STEM Equity Workshop at Biosphere 2

At the end of February the impressive Biosphere 2 facility served as the backdrop for a small workshop of just over 60 people to convene for four days to discuss in detail the issue and pathways forward to building equity in STEM education.

With funding provided by the National Science Foundation a diverse group of people from higher education, libraries, museums, public schools, non-profit communities, and research centers were able to explore and discuss the principles for equitable design in STEM learning environments. Over the course of the four days of the workshop the participants forged new directions and created inspiring action plans.

The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 was a truly inspiring location for this event. Steeped in the eerie mysticism and nostalgic futuristic compound that seemed frozen in time, this facility prompted myself and fellow attendees to think about the impact our actions have on the future of STEM education as well as the potential impact on Biosphere 1 (Earth). The setting was certainly a catalyst for inspiring our collective interest to forge purposeful design of STEM education and learning environments to provide a quality and equitable experience for all learners.

This workshop also served as a great community to share the work that we have been doing around the creation and design of the new IgnitED Labs. The issues discussed throughout this workshop, along with my experiences designing emerging technology spaces were highly complementary and relevant.

The first part of the workshop was focused on a series of inspiring “provocations” that pushed the participants to think about many of the issues surrounding the use or in many cases non-use of STEM and related maker spaces. The provocations ranged from thinking about the value of going slow to nurture developments, while others focused on the need for generous exclusion, to the need for designing spaces to include a sense of agency.

Following the provocations was a series of “state of the landscape” presentations that focused on many of the issues at hand today in the STEM and makerspace movement. Namely, issues of access, skillsets, mindsets, moving beyond traditional learning environments, and engaging life-long-learners.

As a final aspect of the workshop, participants shared their experience and knowledge around STEM and maker spaces through reflections and development of action plans. As a key output for this workshop, the workshop organizers will drive forward with a white paper for the NSF that is aimed to help inform future funding directions in maker and studio spaces.

This was a fantastic opportunity to be apart of such a wonderful group of people, I look forward to the continued development of the action plans and future opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from around the world on STEM equity.

Smart thoughts: Designing the future

I was recently asked to share my thoughts on the future as a design space in a short essay for the launch of The Guide Project. The goal of the Guide Project is to connect the communities of practice designing the future. The Guide’s aim is to “accelerate novel, audacious, ways to improve - and then create - human futures in which we can thrive.”

The Guide Project is an inititative run out of the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Needless to say I was honored to contribute a small piece of writing to this impressive project.

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
— Douglas Adams (1987)

I wrote this short essay based on the prompt: The human future as a design space – what does that mean to you?

This essay appears along 29 other contributors in the section entitled “Smart Thoughts about designing the future”. I approached this this essay by considering a preferable future space designed to leverage technology in the near-ish distance of 20-35 years and what that might look like from a personal-to-physical space interactions. This future scenario also takes the assumption that we are well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution brought on by the Third Age of Computing. Putting aside all of the potential challenges and factors that might militate against this preferable future, I presented the following exercises in thought.

Online Article: Design Your Life-Long-Learning Places For an Augmented You

Written by Dr. Sean Leahy, with editorial support from Dr. Joel Garreau

Unconference: Dreamers Doers & Drivers of the Future of Learing


On April 25-27, 2018 I joined a small group of higher education change-makers for an unconference around the "Future of Learning in a Digital Age" in Scottsdale Arizona. The Conference was structured loosely around three main tracks: 1) Research to Action, 2) Mixed Reality Environments and Student Centered Learning Frontiers, and 3) Organizational Network Models.

An unconference, also called an Open Space conference, is a participant-driven meeting. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.

The unconference structure of this convening allowed for a free (open) conversational flow with loads of great ideas (big and small) and a variety of perspectives on the emerging themes. While there were many high energy "neighborhoods" of discussion, I was particularly drawn to the discussions around Mixed Reality and discussion around use, deployment, contextual relevance, and scalability within the context of one-three-five years. Additionally, on the last day of the unconference I was engaged in conversations around the growing desire and challenges of Micro Credentialing.

Throughout the event participants used the Twitter hashtag #shapingEDU to share the ideas and connections from the unconference with the intention of continuing the conversation long after the two day event was completed.


The event (including presentations and discussions and share-outs) was captured via graphic facilitator. The full unconference is available at: where you can access all of the images and files shared. 

I am very much looking forward to continuing the discussions around the future of learning in the digital age.

ASU+GSV Summit 2018 - San Diego California

The week of April 16-18th, 2018 roughly 4,000 people ascended on the beautiful city of San Diego, CA to attend the 9th ASU+GSV Summit. The event proved to be a wonderful experience to share information, listen to engaging presentations, and make new meaningful connections.

Started in 2010 with a collaboration between Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley (GSV), the annual ASU+GSV Summit is the industry catalyst for elevating dialogue and driving action around raising learning and career outcomes through scaled innovation.

As the Director of Technology Initiatives for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College I went to the summit with the goal of showcasing our development of the new IgnitED Labs that are designed as open, hands-on, learner-centered creative spaces where users can explore and play with new and emerging technologies that can serve a role in teaching and learning. The IgnitED Labs were designed to go beyond the scope of traditional computer labs and provide students opportunities to create knowledge, and skill sets through emerging technologies. These innovative spaces allow for users to create and tweak, tinker and play, and ultimately improve the learner experience through their discoveries.

ASU Booth at ASU+GSV Summit 2018

ASU Booth at ASU+GSV Summit 2018

To help showcase the variety (sample) of equipment that will be used in the new lab spaces I packed a high powered gaming laptop and an Oculus Rift into a Pelican travel case and threw in a Shpero SPRK+ and a Raspberry Pi touchscreen as well. The IgnitED Labs project was graciously allowed to join the folks from ASU Ed Plus in their booth.  The booth was well positioned in the summit floor and had a high amount of visibility and traffic.

Overall it was great experience and opportunity for us to share the innovative work taking place in our office / college / university in a truly connected and global event.

Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Build

In an attempt to create a more engaging experience at a high profile event for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, I suggested that instead of using iPads or laptops, that we build and deploy several Raspberry Pi's to act as participant feedback/input stations.

Key aspects of the event

The event entitled Education by Design was held in the Phoenix Art Museum on February 6th, 2018. The event was focused on laying out the work the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is engaged in around several key areas of redesigning education as we know it. The event allowed for participants to roam through several educational design "vignettes" which included:

Education Workforce Development
How should we develop and deploy 21st-century educators?
Community Design Labs
How can we work with schools and communities to tackle a wide range of problems?
Contextual Models
How can we prototype successful systems in schools?  

As an interactive element, participants walked through a hallway with several Raspberry Pi's configured to be small terminals that allowed for the attendees to leave their questions related to Education.  The Raspberry Pi's were intended to serve dual roles, first to simply act as a terminal to collect participant feedback, and secondly (and perhaps most importantly) to serve as an educational technology artifact. The latter purpose seemed to engage the most number of participants. Over the night I was engaged in many conversations exploring the variety of ways in which schools and districts might think about deploying technology [such as the Raspberry Pi's] throughout their schools in a technology infusion model as opposed to a more traditional and limited technology integration model.

Event participants were able to submit their questions using a web-based form on each of the Raspberry Pi's that were placed strategically around the room. The results were projected in real-time on the wall of the hallway so attendees could see the supplied questions pop-up in a chat bubble format when submitted.

For more detailed information on the event checkout the ASU Now online article: Education by Design, re-imagining the classroom.

To build this project I turned to a rather quick "all-in-one" or kit solution rather than buying each component separately. You might pay a bit more per component in a kit, but when time is of the essence the cost of convenience is well worth the price. For this project I ordered four NeeGo Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits for $150/ea. This kit contains everything you need with the exception of a screwdriver and a few lines of code. Even though this kit uses a touchscreen and technically doesn't need a keyboard... I wanted to error on the side of caution and ensure I had a physical keyboard for each device as well in the event an end user is more comfortable with that setup. So I opted for a mini keyboard-touchpad combo with the Rii mini k12 Stainless keyboard for less than $25/ea.


Putting the Raspberry Pi kits together was very simple and straight forward. There are no instructions that come with this kit, although you can look up everything you need online and see an almost endless tutorial stream on YouTube. I have been working with Raspberry Pi's for several years so in all honesty the longest part of this build was un-packaging all of the parts.

A few Terminal Commands to finish it off

Once the entire device was assembled and powered on there are a few more steps to get the device fully operational in the way intended. You can of course tackle these in any order, but for most the fist issue that needs to be addressed is the screen orientation. Out of the box the orientation of the screen in the screen case is upside down and needs to be flipped 180* degrees. To accomplish this, and the other adjustments we need to use the Terminal.

In the terminal we need to call up the config.txt file so we can make a couple of updates. To do this once, in the Terminal prompt type the command:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Scroll to the end of the text file and add the following command: (The number 2 refers to the degree of rotation. 1=90*, 2=180*, 3=270*) So for this project I needed to flip the screen 180 so I used the (lcd_rotate=2) command.


Once you have added this line you can exit the config file by hitting "Ctrl + X" on your keyboard, then Y at the prompt, then ENTER to save the updated config.txt file. Once this step is complete with the Terminal still open, you will need to restart the device for the change to take effect. you can restart the devive in Terminal with the command:

sudo reboot

When the Raspberry Pi reboots the screen should be rotated.  (Note: if you use the display_rotate=2 command instead of lcd_rotate=2 you might run into an issue where the image is rotated but not the touch sensor grid, so your touch input is off by 180 degrees)

The final few Terminal Commands are some general housekeeping, first we will update the system to ensure that it has the most up-to-date version of the drivers etc. for the touchscreen. To complete this you will first run the "Update" command followed by the "upgrade" command:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

sudo reboot 

Once your device has rebooted with the updates the last item is to install the touch screen keyboard. To install the keyboard run the following command in Terminal:

sudo apt-get install matchbox-keyboard

sudo reboot

For more information and ideas on the multitude of ways in which you might deploy a Raspberry Pi for educational applications, or just for fun visit the official Raspberry Pi Website.

Book review published: Empedocles

Hot off the press! A book review that I wrote for Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication is now out in Volume 8, Number 2, 1 November 2017. ISSN 1757-1952 (Print); ISSN 1757-1960 (Online).

Book Review:
Philosophy for Multisensory Communication and Media, Keith Kenney (2016) New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 250 pp., ISBN: 9781433122057, p/bk, 35

Excerpt (introduction)
The continued development of new communication technologies such as mixed reality (MR), wearables and smart devices has ushered in a new wave of sensory-based platforms. With these developments in mind, the author Keith Kenney attempts to initiate the discussion around building a theoretical foundation for their use in communications. Kenney draws upon the works of multiple philosophers to outline and explore multisensory media by exam- ining haptic, olfactory, gustatory, auditory and visual media. Throughout the book Kenney provides examples and suggestions for practical applications as he attempts to lay a theoretical foundation around multisensory media. (p. 240).

I had a great time reading and reviewing this book. As with any review, there are notable strengths and weaknesses but this review afforded me the opportunity to engage in the futurology of media communications.

EDULEARN 2017 Publicaiton - Foundations of Video Production

EDULearn2018 Cover.png

New publicaiton for the 9th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies EDULEARN17 (Barcelona, July 3-5, 2017):


Link to paper abstract: EDULEARN2017 Proceedings

This paper and virtual presentation was created around my work developing intensive short-courses in media and technology for the Masters Program in Educational Technology (MAET) at Michigan State University. More specifically, this paper focuses on a recent development of video production foundations for non-video/media professionals. In a way this type of intense module can be thought of as "film school in a day" where the focus is on learning the fundamentals in a very approachable way to get students up and running with solid pre-production, production, and post-production experiences to enhance their video projects.

The purpose of this virtual presentation is to share the structure and experiences of an intensive learning module on video production best practices developed as part of a capstone summer experience for a master of arts educational technology program. This learning module was conducted as part of a four-week international master’s program located in Galway Ireland. The students that participated were enrolled in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) from Michigan State University. The learning module on the foundations of video production was developed as a key component to the capstone curriculum of the three-year degree program. Learning how to effectively use video, and teach video production in educational settings is a key component of educational technology. Video has been shown to enhance training in distance based learning (Bayram, 2013), increase the online social presence of an instructor (Borup, West, & Graham, 2012), and through various production methods affect student engagement (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014). While there are many production oriented guides for filmmakers and video professionals, often there is little overlap into formal educational training. This learning module entitled “Foundations of Video Production” was developed to abstract the core essence of traditional film, or video production coursework and provide a practical program to get any level of educational professional “up to speed” with contemporary video production equipment, techniques, and best practices that can be adopted and implemented immediately in their own work, or in their respective classrooms. This learning module was delivered over the course of one week to the capstone cohort of educational technology graduate students. The aim of this learning module was to break down the video production process into its core elements; pre-production, production, and post production. Within each section students were presented with contemporary practical guides on the technology (both hardware and software), aesthetic components, and hands on active learning exercises. Attendees of this presentation will benefit from best practices on how to integrate video production learning modules into educational technology programs or coursework, and a review of the challenges and opportunities that were identified from the successful integration of this learning module.

[1] Bayram, L. (2013). Enhancing an Online Distance Education Course with Video. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 463–467.
[2] Borup, J., West, R. E., & Graham, C. R. (2012). Improving online social presence through asynchronous video. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 195–203.
[3] Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: an empirical study of MOOC videos (pp. 41–50). ACM Press.


GIFTS: Teaching Media Technology and Convergence through Podcasting

Media Technology Podcast Project

In an attempt to increase student engagement in learning about media technology and media convergence this project toolkit has been developed.  The intention of this toolkit is to provide educators with the scaffolding of an existing podcast project that can be used as is, or modified and adapted to fit the various individual course / learning needs. 

Project Overview

The concept of the Media Technology Podcast Project is to provide an active learning project in which students explore the convergence of media technology through a hands-on exercise to develop a tightly edited informational audio program in the form of a podcast (which is an example of converged media itself).  This activity is suited to be incorporated into a theoretically focused course as an alternative to a traditional paper or presentation assessment, and can also be used in a competency based course that specifically aims to teach students production skills in media communication technology.

Description of Project

Students are given a choice to select media technology for their podcast project to which they will have to research, develop a script, and produce their recorded Podcast in mp3 format. The recorded Podcast is not to exceed five (5:00) minutes in length. At the conclusion of the project all student podcasts will be collected electronically by the instructor and reviewed.  The completed podcasts that students opt to allow to be shared publicly, can then be published to an online SoundCloud podcast feed or similar publication outlet.  The publication of the podcasts is of course optional, based on the rules, regulations, and privacy considerations of the institution or organization from which this project is run.  An alternative to public publication would be to post the completed podcast to the learning management system (LMS).

Intended Courses

This project activity can be adopted to a range of courses that cover media and or technology.  Some examples of courses well suited to this project are:

  • Mass Communications (intro level)
  • Media Literacy
  • Media Studies
  • Media Production (intro level)
  • Emerging Technology

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate critical research analyses on media technologies and media convergence.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the potential for media convergence to impact the traditional media through discussion and research findings.
  • Demonstrate the technical competencies required to produce high quality audio programs from a a variety of recording sources (field and studio) and mixing of vocal tracks with music and additional sound loops.
  • Strengthen students' critical thinking through analysis, creation, and evaluation of research on their chosen topic.
  • Provide experience developing original and creative content, and if applicable publishing through new media channels for podcast delivery.

Technology Requirements

The minimum technology requirements for this assignment are access to a computer with audio recording software, and a microphone.  The aim of this project is not to teach a specific platform for podcast creation, but to focus on developing the content and producing the best sounding audio quality given the available equipment. 

For some courses, students may already have experience with audio recording and or production, for others this may be the first such assignment.  Instructors should adapt the assignment to complement the existing proficiency level of their students and or other course requirements. Suggested software platforms are Apple GarageBand (MacOS and iOS) and Audacity (MacOS and Windows).

Evaluation of Project

Students are supplied with a detailed rubric for this activity that clearly outlines and defines the levels for assessment across five criteria: planning, introduction, content, delivery, and technical production.  Each criterion is segmented into four levels of achievement in which a detailed summary of each level is provided. The rubric is intended to serve as self-learning assessment tool for students as well, so at any time during their project they can use the rubric to self evaluate their level of completion on the project.

Student reflection
Upon the completion of the project it is suggested that the instructor send an anonymous survey to the participants to gather responses on the students’ perceptions of the assignment in regard to how well they learned through the use of this project compared to a traditional paper or presentation. The survey may also gather information on the perceived self-efficacy of podcasting as a medium to develop and share content. If this project is used to replace a previous activity, a comparison of the results of this activity will help the instructor analyze if there are measurable performance differences or perceptions of learning. 

Media Technology Project Guidelines

Using the common definition of media convergence as the integration of mass media, computers, and telecommunications.  Chose a media technology to focus your research on that represents media convergence, but be careful not to choose something too broad like the Internet.  Possible choices might include: hardware examples (tablets and smartphones, virtual reality /augmented reality sets, e-book readers, etc.) or software platforms such as (Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Blogs, Tumblr, Apple Music, Spotify, GarageBand, etc.). 

Research your chosen technology and develop a script for your podcast that addressed the following questions:

  • Succinctly describe the media technology you chose and how it works, who the intended users are, and provide a brief overview of the people (or organization) responsible for creating the technology.

  • Discuss the historical aspects of the technology (when was it created, how it evolved, and or spread in usage) Did this new media technology replace an existing analog version, or is it a completely new?

  • Describe how the technology will change (or has changed) traditional processes or practices. Did the technology you chose disrupt any existing media or industry, if so discuss how?

  • Discuss how the technology relates to the concept that we are in a “digital revolution” and that new and emerging digital media will replace “old media” model of print and physical media distribution.

  • Discuss your views on the future directions of the technology, do you believe it will continue to grow, or decline, or become obsolete? Provide rationale for your position.


You are to create an audio podcast based on your chosen media technology topic and address the prompts listed above.  Your finished podcast is not to exceed five (5:00) minutes in length and must be in Mp3 format.  In addition to containing the content derived from your research on the provided prompts, your podcast will also need to include the following elements:

  • Catchy opening introduction where you succinctly introduce yourself, any guests, and the topic you are covering.
  • Creative and original content, that is well rehearsed and provides a smooth delivery in conversational style with highly effective expression and rhythm to keep the listener engaged.
  • Transitions are smooth and spaced appropriately, volume of voice is strong and clear and mixed well with any music or sound loops.


These resources were created to provide examples of assessment rubrics and a general podcasting guide that covers some basic instruction on podcast formats, and recording tips for those less familiar with audio recording.

Media Technology Podcast Project Rubric (PDF)

Media Technology Podcast Recording Basics (PDF)


In this section you can access a few examples of student work that has been shared publicly.  These podcasts were created for a special topics course on podcasting and emerging technology. Some of the examples were focused on a broader range of media and culture, but the same constraints where placed on the podcast produciton.

NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017

I recently (April 29 & 30th) had the opportunity to participate in the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 in Noordwijk at the European Space Agency's Space Business Incubation Center (ESA SBIC).  This was the second year in which I was able to participate as one of the jury members for the International Space Apps Challenge.  


Each year the participants present their project (solutions) to their respective challenges in an exciting, passionate, and creative way.  This year was no exception, and the level of competition made for a difficult task for the jury to only select two teams to move onto the next round of the competition.  For more information on the events of this years challenge, checkout the official website: NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017.

Students, professionals, engineers, artists, coders, storytellers makers, builders, technologist, beginners and veterans from all corners of the globe are welcome to join.

Tackle a challenge using robotics, data visualization, hardware, design and many other specialties! Inspire each other while you learn and create using stories, code, design and, most of all, YOUR ideas. Show us your problem-solving skills and share your talents with the world!
— NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017

This year the participants were greeted on Saturday morning by members of the 501st Dutch Garrison for some interstellar inspiration.  Later in the day there was lots of food, music, entertainment, and even some relaxation time. 

After all the hard work and presentations there were three winners, two selected by the jury, and one people's choice award selected by the participants themselves.

And the winners are...

I wan to wish the winners of this years competion the best of luck in the next round, and I am already looking forward to next years set of challenges!