I specialize in developing highly interactive data-driven web applications for education and media. I began making tools for the television and film industry and went into academia focusing on educational technology to enhance student learning.
After 15 years as a UVA research professor focusing on historical visualization and adaptive learning tools, I'm now working with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to produce Teaching with Grace, an AI-based tool for teacher-training simulation.
I have founded four high-technology companies in the film and television industry. The companies have been small but successful, leading to an EMMY award and two successful acquisitions by public companies. Since joining UVA, I have directed a number of academic efforts for K-12 educators and scholars that have won numerous awards for excellence and received significant funding from the American Library Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the DuPont Foundation, and the Library of Congress.
Areas of focus
I have worked in a number of industries, including higher education, computer graphics, 3D animation, and the motion picture and video industry. Broadly speaking, I see myself as a toolmaker, creating innovative ideas to solve problems people have presented to me and executing those ideas into finished products. While this process can be extended to almost any technology-driven field, these are the areas I have concentrated on in the past:
- Educational technology - The Internet is used daily by most professionals, but the educational world has only recently taken a strong interest in web-based tools, hastened by the emergence of inexpensive tablets and Chromebooks. For the past 15 years, I have been developing interactive web-based educational tools such as PrimaryAccess that have increased student achievement and engagement, and have written two books on the history of educational technology. The Portfolio section contains a number of examples.
- Natural Language Understanding - NLU has evolved as a practical and powerful communication medium between people and computers, particularly in education. I'm currently working on LIZA, an AI-based tool for teacher-training simulation that makes use of the latest machine-learning and NLP technology, including TensorFlow, BERT, Spacy, and Rasa.
- Data visualization and mapping - Interactive data visualization is a powerful way for your data to tell stories directly using compelling and persuasive graphics. I have written a textbook on using visualization in the humanities. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I have developed a number of interactive tools to enable students and scholars to develop compelling web-based interactive visualizations.
- Digital video and media - Digital media has exploded from provided only by skilled professionals, to a routinely-used tool. This ubiquity and the availability of fast bandwidth make digital media all the more compelling when combined with the Internet. I developed the first nonlinear editing system, the EMMY award-winning EMC2 Digital editor, and continue to push the envelope with web-based tools.