Rob Moore ‘18 PHD: Training the Next Generation of Instructional Technologists

Education runs in the Moore family, and Rob Moore ‘18 PHD is no exception. The trend of more and more students choosing online education options motivates Moore to understand and implement cutting-edge digital learning environments.

Name: Rob Moore
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Field of Study: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, concentration in instructional technology
Activities: My research looks at how to make online learning environments more interactive and engaging for learners. As more and more students are choosing the online education path, it is imperative that we as instructors create learning environments that can foster the same critical thinking and engagement that we find in face-to-face instruction. My dissertation used learning analytics to explore how it can be used to understand and describe student behaviors in massive open online courses (MOOCs). For my dissertation, I worked with the NCSU Office of Sponsored Research and Harvard University to work out a data use agreement that allowed me to receive a massive amount of identifiable data from Harvard’s MOOC courses. In my dissertation, I analyzed 57,650 discussion forums from 13,495 students that had enrolled in six Harvard MOOCs.
What’s Next: My ultimate goal is to become a tenure-track professor in instructional systems design or instructional technology.

Why did you choose education?

Rob Moore
Rob Moore

I love teaching. I also love solving problems and finding solutions. Teaching lets me do both. On both sides of my family, there are numerous educators. My mom was an educator for her entire career. Growing up, my parents placed a high emphasis on the value of education – from sending me to the best schools to giving me summer enrichment opportunities. It was through this emphasis on education that I was exposed to highly motivated and dedicated instructors that made me want to have a similar impact on my own students. I have worked for the past 14 years in higher education and although I enjoyed the experiences, I was looking for my next challenge. Teaching has always been something that I have enjoyed, and I knew that in order to advance my career and reach a faculty line, I first needed to get a Ph.D. Through my graduate studies, I have learned how to disseminate and share my research and knowledge with others.

Why did you choose your field of study?
I have always been really interested in technology. I always had or wanted the coolest gadgets growing up – whether it was the Palm Pilot or the new TI-83 calculator. I learned about instructional technology about eight years ago when I was working as a resource center manager supporting undergraduate and graduate language instruction. It was through those experiences that I realized that instructional technology was a perfect fit for me – it lets me play with technology and use it to solve problems and find solutions to challenges. Instructional technology is about finding the right technology to support instruction – that can be as simple as adding graphics to a PowerPoint or as detailed as creating an e-learning module. I am really excited about transitioning from the role of practitioner to faculty where I can teach and inspire the next generation of instructional technologists and designers.

What do you hope to accomplish in your field after graduation?

Rob Moore with faculty advisor Kevin Oliver
Rob Moore with faculty advisor Kevin Oliver

My ultimate goal is to have a full-time faculty position in instructional technology or instructional systems design where I can train and work with the next generation of instructional technologists. I want to be able to use my position as a faculty member to advance and improve student engagement and learning within online learning environments. My dissertation focused on the emerging field of learning analytics, and as I transition to a faculty line, I am continuing to learn and develop my skills around learning analytics. This research area that cuts across multiple fields and disciplines as we are seeing learning management systems as early as elementary school (e.g. Google Classroom) all the way through to the business and corporate worlds. There is a tremendous amount of data being captured on learners and we need to develop better mechanisms for how we collect, study and protect this learning data. I hope that I will be able to contribute to those conversations both on the policy side and on the instructional side.

Tell us about a faculty member who has influenced you.
Dr. Kevin Oliver, my advisor, has been a tremendous influence. When I ask Dr. Oliver for advice or have a question, he always responds with a thoughtful reply that shows that he is truly invested in my work. He has helped me develop a long-term career roadmap, and it is one that will allow me to make significant contributions to the field of instructional design and technology. Being a doctoral student is a challenge, but Dr. Oliver has made the experience exceedingly positive; so much so that I am always more than willing to speak on panels and help recruit new graduate students for NC State. I feel that Dr. Oliver has gone above and beyond to support me in my current academic path and also to prepare me for my future as a tenure-track faculty member. While it is great that he has done this for me, I know that he has also done this for all the students he has mentored. It is for this reason that I reached out to two current and former students and asked them to share their experiences. They all shared the same sentiments – Dr. Oliver is a fantastic resource, mentor, and friend and he truly cares about the success of his students.