Meet Our Innovators

James Folkestad, PhD

University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor, School of Education; Director, Center for the Analytics of Learning and Teaching (C-ALT)

Areas of Collaborative Interest

  • Dyslexia and innovation – leveraging divergent thinking
  • Learning and cognition (pedagogy that empowers individual learning)
  • Serious games for learning and teaching (design for situated learning)
  • Applied Learning Analytics (empowering the individual learner)
  • licensing our technologies
"Innovation is how I have thrived in an academic system that is constructed around the written word. As a person who is dyslexic, the innovation process is my journal, it is evidence of the intellectual merit of my work. In a world that punishes the dyslexic thinker (e.g., valuing written publication while devaluing the innovative process), I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today without my ability to innovate."
James Folkestad, PhD
Professor & Innovator

“I consider myself to be a serial innovator, it’s what I do. My innovations span three different departments, including Industrial Technology Management (RSP spray-metal® tooling for rapid die-cast manufacturing), Construction Management (applying 3D modeling to change the semi-custom home build process), and the School of Education Cycles of Your Cognitive Learning, Expectations, and Schema (CYCLES®), Trackable reasoning and analysis for crowdsourcing and evaluation (TRACE®)-gaming to improve cognition, and U-Behavior™ a learning and teaching method to empower life-long learning behaviors).

I just see the world differently. I see in connections, I see in movies, I see in three dimensions. It is typical for me to see solutions early and often. Plus, I am not afraid of failure. The failures of schooling made me adaptive. I didn’t know it for the first 46 years of my life, but now I realized that I have followed a legacy of dyslexic innovators and entrepreneurs who have honed their natural ability to innovate to thrive (see Logan (2001) dyslexics make up 30% of the entrepreneurs in the US).

I often reflect on how my innovative thinking and innovations have led to my academic success. This goes against the traditional adage of “publish or perish.” During my tenure, the “perish” was always nipping at my heals. For those who know my full story, it has been a very bumpy road. You ask, why I innovate, I say I innovated to survive. However, my serial innovations led me to be recognized as a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar (UDTS) in 2017. I hope we continue to recognize neuro-divergent thinking and reward innovation as a valued activity in academia. We need to think critically about ways to smooth the pathway for neuro-divergence as there is ample evidence that divergent thinking is the source of many innovations.”

Logan, J. M. (2001). Entrepreneurial success: a study of the incidence of dyslexia in the entrepreneurial population and the influence of dyslexia upon the entrepreneur (Doctoral dissertation, University of Bristol).

My research focuses on designing effective interventions that integrate digital content and learning analytics into learning environments that inform and empower individuals. I am interested in understanding the effect of pedagogical designs that place the student at the center and that privilege the student-teacher relationship.

U-Behavior™ is a learning and teaching method that has been built by a team of highly dedicated and talented people. Dr. Kelly McKenna, Dr. Marcia Moraes, Dr. Priya Harindranathan and Max Rosoff all played a significant role in the development. In addition, Dr. Mathew Rhodes (Psychology), Dr. Anne Cleary (Psychology), Dr. Erica Suchman (Microbiology), and Dr. Jennifer McClean (Microbiology) all made significant contributions.

I describe the method as an activity tracker (e.g., smartwatch) that tracks your study behavior. The intent of capturing and using the information is to help you reflect and change your study behavior. This use of learner data is unique, its novel. The U-Behavior™ learning and teaching method has been recognized in the 2020 Educause Horizon Report as a leading technology in instructional design, UX design, and learning engineering. In addition, the U-Behavior™ work has led to several publications, one which was recognized as the best conference paper at the sixth International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd’20).

  • US20200218996A1: Trackable reasoning and analysis for crowdsourcing and evaluation*

Co-Assignees:  University of Arizona, Colorado State University Research Foundation, Syracuse University

Patent list generated using Google Patents

  • McKenna, K. N., Pouska, B., Folkestad, J. E., Moraes, M. C. (2019). Visual-form learning analytics: A tool for critical reflection and feedback. Contemporary Educational Technology, 10(3), 214-228.
  • Stromer-Galley, J., Rossini, P., Kenski, K., Folkestad, J. E., McKernan, B., Martey, R. M., Clegg, B., A., Østerlund, C., Schooler, L. (2018). User-centered design and experimentation to develop effective software for evidence-based reasoning in the intelligence community: The trackable reasoning and analysis for crowdsourcing and evaluation. Computing in Science and Engineering.
  • Folkestad, J. E., McKernan, B., Train,* S., Martey, R. M., Rhodes, M. G., Kenski, K., Shaw, A., Stromer-Galley, J., Clegg, B. A., Strzalkowski, T. (2017). The Temporal Attention Observational (TAO) scale: Development of an instrument to assess attentive behavior sequences during serious gameplay. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 1-17.
  • Folkestad, J., & Gonzalez, R.* (2010). Teamwork for innovation: A content analysis of the highly read and highly cited literature on innovation, Advances in Developing Human Resources, 12(1), 115–125.
  • Knirsch, J., Folkestad, J., & McHugh, K. (2002). RSP tooling–a revolutionary new process to manufacture die cast production tooling in prototype timing, Die Casting Engineer, 46(3), 56–60.
Last updated on October 19, 2020