LINK Lab Research Spotlight: Dr. Matt Crosslin

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Dr. Matt Crosslin came to the LINK Research lab after several years of experience as an instructional designer and adjunct faculty member. His current research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, game theory, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning:

“If you look at the current state of educational research, there is a heavy focus on ideas and theory for some, while there is a heavy focus on practical classroom results for others. As an instructional designer, my interest is to see those two worlds come together. How do we take the best of the theory and the ideas, and use them in ways that impact the practical design of learning experiences? I blog and write about this intersection regularly, but I also like to focus my research there as well.

“Theory will usually lead us to realize that all learners are different, in small and large ways… but they also tend to share various random characteristics at times as well. Where these characteristics converge and diverge is constantly shifting. Therefore, my research has focused on how to create flexible systems for learning to create their own learning pathway through the course material, while still having the backbone of the instructor’s pathway as a constant stream for them to return to as needed when they are exploring an open networked garden of learning. In the theoretical realm, this is called heutagogy – the study of self-determined learning. This idea was the basis of my dissertation, as well as other research papers.

“The idea for how to do this is fairly straight forward, but the research has found that some designs and tools help and some tools hinder. My research is looking to determine what pathways learners will map out when given the choice, and what design and tool choices affect that process positively and negatively in which contexts. Some recent investigations into game theory and gamification of learning seems to match up with the results from the courses where we tested out various learning pathways ideas in, so I am starting to look into how to incorporate gaming into this process. Additionally, I think that we need to explore more about how learning analytics can fit into the area of self-determined learning in ethical ways.

Virtual Reality is a bit of an outlier interest, but it is a technology that interests me. We don’t have any current projects specifically focused on VR at the LINK Lab, but I keep looking for possibilities to explore in the future. As a field, education tends to jump feet first into newer technologies without exploring what it can or can’t do in education. I am interesting in finding out how VR does or doesn’t work in education.”

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