Amir's Stanford Bio

Monday, December 01 2008 @ 08:54 AM Eastern Standard Time

Contributed by: shoshana

About Me:
I am currently a first-year PhD student studying under Roy Pea in the "Learning Sciences and Technology Design " program of the Stanford University School of Education. Prior to Stanford, I studied at Brown University from where I graduated in May 1999 with an ScB in computer science. My goal here at Stanford is to apply my passion for technology within the field I think poses the most interesting and meaningful challenges: education. It is my animating faith that technology holds the key to making education accessible and effective for everyone and that education, in turn, holds the key to just about everything else that is worthwhile. My specific research interests are still inchoate but here is a short list of topics I would like to investigate before my time here is up.
Before coming to Stanford, I worked as a software engineer at a start-up company called Visible World . There, I specialized in user interface and data-visualization work. My biggest project was a full-featured MPEG2 Transport Stream Analyzer . I also wrote a nifty app we called the Command GUI which was used to monitor the media preparation process for Visible World's patented intellispot technology. In NYC, my main avocation outside of work was Ultimate Frisbee . I even started NYC's first public ultimate league, NYCPUL. I am not sure if the league will continue now that I am gone because, in truth, I did almost all of the work and the league was very hard to run within the space constraints of Manhattan.
Before NYC, I lived in SLC Utah for one year. There, I worked for a company called Evans and Sutherland . Evans and Sutherland is the oldest company working in the field of high-end graphics and simulation systems. I did some work there on head-tracking in tank simulators so that the field of view would change in the windows of the tanks as people moved their heads around inside the simulator. The job was pretty cool but Utah was not a good match for me (although I did love the skiing and the mountain biking).
A lot happened to me before that, but I dont want to waste your bandwidth with the prehistoric details.

Research interests:

Programming to learn: How can programming literacy most effectively be leveraged to facilitate instruction in fields outside of computer-science. People that can program have a language for describing processes that other people lack. This is similar to the way that people who understand calculus have a language for describing change and therefore have an easier time describing and comprehending concepts in physics and math. If curricula designers could take this literacy for granted could they design course materials that are more effective than conventional ones?
o Mindstorms.
o Allan Kay
o Andy Disessa

Gaming to learn: Are video games an under-exploited educational resource or just a distraction?
o Prensky :

Issues in educational motivation: What are the motivational qualities of competition? Can computers be used to isolate the beneficial qualities of competition while muting the pernicious ones? In my experience, competition has always been highly motivating. The downside of competition is that if you are on the losing side well Holden Caufield said too well: "Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right; Ill admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game." The thing about computers is that they can adjust their difficulty levels so that nobody feels like they are losing allowing instructors to reintroduce competition without anyone feeling bad.
Issues in assessment: Can real-time monitoring of student learning activities obviate the need for post-facto assessment?


In Memory of Amir Lopatin