I am currently the Taft Distinguished Professor of science education at East Carolina University. Before joining the faculty at ECU, I was a full professor at George Mason University and an associate professor of Science Education at North Carolina State University before that where my research focused on distance learning and the effect of instructional technology on science learning of teachers and students in rural and underserved populations. Although there is considerable research on distance learning, I have focused on the untapped analyses of learning science through various distance delivery strategies. My research has cascaded from my dissertation on comparing three different distance delivery strategies on science teacher professional development to my current focus on evaluating video games as a teaching and learning tool and as a vehicle for synchronous online instruction. The results of my dissertation suggested that synchronous interaction proved most effective on learning science in a distance-learning environment. Achieving synchronous interaction in distance-learning was only possible through videoconferencing technology until recent years. As technology continues to rapidly emerge and the push to be connected through the World Wide Web becomes more and more critical, it became obvious to me that there needed to be a strategy to deliver science content, synchronously, over the Internet. Upon accepting a position at North Carolina State University, I vigorously began to parlay the results of my dissertation into a pursuit of how synchronous interaction could come to fruition over the Web. Understanding the popularity of online, multiuser video game play, I began to use my past programming knowledge to build a virtual environment that became the platform for my current research. Through two separate internally funded grants, I designed and created a synchronous, online 3D virtual environment for distance learning courses offered at North Carolina State.
In 2008, I was honored with three awards for my extension work teaching K-12 teachers and students video game design for science and mathematics learning. The awards were progressive from the College of Education Outstanding Extension Service Award, to the induction into the NC State University Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension to the Distinguished Alumni Engaged in Extension and Outreach award. In both 2006 and 2010 I was honored, with my colleagues as co-writers, with the National Technology Leadership Initiative award. With over 4500 entries in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015 I was also honored as a Nifty Fifty speaker for the United States Science and Engineering Festival. In 2022 I was honored with the Association of Science Teacher Education National Mentor of the Year award.The success of the internally funded grants thrusted a quest for external funding to continue supporting my research on gaming technology. My most recent endeavors:
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