MST Times

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Newsletter

MST Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Daniel Hoffman, Ph.D., Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design, 2013

By • Jan 6th, 2015 • Category: Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design
Photo Credit: Dr. Daniel Hoffman

Photo Credit: Dr. Daniel Hoffman

Since graduating from the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design program in May of 2013, Dan Hoffman has been working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). As a junior faculty member, Dan has enjoyed a range of opportunities to research, teach, and serve in the field of educational technology.

In terms of research, Dan continues to focus on the design of innovative interactive experiences and their impact on learning and engagement. Such investigations are multidisciplinary in nature, and take place at the intersection of cognitive science, education, and technology. Seeing great educational potential in emerging human-computer interaction techniques, Dan’s work expands what it means to engage with to-be-learned content. He studies the design of interactivity and its ability to act as conceptual and procedural scaffolding mechanisms. This involves prototyping ways in which content can be “played” and exploring how various behavioral and cognitive interactions promote strategy discovery, exploration, and ultimately understanding. His work is content agnostic and cuts across age groups and settings (formal/informal).

In support of this research agenda, Dan and two colleagues from his department recently received over one million dollars in funding from the National Science Foundation. This four-year core research project will examine how body movement supports student reasoning about critical science concepts possessing unseen structures and unobservable mechanisms (e.g., molecular interactions). Dan’s role on the project is to work on the design of the motion-sensing input controls and how they interface with existing science simulations. The ultimate goal of this work is to advance the improvement of STEM learning for middle school students and beyond. For more information on this research, please visit http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1432424&HistoricalAwards=false

In terms of teaching, Dan has been working with his colleagues to build a new program in the area of educational technology. Over the past year, Dan has collaborated on the design of a new graduate program called Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching, & Agency (DELTA). The DELTA program, housed in the UIUC’s College of Education, seeks to investigate and formalize theories, principles, and practices that focus on learning and teaching in digital environments. These environments range from technology-enhanced classrooms to mobile devices to immersive virtual worlds. For this program, Dan has designed courses such as Computer Programming & the Classroom, Critiques of Educational Technology, and Interactivity & Learning. Graduates of the DELTA program are equipped to pursue research and practice across diverse organizations and institutions (e.g. academia, industry, and non-profits) and to lead entrepreneurial efforts on the design and development of innovative digital environments. For information about DELTA, please visit: http://education.illinois.edu/ci/delta

Prior to attending Teachers College, Columbia University, Dan earned his New York State teaching license as a graduate of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. During that time, Dan taught at Public School 26 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. There he became an integral member of the school community, working to improve student literacy through innovative technology integration and a popular school-wide book-publishing campaign. As a teacher, Dan earned an AmeriCorps National Service Award for serving more than 1700 hours in a high-need community.

Dan also has international teaching experience. He taught third through fifth grade at a bilingual school in rural Guatemala. He also worked as an assistant program coordinator at the Institute of International Education (IIE) where he supported leadership training programs such as the Goldman Sach’s Global Leaders Program, the Bulgarian Young Leaders Entrepreneurship Program, and the Dragon Global Citizenship Program.

Dan earned his doctorate in May 2013 under the mentorship of Dr. Charles Kinzer. He also has a B.A. in English Literature, a M.S. in Education, and an Ed.M. in Instructional Technology & Media. Dan is originally from Vermont.

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