Most of my current activities are in two main areas: Web-based "inquiry learning" experiments and virtual learning environments.
"Inquiry Learning" through participation in small experimental studies: I've begun a very successful initiative here in the SDSU College of Education to help faculty design, develop, and assess small experimental studies that help their students learn important concepts in their area. An example in my own courses in educational multimedia development involves students learning about type design by participating in a series of small experiments on text readability related to font, type size, alignment, contrast, and so forth. It's a pedagogical strategy with application in a wide range of content areas.
Virtual Learning Environments: For the past several years I've been developing a series of experimental studies examining some of the details of how people learn from interactive media. For example, do "virtual" learning environments in which users manipulate computer-generated animated graphical objects (such as canal lock gates and valvessee http://edweb.sdsu.edu/canal/lockthru00.htm) help them learn? A spin-off of this research is the educational utility of sound effects associated with interactive graphical objects.
Mission Museum Project: My graduate students and I just completed a National Endowment for the Humanities project to create a virtual reality California Mission for fourth grade students and teachers.
I'm collaborating with Dr. Patti Scollay (SDSU Psychology Department) on a study about gender differences in how learners use virtual learning environments such as the Mission Museum.
I've also been collaborating with Dr. Steve Reed of the SDSU Psychology Departement on a National Science Foundation project call the Animation Tutor. We're designing and developing a series of interactive, animated tutorials to help students with intermediate algebra.
My ancestors, on their way to sunny California, inexplicably stopped in wintry western Pennsylvania. They were farmers, craftspeople, and artisans who crossed the Allegheny Mountains and (President George Washington having personally cheated the Seneca Indians out of their land) settled in western Pennsylvania in 1785 following the Revolutionary War. After the Civil War they were caught up in the first oil boom and turned to professional and small business trades. I was born in mid-twentieth century and grew up in Grove City, a small college town near the glacial morraine left by the last ice age. After the thaw, during high school, I worked as a DJ at the local radio station. As general manager of the student radio station at the University of Pittsburgh I took a degree in broadcast communication.
I worked in TV and radio and taught meditation during the early seventies. In 1977 I completed the journey my ancestors surely intended and came to southern California as a producer/director at channel 18 in Los Angeles. I met and married Lydia, a ballet, folklorico, flamenco, Bharata Natyam dancer. We moved to her native San Diego in 1987 and both earned teaching credentials at SDSU where I discovered the Ed Tech department. While working on my masters I taught science and music at Hoover High School, and computers and video at the middle school in Ramona. My dissertation for the SDSU / Claremont Graduate School joint doctoral program in education was on technology integration in K-12 schools. In December, 1994, we adopted a daughter, Anisa.
Other Interesting Bits
I can't keep my hands off things. I enjoy composing and playing music -- I stumble about on the hammered and mountain dulcimers, strangle the guitar, and rummage through the piano from time to time. My computer with MIDI synthesizer is the only instrument that helps me sound like a real musician.
I enjoy air-brush painting, weaving, singing in choirs, gardening, reading, bicycling, camping, hiking, sewing, writing poetry, and building furniture, few of which I have a chance to indulge of late.