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SPEA, School of Education faculty members named top contributors to education discourse

January 16, 2013
Bloomington, Indiana --

Two Indiana University faculty members are on a list of the top contributors to the public debate about education published on the Education Week website.

The second annual "Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings" includes IU School of Education professor Curt Bonk and School of Public and Environmental Affairs assistant professor Ashlyn Nelson. The rankings are the creation of education researcher and author Rick Hess, who describes them as a way "to recognize those university-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about schools and schooling."

Curt BonkThe scores came from measuring the output of articles, books and academic scholarship, along with activity on the Web and in print media. Hess and research assistants compiled a total score from Google Scholar citations, the number of books authored and co-authored, and the ranking of books on Amazon.com, as well as mentions in Education Week and the Chronicle of Higher Education, blogs, U.S. newspapers and the Congressional Record during 2012.

This is the second time Bonk has made the list. He is a professor of instructional systems technology, educational psychology and cognitive science at the IU School of Education and adjunct instructor for the School of Informatics. He estimates he has delivered well more than a thousand presentations across the world on the changing nature of education and technology.

In April, Bonk delivered a five-week, free and open massive open online course, or MOOC, about teaching online using "CourseSites" from Blackboard, a company that specializes in organizing such courses. Last week, the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, or MERLOT, published a review and link of the MOOC teaching resources Bonk developed for the course.

Ashlyn NelsonBonk authored a comprehensive book on how Web technology is changing worldwide education, "The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education," published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley. It documents the many ways in which he says innovations have "opened up learning to the point where anyone can learn anything from anyone else at any time." A companion website, worldisopen.com, includes regular updates from Bonk.

"No measure of scholarly productivity is perfect," Bonk said, "and I doubt we will ever find a measure that fairly gauges the impact of one's work. Nevertheless, Rick Hess is helping change the discussion of what academics do and yardsticks by which we are measured." Bonk added that the list contains many researchers he considers his "idols."

"Looking at the scores across items in the rubric, you quickly realize that the top 10 or 20 people in this list are amazingly productive," he said. "Given all those intellectual superstars who I have been reading since graduate school, I feel very fortunate to be mentioned in these rankings."

This is the first appearance on the Edu-Scholar list for Nelson, who conducts research on housing finance, education finance, education policy and the mortgage crisis.

"I have tremendous respect and admiration for the scholars listed in the RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings, and I am honored to be mentioned among them," she said. "The rankings illuminate the important role of scholarly research in shaping education policy, and I hope to contribute more in the future."

Nelson's research includes a project with colleagues at three other universities to study the impact of home foreclosure on student performance in school. The three-year project, supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, focuses on communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis in California, Florida and New York.

At IU, Nelson and faculty members from the School of Education and the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences coordinate the Economics of Education Seminar Series, which brings high-profile scholars to campus to discuss education policy issues.

The complete Edu-Scholar list is on the "Rick Hess Straight Up" blog.