1) Which of your current endeavors are you most passionate about? What is the biggest challenge you face?
I’m really excited about the promise of our remote online labs cyberlearning tool (www.ilabcentral.org). Remote labs allow students to use real experimental equipment located around the world via their web browser. We studied the remote labs with about 1000 students around the country and found some really impressive learning gains. A neat finding was that the students who used it from home did more trials and had better experimental design than students who used it in class. This shows the power of technology to really transform how, where, and when learning happens. The biggest challenge now is building out more labs. Everyone who sees the remote lab we built asks me how many more are available. That’s what I’m working on now.
2) Who inspires you these days?
I’m really inspired by Jim Shelton (Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for Innovation and Improvement). He is one of the smartest guys I’ve met who is working on education. He’s incredibly passionate about what he does and has a real vision for how technology can drive significant improvement in our education system. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, definitely do so!
3) Imagine a world where you are unconstrained by bandwidth. How would it change what you do and the people you serve?
One of my goals is to provide students with more authentic and engaging experiences learning science. I do this by trying to put real scientific tools and data into their hands. In a world unconstrained by bandwidth, this kind of thing would be much more practical and students would have access to a greater range of these tools. For example, in the next building over from my office is a state of the art facility that can do MRI brain imaging of live animals that are almost 10 times more detailed than hospital MRIs. Imagine how cool it would be for students to be able to view and analyze these images in 3D right from their laptops! That’s what unlimited bandwidth could do.
4) You are in an elevator. How would you describe what you do?
I create powerful and innovative cyberlearning tools that transform the way we teach and learn, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).