Greg Kearsley, Ph.D.
A
djunct Professor
School of Education
George Washington University

What is your highest degree?
Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1978. Computer Based Instruction

Could you describe how you got into the field of instructional technology? I had worked as a systems programmer before going to grad school so it was natural that I would be interested in computer applications when I went to grad school. There was a group at Univ. Alberta doing CAI so I just sort of fell into their grasp. Of course, back in those days we had lousy ideas about how computers could be used in education.

How would you describe your research agenda? How did you decide to research that area? Well, I don't actually have a research agenda. I just get interested in certain problems or ideas and pursue them. I don't usually write proposals or get grants, so I'm not very influenced by current fads or what's fashionable in the field. Usually if I'm interested in a topic, I'll teach a course or write something on it.

What are two or three books or papers you have written that you believe are especially well done or interesting? My first book on Cost/Benefits Analysis has turned out to be sort of a classic (although the bonehead publisher took it out of print). The "hyperbook" with Ben Shneiderman was fun to do. The book about computers & seniors ("Computers for Kids over 60") has probably had the most impact in the sense that it lead to the Senior net project which is still going strong today.

What are two or three books or papers by other people that you found very provocative or informative? In my early days I was influenced by the work of Bucky Fuller and J.G. Miller on systems thinking. There is a book by John Carroll called the Nurnberg Funnel that I think is very important for instructional designers. The recent work on situated learning is pretty important (Brown, Lave, Bransford, etc).

What practical work experience do you have in the IT field? What has been the relationship between work experience and research? For the first 10 years of my career I worked at training development companies, designing and implementing technology in real work environments. I think the real world is a great place to do research because it helps you focus on meaningful problems and viable solutions. I think people working in the field are very interested in research and study results -- but it is usually difficult for them to find the very specific things they are interested in.

Who are two or three people who have had the most important impact on your career? People affect your career at different levels -- personal, theoretical, practically. For example, I had a mentor in grad school who encouraged me to publish and how to deal with the harshness of reviews/rejections. That was very important from a career development perspective. Similarly, when I had my first job as an instructional developer, there was someone who showed me the ropes...the point is that these people are not famous, but very important to my career.

What do you see as the future of IT? Pretty much the same as the past history. It will be largely driven by emerging technologies and occasionally by major new developments in instruction/learning theory (like situated learning/constructivism). I hope that electronic networks will improve the accessibility of IT theory/methodology and hence make it more useful to practitioners in the field.

Could you describe one research project that you found particularly interesting or worthwhile? What made it so? I'm not sure if this pertains to my own research or someone else...but assuming the former, I find the TIP Project that I have been working on for a few years very worthwhile because it has some interesting meta theoretical aspects (connections among learning theories) as well as some practical value in terms of helping people find learning theory relevant to their interests.

What advice do you have for IT researchers who are just beginning in the field? Do your homework! Take the time to read about past work in the field (even ancient history like programmed instruction or instructional television), because there are always lessons to be learned for newer technology as well as unresolved problems/issues.