My research investigates the design and deployment of instructional technologies and information systems that cultivate students’ digital expertise, in both formal and informal education settings. I investigate how communities of learners, educators and administrators build knowledge, learn and evolve, alongside and in construct with the design and deployment of educational and information technologies. I explore the individual and collective effects of expanding information-based instructional “affordances” into education, such as online social collaborative tools, information resources, learning management systems, and blended e-learning. My inter-disciplinary work draws upon information science research in collaborative information-seeking, as well as educational psychology and learning sciences scholarship, and works towards building understanding of human learning processes with such systems. My research investigates phenomena involving expansion of information-based learning technologies at multiple levels of analysis, including the individual, group, class, and institution. My work also offers design contributions towards system affordances.
The relevance of my work is evident in ongoing position statements and policy briefs. US education and legislative leaders recommend that school officials expand technology-based learning opportunities for students’ digital literacy development and computer science (CS) education at the primary and secondary levels. Web-based information and learning management systems are becoming increasingly integral to the evolution of the K-12 education landscape. Curriculum providers and publishers, for instance, are expanding their pursuit of online distribution channels for delivery of teaching and learning materials and experiences into schools. This digital expansion is occurring for learning in the traditional curricular canon, as well as the new domains of CS knowledge and digital expertise. Strong assumptions, however, underscore these technology providers’ efforts to diffuse new innovations into schools; rigorous research evidence on the impact of expanding learning management systems into K-12 public school teaching and learning, communities and cultures, has been limited.
My work draws upon approaches discussed in the ‘science of socio-technical systems research’ scholarly community within information science. I engage critically in theory-building, theory-testing, and research-driven pragmatic design that addresses learners’ information practices with technology. I use a variety of methods including qualitative video observational case studies, interviews, quantitative statistical analyses using pre/post surveys, learning analytics trace log data, and content analysis for evaluating student learning artifacts. The common thread is a grounding in social constructivist learning theory, which positions humans as active constructive agents of inquiry and knowledge-building. My work contributes to scholarship in library and information science as well as the learning sciences, in areas including student digital and information literacy development, information-seeking, guided discovery-based and inquiry-based learning, computer-supported collaborative learning, and ‘education informatics.’
Several research funders have recognized the impact of my research. In 2013, I was one of three recipients of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Early Careers Development Grant, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS, $399,995). In 2012 I was awarded a Rutgers University Faculty Research Grant supporting inter-disciplinary scholarship on a project entitled entitled “Problem- and Inquiry-Based Learning Through Guided Discovery-Based Game Design” (as Lead PI, shared with a full professor Co-PI in the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, $47,006). I have received an internal SC&I Summer Fellowship Grant ($13,000, shared with a SC&I colleague and 2 doctoral students). These awards have led to substantive research studies resulting in publications in top tier academic journals, international conferences, and two co-authored books published in 2016. In Spring of 2016, I was awarded the Rutgers LIS department’s annual ‘Award for Distinguished Achievements in Research.’ Since 2008, my design-based research has contributed to the iterative development of a blended e-learning management system and to curricular innovations for middle school and high school students’ introductory computer science learning through game design. This curricular innovation and the organization that develops it, called Globaloria, has received a number of national awards including a 2013 Microsoft Education Laureate Award, and a 2014 Google RISE Award.
In 2009/2010 I was an AERA-AIR (A2) Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC where I worked on US Department of Education initiatives including the National Center on Technology Innovation (NCTI), and an in-depth study investigating New York City teachers’ uses of the NYC DOE’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) database and learning management system developed by IBM.
I hold a BA in Sociology from Tufts University, and an MA and PhD from the Newhouse School, Syracuse University, where I also conducted inter-disciplinary research with the School of Information Studies, the Center for Digital Literacy, and the School of Education. Prior to graduate school, I worked in product management and interactive marketing at Pearson’s Family Education Network, ZDNet Ziff Davis, Peoplestreet, and TechTarget.
Here at Rutgers SC&I, I teach courses such as Learning Theory, Media and the Curriculum; IT & Learning; Gender and Technology; Information Literacy; Seminar in Learning and Motivation Theories, and Human Information Behavior.