expose visitors to new tools, for people to come to be curious and explore their curiosity so that we can  Transforming Education through Creative Habits.

Sharing (our)Practices Session

Teaching fully online or in a blended model for the first time?

Or do you have something that has just worked well for your teaching with technology that you want to share?

Take a look at our webinar for August 2020 with the Educational Technology Faculty.

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
@raymepastore

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
@JaengermanA

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

Conclusion

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.

AND BREATHE…

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