What’s a Learning Engineer?

All engineers use science and technology to solve problems in the real world. Learning engineers use the science of learning and instructional technology to solve problems and build productive, beautiful educational environments. Learning scientists are important, but aren’t enough since their focus is on universal principles. Instructors are important, but aren’t enough since their focus is on practices.  It is the role of the learning engineer to bridge the two roles by creating learning tools, environments, and practices that are informed by the science of learning, while communicating back to scientist regarding problem areas where more research is needed.

I’m part instructional technologist,…

Technology is not a silver bullet for solving all problems of education and training. But it is a pretty amazing tool for creating new and better solutions when problems arise. Instructional technology provides the tools teachers can use to develop learning systems in which a learner can thrive.

Research and development of instructional technology is a challenging task involving a lot of cross-training in design, analytics, and educational theory. I have formal training in data analysis and educational theory, capped by my doctoral dissertation.

part instructional designer, and…

I have lots of experience in educational design, user interface design, and graphic design (and was offered a job at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute partly because of my “design chops”). Strong research and development methods, however, are the only way to ensure that products are having a positive and persistent impact on learning.

part instructor.

Good implementation of instructional technology tools is equally important as their design. These challenges require a different set of skills: educational praxis, social skills, and technological proficiency. These skills can be taught, but are best when also based on a genuine passion for learning and instruction. I have spent 19 years in the field in a number of capacities because I am driven to seek new and better ways to help people learn and realize their full potential.