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Brent G. Wilson

Professor, Information and Learning Technologies

My story:

For my entire adult life, I have been interested in what makes good instruction - the combination of teacher skills, resources, learning activities and connection with the learner that creates truly challenging and engaging instruction. Instructional design is a field that tries to answer that question. How can we learn to package and reproduce that excellence? Most instructional designers work in adult-learning settings, but my interest extends to K12 schools. Technology is a big part of good instruction nowadays, so my dual passions are:

How can we support people trying to create outstanding instruction; and
How can we support teachers, designers, and students trying to make good use of learning tools and resources?

My personal journey in pursuit of these questions is a sketch of my career. I began in the 1970s with a focus on instructional strategies, moving quickly to cognitive learning processes. In the 80s I learned how instruction fits in the bigger picture of supporting job performance, and applied artificial-intelligence methods to developing rule-based advisement systems. In the 1990s I started asking questions about ultimate ends - critiquing the goals and methods of psychological and technical approaches to instruction.

Presently my field is at a crossroads. Old models can't keep up with the choices young people have for learning and communicating. Our efforts to control and repress these out-of-school tools and practices only make school more frustrating and out of touch. With some collaborators, I am exploring an aesthetic or experience-based approach to technology and education. In the same way that games can be extremely engaging through constant activity toward goals - we are developing a framework for approaching instruction from the learner's experiential point of view - from the inside out rather than the outside looking in.

My students at University of Color​ado Denver:

After training ed-tech professionals here for more than twenty years, it is satisfying to see so many professional leaders in positions of influence and responsibility throughout the Metro Area. Our master's students are some of the brightest and most ambitious to effect positive change in their organizations. Our doctoral students are doing world-class research on some of the issues I mentioned above. One of the things I value at UC Denver is the culture that treats graduate students as collaborators and often peers, as all of us pursue together and understanding together. We are typically on a first-name basis - Dr. Wilson doesn't work when we are on the same team. That is true for most professors I know in the School.

Classes I teach at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development:

  • Current Trends and Issues in IT-- IT 6750
  • Policies and Planning for Online Learning--IT 5650
  • Research in IT--IT 6720
  • Learning Processes in IT-- IT 6740
  • Internship for IT-- IT 6930
  • Innovative Designs of Education for Adult Learners (IDEAL)-- IT 7603 Doctoral Lab
  • Professional Development: TIE Conference (held annually in Copper Mountain)-- IT 5998

My research interests:

  • Instructional design foundations
  • Bridging the theory-practice divide
  • Understanding the learner experience
  • Helping people make good choices in technology adoption
  • Distance Education
  • Educational Design
  • Educational Technology
  • E-Learning

My hobbies:

I'm a lifelong lover of music - almost all forms and genres. I play guitar, piano, a little banjo. I love anything authentic, and even some shallow stuff!

So music, hiking, reading, home improvement, travel - these things keep me fresh while not at work!

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