My work contributes to a tradition of democratic education, which seeks ways for human flourishing to occur. It asks “How can we guide the educational enterprise by an ethical vision, not simply a technocratic one of transmitting isolated facts and skills?”
My early focus of research was artificial intelligence, especially computer natural language understanding. I later began to work on applying computers in education. I developed computer software, such as Quill, for teaching reading and writing, and helped implement that in village schools in Alaska. My three trips there were very significant for me and led to one of my books.
I began to broaden my work to include literacy, math and science education, generally, and especially to promoting democratic, or progressive education. This drew inspiration from the work of progressive educators and philosophers such as John Dewey and Jane Addams, as well as international work not so well known in the US, such as Célestin Freinet in France.
Much of my later work was in marginalized communities, especially with teenagers. My projects helped them use new digital technologies to address problems they identified in their own communities. One example was in an African American community, where middle-and high school aged youth would create online maps containing oral histories they had done with older community members.
In this effort, I’ve created curricula, software, and learning environments in which learners collaborate on both the ends and means of their learning. This research includes the study of technology-enhanced learning, inquiry-based learning, teacher learning, and collaborative community-based projects.
I retired in 2010, but continue to teach, write, and work with community-based projects. My work has led me to collaborate on extended projects in China, Australia, Haiti, Turkey, France, Germany, Ireland, Romania, Finland, Sweden, and many other places.
Recently, I helped set up the Progressive Educators Network of Nepal, which brings together teachers, engineers, development workers, and others who see learning as part of full participation in society and the natural world, rather than as individualized learning removed from the daily life. This has been carried out through multi-month trips to Nepal in Fall 2016, Spring 2018, and Winter 2019 (scheduled). The most exciting part has been the work, but I’ve also enjoyed trekking in a fascinating country.
- See “recent posts” and “top posts in the right sidebar
- Academic appointments
- University of Illinois page
- Democratic education
- CV and publications
- Recent work
- Books I’ve contributed to
- Slide shows
- Site index
- Posts by geotag