Justin Olmanson Associate Professor
Postdoctoral Fellowship ~ Literacy, Literacies, and Technology, The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, 2011-2014.
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
I collaboratively design, build, and study emerging technologies that support people as they learn new and difficult practices such as: 1) developing computational, mathematical, and linguistic literacies; 2) transdisciplinary constructionist learning; 3) culturally or neurologically divergent practices. I use design based research to lead the development of technologies that make new types of learning and understanding possible. Currently I am: 1) conducting research and scholarship that speculate on the pedagogical potential of a range of emerging Generative AI technologies; 2) designing and prototyping learning technologies that emerge from this research and scholarship; and 3) collaborating and working with similarly focused industry and academic research groups.
Some past highlights have included: leading the design and development of three different Learning Support Bots (slide deck describing the design and development); leading the design and development of a Chinese literacy development application called DaZiBao (Olmanson, et.al., 2021); 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).
I collaboratively design, build, and study emerging technologies that support people as they learn new and difficult practices such as: 1) developing computational, mathematical, and linguistic literacies; 2) transdisciplinary constructionist learning; and 3) culturally or neurologically divergent practices. I use design based research to lead the development of technologies that make new types of learning and understanding possible within and beyond multilingual K12 contexts. Out of this work affinity-based, heterarchical teams emerge to design, prototype—and sometimes develop and implement—technologically-mediated environments aimed at instantiating more generative language and literacies development experiences and more complex learning ecologies.
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.
I use a number of design pathways for my work including Speculative Design, Universal Design for Learning, Human Centered Design, Techno-Pedagogical Pivots, and Agile. [for an explanation of these see my Design Pathways slide deck link]
I collaborate with graduate students and colleagues in my design, development, and research work. If you are interested in collaborating with me send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in applying to the Innovative Learning Technologies PhD or Master’s programs feel free to reach out to me beforehand.
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--claims equity in the commission of their endeavors,
- societal meta-narratives, resource procurement dynamics, epistemology, and curriculum have as much to do with the outcomes of education technology design as design processes.
- “design from within the dominant education paradigms,
- incrementally improve existing approaches,
- evaluate new designs with existing measures, and/or
- add new technological capabilities to existing tools.” (Olmanson, et. al., 2021 p. 6)
Filtration of Innovation dynamics tend to water down ideas for learning technology design. Leading education technology designers often feel implicit pressure to:
“I don’t think you can be a good innovator if you don’t know how to make the stuff you’re designing.” -Walter Isaacson 2023 link
I came to the University of Nebraska Lincoln in the Fall of 2014. Here I have found insightful, collaborative colleagues, reflective, experienced, and diverse and design-minded graduate students, hard-working undergraduate students committed to becoming the best possible teachers they can be, and a welcoming community. The teaching and design work I do takes place in Carolyn Pope Edwards Hall, it is a wonderful place to do knowledge work [link]. When I need a break I go across the street to the West and play basketball and lift at the REC [link] or I go across the street to the North and go climbing [top rope] at the Outdoor Adventure Center [link].
I am still waiting for good tacos and high-speed train service to Chicago.
TEAC 259: Technology Integration in K-12 Classrooms and Speech Language Pathology Settings [TEAC 259]
Taught most semesters
TEAC 859: Designing Learning Experiences [TEAC 859]
Taught Fall semesters
TEAC 880M: Technology Supported Assessment and Learning Analytics [TEAC 880M]
Taught odd Summer semesters
TEAC 882B: Advanced Web Design and Databases [TEAC 882B]
Taught even Spring semesters
TEAC 882D: Artificial Intelligence and APIs in the Design of Learning Experiences [TEAC 482D/882D]
Taught odd Spring semesters
TEAC 960: Doctoral Seminar: Education, Technology, and Change [TEAC 960]
Taught every four years (last taught Spring 2020)
TEAC 995A: Doctoral Seminar: How to Be a PhD Student [TEAC 995A]
Offered yearly, taught by me every 5 years