TitleAssociate Professor of Instructional Technology, University of Texas at San Antonio
Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, 2008
I started my academic career studying computer science. As I was completing my master’s degree in computer science, I spent the summers teaching children computer programming and web development at iD Tech Camps, a summer technology camp, which was where my interests in education started to develop. I also became involved with the company’s curriculum development and teacher training. Learning how to program can be very challenging for novices, especially for children. Thus, I was always on the lookout for best practices on how to teach abstract and high-level CS concepts to novices. It was through these teaching experiences that I shifted my focus towards using my technology development skills to create tools that can help others learn computer science.
The Instructional Technology (now the Learning Technologies) program provided students a strong theoretical foundation in instructional design theory, learning sciences, and education psychology while also offering many opportunities to develop and implement the learning technologies designed. There was also tremendous tech support from the College of Education, which gave students access to and assistance with the latest technologies.
I also had the great fortune of having several research and teaching opportunities at UT. I was a graduate research assistant at the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts designing and developing professional development software for reading teachers across the state of Texas. I was a teaching assistant and assistant instructor for technology skills courses and served as a field supervisor for pre-service teachers in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. What I value most from my experiences at UT was the support network I had from my professors, my supervisors, and my peers. In particular, I am grateful for the continuing guidance from my advisor and mentor, Dr. Min Liu, which started well before I even arrived in Austin. Dr. Liu was always there for me and supported me in whatever dissertation topic I may have selected for the week.
Life After UT
At the end of my doctoral program, I started working at Enspire Learning as a technology developer creating really awesome interactive, media-rich eLearning solutions for a diverse set of clients. I also had opportunities to work as an instructional designer for some projects. Working at Enspire was an invaluable experience that exposed me to all the industry standards and practices in instructional design and eLearning.
In the Fall of 2009, I joined the University of Texas at San Antonio as a faculty member. I am currently an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching. I recently served as the Instructional Technology program area coordinator between 2012 and 2015. I prepare instructional technologists to have strong theoretical and production backgrounds to design, create, and study effective technology-supported learning environments. I often reflect upon my own experiences as a doctoral student at UT to guide my teaching. In addition to instructional technology courses, I have taught graduate-level educational foundations and research design courses. I have also held adjunct appointments in UTSA Department of Computer Science teaching undergraduate courses.
My research investigates how learning technologies, such as programming environments and robotics, support learning and engagement in computer science and engineering in K-12 and undergraduate levels and in both formal and informal settings. I have been active in promoting STEM through technology-enriched programs to learners of all ages at UTSA and in the greater San Antonio area with an emphasis in broadening participation of underrepresented minorities. My work often involves an interdisciplinary group of faculty and student researchers from education, the sciences, and engineering.
Advice for Current Students
My advice for students is to network, network, and network. While at UT, I have been afforded so many research, teaching, professional, and social opportunities, which mostly came through the connections I made with people I met on campus. The Texas Longhorn family stretches worldwide. So, wherever you go in life, there will surely be a Longhorn nearby.