This blog is my personal online presence, and all ideas are my own. Opinions expressed here do not reflect those of my employer(s). My writing on this blog should not be mistaken for formal writing, not even refined thoughts. This is where I think through trends and possibilities. As a result, expect to find my candid and rough draft thoughts, typos and all.

The first three questions deal with standard topics like my work, education and availability for consulting. After that you’ll get to some of the more playful questions and answers.

What do you do?

I think and write. Writing about life, learning, innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the digital age is one of my greatest passions. That is why I write 150+ articles a year on this blog; write books; write for popular publications; write white papers to inform planning, policy and practice; and I write and research for scholarly publications.

I design & develop.

This is another great passion. I fully agree with Buckminster Fuller when he claimed that design has a greater impact on the world than politics. Much of my design work and thinking focuses on learning experience design; educational policy design; new program development; and devising plans for new educational models, methods, frameworks or products. I love simple, elegant, and playful educational game design.

I connect and collaborate. That is why you will find me on a half dozen social media outlets, online communities of practices, open courses, or working on some collaborative project with people around the globe. I love working with high-impact communities of purpose and possibility.

I lead. I love to create, inspire and empower high-impact communities of purpose and possibility. I am an Assistant Vice President of Academics & Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University Wisconsin. I work with an amazing team of 90+ people who support 10+ off-campus centers and 19+ online programs. My research and scholarship focuses on the intersection of education and digital culture, educational innovation and entrepreneurship, self-directed learning, digital badges and credentialing, emerging practices in feedback & assessment, learning game design, alternative education, blended & online learning, and the future of learning and education.

I speak and consult. I also serve as a keynote and educational innovation consultant for P-20 learning organizations, various non-profits, education startups,and other organizations with a focus upon educational innovation and entrepreneurship. I do quite a few invited and keynote presentations on topics related to futures in education, digital age teaching and learning, the design and development of educational products and services, alternative education, educational innovation, credentialing and assessment, along with blended and online learning.

I learn. See the next question and answer for a sampling.

What is your educational background?

Here is the standard response. I have a B.A. in history and education, a M.A. in curriculum and instruction, a Master of Liberal Studies, and an Ed.D. in instructional technology. I’ve taken courses at 15+ higher education institutions. Here is the less standard response. Education is so much larger than credentials and formal study. While I’m grateful for the mentoring that I received amid my formal study, that is only a fraction of my education (or anyone else’s). I read and think. I’m constantly reviewing the emerging popular and peer-reviewed literature on a dozen topics. I have a wonderfully inspiring and informative personal learning network that extends around the globe. I have a largely ethnographic approach to learning through visiting, observation, participant observation, interviews and correspondence with those who are engaged in educational innovation and entrepreneurship. Action research, rapid prototyping, and short-term experiments are also favorite ways to learn.

Are you available for consulting, writing and/or speaking?

Yes, please see the Speaking, Writing & Consulting page for more information.

What are your favorite towns, cities, or areas?

Rome; Asheville, NC; Silicon Valley; The Florida Panhandle; Austin, TX and anywhere with passionate, inspiring, innovative people who want to have a positive impact in the world

What are some of your favorite books?

I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just share fifty in ten categories that had an impact on me.

Fiction – The Alchemist, Journey to the East, Sidhartha, Silence, and Ready Player One

Autobiography – Seven Storey Mountain, The Hiding Place, The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and The Longest Road

Education – Teaching as a Subversive Activity, The Disciplined Mind, What Does it Mean to be Well-Educated?, and Self-Directed Learning: A Guide for Learners and Teachers, and Efficiency in Learning

More Education – Building Expertise, On Higher Education (Burton), What is Lutheran Education?, Emile, The End of Education

Life in a Digital and Technological World – Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices; Mindstorms; The Second Self; Technics and Human Development; The Gutenberg Galaxy (and Technopoly as honorable mention)

Entrepreneurship & Innovation – The Innovator’s Hypothesis, The Innovator’s DNA, The Diffusion of Innovation, and The Structure of Scientific Revolution

Self-Help – Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (one of the first non-children books that I ever read), Man’s Search for Meaning, Holy Sweat, Mindset, Flourish (and Flow and the Power of Full Engagement as honorable mention)

Design – The Design of Everyday Things, Design for How People Learn, The Art of Game Design, Creative Workshop, and Make Space

Leadership – Servant Leadership, Start with the Why: Why Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Changing Minds, Good to Great, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, On Becoming a Leader (Strength-based Leadership as honorable mention)

Philosophy – Pensees, Augustine’s Confessions, Ideas Have Consequences, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Favorite quotes?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

“You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther

“Whoever marries the spirit of the age today will find himself a widower in the next.” – Inge

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” – Steve Jobs

‘I wish it would not happen when I was alive’ said Frodo. ‘So do I’ Said Gandalf, ‘and so do all those who live in hard times. But they can’t choose what time they are born in. All we can choose is what to do with that time.“ – Lord of the Rings film script

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

” I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me.” –  St. Augustine

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” – Bill Drayton

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?“ – Mordecai to Esther

“There is nothing more practical than a good theory.” – Kurt Lewin

Favorite food(s)?

I love to try foods from different parts of the world.

What are some of your favorite movies?

I like Groundhog Day and comedies that make you think, any dystopian or utopian film, the Illusionist, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Will Hunting and every movie with Robin Williams in it, Big Fish, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, National Treasure movies, The Indiana Jones series, The Librarian, The Bourne Series, Star Wars series, Da Vinci code films, Hunger Games films, Now You See Me, The Giver, Gattaca, Lara Croft movies, and any of the movies based on Marvel or DC comics.

What is your life outlook in 15 or fewer words?

Live, love and learn where your gifts and bliss meet the world’s needs.

Who are the historical characters who most inspire you?

I have a long list of people who inspire me, especially family and people with whom I have the honor of calling them friend. Then there are all the others too. Including them in this short list is not an endorsement of everything they said or did, but each offer me inspiration in one way or another: Buckminster Fuller, Frederick Terman, Ben Franklin, Mother Teresa, Thomas Edison, Nikolai Tesla, Henry Ford, Howard Schultz, Dorothy Day, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo Da Vinci, Walt Disney, Esther, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, J.R.R Tolkien, Upton Sinclair, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, T.S. Eliot, Paulo Freire, Maria Montessori,  Isaac Newton, and Jesus.

If you wanted to have a lively dinner party with up to 50 living (or recently living) people, who would be there?

Off the top of head, I’d go with a group of scholars, entrepreneurs, practitioners, politicians, and authors who represent a variety of backgrounds and positions on education, social good, digital culture, etc.

In no particular order, this would make for a diverse and interesting dinner party:

Angela Duckworth, Howard Schultz, Kieran Egan, David Weinberger, Elon Musk, David Labaree, Sebastian Thrun, Steve Hargadon, Carol Dweck, Maurice Gibbons, Larry Rosenstock, Jerry Mintz, Salman Khan, Ken Robinson, Cory Booker, Sugata Mitra, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Tony Wagner, Howard Gardner, Danah Boyd, Joi Ito, Daniel Goleman, Martin Seligman, Nicolas Carr, Henry Jenkins, Paul Tough, John Seely Brown, Arne Duncan, Jane McGonigal, Linda Darling-Hammond, Jim Gee, Ben Nelson, Christopher Edmin, Kurt Squire, Robert L. Fried, Frederick Hess, Howard Rheingold, John Taylor Gatto, David Thornburg, Paul Tough, John Holdren, Nina Rees,  Frank McCluskey, William Bowen, Jeffrey Selingo, Anya Kamenetz, Clayton Christiansen, Allen Collins, Andrew Rossi, and Amy Gutmann.

If you had unlimited financial resources what would you do?

  • I’d write, think, design, create, amplify, champion and connect.
  • I’d love to devote more of my time to help create, amplify and refine the most promising ideas in education.
  • I would seek to amplify and create learning communities that are centered on nurturing traits like curiosity and a love of learning, and that champion human agency.
  • I’d continue to explore the affordances and limitations of educational innovation,  futures in education, social entrepreneurship in the education sector and self-directed learning; but I’d like to focus these interests in helping to address some of the most pressing educational issues around the United States and beyond.
  • I’d strive to participate in or help shape communities focused upon mentoring and resourcing the next and emerging generation of passionate, committed, outside-the box thinking, and hard-working social entrepreneurs in the education sector.
  • I might teach a course a year on educational innovation; build a passive solar home; and keep consulting for organizations that have promise to shape the future of education and learning.
  • I’d write. Then I’d write some more.
  • I’d design lots of learning games.
  • I’d spend more time enjoying music and learning play, even if just simply, new instruments.

What is your favorite type of music?

Anything unplugged or with a great story.

What about your favorite type of art?

I am drawn to religious folk art from around the world and outsider art, but I’m far from an expert. It is more visceral, but this type of art draws me into some of the most wonderful thought experiments.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I’ll admit it. I like reality TV music competitions.

Other hobbies?

I love to run…I mean, really love to run. It is close to a tie with my love for writing. I have not done it for almost four years.