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.

INTED 2018 Conference Presentation: Beyond Web 3.0

Image courtesy of  INTED 2018

Image courtesy of INTED 2018

After a short 6 months following our initial meeting in Washington DC, our small group of researchers from Arizona State University and Dublin City University converged on the beautiful city of Valencia Spain to deliver our paper on our initial collaborative work to develop an international research group on future educational technologies. As a milestone in our efforts to form a research collaborative, this paper serves as our initial plans on how we intend to develop our network.

The 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, was held in Valencia Spain over the 5th, 6th and 7th of March, 2018.

Beyond Web 3.0: International collaboration exploring learning ecologies and teacher professional development for the Diamond Age

Link to paper abstract: INTED 2018 Proceedings

The purpose of this oral presentation is to share the process and outcomes of an international collaboration exploring the futurology of educational technology. This multi-phased collaboration centers on envisioning the impacts of future technologies within the classroom and articulating resultant implications for teacher professional development. It leverages interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise from within and beyond educational colleges in partner universities, namely, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in Arizona State University, United States of America, and the Institute of Education in Dublin City University, Ireland.

A question at the heart of this collaborative study was how can we prepare the teachers of tomorrow to use technology in the classroom in the most effective way possible? Given the rapid development of technology and the subsequent adoption in formal and informal educational settings, how can we prepare a new generation of educators to adopt, and optimize technologies in their classroom? According to the 2017 New Horizons K-12 Report, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be generally adopted by 2022 (Freeman, Adams, Becker, Cummings, Davis & Giesinger, 2017). Artificial Intelligence is often thought of the “next wave” of technology, but our goal is to move beyond the near future, and look to what will be the “new” technology 25 to 30 years from now. Using the forecast of common “narrow” AI implementations across classrooms within five years as the baseline for our model, we aim to envision what technologies will have an influence on, and be implemented within, learning ecologies over the next several decades, an era we describe as the ‘Diamond Age’.

The proposed oral paper presentation will discuss the need for such a collaborative project, the current development of the multi-phased, multi-year project scope, and the future directions and joint-program goals. In many cases, the education sector handles new and emerging technology in a reactionary fashion. One of the aims of this collaborative project is to look at educational technology from a futurist perspective to lay a thought provoking foundational model in order to redefine what education may look like in the “classroom of tomorrow”. The intended goal of this futurist model of educational technology is to re-conceptualize how teacher preparation programs think about preparing future educators.

[1] Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Keywords: Educational technology, futurology, emerging technology, futurist model, semantic web.

NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to participate in this years NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE hackathon as a jury member for the ESA SBIC location in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.  I was already familiar with the event from the previous year, but this was the first time I was able to officially participate.  I had a wonderful time meeting the fellow jury members, and most of all meeting all of the participants and getting to see all of the creative and innovative proposed solutions to this years set of NASA challenges.



To better understand how this event works, NASA releases a set of challenges that range in scope and complexity for a community of "thinkers or hackers" to work together and come up with creative solutions. 

Global Community, Out-of-this-World Innovation
For 48-72 hours across the world, problem solvers like you join us for NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the universe. Empowered by open data, you collaborate with strangers, colleagues, friends, and family to solve perplexing challenges in new and unexpected ways — from designing an interactive space glove to natural language processing to clean water mapping. Join us on our open data mission, and show us how you innovate.
— NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

The participants gave their 4-minute presentations to the jury and peers after 48 hours of hard work, collaboration, and I'm sure many energy drinks. It was a hard group to judge since there were so many strong ideas.  In the end three groups were selected to move to the next round of the global competition. 

  • Toilettronic - a project aimed at simplifying the toilet experiences of space flight and stay at the ISS through wearable technology and gamification.  This group impressed the crowd with their "in-the-box" thinking on how to reduce the stress of toilet experiences in space.
  • Leaky Rivers - a mobile application focused on the use of public data and geographical information systems to inform the public on dangers of floods, with the aim of providing real-time warning systems for those who may be in or near areas of flood waters.
  • SenseAIR - a mobile platform using public data that helps inform individuals of their exposure to pollutants by using real-time spatial information. This group was chosen as the "People's Choice Award"

For a full look at all of the groups and their projects please visit the Noordwijk Location NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE 2016 page.  Currently the SenseAIR group is a semifinalist in the People's Choice Award category and is in 7th place overall.  With a little luck and some voting they have a good chance to make the finals. 

I am looking forward to next years competition and to see what the new challenges will be.  Hopefully I'll see you there.

2016 Faculty Exhibition - May Gallery

I am happy to announce that I will be showing some recent work in the annual faculty exhibition in January 2016.  The work I have selected to show was from an earlier post on Low-Poly Portraits I created.  

Gallery Dates & Times
January 22 - February 19th, 2016
May Gallery - 2nd Floor Sverdrup Building
8300 Big Bend Boulevard
Webster Groves MO 63119

Opening Reception on Friday January 22nd, 2016 from 5-7pm (CST). 
For more information on the photography exhibition, and a complete list of other artists please visit the May Gallery Website.

For more details on the creation of the portraits, please see the original Low-Poly Portraits post detailing the idea and process of how the images were created and how the masks were made.

Award Winning Course Design

AT&T Awards CEP807
AT&T Awards CEP807

I am proud to share the news that one of the online courses I have taught and developed has been recognized with an award of excellence in instructional technology.  The course CEP807/ED870 is the capstone course for the MAET Program at Michigan State University that requires students to develop an online portfolio sharing their academic, professional achievements and essay reflections.  This course encompasses many features, but most prominently are: authentic audience, learning by doing, peer learning, and public scholarship.

For the full story and recap of the course design visit the official 2013 AT&T Award Competition in Instructional Technology site.

Media Communications & Fine Art Orientation


To kick off the 2012 - 2013 academic year at Webster University Leiden each department was to present a short welcome/orientation presentation to the new incoming freshman and international transfer students.  For this presentation I created a short prezi that goes through the departmental overview.  The goal of this presentation was to showcase some of the great media and design aspects that continue to attract great students. Introduction video:

Here is the complete orientation presentation:


Presentation - Webster University Leiden


Below is the presentation that I gave at Webster University in Leiden Netherlands on January 31st, 2012 to the search committee for the Department Head of Media Communications & Fine Art.

DOCTRID Video - Behind the Scenes


On October 16th, 2010 the first annual DOCTRID International Interdisciplinary Conference was launched after many months of planning.  To mark the inaugural launch of the conference a signing ceremony kicked off the conference in which Daughters of Charity and five universities (Dublin City University, Michigan State University, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Dublin, and University of Limerick.) signed a Letter of Memoranda launching the new Research Center for Intellectual Disability.

I had the great pleasure of being invited to this truly amazing conference to capture the story behind the conference and research institute in a short documentary.   As a one man documentary crew I had to capture the best possible video and audio with very modest equipment and time.  This filming was my first official documentary shoot, and it was a wonderful experience in both the personal interactions with the wonderful people involved as well as the technical challenge of filming and capturing the story of this monumental conference.

The Planning:

Since I knew going into this project it would be a one man job from start to finish I had to ensure that I planned as much of the shoot ahead of time as I could.  I was able to work with conference organizers ahead of time to get an understanding of the flow of the conference and who would and would not be available for comment.  Given the platform of the conference and the unique challenge of shooting such a highly mobile documentary on a one-day-one-take type of scenario I had to carefully choose my equipment.  To meet the needs of the documentary and to also stay within my shoestring budget I had to choose very carefully the right tools for this job.  More on the exact equipment used below.  For this job I decided to go with a DSLR rig to ensure that I would get the highest quality images and sound with the maximum mobility needed for me to move from one area of the conference to another and setup quickly to capture the interviews and b-roll footage.

The Equipment:

The equipment I chose to take for this shoot was really simple, as that was one of the constraints and challenges of having barely any budget to accomplish the shoot.   For this job I used a DSLR rig setup for highly mobile video and on board audio recording and a pocket full of class 10 SDHC cards and Nikon EL3e batteries.

The camera I used was my trusty Nikon D300s with the Zacuto Z-finder and Rode Shotgun Microphone.  This setup allowed me to both hand carry and tripod mount the camera to capture an amazingly clear high def image at 720p and as well as capture high quality stereo audio without having to use wireless mics.  The Zacuto Z-finder proved to be invaluable as it allowed me to ensure tack sharp pull focusing (since the D300s does not have auto focus on video) and magnified the LCD to 3 times its native size.  The only draw back to the Z-Finder I had to deal with was one I caused myself by not ensuring I had the correct mounting bracket to work in conjunction with my battery grip, so I had to loose the battery grip while filming which turned out not to be too much of an issue but did mean that I had to carry a bunch of batteries in my pocket.  The Rode Mic performed wonderfully, I am still amazed at audio quality that mic is able to capture, even at a distance.  Being able to rely solely on a shotgun mic for audio was crucial given the  fast paced, limited time I had with each interview, setting up each person with a wireless mic was not an option, nor did I have an audio controller to monitor the audio levels.  While it would have been ideal to run a seperate audio capture the entire time with controlled audio levels etc. it was just not in the cards for this shoot, and I can't say enough how happy I was with how the Rode Mic performed.

The Challenge:

the biggest challenge for this shoot was that I only had one shot to get it right.  Since this entire documentary was to be filmed on one day while the conference was going on live, I had to execute my filming plan without the chance to "redo" any of the shoots or interviews.  While looking back, there are about a million things I would do differently, but that always seems to be the case.  Fortunately I was able to get most of the interviews planned and I did not run into any technical difficulties.

The second biggest challenge was to edit all of the interviews I had gathered down to a reasonable 10-15 min time frame.  This of course, took many hours of red eyed editing late into the night.  After many hours and a few consults to the conference organizers I finally released the final version of the video.

I was thrilled to coordinate with the folks form Fegan Films in Ireland to supply them with a finished European version (PAL) of the video to be incorporated into a published DVD of the conference.  I am very proud to have a finished piece of film on a published DVD along with the fantastic work conducted by Fegan Films.  Hopefully this is the first of many more short subject documentaries to come.

For More information on DOCTRID conference please visit their offcial website at