Welcome to the digital space of Bret Staudt Willet. What might we work on together?
I am interested in understanding participation as a complex phenomenon in large and busy spaces on the Internet. More specifically, my research focuses on teacher participation in online communities; I am exploring how and why teachers use social media, especially Twitter, for professional purposes. Teachers have used Twitter for purposes such as offering collegial peer support in the face of professional isolation (i.e., the experience of being the sole adult in the classroom or the one subject-matter expert in the building), supplementing professional development for improving classroom practices, and tracking and keeping abreast of updated and changing teaching standards and educational policies. I want to know about both the broad trends of usage as well as the details of the interactions in these online spaces and communities.
Toward this end, I am a PhD student in the Educational Psychology & Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University.
I consider my strongest credential to be my ongoing connection with my first online friend, who I met in an AOL chatroom in the early 1990s. Perhaps my best attribute is my ability to search out and stick with sincere people looking for meaningful human connection through the Internet. Through all that I’m doing, I hope to be working toward a more generous and humane Internet, one person at a time.
As an undergraduate at Bucknell University, I studied mathematics and sociology, a pairing that balanced my empathy toward people with an affinity for abstracting patterns and constructing arguments. I continue to think with the lenses I developed back then, constantly observing and seeking to understand the trends and patterns in how people interact. I naturally gravitate toward new ideas and have participated in creative conferences such as IdeaCamp and NASAGA (on whose Board I served for two years).
During the decade following my undergraduate degree, I grew increasingly interested in how people learn and what tools best serve this process. I returned to formal studies, first completing a Graduate Certificate in Serious Game Design and Research and then an MA in Educational Technology at Michigan State University.
I am a perpetual, almost accidental, thought- and change-leader. I was the founding National Director for Ministry in Digital Spaces with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA from 2014 to 2017, overseeing R&D, strategic projects, and personnel recruitment for a team that spanned the corners of the United States. This team had a core of 12 staff and several dozen volunteers; we specialized in connecting meaningfully with college students wherever they were present online, especially via social media, video games, and podcasts.
In total, I worked for InterVarsity from 2003 until 2017, and I was a frequent public speaker and group facilitator throughout this time. I also trained, developed, and coached student volunteers in leadership, and I started new student chapters on campuses throughout the local area. All told, I was a staff director and supervisor for 9 years. In the course of my 14 years with InterVarsity, I secured more than $1 million in funding for our programs.
Throughout my career, I have worked to design tools that make space for learning and change. I developed three 6-week immersion learning and cross-cultural experiences for students spending summers in three very different urban environments: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Manila, Philippines; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I created a card game to help graduating students prepare for life after college, a board game to help staff in my region work toward a more collaborative team culture, and an additional half-dozen prototypes for digital educational games.
Association for Educational Communications & Technology AECT
Research & Theory Division
American Educational Research Association AERA
Division C – Learning and Instruction
Division K – Teaching and Teacher Education
Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching & Learning (TACTL) SIG
Association of Internet Researchers AoIR
PhD student in Educational Psychology & Educational Technology, 2021
Michigan State University
MA in Educational Technology, 2015
Michigan State University
Graduate Certificate in Serious Game Design and Research, 2014
Michigan State University
BA in Mathematics & Sociology, 2003
As a graduate assistant, I am a teaching instructor for the following courses at Michigan State University:
CEP416: Teaching and Learning with Technology (Undergraduate) - Uses of multimedia technology and social media in teaching and learning. Developing plans for integrating technology in classroom. Designing digital online portfolio as tool for professional development. Teaching school subject matter with technology.
CEP 813: Electronic Assessment for Teaching and Learning (Master’s) - Foundational theories of assessment. Critical examination of methods (e.g., portfolios, rubrics, surveys, tests, self-evaluations), and digital tools that allow educators to gather information, analyze it, and make informed pedagogical choices. Design of assessments for learning, as learning and of learning, especially in digital contexts.
CEP 817: Learning Technology through Design (Master’s) - Design of educational tools and software. Designing for learners. Human computer interaction. Art and aesthetics of design. Iterative design. Collaboration in design.
CEP 820: Teaching Students Online (Master’s) - Strategies for constructing and implementing online curricula aimed at students across the lifespan.