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An Interview with Dr. Roy Pea: E-Learn 2008 Keynote Speaker
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Ok, I am back from a very successful E-Learn 2008 Conference in Las Vegas. I actually got home a few days ago, but it has taken a little while to catch my breath. We set attendance records with more than 1,000 attendees. We had a highly engaging and rewarding preconference symposium on e-learning in Asia with 12 participants from 12 countries. We will turn that into a special journal issue on e-learning in Asia during the next few months and perhaps a print on demand book. We also had many excellent keynote and invited addresses. What a week it was!

If you unfortunately missed the conference, one of the fantastic keynote speakers at the E-Learn 2008 Conference last week in Las Vegas was Dr. Roy Pea from Stanford University. I have been a fan of Roy's work for more than two decades now. Roy is currently Professor of Education and the Learning Sciences at Stanford. He is also Director of the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning. The title is his keynote address was, "Learning in a Networked World: Trends and Opportunities in the Future of Technology for Learning Environments and Education."

Roy has a couple of relevant websites:
1. Info from Stanford on Roy Pea.
2. Roy's Personal Homepage.
3. Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning.
4. Learning Sciences and Technology Design Program at Stanford.

Dr. Mimi Miyoung Lee from the University of Houston, one of the program chairs with me, had a chance to interview him via email before he spoke. Mimi used much of this information in her introduction of him. Their questions and answers are below. Enjoy.

Interview with Roy Pea, E-Learn 2008 Keynote Speaker

Mimi Question #1: When was the first time you used a computer?

Roy: 1977 - When I wrote my dissertation while on a long-term visit at Rockefeller University from Oxford (where I collected my dissertation data), before my postdoc there. I worked inside a psychologist's sound-proof booth where a computer keyboard and terminal was used for psycholinguistic experiments - it was linked to a PDP-11 also used to run infancy studies and collect HeartRate data. I did not see any of my writing as print until a special rented interface to an IBM Selectric typewriter printed out the 400 or so final pages!

Mimi Question #2: Do you ever purposeful try to stay away from technology? If yes, what do you do? (e.g., technology free weekends)

Roy: Perennial gardening.

Mimi Question #3: Can you name a couple of unique ways that technology has affected your personal or professional life in a positive way? (e.g., online Flickr account, mobile learning, etc.)

Roy: Social networks via distributed grants and centers over the years (e.g., my CoVis Project from 1991-1997; the Center for Innovative Learning Technologies from 1996-2002; the LIFE Center now, 2004-ongoing).

Mimi Question #4: If you had to look back and pick a year or event, when did your career in learning technologies take off and why?

Roy: Studying elementary school children learning Logo programming and whether it was influencing their planning and problem solving skills - at Bank Street College, where we created the first national center devoted to children and technology (1981). It was the huge crowd at an AERA in 1983 where I presented this work along with other studies of children and computing from my colleagues that I knew there was interest in such programs of empirical study and theory development (geez, now 25 years ago!)

Mimi Question #5: What is one thing happening in the world of e-learning that too few people know about?

Roy: Elastic cloud computing.

Mimi Question #6: What project(s) are you currently working on that has you most excited and why?

Roy: The LIFE Center (NSF Science of Learning Center), which I co-lead with many exciting colleagues in cognitive science, developmental psychology, anthropology, communication, neurosciences ( We are working on foundational advances for theories of learning across informal and formal environments and toward design principles to guide developments of learning environments, including technology-enabled ones. I also have a new mobile technologies science learning project with Marcelo Milrad in Sweden I'm enthused about but only now starting up.

Mimi Question #7: Do you have any important publications on the horizon?

Roy: (1) Working on a new book on learning that is intensely interdisciplinary and integrative during this sabbatical year; and (2) A journal article in development with doctoral students Robb Lindgren and Sarah Lewis on how first-person perspective video is more physiologically arousing and leads to greater conceptual learning than third-person perspective video.

Mimi Question #8: What is the most interesting place you have ever presented and why?

Roy: The Mayor of Barcelona in Spain once hosted an international symposium on computers, school and society (1987) with interdisciplinary participants from many countries and simultaneous translation. It took place over 2-3 days in the grand and centuries-old city governmental palace (with gold-gilded ceilings and exquisite paintings and tapestries). Invited participants were given a substantial and surprise honorarium in cash, under the pillow of the best hotel! The major dinner banquet had huge silver bowls filled with lobsters, shrimp and other gifts of the sea. The conversations were stellar as well.

Mimi Question #9: Tell us one thing people do not know about you.

Roy: I grew up in Detroit as a Motown kid with all that implies.

Mimi Question #10: What are your hobbies?

Roy: Intense English perennial gardening. I love cooking and serving many different cuisines (see picture to the left of my daughter Elle with summer pesto and sweet grape tomatoes). Mountain hiking with wife and colleague Brigid. Beachcombing. Ocean fishing. Broadly based music appreciation.

Mimi Question #11: Can you send any photos, pictures, visuals, etc. (with captions) that illustrate any of your answers that we can use in your introduction?

Roy: See below.

Ok, everyone, please come to E-Learn 2009 in Vancouver next year! It will be October 26-30, 2009. The views will be spectacular just like those above that Roy sent us. See ya there!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 11:39 AM  
  • At 12:21 AM, Blogger Jorge Olson said…

    Great information on the conference and the keynote speaker. Thanks for sharing the website links for Roy Pea.


    Jorge Olson

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Sure thing Jorge. I hope you can join us next year!

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger LT said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 5:03 PM, Blogger MW (My Wish) said…

    I posted under an inactive account and I am logging in again to post.

    Hi, Curt, please sign me up for the on demand book of e-learning in Asia, when it is possibly available. If you have any draft that you can share for now, that would even be better. Otherwise, I will read when the article is finally out. Thank you very much for the kind sharing.

    The bored Lori in Taiwan

  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Dear bored Lori. I will for sure get you a copy of this special issue and book. Next year you might want to participate in the E-Learn event.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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