I’m excited to kick off a new initiative today: the Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group.  In my new role as an academic specialist in the Dean’s office in the College of Education (I’m still with the Hub, 25%, 75% College of Ed!) one of my charges is to: Develop capacity and community among faculty, students and staff around innovative practices in teaching and learning to support innovation and inclusivity in instruction and program development. So, this is the first of many opportunities.  (I’m also really excited that A Domain of One’s Own is a part of this initiative.)

The Working Group is kicking off (right now!) with Dean Chris Long’s workshop: Cultivating an Online Scholarly Presence. We will then follow up with weekly co-working sessions over the next 9 weeks to support faculty in the development of their online presence. The original call for participation is below – we have 21 faculty members who will be working with us – along with others who will informally drop in and out when their schedules allow. The underlying purposes here are to provide a safe, fun, intellectual and supportive space to grow and to evaluate this facilitation format as a sustainable model for professional development.


Original Call for Participation:

Dear colleagues, we invite your participation in our newly created Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group during Fall 2016. We will be accepting five faculty members from our college into the program who will then participate with colleagues from the Colleges of Natural Science and Education in a semester long program designed to help you plan (or revise) and implement a digital online presence and public scholarship routines, mindsets and workflows.

Online presence and public scholarship are ways to enhance your own research and reputation, along with that of the University.  While many workshops start with the “how to”, this program is designed to help you navigate challenging and nuanced questions like: Why should you have a digital presence? Who is interested in my work and scholarship?  How can this work be recognized professionally? Once we navigate these discussions we will move on to discovering which platform(s) match your goals. In addition, this experience will provide you with resources and collaborators to start your presence now and help evolve and sustain your presence into the future.


The program will cover a variety of topics associated with planning and developing your personal public scholarship strategy. We will start by focusing on your pathway to intellectual leadership in your field and what the components of a successful strategy are, then moving into more of the detailed logistics of setting up digital tools and accounts to support the strategy you have developed. We welcome faculty at all stages of thinking about this work and will help ensure that each person is able to move forward with their own plans.

What is expected?

Fellows will be expected to attend two workshops over the course of the semester and 6 one-hour co-working sessions that will focus on a general topic and work strategy each week and provide an open dedicated forum for support. Fellows will also have the opportunity to attend other optional workshops, and will have access to one-on-one mentorship from the workshop facilitation team.

Applications are due by Friday, September 23 and we will be notifying participants early during the following week.

If you are unable to commit to the full time commitment of the fellows program, but are interested in starting to develop your online presence, please respond to this message and we will include you on an email list which details other learning opportunities.

This program is a collaboration between the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Education, and Natural Science, along with the Hub for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Main facilitators for the program will be Drs. Leigh Graves Wolf (Education/MSU Hub), Scott Schopieray (Arts and Letters), and Stephen Thomas (Natural Science). We will also be joined by guest facilitators and faculty from across campus. In addition to the specific goal of mentoring faculty in their online presence goals, we are experimenting with new models for faculty development and support structures and will be gathering feedback on this mode and method of training and mentoring.


Is Educational Technology a Discipline? Let’s talk.

On September 28, 2016, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Yesterday this tweet:

Prompted this brief twitter conversation (click on the timestamp to see the conversation):

The title of the article begged the question – does this mean people do not see Educational Technology as a discipline?  I have a PhD with the words “Educational Technology” and for almost 10 years, I served as the co-director of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program.

If you read the comments in the article (actually one time I will suggest reading comments!) you will see other people pointing this out as well. (Including a clarification from Eddie Maloney on how his opinions were represented and interpreted.) The voices on the panel are certainly not representative of the field – and many come from interdisciplinary or emerging fields.  This conflict/question has been brewing in my mind recently as I have been in conversations with, or have read pieces from, the User Experience (UX), Experience Architecture (XA), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Instructional Technology, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Digital Humanities (DH) fields.  While the article that prompted this post is one singular article, from a non-scholarly publication, I think this is an area worth exploring/defining/discussing at greater depth.  How are the disciplines I mentioned different? Similar? Where do they intersect? Where should they intersect? Are they co-opting or competing with each other, when they should be collaborating?

So, I want to think out loud with my smart friends (beyond 140 characters) – let’s start in the comments here and see where that takes us!


Update :

Thank you to Inese Berzina-Pitcher for this reference:

Sugimoto, C. R., & Weingart, S. (2015). The kaleidoscope of disciplinarity. Journal of Documentation, 71(4), 775-794. doi:10.1108/JD-06-2014-0082 (link works w/MSU log in)


The power of sharing & collaboration (again!)

On September 14, 2016, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Just (another) quick example of the power of sharing and collaboration.  I’m excited to be co-facilitating an Undergraduate Honors Research Seminar this fall with Jeff & Bill.  After all of my MAET years, I know how important day one, minute one are of class.  As I was thinking about first day activities (that do NOT involve reading the syllabus!!) I came across this post from Heather on Facebook:

Picture of chalkboard with post-it notes

I was immediately intrigued and the following dialogue ensued (I could summarize, but why not share!)

Facebook discussion

And, it’s as simple as that! Thank you Heather for sharing & for the inspiration!


UntitledOver the past 9 months I’ve been stretched in new directions as a facilitator of workshops which are organized around design thinking frameworks.  I’m no stranger to workshop facilitation, and, do my best to make workshops interactive (see QuickFire challenges). Entrenching myself in design thinking frameworks has given me a new perspective and tool for workshop and discussion facilitation.

Yesterday our team ran a design thinking exercise. I was the designated “data collector.” As a learning exercise and to engage in some participatory action research, I was able to pull aside Caroline, Breana and Dave in the moment to ask them what was going well, what was not and what we should do to improve upon what we were doing. First and foremost I want to acknowledge how incredible this team is and how open they were to this meta level of reflection in-situ.  We as a team are learning and the commitment to this being an iterative and growing process as one of those essential conditions that will set us on a successful path.

With that said, here are a few quick and practical ideas that came out of observations and the reflection that we wanted to share. These are abstracted from the specific exercise with the intent of trying to generalize the ideas to a wider audience.

1. Create a beyond the basics kit of supplies

We have started to collect the basics (post-it notes, sharpies, large rolls of paper) however, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a box or bag that contains the following so we can be prepared for any design thinking “emergencies”:

  • Dongle
  • Markers & pencils
  • String
  • Measuring tape
  • Stopwatch (in case on screen tech breaks)
  • A non-annoying bell or buzzer (to get the attention of the crowd)
  • Compass
  • Phone chargers
  • Tape
  • Portable document scanner

2. Practice

This one is hard, especially if your team is working on several projects at once, however, we’re getting better at tracking time and developing a set of resources that we can customize for conversations/exercises. Ideally, the team should have everything completed at 2 days ahead of time.  Then, someone from the team should run through the exercise with someone else who does not have any prior knowledge of the experience. This will allow for revision and refinement of the small, but very important details of getting everything just right. I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t practice (or process is highly iterative! We document our hours and time carefully.)

3. Use participant workbooks strategically

We think that workbooks are a key tool to facilitating these highly interactive experiences, however, there are a lot of working parts to getting them just right. (Libby is doing a fantastic job researching and implementing this piece.)  It’s important to be very explicit with directions to the group you’re working with and to have your slides/prompts very clearly direct them to interact or write in the book. One of the things we’ve noticed is that even with warm up exercises it’s sometimes hard to get people to the point of writing – which is SO important for the post workshop analysis. We are going to make sure that questions/prompts are replicated in the workbook so that if and when timers are used participants have the workbook to reference to have the questions present in their minds.

4. Have table facilitators

This one is a bit tricky because depending on how large your group is, it may be a luxury to have a whole team of people at your disposal to help. Design thinking exercises are timed and fast paced experiences, something that not many audiences are used to and it is very easy to lose the attention of a group or group of people around the room. Table facilitators can serve as your partners in keeping things moving and directing attention to the lead facilitator. Additionally, if your room is not ideal for design thinking work, your table facilitator can also be very helpful in re-iterating directions and keeping things on track.

5. The sound of music

Timers are essential for the iteration side of a design thinking exercise. (Kristen Soullier created this tremendous set of timers for anyone to use!) There is debate as to whether or not music increases productivity and creativity however we feel it’s an important piece to the mood and feel in the room. With that said we have learned that some of our participants are highly sensitive or adverse to music being a part of the process.  We consider this a work in progress – so next time we are going to start with the music very, very, very low.  Additionally, we are going to explain to participants that music is a part of the timer so it does not come a surprise.  We may also alternate in/out of using music and we can always hit mute if it becomes a problem that impedes the flow.

6. Respond to questions carefully

Oftentimes questions in a design thinking exercise are intentionally ambiguous. This often does not sit well with participants and they will push for a clarifying or more direct “answer.” There are two sides to this problem of practice – crafting good prompts is not easy (thus the need to practice with others to hone them) but as a facilitator you have to let discomfort settle with participants. The explicit intention of many of the questions and prompts are to bring to light different interpretations among participants and stakeholders.  Facilitating this process is very tricky and takes nuance and practice.

7. Record conversations and discussions

If you have a group or discussion component to your workshop, it may be helpful to have an audio recording of the conversation. This one is also a bit tricky, we’re not advocating that all audio recordings be transcribed, however, depending on the purpose it could be very handy to have as back up and with the ease of recording on smartphones, it’s not a lot of extra work to collect, which, leads me to my last point…

8. Design activities with artifacts in mind

I have discussed before that all too often design thinking stops in a room. When we plan out our workshops now, we very explicitly add an artifacts “line” to our planning document – what are we collecting and why are we collecting it. This helps greatly in the post-event analysis because we have strategically thought through the analysis piece. We are getting better at pre-labeling these artifacts which drastically cuts down on the time it takes to process and clean up the data for analysis. (This is also why a high-speed portable scanner comes in handy so the workbooks can be quickly scanned and archived!)

We would love to hear thoughts from you! What are some of your lessons learned? How can we continue to improve our workflow and processes?


It was an honor to speak with educators today at the Huron Shores Educational Technology Conference. A big thanks to MAET grad Ashlie O’Connor for this opportunity! Ashlie and Meghan did a fabulous job organizing this incredible opportunity for educators in North East Michigan!

The slides from the keynote are embedded below w/embedded links and you can follow along with all of the tweets and resources shared by following #HSET16.


Design thinking. Back end.At the end of one of the MSU Faculty Development seminars I facilitated back in March Dr. Chivukula made an observation in the Applying Design Thinking to Academic Plans workshop I was facilitating. He said/asked (as I recall) design thinking seems to have a place at the beginning of processes but, where does it fit long term? This is a question that has set in my mind almost every day now for the past 2 months – literally on my drive to or from work it will pop in my head, or, as we’re engaged in other Hub discussions or activities that involve design thinking. At the time, I think I said something to the effect of – yes, you’re right, but, my (lack of an) answer has always sat poorly with me. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a better answer and couldn’t articulate some of the tensions I myself was feeling around design thinking. I touched on this angst in the presentation – and at the end of the blog post reflection on the workshop I said:

In sum, I don’t want people to walk away thinking that this is the only way that I work.  It’s a tool in my toolbox (or whatever metaphor you want to use) as a way to tackle wicked problems.”

Now, fast forward to a few weeks ago – on May 19th the Hub facilitated a Design Day which was the start of a 10 month iterative process of creating a new way to prepare veterinarians at Michigan State University.  We led participants through design thinking activities to elicit ideas and to raise questions about the process. But, then what? So many activities that involve design thinking, post-it notes and brainstorming seem to end in the room. It’s the process that is important — ok, but, a lot of data was generated and a lot of people took precious time off to contribute to the process. How can we honor the time that was dedicated and use the artifacts that were created to further the curriculum reinvention?

If we’re going to be successful at using design thinking in academic contexts, we (I) have to more clearly articulate and situate the strategies and frameworks we’re using within our academic contexts. So – in reflecting on ways not only to capture, but to analyse, synthesize and report we huddled as a team, transcribed post-it notes, created abstractions, performed some qualitative data analysis and created a this report for participants.

The abstractions in particular have received initial positive feedback. Caroline and Libby were tasked with taking the photograpped “maps” that participants had created and I asked them to create the most simple representation possible. (I highly encourage you to read Chapter 5 of Sparks of Genius (Root-Bernstein, 1999) for more insight into the creative act of abstraction.)

I hope that the report helps to provide a more solid footing and insight one way design thinking can not only be operationalized in the moment, but, as an artifact that can be embedded into a process over time. On a somewhat related tangent, we were very purposeful about counting our hours and time dedicated to the project (something that I rarely do) you can find the full detail in the end of the report but essentially it took 125 hours of preparation and 51 hours of analysis.

There is no single solution, no magic bullet to solving wicked problems.  Henriksen et al (2015) outline a rubric for creative work – one that is NEW: Novel, Effective, Whole.  One thing that I have noticed in working across all colleges on campus over the past few months, in so many different contexts is that by nature we tend to desire a solution.  Johansson‐Sköldberg et al (2013) provide a critical analysis of design thinking and I highly recommend taking the time to read this.  Design thinking is one way we can and will solve problems, but it certainly is not the only way.   Design thinking is not new, but, the combination (or bricolage) of the techniques we’re using to solve complex problems (I hope) is NEW (novel, effective & whole) to our unique context as a university.  It is then extremely important that we thoughtfully situate and articulate these processes to our peers here at MSU and as an organization (the Hub); to be clear and purposeful in the techniques, frameworks and processes we are our combining in our toolbox to do our work.

Now what? In having spent some time thinking this through (at least a little bit, and adding a bit of scholarship) I would like to link to Jeff’s post from a few days ago – The new (?) learning designer (engineer) which touches on the array of skill-sets needed to operate in the above context.  In my research for the Design Day report, I came across Wilson & Zamberlan’s 2015 piece: Design for an Unknown Future: Amplified Roles for Collaboration, New Design Knowledge, and Creativity. To me it is a thoughtful and clever articulation of the skills needed to engage in the wicked problem solving that we are doing.

So, where does this leave us? What are your thoughts, struggles, triumphs? Would love to hear your reactions and comments.


Wilson, S., & Zamberlan, L. (2015). Design for an Unknown Future: Amplified Roles for Collaboration, New Design Knowledge, and Creativity. Design Issues, 31(2), 3-15. doi:10.1162/DESI_a_00318.

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P. & Mehta, R. (2015). Novel, Effective, Whole: Toward a NEW Framework for Evaluations of Creative Products. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 23(3), 455-478. Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education.

Johansson‐Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., Çetinkaya, M., Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI), Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg . Department of Business Administration. (2013). Design thinking: Past, present and possible futures. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(2), 121-146. doi:10.1111/caim.12023

Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of genius: The thirteen thinking tools of the world’s most creative people. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.



#OLCInnovate 2016

On May 3, 2016, in Design Thinking, educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Oy, it’s the end of the semester and time is flying! Two weeks ago I attended my first OLC conference – OLC Innovate in New Orleans. It was a fantastic experience.  We had quite a few MSU faculty, staff & graduate students in attendance and it was a rare opportunity to hang out with colleagues after hours! (As a telecommuter, I don’t often get the chance to stay late and socialize!)  My session was titled: Facilitating & Fostering Passion and Inventiveness: Embodied Experiences From a University Unit Start Up. It was a great opportunity for me to take a look back at the past 7-or-so months that The Hub has been in existence and to reflect and share our successes and failures iterations.

Here are the slides & abstract from the presentation:

Michigan State University has started a new campus initiative: The Hub for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (“The Hub”). The Hub’s mission is to “facilitate the passion and inventiveness of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders both inside and outside of MSU to create, identify, and accelerate new ways to collaborate, learn, research, and deliver instruction.” While the core staff of The Hub is quite small, many on campus will be working with and through the Hub, a new mode of work in a large land grant institution. To facilitate this change, the Hub leadership team has anchored much of its “getting started” work and processes to design thinking.

In this session you will experience some of the design challenges used with the MSU Hub team and learn about our work and progress so far. Participants will also be asked to share their experiences with design thinking. Expect to walk away from the session with tangible resources to further your own design thinking work in teams or in the classroom.

On Wednesday, March 30 I was honored to facilitate the final MSU Lilly Seminar of the 2016 Academic Year: Applying Design Thinking to Academic Plans. The slides from the presentation are embedded below – (hyperlinks to resources are embedded in the slides.)

As is usually the case, the best parts came during discussion during the breaks, debrief and in the seminar feedback. I’ll share a few of those insights here since they were not shared with the group at large.


In my presentation, I shared some of the challenges I have faced associated with design thinking. During one of the breaks, Dr. Chivukula had a fantastic suggestion when using design thinking with groups – share a set of ground rules with participants. This is such a simple, genius solution that can thwart some of the resistance you may get (as design thinking is not a scientific process.)


After the session, I was honored to meet and connect with Daniel W. Linna Assistant Dean for Career Development & Professor of Law in Residence at MSU. I am VERY excited to learn more about http://legalrnd.org/ and how they are using lean thinking (and design thinking) at the Law School on campus. One of the best parts of Faculty Development seminars is the opportunity to learn from people all around campus. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for news and seminars out of the LegalRnD department!


Finally, in reviewing the feedback there were a few points that I will address to hopefully help with the take-aways. One participant felt the session was self-promotional and another walked away feeling that there were not concrete ways to apply design thinking to the classroom.  I’ll do my best share a few more resources here that can help with that!  By sharing my own work, I was hoping to lend some legitimacy to my own use of design thinking (walking the walk and talking the talk) as opposed to simply linking out to the work of others.  I appreciate this feedback and will work at a better mix in the future. I was additionally asked to share concrete ways the Hub has been working across campus for the participants – I should have made that a bit more clear as I was sharing.
  • In the slides, I linked to the MSU library search for academic articles on “design thinking” – this is one place to start
  • Educause is another great place to search – here is the link to “design thinking
  • A great campus resource is Jess Knott – she has been doing a lot of thinking in this area as well and is a great person to tap for a brainstorming session.


In sum, I don’t want people to walk away thinking that this is the only way that I work.  It’s a tool in my toolbox (or whatever metaphor you want to use) as a way to tackle wicked problems.  I wish there was one single answer, but, honestly, where is the fun in that? Additionally, as I shared in the session, design thinking isn’t something that just gets done in a 1, 2, 3-hour workshop! It’s a continual process of iteration and re-design as you work towards solutions.


Finally, a huge shout out to Breana Yaklin and Dave Goodrich, my colleagues at The Hub. (Thanks for visually documenting the day Dave!!) They are two more people to tap on campus for your design thinking needs!


Thanks again to all who attended – would love to continue the conversation/resource sharing here in the comments or on twitter. (You can use the #MSUhub hashtag!)

SITE 2016 Recap #siteconf #SITE2016

On March 27, 2016, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Last week I was honored to attend another SITE conference in beautiful Savannah, Georgia. SITE is always a wonderful opportunity to share work and to connect with colleagues.  This year, I was involved in two presentations – supporting work by the extremely talented Spencer Greenhalgh & Josh Rosenberg and presenting alongside our incredible MSU Urban STEM team.

For Every Tweet there is a Purpose: Twitter Within (and Beyond) an Online Graduate Program     
Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Michigan State University, United States
Joshua M. Rosenberg, Michigan State University, United States
Leigh Graves Wolf, Michigan State University, United States



Reinventing TPACK, STEM Teaching and Leadership in an Urban Context

Punya Mishra , Michigan State University, United States
Leigh Graves Wolf, Michigan State University, United States
Sonya Gunnings-Moton, Michigan State University, United States
Christopher Seals, Michigan State University, United States
Rohit Mehta, Michigan State University, United States
Inese Berzina, Michigan State University, United States
Swati Mehta, Michigan State University, United States
Akesha Horton, Michigan State University, United States
Kyle Shack, Michigan State University, United States
Candace Marcotte, Michigan State University, United States
Missy Cosby, Michigan State University, United States
Chrissy Garcia, Chigago Public Schools, United States
Tasha Henderson, Chicago Public Schools, United States
Dakota Pawlicki, Chicago Public Schools, United States

Presider: David Slykhuis, James Madison University, United States

Symposium Summary (.doc)

Finally, I was happy to continue the tradition of coordinating the annual MSU EPET SITE reunion dinner – 27 colleagues from across the globe reconnecting and sharing over delicious pizza at Mellow Mushroom. :)



I was honored and delighted to spend some time with friends at #CESIcon 2016 today! Here is a brief follow up to our design thinking challenge this morning. We very (very!) quickly ran through two steps of a design thinking challenge (empathize & define) to wet the appetite for learning more about design thinking and how it can be used to tackle wicked problems.  The design thinking activity today was directly connected to the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 guiding document.

Here are the slides:

And, here is the raw data (the invisible made visible) from the session – you can use this to continue the challenge and to ideate – prototype – and test! Looking forward to continuing the conversation – please share your adventures in design thinking, would love to hear from you again!

Tweets from session:

Transcript from TodaysMeet: