- “Don’t start with the technology. When you start with technology, it’s a solution looking for a problem.” (Chris Dede; 1947–.)
Chris Dede has long been a very prolific researcher, writer, speaker,futurist, and consultant in the field of Information and Communication Technology in Education.
- Ed.D. University of Massachusetts, 1972; science education. Dissertation title: "A Future-Oriented Analysis of Current Directions in Secondary Science Education."
- B.S. California Institute of Technology, 1969, double major: chemistry and English.
In 1967, Dede took a FORTRAN course at the California Institute of Technology. He indicates this is the only computer course he has ever had, and that doing FORTRAN in a punch card environment drove him out of the computer field for the next eight years. Fortunately for the world of education, he returned!
Here is a brief summary of his professional career employment:
- * 2000-present: Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies,
- * 2001 to 2004: served as chair of the Learning & Teaching area at HARvard Graduate School of education..
- 1991-2000: Full Professor, George Mason University.
- 1996-1997: Senior Program Director, National Science Foundation (on leave from GMU).
- 1984-1990: Visiting Scientist, Johnson Space Center, NASA
- 1984: Visiting Scientist, Computer Science Lab, MIT (Sabbatical)
- 1981-1990: Full Professor, University of Houston—Clear Lake
- 1979-80: Policy Fellow, Office of the Director, National Institute of Education (via the Institute for Educational Leadership)
- 1974-81: Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, University of Houston—Clear Lake.
- 1972-74: Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts.
- Chris Dede's fundamental interest is the expanded human capabilities for knowledge creation, sharing, and mastery that emerging technologies enable. His teaching models the use of information technology to distribute and orchestrate learning across space, time, and multiple interactive media. His research spans emerging technologies for learning, infusing technology into large-scale educational improvement initiatives, policy formulation and analysis, and leadership in educational innovation.
Here is how Chris Dede describes his areas of interest:
- I define learning technologies quite broadly. For example, cell phones can be a learning technology. With the right software, handheld Game Boy devices and other types of entertainment consoles can be learning technologies. My work focuses on information technologies that apply to education—devices that allow users to customize their access to information as they make decisions in an inquiry process. I would not dispute that a blackboard is a learning technology, but it is not the kind of artifact on which I focus my research. My fundamental interest is in how emerging technologies expand human capabilities for knowledge creation, sharing, and mastery, so I am most interested in the learning technologies that lend themselves to complex data manipulation, intensive collaboration, and robust archives. Today, we have an extraordinary menu of technologies that range from massively multiplayer Internet games to various types of handheld devices, and some of them are well-suited for immersive learning environments.
A University of Houston–Clear Lake 1974-1990
Chris Dede was an assistant professor, then associate professor, and then full Professor at the University of Houston—Clear Lake 1974-1990. There, he taught in a Studies program in the College of Technology. Here is a bit of history of the program quoted from the above reference:
- The graduate program in Studies of the Future was established in 1974 (when the Clear Lake campus of the University of Houston was founded) by Dean of Human Sciences and Humanities, Calvin Cannon, and Chancellor of UH-Clear Lake, Alfred Neumann. The mid-1970s was a high point of futures studies in the U.S. with the founding of the World Future Society and the publication of futures best-sellers, such as Future Shock and The Limits to Growth. Dr. Cannon thought that futures should be a regular part of the curriculum, as a complement to the study of history.
- The University hired two faculty members to initially staff the program—Dr. Jib Fowles, the first chair of the program, and Dr. Chris Dede. Dr. Fowles received his degree in communications from. Dr. Fowles graduated from a New York university (NYU or the New School for Social Research) in communications and sociology. Dr. Dede graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in education with a strong emphasis in futures studies and instructional technology. Faculty from other programs in the university also taught courses in the futures program – notably, Jim Bowman and Fred Kierstead from education and Jim Coomer from public administration.
1979-1980 Policy Fellow National Institute of Education
In his work with as a Policy Fellow with the National Institute of Education, Dede made many valuable contacts at the federal/national level. See, for example: Allen, Dwight and Dede, Chris (1981). Education in the 21st Century: Scenarios as a Tool for Strategic Planning. Phi Delta Kappan, January 1981, pp. 363-366.
C. Dede, Potential Clients for Educational Services Delivered by Information Technology, contractor report to OTA, March 1981.
Dede is listed as one of the contractors in the very important reportNovember 1982 OTA report:Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education .
1984-1990 Visiting Scientist
Dede's "visiting scientist" positions began with a 1984 sabbatical from University of Houston—Clear Lake. He was a Visiting Scientist, Computer Science Lab, MIT. Then from 1984–1990 he was both a full professor at the University of Houston—Clear Lake and a Visiting Scientist, Johnson Space Center, NASA.
Examples of Policy Work
- Testified to the Congressional Web-based Education Commission, June, 2000.
- Testified to the Science Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, May, 2001.
U.S. Department of Education:
- Organizer, Workshop on Reinventing High Schools for the 21st Century.
- Member, Technology Expert Panel.
- Advisory Board, Designing a National Study of the Effectiveness of Educational Technology.
- Advisory Board, Ready to Learn Television program.
U.S. Department of Defense:
- Expert Panelist on the comprehensive technology plan for the Department of Defense Education Activities .
U.S. Agency for International Development:
- Expert Panelist on designing and studying applications of educational technology for developing countries.
Massachusetts State Government :
- Testimony, Special Committee on Educational Technology .
Here is an article that represented Dede's thinking in 19991.
Dede, Chris (1991). Emerging Technologies: Impacts on Distance Learning, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Retrieved 2/7/09:http://www.jstor.org/pss/1047137.
- Abstract. In the next decade, our society may change from its present extensive use of technology as a mediator of human experience to a reliance on technology-permeated experience as a primary form of personal consciousness. In response, our paradigm for distance learning must evolve so that we can replicate the workplaces and communities of the future in schools today. This will aid students in filtering and interpreting the complex, pervasive informational environment that sophisticated media are creating in society. This article presents a scenario crafted to suggest the capabilities of advanced technology for making distance-learning environments more effective. Policies should be developed so that the benefits of these innovations for distance learning are realized as rapidly as possible, but we must ensure that these powerful new media do not shape the instructional message in unwanted ways.
Here is a very important article helping to shape National Science Foundation Policy.
Dede, Chris and Nora Sabelli (2001). Integrating Educational Research and Practice: Reconceptualizing Goals and Policies: “How to make what works, work for us?” Retrieved 2/9/09http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/SS_research/cdpapers/policy.pdf. Quoting from the introduction to the article:
- This article proposes reconceptualizing most current education research programs to more effectively promote the integrated co-development of scholarship, practice, and policy. In our analysis, we explicate the strategies underlying exemplary funding programs such as the National Science Foundation's (NSF) "Research on Learning and Education" (ROLE)2, and the federal Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI)3, co-sponsored by NSF, the U.S. Department of Education (DoED), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From this analysis, we draw implications for the further evolution of funding strategies that emphasize a scholarship of practice rather than scholarship on practice.
- This perspective on research funding and policy is based in part on our experiences while Senior Program Officers in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources of the National Science Foundation, where we helped conceptualize and direct a number of peer-reviewed funding programs on education research in science, mathematics, and technology. Our collective experience includes work on instruction and policy, learning and intelligent systems, applications of advanced technologies, networking infrastructures in education, and more recently what can be termed “the sciences of learning.”
- There is general agreement that effective practice is based on the reflective application and adaptation of research. In turn, practice that includes principled experimentation can raise critical questions to be answered by research. This feedback loop can create a sustainable strategy for innovation in the nation's education enterprise. However, a recent NRC report4 on education research observed that transfer of scholarship into practice is “a last frontier,” despite the fact that the application of research is paramount for moving education reform from transitory fads to proven strategies. Similar concerns were voiced earlier in the 1997 PCAST5report on the use of research in learning technologies to strengthen U.S. education. Both these reports cite an urgent need for researchers to foster a transformative school culture centered on sustainable, scaleable, high quality educational practices of value to all students.
George Mason University 1991–2000
- Chris Dede is a Full Professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he has a joint appointment in the Schools of Information Technology and Engineering and of Education. His research interests span technology forecasting and assessment, emerging technologies for learning, and leadership in educational innovation. He currently has a major grant from the National Science Foundation to develop educational environments based on virtual reality technology. Chris was the Editor of the 1998 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Yearbook, Learning with Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment and of the U.S. Department of Education s Expert Panel on Technology, and he is also on the International Steering Committee for the Second International Technology in Education Study spanning approximately thirty countries.
Here is some additional information about Dede when he was a GMU. Quoting from http://www.ed.gov/Technology/Futures/authors.html
- Chris Dede has a joint appointment in the Schools of Information Technology and Engineering and of Education. … He is also a core affiliate faculty member in GMU's Institute for Public Policy.… His funded research includes work for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, NASA, Apple Computer, and the National Science Foundation. Under the auspices of the U.S. Information Agency, he has traveled to nine countries discussing the evolution of information technology in education.
Johnson Space Center
Salzman,Marilyn; Dede, Chris; and Loftin, Bowen (Date ?). Learner-Centered Design of Sensorily Immersive Microworlds Using a Virtual Reality Interface. Retrieved 2/8/09:http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/pdf/aied.pdf.
Quoting from the Abstract:
- At NASA's Johnson Space Center and George Mason University, we are using a learner-centered approach for designing and evaluating ScienceSpace, a series of virtual reality microworlds for teaching science concepts and skills that students typically have difficulty mastering. Our research goal is to examine whether virtual reality's sensorial immersion can help students remediate deeply rooted misconceptions and construct accurate mental models of abstract science concepts. Through the design and evaluation of the microworlds in ScienceSpace, we will more fully understand the general utility of sensorial immersion, as well as virtual reality's overall potential and limitations for teaching. This paper focuses on the iterative and learner-centered design and evaluation of NewtonWorld, the first of the virtual microworlds in ScienceSpace. We highlight learner, educational content, and technology considerations important for designing these educational microworlds. We discuss how we used these factors in shaping NewtonWorld. Additionally, we describe formative userbased evaluations and surveys, and how their results helped us refine NewtonWorld's interface. Finally, we discuss early implications of our work for designing sensorily immersive interfaces that are usable and facilitate learning.
National Science Foundation 1996-97
Chris Dede completed a one-year term as Senior Program Director at the National Science Foundation, helping to guide the initial development of their new $25-30M funding program Research on Education, Policy, and Practice.
The NSF is a hotbed of people and programs working to improve education. Thus, thorough this work with the NSF, Dede made many important and lasting connections. A good example is provided by the article that he later wrote with Nora Sabelli, Senior Program Director, Division of Research, Evaluation, and Communication , National Science Foundation.
- Dede, Chris and Nora Sabelli (2001). Integrating Educational Research and Practice: Reconceptualizing Goals and Policies: “How to make what works, work for us?” Retrieved 2/9/09http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/SS_research/cdpapers/policy.pdf.
A 2004 Interview
See the transcript of this March 4, 2004 interview at http://m3challenge.siam.org/problems/. Here is a small piece of the interview:
- Alan Feldman: In your own opinion and, generally speaking, what are the most effective uses of technology to enhance learning?
- Chris Dede: Well, first, I think that the most important function of schools is to prepare kids for the 21st century. And the recent work at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has documented that there's a whole set of cognitive and affective and social skills that really weren't central for an industrial economy or an agricultural economy that now are at the heart of the emerging global knowledge-based workplace--and being a citizen in a very complex civilization. And...so, to me what's important is that students come out with those skills. Now, I know that that's different than the conventional wisdom of saying that students should know everything in the standards and then they'll be well prepared for the rest of their lives. To put it in context, I hold an endowed chair at Harvard in a field in which I've taken exactly one course. It was a course in a programming language that no longer exists and I took it on punch cards, so obviously it wasn't a lot of help to me in terms of preparing. And while that story--even in my generation--isn't unusual, it's certainly going to be a very typical story in the generation that we're educating now in schools. We don't really know what content those students are going to need. I suspect that detailed new knowledge of the content and the standards--some of it will be important where there are core skills that are involved. Other content will dramatically change by the time the students might use it. So then if you ask what are the most effective uses of technology in the school, the most effective uses of technology center around engagement. Because if kids don't come out of school caring deeply about learning and knowing and able to collaborate with others in doing that, they are not going to be well prepared no matter what facts and skills they've memorized. They center around reflective skills like learning how to learn, being able to prioritize and filter information--the things that the Partnership for 21st Century Skills talks about. And there's something new and something old about that report. The old part about it that's very reassuring is that we've had a series of reports on what the students need to be prepared for the future, beginning in the early 1990s with the SCANS (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills) report, going through the National Center on Education and the Economy report in the mid-nineties. And every report describes more or less the same skills despite the enormous changes that have taken place in society over about a 15-year period. So that's very reassuring, because it says that these skills aren't some sort of a fad or a temporary understanding, but they really are foundational for where we're going. But the part that's different about this new report is that it identifies fluency in technology as being central to having those skills: that you don't really know how to collaborate unless you also know how to collaborate across distance; that you don't really know how to filter information if you can use a library, but you don't know how to use the Internet. It's a "both and" type of a situation. And so I think that the powerful uses of technology take content from the standards, especially core content that helps students to understand the deep parts of the field or how a field relates to other fields, or how ideas within the standards are interconnected, links those into these 21st Century higher-order skills that we're talking about, and links the technology in as a kind of amplifier that lets you learn the content faster and lets you master the skills more deeply. That's a very long answer.
Awards, Honors, Boards
He is on the International Steering Committee for the Second International Technology in Education Study spanning approximately thirty countries. He serves on the Advisory Boards of ThinkLink, FreshPond, bigchalk, and World Book.
Chris recently served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment and a member of the U.S. Department of Education's Expert Panel on Technology.
- AERA Outstanding Reviewer, 2003
- COSN "Making It Happen" Award, 2003
- Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Service, UHCL, 1985
- Educational Policy Fellow, Institute for Educational Leadership, 1979
- University-wide Outstanding Teaching Award, UHCL, 1975
- Danforth Fellow, 1969-72
- Named as one of top twelve graduating chemists by the American Chemical Society, 1969
Presentations: Video and Audio
Chris Dede, Harvard University: "Immersive, Collaborative Simulations And Neomillennial Learning Styles: Implications For Higher Education" - October 9, 2007. Audio of a talk. Audio from Harvard at http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/chris-dede-harvard-university-immersive-collaborative-simulations-and-neomillennial-learning-styles/3802774/.
Comment by David Moursund 2/6/2009
I have known Chris for a great many years. We have been together on committees, presented at the same conferences, and so on. I thought of it as a special honor to get to serve with him as a member of the U.S. Department of Education's Expert Panel on Technology.
Chris is a wonderful person. I think of him as somewhat shy and quiet. However, in meeting settings when he has something to say, people pay special attention. His insights are always profound, to the point, and well appreciated.
Author or Authors
Initial work on this page was done by David Moursund.
Dede, Chris (n.d.). Harvard Resume Retrieved 2/9/09: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty_research/profiles/cv/chris_dede.pdf.
Dede, Chris (n.d.) Here is a link to some of his research papers. Retrieved 2/9/09: http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/SS_research/cdpapers/hyperpdf.htm. Dede, Chris; contributing editor (March-April 2008) Learning via Smart Objects, Intelligent Contexts, and Ubiquitous Computing. Educational Technology. Retrieved 2/6/089: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~dedech/Ubiquitous_computing.pdf.
Dede provided the Introduction and an Afterword for two articles written by two of his former students. Quoting from Dede:
- Educational research strongly suggests that individual learning is as diverse and as complex as bonding, or certainly as eating. Yet theories of learning and philosophies about how to use ICT for instruction tend to treat learning like sleeping, as a simple activity relatively invariant across people, subject areas, and educational objectives. Current, widely used instructional technology applications have less variety in approach than a low-end fast-food restaurant.
- What we need to succeed with all students is very interactive, individualized pedagogical strategies under some loose umbrella that allows students to navigate to what they need and helps teachers to guide learners to reach the next level of educational performance. The technological infrastructure for this is rapidly approaching. Hopefully, we as a society will have the wisdom to use ubiquitous computing to its full educational potential.
Morrison, James L. and Chris Dede (2004). The Future of Learning Technologies: An Interview with Chris Dede. Retrieved 2/6/2009: http://innovateonline.info/?view=article&id=1. Quoting from the interview:
- Chris Dede, Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a leading authority on learning technologies and the ways in which they shape education. As a teacher, researcher, and policy advocate, he is a visionary whose fascination with technology has been informed by his commitment to serving the highest ideals of education. I interviewed Dede, who serves on the Innovate editorial board, in April 2004.
O'Neill (October 1995). On Technology and Schools: A Conversation with Chris Dede. Educational Leadership. Retrieved 2/8/09: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/oct95/vol53/num02/On_Technology_and_Schools@_A_Conversation_with_Chris_Dede.aspx. Quoting from the article:
- Some experts predict that technology will have an enormous impact on K–12 education. Do you agree?
- It depends on what models of teaching and learning we use. If technology is simply used to automate traditional models of teaching and learning, then it'll have very little impact on schools. If it's used to enable new models of teaching and learning, models that can't be implemented without technology, then I think it'll have a major impact on schools. And if it's used to enable models of teaching and learning that extend beyond the walls of the school into the community, into the workplace, into the family, then it will also have an enormous impact on education and learning.
- Technology hasn't had a widespread, transformative impact on schools yet. Why not?
- Schools are like other organizations. Our first instinct is to use technology to do the same things faster. I remember when my university first got word processors, we set up a dedicated area with special secretaries who did nothing but word processing. It was used as a faster kind of typewriter. Only later did people begin to realize that the computer and word processing enabled everyone to compose more effectively, and that having specialists who did nothing but keyboard wasn't the right approach. In schools, we've gone through this preliminary period, and now we're at a point where technology could really take off for us