Information Sciences (Professor), U Illinois, 2000-present


In the Spring semester of 2000, I became a Professor in what is now known as the School of Information Sciences, or simply the iSchool. You can see what attracted me to the School here.

Community inquiry

Much of my work was with marginalized communities. For example, one project worked with with teenagers in twenty low-income, minority neighborhoods. It helped them use new digital technologies to address problems they identified in their own communities. In one African-American community, middle-and high school aged youth created online maps showing oral histories they had done with older community members.

My direct work with community members is complemented by books and articles, curricula, software, and learning environments in which learners collaborate on both the ends and means of their learning. The research includes the study of technology-enhanced learning, inquiry-based learning, teacher learning, and collaborative community-based projects.


The community-based work led to a theory of Community Inquiry––the Community Informatics Initiative (with Ann Bishop), and Youth Community Inquiry (YCI), engaging youth in addressing community issues using digital media, 2000-2011.

One important focus was Inquiry-based learning, including Inquiry-based learning courses; the Inquiry Page supporting communities of practice for education and community development; and the Distinguished Teacher/Scholar program (with Kim Graber), 2006-07.

Another key project was the Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative (DKRC), which I had started while in the College of Education.

International work

In 2004-05, I had a sabbatical in Europe, mostly around Paris, in Germany through a joint NSF/DFG project, and through Fulbright Specialist grants in Finland and Sweden.

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 Finland, Sweden, Turkey, China, Romania, Nepal, Cyprus, and other places.