Really Short Bio
Ryan Watkins, Ph.D. is a Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. He is program director of the Educational Technology Leadership (MA) program, and faculty lead of the interdisciplinary Human-Technology Collaboration (PhD) concentration (research lab). He has authored 12 books and over 100 articles/chapters, and is the developer of several web platforms (including Code2Learn, We Share Science, SciencePods).
Ryan Watkins, Ph.D. is a Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. He is program director of the Educational Technology Leadership (MA) program, and faculty lead of the interdisciplinary Human-Technology Collaboration (PhD) concentration (research lab).
As co-host of Parsing Science (2017-2021), a podcast where leading scientist from around the work share the stories behind their research, Ryan (along with Doug Leigh from Pepperdine University) explored science through many disciplinary lenses.
Some of his most recent publication include Teaching and Learning with Jupyter (free gitbook), The Art of Knowledge Exchange (World Bank, 2014), available for free online, and A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (World Bank, 2012), also available in print and free online. In 2013, A Guide to Assessing Needs was the most read online book available through the World Bank, with more than 57,000 reads.
He is also an author of the world’s top-selling text on e-learning (with more than 150,000 copies in press and in its 4th edition), the E-learning Companion: A Learner’s Guide to Online Success (Houghton Mifflin, 2005, 2007; Cengage 2010, 2013), along with other books including the Handbook for Improving Performance in the Workplace – Volume 2 (Pfieffer/Wiley, 2010), Performance By Design: The systematic selection, design, and development of performance technologies (HRD Press, 2006), and 75 E-learning Activities: Making online courses interactive (Pfieffer, 2005).
Pre-COVID Ryan was an active member and past Board member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), a member and TIG lead in the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and was a vice president of the Inter-American Distance Education Consortium (CREAD). In 2005 Ryan was a visiting scientist with the National Science Foundation (IPA), and he routinely consults on projects with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank on applying needs assessment, evaluation, instructional design, and performance improvement to international assistance programs (including work in Kenya, Tunisia, China, Mexico, and Laos PRD). Ryan has also facilitated monitoring and evaluation workshops for the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (in Switzerland and China).
Professor, Author, Consultant…
“If you can describe your job,” a Senior VP at Monster.com once said, “then your tenure in that position will likely be no longer than five more years.”
Whether it is true or not, this quote offers great relief for anyone struggling to write a short bio for their Webpage. At last, it is no longer a crime to have a job that you can’t describe on a 30 second elevator ride or illustrate on a cocktail napkin.
That being said, I will try not to tire you with endless details regarding my professional life, and instead offer you only the highlights of what, for me, has been an exhilarating and fruitful career to this point.
As a Professor at the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington DC, I have had a wide array of opportunities to teach, write, consult, and conduct research. With a background in instructional design, as well as additional formal training in change management, Web development, and program evaluation, I have designed and taught courses (both online and in the classroom) on the diverse topics of instructional design, distance education, e-learning, needs assessment, system analysis and design, computer literacy, and technology management. I teach in the Educational Technology Leadership (MA) program, and lead the interdisciplinary Human-Technology Collaboration (PhD) program (and its research lab).
In recent years I have also had several valuable opportunities to work with the World Bank, including the chance to offer workshops for training professionals in Kenya, Tunisia, China, Lao PDR, and other places.
In 2005 I had the opportunity to be a visiting scholar (IPA) with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is a primary funding agency for foundational research in science, technology, and education. At the Foundation I managed instructional technology projects that developed initiatives related to learning management, distance learning, and instructional design for the NSF Academy.
I am an author of twelve books and have authored more than 100 articles and chapters on the topics including strategic planning, distance education, needs assessment, return-on-investment analysis, and evaluation. The e-Learning Companion, now its fourth edition, has become the best-selling text on e-learning (with more than 150,000 copies in press). Most recently I co-authored two books for the World Bank. The first was A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results, and the second the Art of Knowledge Exchange (second edition). And as part of their mission, free online copies of both books are available. Before that was the Handbook for Improving Performance in the Workplace – Volume 2 as a guide for selecting and implementing holistic systems of performance improvement activities. Previously I authored Performance By Design as a comprehensive framework for improving human and organizational performance through the systematic application of performance technologies, and co-authored with Strategic Planning for Success with Roger Kaufman, Hugh Oakley-Brown, and Doug Leigh.
My articles are frequently cited in the performance improvement literature, making me the 4th most cited author of journal articles in the field (right behind Harold Stolovich, but a long ways behind my mentor, Roger Kaufman).*
As an active member and past Board member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), leader on the Needs Assessment TIG for the American Evaluation Association, I keep involved with my professional community through frequent webinars and presentations. I have served as a vice president of the Inter-American Distance Education Consortium (CREAD). For the last few years I have had a number of fortunate opportunities to work on projects with the World Bank, including missions to China, Laos PDR, Tunisia, Mexico, and Kenya. Building on those experiences, and the experiences of my colleagues, we hope to expand the use of performance improvement methods and tools in a variety of development projects.
After receiving my doctoral degree in Instructional Systems Design from Florida State University (FSU), I was a member of the research faculty for the Office for Needs Assessment and Planning in the Learning Systems Institute at FSU. During that time I led and managed efforts on several research agendas, including the development of a costs-consequences analysis for Florida’s work-force development programs, a quality management self-assessment for Florida’s Department of Corrections, a return-on-investment study of the policy advice of Florida TaxWatch, and a needs and assets assessment for human services in Leon County, Florida. Additional projects that I managed while at FSU included the development of performance evaluation system for leadership training in the U.S. Navy, as well as the assessment, design, and development of technology-based facilitator training.
I was an assistant professor of instructional technology and distance education at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida after leaving FSU. During my tenure at NSU there were many opportunities to work with world-renown faculty in the fields of distance education, educational technology, instructional design, and management; opportunities that have guided my career and brought lasting friendships.
As you can see, as result of my curiosity and varied interests, I am unable to offer a 50 word description of my career to this point. Hopefully, though, if the earlier quote holds true, I will continue to have the same opportunities to write, consult, and teach in the many fields that are closely tied to instructional design, needs assessment, and distance education.
*Citation data provided in “HPT Roots and Branches: Analyzing Over 45 Years of the Field’s Own Citations.” by Linda Huglin (2010, Peformance Improvement Quarterly).