Letter from the Director

James LesterDear Friends,

Welcome to the North Carolina State University Center for Educational Informatics!

These are exciting times for learning technologies. Never has the need for personalized learning been so great, and never has the rate of innovation in learning technologies been so rapid. Foundational advances in research on learning and teaching, coupled with rapid advances in information and communications technology, have paved the way for the next generation of technology-rich education.

The Center for Educational Informatics (CEI) was established to design, develop, and investigate next-generation learning technologies. A distinguishing characteristic of CEI is its unique capabilities in advanced learning technology innovation. Housed in North Carolina State University’s College of Engineering, CEI is a university-wide center that is internationally recognized as a research hub for learning technology. Because creating effective learning technologies requires a deeply interdisciplinary perspective, CEI initiatives draw on collaborations between computer scientists, learning scientists, educational psychologists, and STEM educators, all with the goal of making “personalized learning” a reality at national and global scales.

CEI pursues a research and development program that has the overarching objective of creating exceptionally effective technology-enabled learning experiences. To this end, CEI initiatives center on designing new learning technologies, understanding how they promote learning in diverse student populations, and refining them to maximize their effectiveness. The majority of CEI’s activities focus on K-12 education and have a STEM curricular focus. However, CEI initiatives span a broad range of student populations, subject matters, and applications. CEI creates learning technologies for students ranging from elementary students to college students, for subjects matters ranging from science and computer science to literacy, and for applications ranging from education to defense and healthcare. CEI develops innovative learning environments for implementation in both formal (e.g., classroom) and informal (e.g., museum, home) settings.

CEI is committed to expanding access to the most effective, engaging educational experiences to all learners. Driven by the vision of ubiquitous, adaptive learning environments that tailor learning interactions to the abilities and interests of individual students, CEI activities span basic and applied R&D. Activities range from studies of technology-rich learning and teaching and development of enabling technologies for next-generation learning environments to mid-scale prototyping efforts and large-scale development projects to build robust, multi-platform learning environments.

With an unprecedented opportunity to address fundamental challenges in education, CEI is exploring a broad array of learner-adaptive technologies that hold significant promise for fundamentally transforming how we learn. Personalized learning technologies hold significant potential for promoting high levels of achievement, substantially increasing learners’ engagement, and effectively preparing our children for tomorrow’s workforce. In parallel, advances in learning analytics will inform our understanding of how students learn, which in turn will lead to highly effective data-driven learning technologies. Catalyzed by a creative R&D strategy, this cycle of innovation will propel itself forward and enable us to re-envision how we educate our students and ourselves.

We are continually expanding the CEI community of learners, teachers, collaborators, and partners. I hope you will join us in this exciting endeavor.

James C. Lester
Goodnight Distinguished University Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Founding Director, Center for Educational Informatics