Olmanson, Justin

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Justin Olmanson Associate Professor

PhD Curriculum and Instruction ~ Instructional Technology, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011.
MEd Technology Innovation in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2004.
MEd Bilingual Education ~ Curriculum and Instruction, University of Houston, 2001.
BA Spanish Linguistics & Literature, Minnesota State University, 1997

Faculty at a Glance

Current Research

I design learning technologies that aim to make new types of learning experiences and practices possible. Currently I am working on the design of learning analytics for a Chinese literacy development application called DaZiBao. This ETR&D article describes the design opportunity, the application, and the design process we used.

Some past highlights have included: working on the design and implementation of a between-drafts mapping tool called InfoWriter (TKNL article), using new ethnographic writing to think through the construct of motivation within technology-supported middle school classrooms (Middle Grades Review article), and using historical analysis to track the use of the terms achievement and the achievement gap as it applies to Black students (Emerald press book chapter).

Research Summary

I design education technologies that make new things possible—particularly creative and participatory literacies and language learning practices within multilingual K12 contexts. I lead a design incubator out of which affinity-based, heterarchical teams emerge to design, prototype—and sometimes develop and implement—technologically-mediated environments aimed at creating more generative language and literacies experiences and more complex learning ecologies. This work has necessitated ongoing inquiry at the intersection of societal (meta)narratives, equity, education, learning, technologies, and design.

My work at the University of Nebraska Lincoln is about creating the conditions for ongoing, wide-ranging, open-ended community dialogue about education, learning, and technology. Such dialogue and interaction is beneficial in its own right and also serves as an incubator for ideas about new practices and new learning experiences and ecologies. Via design ethnography, design research, and design thinking, some of these ideas become embodied in prototypes that are implemented and studied within learning contexts. My design-centered inquiry goals are concerned with unpacking, tracking, and sidestepping the way the design process and resultant learning technologies are constrained by dominant educational and societal discourses. I study ecologies of expression in and beyond K12 classrooms, I track how education technologies circulate within those contexts, and I collaboratively design experiences that support new, personally meaningful, culturally relevant, heterogeneous, longitudinal learning experiences.

Big Ideas

Designing equity-creating technologies from within equity-denying contexts requires a constellation of sideways moves—including:

  • the acknowledgment that education and social innovations are more than technological solutions employing best practices aligned with measurable curricular objectives,
  • every education-related entity--from Pearson to the Democratic Free School of New Jersey--evokes equity in the commission of their endeavors,
  • societal meta-narratives, resource procurement dynamics, epistemology, and curriculum have more to do with the outcomes of education technology design than design processes.

History at UNL

I came to the University of Nebraska Lincoln in the Fall of 2014. Here I have found insightful, collaborative colleagues, reflective, experienced, and diverse graduate students, hard-working undergraduate students committed to becoming the best possible teachers they can be, and a welcoming community.

Courses Taught

Technology Integration in K-12 Classrooms and Speech Language Pathology Settings [TEAC 259]

Taught most semesters

Designing Learning Experiences [TEAC 859]

Taught Fall semesters

Technology Supported Assessment and Learning Analytics [TEAC 880M]

Taught odd Summer semesters

Advanced Web Design and Databases [TEAC 882B]

Taught even Spring semesters

Artificial Intelligence and APIs in the Design of Learning Experiences [TEAC 482D/882D]

Taught odd Spring semesters

Doctoral Seminar: Education, Technology, and Change [TEAC 960]

Taught every four years (last taught Spring 2020)