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My connection with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) goes back to my undergraduate days when I was enrolled in the Computer Science program in the College of Arts & Sciences. After graduating with my B.S. degree in 1981, I spent over 10 years working in a variety of software development or engineering jobs. I also developed a successful consulting business (Foresite Systems) and worked full time as a consultant from 1988 through 1994. During my time as a consultant, I developed and taught many short workshops on software engineering and computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools around the world. I also presented sessions at national conferences and published two books (McGraw-Hill) on software engineering topics.

During my days as a consultant, I began to see how difficult it is to change the culture within an organization. I became frustrated with what I saw as a lack of commitment to change and quality improvement in many of the organizations I worked for as a consultant. At about the same time, I began volunteering as a member of a district technology committee and helping my daughter’s teacher in the computer lab. Through these experiences, I came to see how little technology was being used in a school district that at the time had more computers than most in the country. I felt confident that if teachers could learn how to use computers, they would somehow begin to use them in pedagogically powerful ways that would help all students learn.

Rather than complain about the state of educational technology integration I found in the early 1990s, I decided to return to school to get a doctorate in educational psychology and hopefully help change the situation myself. I enrolled in the graduate program at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1994 and began my work towards my Ph.D. 

During my years as a graduate student at MSU, I had the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting educational technology projects. I helped develop a web site for teachers – LETSNet – that includes case studies of technology-using teachers, along with unit and lesson plans, professional development activities, and links to state and national standards. For my dissertation, I worked with lower elementary teachers on integrating technology into their teaching. I began to see how teachers filter their planned uses of technology through their beliefs and knowledge and this led me to see that in order for technology to be used effectively in the classroom, teachers must not only learn how but why technology can be beneficial. This often provides an opportunity for teachers to question their own beliefs and practices in the face of the options available with technology.

After graduating from MSU in 1998, I spent a year as a post doctorate there working on the NextDay Teacher Innovation Grant program (no longer available). As principal investigator for this work, I helped coordinate and study the experiences of over 100 teachers in Michigan who were given up to $10,000 to integrate technology into their teaching and share what they learned with other teachers throughout the state. Through this work, I saw how difficult it is for teachers to stimulate change in the existing school culture and how others in the district – including technology coordinators, administrators, and other teachers – often place obstacles in their path. One clear observation from this work was how instrumental administrators are in providing leadership and support for technology integration in the classroom. 

In May of 1999, I was hired as an assistant professor in the GVSU School (now College) of Education. I came to the program with no formal background in teaching but with a strong base for research and inquiry into the impact of technology on teaching and learning. My first experiences as a teacher were during the Fall of 1999 when I taught two classes – EDG 620 Courseware Development and EDG 621 Topics in Educational Technology. I developed the materials for both of these courses and the rest of my time I worked as a principal investigator on the CIERA project.

Version: 1.0 (February 5, 2014)