Education (Professor), U Illinois, 1990-2000

After BBN, I became a Professor at the University of Illinois in the College of Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

My work broadened to include literacy, math and science education, and especially to promote democratic, or progressive education. This drew inspiration from the work of progressive educators and philosophers in the pragmatist tradition such as John Dewey and Jane Addams, as well as international work not so well known in the US, such as that of Célestin Freinet in France, Misiones Pedagogicas in Spain, and the Turkish Village Institutes.

Soon after arriving in Illinois, I joined Dialogues in Methods of Education (DIME), with Jack Easley, Bernadine Stake, and others. 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 became interested in Communities of Practice studies and action research. This included the Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative, 2003-06, with Caroline Haythornthwaite, Geof Bowker, and others. Also, the development of teacher-based communities of practice., with Renee Clift.

I had a sabbatical in 1996-97 with major stays at Peking University in Beijing, China and the U of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. There were stops in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, California, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, and Wales along the way.

Work on literacy in the information age included a new interdisciplinary course, a column in the J of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 1997-2001, and a book: Literacy in the Information Age: Inquiries into Meaning Making with New Technologies, 2003.

Research on technology-enhanced learning led to Biology Student Workbench, with Eric Jakobsson; Chickscope, the use of MRI to study chicken embryology, with Umesh Thakkar, Clint Potter; and the taxonomy of media use, with Jim Levin.

In science education I developed new courses; worked with GK-12: Collaborative Inquiry in K-12 Classrooms, with Del Harnisch, Sharon Comstock: Project Search, with Joan Dawson; Physics outreach, with Inga Karliner. Mike Weissman, Mats Selen; Bioengineering education, with Richard Magin, Bruce Wheeler; etc.