Monthly Archives: August 2015

Foster Innovation in an Open Space

“Consciously or not, we feel and internalize what the space tells us about how to work. When you walk into most offices, the space tells you that it’s meant for a group of people to work alone. Closed-off desks sprout off of lonely hallways, and in a few obligatory conference rooms a huge table ensures that people are safely separated from one another.”

David Kelley

If this portrayal by leading design educator, David Kelley, describes the typical office space, then the T.E.C.H. Playground is the picture of collaboration and innovation.  As professors and students meet in the Playground, conversations happen and ideas are shared about the use of technology to engage students and interest them in subjects they might find dull or boring. Research projects commence when these conversations raise fascinating questions that require answers.  

I was recently involved in a conversation with one of my dissertation committee members in the T.E.C.H. Playground .  As we brainstormed ideas on my newest area of research interest, I felt as though he and I were colleagues working alongside each other, not merely as the teacher mentoring his student.  The transformation of our interactions was facilitated not only by his seemingly genuine interest in my ideas, but also in the comfort and design of the environment.  As students,  we often fight the fear of failure so we don’t share our ideas, try new things, or take the opportunity to make mistakes from which we could learn. The T.E.C.H. Playground welcomes faculty, staff, and students to hold meetings, learn and play with new technologies,  and even make mistakes without the fear of “messing things up” or being judged for not knowing something. We look  forward to those opportunities to celebrate those who are willing to take a chance.



A Research Request!

Hi.  My name is Scott and I am a PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  One of my big interests is *gamification in the classroom AND gamifying professional development.  I am really leaning towards this topic (gamification) for my dissertation…Just not sure what aspect.  Please take a few minutes and respond with your thoughts.

*Gamification – using gaming mechanics in the classroom.  Making learning a game.

I am thinking about developing a website for teachers to help with professional development.  Get PD when you want and get what you want.  Even in your jammies….

Share this with your friends and colleagues – I would love to have your help!

Thank you for responding 🙂


Excuses to Fail

I love spending time in the T.E.C.H. Playground because I can fail…and it’s ok. Last week I spent 30 minutes on the flight simulator trying to get the plane off the ground. I crashed that sucker 15 times and walked away without a scratch! Imagine trying that in a real Cessna! Another instructor tried the 3-D printer for the first time yesterday. She aimed big – a six-inch model of the Eiffel Tower! However, two-thirds of the way through the process the model collapsed, and she realized she should have turned the object differently for it to print properly. It looks like a convincing Eiffel Tower when you view it from one angle, but turn it another and it looks like a tangle of badly cooked rice noodles.
No worries, though! Within this safe environment where trial and error leads to discoveries big and small, you can come try new technology that you’ve never tried before, and it’s okay to be bad at it. In fact, that’s the point. You can try out a Smartboard or Chromebook and develop some expertise before you crash and burn in front of a class.
If you have never made your way to 326 Willard, come see what you have been missing out on!


See, what did I tell you? Rice noodles.

~ Kathy and Tara

New Faces, Transformative Experiences This Year

If you are new to the OSU College of Education or just have not yet had an opportunity to experience the T.E.C.H. Playground in 326 Willard yet, we are eager for you to drop in! T.E.C.H. stands for Transforming Education through Creative Habitsand that is exactly what we aim to do. See an overview video and read about our mission at

Transformation happens when there has been a “thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character” of something. Are you ready to impact teaching, learning and research in creative, transformative ways? The T.E.C.H. Playground is here for you! There are many individuals who contribute to this wonderful learning space:

Dr. Susan Stansberry, Director
Kathy Thomas, Facilitator
Scott Haselwood, Facilitator
Tara Dalinger, Facilitator
Alesha Baker, Facilitator
(Note: Our hearty congratulations go out to Dr. Toby Brown, who graduated this summer and is teaching computer applications at Stillwater High School! Give him a shout @tbbrwn!)

Scott Haselwood gives Emily Ray flying lessons.

Scott Haselwood gives Emily Ray flying lessons.

The facilitators work together to maintain the learning space, suggest products and design processes for enhancing the mission, facilitate creative thinking, serve those who make use of the T.E.C.H. Playground, and participate in research teams. They also answer the email at, serve as the T.E.C.H. Playground’s voice on social media, and maintain the calendar, so your reservation is always noted.

Graduate students in Educational Technology will each be available a few hours a week – Jose Fulgencio,Travis Hartfield, Emily Ray, Cates Schwark, and Ying Xiu. Undergraduate student volunteers are also in and out on a daily basis. As members of the Educational Media & Technology Student Association, they can count their volunteer hours toward their service goals.

Cates Schwark and Jose Fulgencio conducting collaborative course design on the treadmill desk.

Cates Schwark and Jose Fulgencio conducting collaborative course design on the treadmill desk.

Our advisory board includes Dustin Ivey, Dr. Bridget Miller, Dr. Suzii Parsons, Dr. Shanedra Nowell, Dr. Sheri Vasinda, Judy Nalon, Dr. Chad Depperschmidt, Dr. Ed Harris, and Dr. Penny Thompson. Please let Susan know if you are interested in serving on the advisory board. Since this learning space is “by the college, for the college,” we would love to have you join.

So, what actually happens in this space? You can check out faculty and graduate student perspectives via video on our website (, connect with us on Twitter or Facebook, or just come see for yourself! One of my favorite things about the T.E.C.H. Playground is consistently hearing a wide variety of groups engaged in conversations about teaching, learning and research. A research team of faculty and grad students were meeting in the T.E.C.H. Playground one morning, and a group of undergraduate students who were in there joined in and added invaluable perspectives on the topic of teaching curiosity. Faculty members have found research partners just by posting an idea/question on the wall. One of our candidates for a faculty position left a question on the wall, and students/staff/faculty continued to post to that discussion for the next three months. The space itself is a great place to hold research team meetings, faculty meetings, organizational meetings, brainstorming sessions, small class sessions, office hours, productive coffee breaks/lunches, and human-subject research experiments.

We have a variety of technology tools available to facilitate innovative learning, communication and collaboration and would love for you to come try things out! This is definitely a space to think, try, fail, learn, grow, collaborate, design, innovate, and have a hand in transforming education!