Hi, I’m Dr. Bret.

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Read my full interview with Melissa Powell in The Torch magazine: Learning Without Limits (2024, pp. 16-19).

I am an Assistant Professor of Instructional Systems & Learning Technologies at Florida State University. My preferred pronouns are he/him/his.

My Florida State University homepage is here.

The Research & Exploration of Context-Aware Self-Teaching (RECAST) Group website is here.

At different times and in different parts of my professional life, I take on roles of researcher, educator, and consultant. In each of these roles, I aspire to embody culturally sustaining practices.

My research investigates self-directed learning, a subset of informal and networked learning. I am fascinated by how people figure things out on their own. I’m most interested in what happens when students, learners, and trainees finish formal instruction, preparation, and training. What do they do after they walk out the door or log off? How do they continue to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities? Where do they look for resources? Who do they talk to?

I am interested in how self-directed learners navigate social connections through the internet, exploration through games, and innovation through intensive events.

I frequently investigate self-directed learning with the tools of educational data science, including learning analytics, social network analysis, discourse analysis, natural language processing, and educational data mining.

I hold a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology & Educational Technology, a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, and a Graduate Certificate in Serious Game Design & Research from Michigan State University, as well as a dual bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Sociology from Bucknell University.

I consider my strongest credential to be my ongoing friendship with my very first online friend, who I met in an AOL chatroom in the early 1990s.

Bret’s teaching

Roles and Skills

Researcher: Design of Inquiry + Data Analytics

Educator: Design of Instruction + Teaching

Consultant: Design Thinking + Systems Thinking

Research Interests

  • Self-Directed Learning
    • Networked Learning
    • Informal Learning
  • Educational Data Science
    • Learning Analytics
    • Social Network Analysis

Education and Training

Ph.D. in Educational Psychology & Educational Technology | Michigan State University (2021)

M.A. in Educational Technology | Michigan State University (2015)

B.A. in Mathematics & Sociology | Bucknell University (2003)

Applying the QM Rubric | Quality Matters (2022)

Data Science: Foundations Using R Specialization | Coursera, Johns Hopkins University (2017-2020)

Methods for Analyzing & Modeling Textual Data | Summer School Series on Methods for Computational Social Science (2018)

Graduate Certificate in Serious Game Design & Research | Michigan State University (2014)

Professional Affiliations

  • AECT | Association for Educational Communications & Technology
    • Research & Theory Division
  • AERA | American Educational Research Association
    • Design & Technology SIG
    • Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching & Learning (TACTL) SIG
  • IGDA | International Game Developers Association
    • Analytics SIG
    • Black in Games SIG
    • Devs with Kids SIG
  • ISSDL | International Society for Self-Directed Learning

Land Acknowledgement

Tallahassee Native Land

I Honor Native Land

I live and work in Tallahassee, Florida, on the traditional land of the Apalachee, Muscogee, and Miccosukee Peoples. I completed my graduate school work while living in Lancaster County PA, on the traditional land of the Susquehannock People, learning from the faculty at Michigan State University in East Lansing MI, built on the traditional land of the Peoria, Anishinabewaki, Odawa, and Sauk Peoples. I was born and lived my first two decades of life in the Roanoke Valley VA, on the traditional land of the Tutelo People. I share these land acknowledgements to demonstrate my commitment to learning and working to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism.

I recognize that these lands that have been important to my life remain scarred by the histories and ongoing legacies of settler colonial violence, dispossession, and removal. In spite of all of this, and with tremendous resilience, these Indigenous Nations have remained deeply connected to this territory, to their families, to their communities, and to their cultural ways of life. I recognize the ongoing relationships of care that these Indigenous Nations maintain with this land and extend my gratitude as I live and work as a humble and respectful guest upon their territory.

I encourage you to learn about and amplify the contemporary work of the Indigenous nations whose land you are on and to endeavor to support Indigenous sovereignty in all the ways that you can. To start learning, I have found the Native Land map to be fascinating to explore, and the Honor Native Land guide from the U.S. Department of Arts & Culture has many useful resources. Finally, if you are in the Tallahassee area, you may find this list of resources from the Decolonize FSU group to be helpful.