Hey there; I’m Bret.
I am a PhD student researching Educational Psychology and Educational Technology in Michigan State University’s College of Education. I’m interested in understanding participation online, especially how educators connect with each other on social media for lifelong learning with benefits related to establishing and expanding learning networks, social capital, and professional development.
Related to this research, I believe in working toward a more generous and humane Internet, one person at a time. 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 online.
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.
And, of course, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.