I was born in Wisconsin, I lived in several different places as a child, and I have lived outside of Iowa for more of my life than in it, but I still consider Cedar Falls, Iowa to be my home town. After graduating high school in 1984, I attended the University of Iowa where I earned a BA in English. After my undergraduate degree, I entered the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. That’s when I first started teaching as a graduate assistant, fall 1988, just a few months after I myself was a college graduate.
I continued to live in Richmond until 1993, working part-time as an adjunct instructor at Virginia Commonwealth and full-time in the marketing department of the Virginia Student Assistance Authority, a student loan agency. While my title there was “public relations representative,” most of my work involved desktop publishing, document design, and technical writing.
In 1993, I entered the PhD program in Rhetoric and Writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. My dissertation, which I have made available on the web, was called “The Immediacy of Rhetoric: Definitions, Illustrations, and Implications.” In 1996, I began work as an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. In 1998, I joined the faculty at Eastern Michigan as an Assistant Professor, and in 2002, I was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. In Fall 2007, I was promoted to Professor.
Most of my teaching focuses on the relationships between writing and technology. I frequently point out that I am an expert in writing who uses computers and not an expert in computers who uses writing. However, since I have been invested in the use of technologies like the Internet to facilitate my teaching since the early 90s (email, newsgroups, web pages, synchronous discussion forums, blogs, etc), I suppose I am a “computer expert” of a sort. Technology can’t replace good teaching nor can it solve the problems of bad teaching. But I do think that instructional technology simultaneously facilitates and questions the student-centered classroom in interesting ways that has made me a better teacher.
My scholarship nowadays is mostly about online teaching, particularly MOOCs. I’ve been blogging about them a lot, I’ve given a number of presentations about MOOCs, I’ve published a few articles about my MOOC experiences, and (along with Charles Lowe) I completed editing a collection of essays about MOOCs called Invasion of the MOOCs: the Promises and Perils of Massive Online Open Courses, which was published by Parlor Press in 2014. And I also continue to write and think a lot about the rhetoric of multimedia/new media/digital media (etc.), blogging, and rhetorical situation.