Learning Futures: designing the horizon keynote address

If you missed our opening keynote at the 2021 ShapingEDU Winter Games Conference, you can now relive our talk in all of its digital splendor. This talk is a story of uncertainty, disruption, and resilience. See how define learning futures, tackle the challenge of designing educational systems, explore strategic foresight tools, and build an ecosystem if resilience into our IgnitED Labs.

This keynote led by Dr. Sean Leahy, Dr. Punya Mishra, and Jodie Donner was a fun opportunity for us to share our work and engage with the ShapingEDU community around how we are preparing for the uncertainty of the futures of learning. One of the core messages throughout the talk is our stance on trying to predict the future.

We are not trying to predict the future… we are preparing for the future by building in resilience in our systems to succeed in uncertain times

Full Session Description:

The maxim we cannot predict the future, but we can invent it (and its derivatives) is often cited as a call to engage in design and strategic forecasting tools and methodologies. Join us as we create a space to explore what we describe as Learning Futures. Visualize with us how we might rethink our teaching and learning environments by harnessing the opportunities of our collective uncertainty. We will explore emergent strategic foresight frameworks as we consider multiple future scenarios to reveal the risks and opportunities of disruptions, and propose strategies for engaging in futures thinking in your own organizational contexts.

You can find more information and links to other presentations from the conference at the ShapingEDU Winter Games 2021 website.

As we continue to forge new pathways into the uncertainty of 2021 – we are excited to continue this work and engage with our communities around intentionally and strategically building resilience into our systems.

Unforeseen Consequences of Popular Technology

Although technology can be both a useful and entertaining tool in our lives, it is important to consider how it can be misused — unintentionally or intentionally.

Inadvertently, users can become overly fixated on the technology in front of them. The use of Pokemon Go is one example of where this fixation could occur. The app uses augmented reality to allow users to “catch” pokemon in real-world environments. For many users, this involves walking around a space to find and catch the pokemon, or even team up to challenge or defend a gym. Unfortunately, some users can become extremely focused on the screen and goal in front of them, and unintentionally place themselves in highly dangerous situations. This can mean walking into traffic or off of leveled ground.

Another unintentional consequence of technology deals with Artificial Intelligence (AI). This technology uses human-made algorithms to make decisions. In theory, AI can be beneficial to a variety of fields to increase efficiency and effectiveness, but it is not a perfect science. Many who theorize or work with the technology worry of how portions of the algorithm can lead to bias and even discrimination.

On the other hand, some users choose to misuse the technology they have access to. For example, three-dimensional (3D) printing has been utilized in several instances to create weapons. These weapons, being made of plastic, are difficult for security personnel to find with most protocols. This has created many problems for lawmakers, who have found themselves in legal debate over how these weapons should be handled. For example, do individuals who 3D print a gun need to abide by the same carrying laws as those with metal guns? How should 3D printed knives be treated if they are not sharp enough to cut through a material, but can seriously injure someone?

Additionally, technology can be misused without deliberate intention to do so. Tesla’s Autopilot mode has made headlines several times when the vehicle is involved in an accident. In many these situations, the individual driving was no longer fully attentive to the road and chose to do something else. In other cases, the vehicle’s AI algorithms failed to accurately interpret the environment.

It’s crucial to remember that use of all technology has the potential to have negative consequences. Although many of these consequences are unintentional, it is still important to acknowledge them, as the major determinant in these situations is often the decisions of the user. It can be easy to overly rely on the technology around us and pay little attention to external factors, but it’s just as important to be aware of what can go wrong.

Creating an Efficient Workflow for MLFTC’s SDLL 1.5

In response to educational instruction having moved online, members from numerous departments of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College (MLFTC) have worked to launch Sun Devil Learning Labs (SDLL) 1.5. Unlike the original Sun Devil Learning Labs, which were live streams of lessons taught by MLFTC teacher candidates, SDLL 1.5 utilizes pre-recorded lessons supplemented by learning guides, offered to learners via YouTube. Such a project involves a large number of people, with each playing a very specific role for every lesson. Prior to the official launch of SDLL 1.5, I worked as part of a team that created documentation to ensure that SDLL 1.5 would function as efficiently as possible. Along with two of my supervisors, we determined what kind of documents would be useful and what those would look like.

My background as a human systems engineering student made it so that the organization and physical appearance of the documents were designed with the users’ needs in mind. This meant an emphasis on clarity of information along with a consistent and familiar theme. With the help of IgnitED Labs’ Caitlin Jorgensen, who holds a degree in Graphic Information Technology (B.S.), we created each document with consistent text formats, language, and overall aesthetic.

The application of the aforementioned characteristics were used on an overall workflow document, sharing the “big picture” that all members play a role in. My team — which included Educational Technology Champion Lead, Ashley Geornitz — also worked on a Role Descriptions document, which lists more specific responsibilities for all members. Documentation was also created to describe training, familiarization, and editing standards for the IgnitED Labs’ very own Educational Technology Champions — the individuals who edit the video lessons for release. A number of other documents were created with the intention of thoroughly describing the expectations and workflow for all of the people involved in the project. This information begins with lesson planning and ends with posting the lesson on YouTube.

Implementing these documents meant that my team and I were able to see first-hand where any holes in the designs were. As members of the project shared their feedback and asked questions, we made changes that helped us build, what is now, a smooth system across the board. This is a sixteen-step process for each lesson, which includes collaboration with the Creighton School District, a Spanish translator, ASU student workers, doctoral students, teacher candidates, faculty site leads, and a web application developer. Communication and collaboration between these individuals, and aligned steps for those actions, is integrated throughout the documentation my team created. Together, 80 videos of instructional content tailored for Kindergarten to 8th grade are produced weekly.

Participating in the creation of these documents has undoubtedly made me a stronger designer, in that I was able to take note of the common patterns of feedback or problems that arose for individuals with varying roles. As an Educational Technology Champion myself, it is still exciting to see how the documents my team created help me do my job on a daily basis. As a whole, this process has been extremely motivating, in that I know my knowledge and experience played a vital role in such an important project. It makes me feel proud to have applied this knowledge and experience so that the SDLL lessons can be shared with the ASU community. These lessons can be viewed on the SDLL site for grades K-8.

Supporting Sun Devil Learning Labs During Travels

Over the past few months, we have been faced with a multitude of circumstances which we could have never imagined. Many people, including myself, have had to move back home, leaving college sooner than we expected. As summer approached, I found myself worried that I would have nothing to fill my days.

Luckily, while working for the IgnitED Labs, I have been provided an abundance of opportunities. Over the past month, I have been able to help teacher candidates with their lessons by providing assistance with video editing in support of the Sun Devil Learning Labs. I have found that this experience has been extremely beneficial because of the flexibility of this job. Since moving to Kansas, I have continued to visit more family around the states. My family is not very fond of air travel in the pandemic, which means we have ten-hour car drives to our destination. During my travels, I have been able to work on videos throughout tedious times in the car.

I absolutely love that the position has allowed me to work from any place and at any time. Not only has this position given me the freedom to work around my schedule, but it has also provided me with insight into the potential future of education and teaching, which is important for me as an elementary education major. Remote learning may not be ideal for all students’ educational experiences, but technology is constantly changing and improving, which is assisting many individuals. It provides more opportunities to learn from anywhere, leading to more access under any circumstance. I am excited to continue working on the Sun Devil Learning Labs Project, along with the IgnitED Labs and staff.

IgnitED Labs and IndigeDesign volunteers 3D print face masks for Navajo Nation

COVID-19 has hit the United States hard and the Navajo Nation is no exception. Many of the community’s members are high risk asthmatic and diabetic with little access to grocery stores, water, and supplies as there are only 13 grocery stores on the Navajo Nation Рa territory that sprawls across 4 states and almost 2,000,000 acres of land (approximately the size of West Virginia). There were 69 cases of COVID-19 (as of 03/26) with projections stating 1 out of 3 Navajos on the reservation will be infected if immediate measures are not taken. Navajo Nation hospitals are not prepared for those numbers. They need items like face masks, gowns, and face shields, but have not received them due to delayed Medical aid in an already ignored reservation community.

Printed face shield frames on the Ultimaker3

The Chief Operating Officer of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, and the Emergency Management Specialist (EMS) of the Gallup Indian Medical Center reached out to the IndigeDesign Collab in Phoenix. This Collab works with other organizations and people to help indigenous communities through design. The EMS of Gallup reported that he had only 30 face shields for 200+ healthcare employees in Gallup, NM. The search began for more face shields, and the IndigeDesign Collab sent out requests to use 3D printers.

The Ignited Labs responded to this call within hours of getting this message from the IndigeDesign Collab. The Tempe Lab, which was shut down as a response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, was opened to allow staff to 3D print face shields for the Navajo Nation. I volunteered my time to print face shields while also giving real-time technical support to the Sun Devil Learning Labs by managing Live K-12 educational broadcasts on YouTube. Living close to the campus was helpful as I could hop back and forth from my home to the lab for 3D printing. The IgnitED Labs are producing 6-8 face mask head bands from its Ultimaker 3D printer per day, and is laser cutting transparent shielding material with the Glowforge Laser Engraver. Finally, a representative of the IndigeDesign Collab will collect all these materials and sanitize them as per the FDA guidelines before assembling.

Abhijeet Savant with the face shield frames he made

Polytech Open Door February 29

On February 29th, our IgnitED Lab team took part in the Polytechnic Open Door Event. With our VR, Nintendo Switch, 3D Prints and Spheros, we hoped to teach visitors the educational purposes of these technologies along with giving them pure fun and entertainment. Throughout the day, we heard laughs, screams, and excitement throughout our tent as children of all ages engaged with new emerging technology. Every visitor was impressed with our Oculus Quest, as many of the children had always heard about Virtual Reality but had yet to experience it. Luckily, our Lab was able to give these kids new experiences! The younger children were drawn to our Spheros as they could race against and hit each other’s robots while sitting in the grass with their friends and family. Visitors chatted with our Educational Technology Champions to better understand our lab and the opportunities within.

Kids playing at ASU Polytechnic Open Door

The technology we showcased at Open Door proves to be useful for students and future educators, like me. Technology within education provides an interactive and engaging learning alternative for students who do not respond well to traditional lecture-style teaching. These technologies are often immersive and allow students to experience real-world applications of the topic which is the focus of their learning. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students of all ages and helping them understand more about the technologies. Seeing the smiles on their faces as they crash Spheros or beat the level on the VR game is rewarding. I’m looking forward to our next Open Door event!

Podcasts: Children Edition

It is no news that children are exceptional learners and quick to use new technology. Sometimes even better technology users than some professionals in the work field. However, we hardly ever talk about ways to pair up both groups of individuals to create something big. When we picture a child or Generation Tech, we see them holding a screen but what if we gave them a microphone instead? It may sound crazy to bring a child into a recording studio and let them play with an expensive high quality microphone but what if we just stopped and listened to what they had to say?

A kid shouting into a microphone

Giving kids the opportunity to speak their thoughts freely into a microphone sparks creativity. One open ended question can lead the way for a conversation full of ideas, concerns and brainstorming for their next adventure. A child’s mind can roam endlessly and create so many ideas. However, if their thoughts get recorded, they are able to come back to it and act on it to make their ideas come true outside their minds.

Additionally, giving them a microphone gives kids the confidence they need to speak their minds without having to worry about fitting in. It also makes it very clear that children are being heard which is crucial in childhood development and can have positive consequences as they grow up.

Fulbright Fellows Visit IgnitED Labs Tempe

On February 25th, sixteen Fulbright Fellows attending ASU for the Spring 2020 semester visited the IgnitED Labs in Tempe for a tour. Fellows from Bangladesh, Brazil, Finland, Greece, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, and Uganda walked through three different demonstrations of our most popular emerging technologies. Divided into small groups, they experienced IgnitED labs spaces dedicated to augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), programming and robotics, and 3D printing.

Fullbright fellows wearing VR goggles

Programming and Robotics

In our Maker room, the Fullbright Fellows were able to learn about how programming/coding and robotics can be integrated into classrooms K-12 regardless of discipline. We began our time with a brief tour of the available technology in the room such as our Google AIY kits, Raspberry Pis, Little Bits, and Lego Robotics. I found that there was a lot of interest around the Google AIY kits/Raspberry Pis. Seeing as machine learning is becoming more and more integrated into our everyday devices, they felt that the kits provided a fun and interesting approach to introducing these technological concepts to kids. The Raspberry Pis also exemplified the versatility of potential tech integration. Because it can be programmed in a multitude of ways, they found it a valuable resource for disciplines outside of math or science. In this same regard, the way Little Bits and the Legos can be utilized in class presentations was also valuable. We discussed how students can expand their book projects or history presentations beyond poster boards. Simple and fun technologies can provide students with new ways of communication and creation even in the smallest ways. Finally, I presented our Spheros and Sphero Minis in conjunction with our Activity Mat and Cards. Here we talked about how these could be integrated into classrooms to help aid in teaching the application of math concepts. I also informed them of the vast amount of teacher-created lesson plans available on the Sphero community website. There, they could see how other educators around the world were using Spheros! After that, they took a test drive with our Sphero Minis on the Activity Mat. They all had a fun time rolling around to different parts of the map, laughing and enjoying how interactive technology can be pedagogical and exciting!

3D Printing

The Fullbright Fellows in this lab space learned about the history, mechanics, and process of modern additive material 3D printing that is most widely available now to all public and private users. Most Fellows had never seen a 3D printing machine in use, so I walked them through all of the parts of the Ultimaker 3 printers that the labs own and explained the file processing and formats that the printer uses. I sent a file for a small coffee cup to print in ten minutes so they could watch it while I explained the material being used, what was happening inside the printers, and the variations of designs that are possible and materials available. Lastly, we had a discussion about where and how they could see themselves using a 3D printer as an educational tool in their schools and classrooms. Many of them agreed that the 3d printers would be good for their schools for prototyping, physically creative assignments, interactive curriculum, and even storytelling devices for their lesson plans.