During 1968-71, I was a graduate student in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. My dissertation was entitled The logical structure underlying temporal references in natural language.
I then became an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Rutgers University for three years, and following that, a Principal Scientist at Bolt Beranek & Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at BBN, I helped write the proposal for the Center for the Study of Reading. It was established at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the National Institute of Education in response to the growing concern about the quality of reading instruction in American schools. The proposal became the basis for the book, Theoretical issues in reading comprehension: Perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and education.
I worked on various kinds of software in areas such as aritficial intelligence and technology-enhanced learning. An important project was Quill—a software package developed to foster an environment for literacy in classrooms. The software, teacher’s guide, and workshops were used widely, including in village schools in Alaska, which I visited three times during the project. Andee Rubin and I wrote a book, Electronic Quills: A situated evaluation of using computers for writing in classrooms, which looks in detail at the stories of early users.
Science for the People means recognizing the political nature of science; it means access for all people to useful human knowledge; it means the organizing of women and men in science to struggle along with other communities aimed at fundamental social change.
In 1990, I became a Professor at the University of Illinois, first in Curriculum & Instruction in the College of Education for ten years, and then for another ten in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now known as the School of Information Science. I’m now a Professor Emeritus.
Soon after arriving in Illinois, I joined the Dialogues in Methods of Education (DIME) group. DIME members have studied together how to improve their own teaching practices through research, the sharing of ideas, and mutual support. They have also engaged in critical analysis of the disciplinary and institutional forces shaping their work. The history of DIME shows the importance of accommodating difference in sustaining community.
I had a sabbatical in 1996-97 with major stays in Beijing, China and Brisbane, Australia. There were stops in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, California, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, and Wales along the way. Another sabbatical, in 2004-05, was in Europe, mostly around Paris and in Germany through a joint NSF/DFG project. In 2007-08 I held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the National College of Ireland in Dublin. At other times, I’ve had extended projects in Turkey, China, Romania, Nepal, and other places.