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What is ITLS?

Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice

Our faculty work at the intersection of two fields: Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. We create a stronger student experience by keeping our research immersed in the world of design and our design embedded in research.

As an ITLS student, you’ll dive into the science of how people learn. Then you’ll explore how to use cutting-edge technology to design awesome learning experiences. Our faculty will guide you as you transition into the next stage of your career.

“Society is permeated with technology,” said Mimi Recker, ITLS faculty. “There’s so much interest in this field because people use it to live, collaborate, and learn.”


Researching Instructional Media for over 50 Years

Old Main, a building at Utah State University, in the winter

Our program started in 1966 as the Department of Instructional Media and Library Science. We focused on preparing students for careers at school libraries and media centers. In the 1970s, we broadened our focus to include careers in business, industry, academia, and government.

Today, we work at the cutting edge of instructional technology. Our students become leaders. According to the 2019 U.S. News and World Report, our online graduate program is ranked 3rd in the nation.

Research Interests

Our faculty receive the most research funding in our college! We offer four years of guaranteed funding to highly qualified PhD students. Check out the faculty pages to learn more about our faculty’s interests.

  • Instructional design theory and application
  • Innovative science teaching methods
  • Distance and adult education
  • Digital libraries
  • Instructional games and simulations
  • Virtual tutors
  • Educational psychology
  • Technology in STEM education
  • Social-cultural learning
  • Human-computer interactions


Our faculty run a wide variety of research projects and labs. Topics include education, computer science, human-computer interaction (HCI), information sciences, engineering, media studies, cognitive science, and psychology.

Connection of Earth and Sky with Augmented Reality (CEASAR)

In this project, small groups are tasked with designing solutions to engineering problems in future workplace scenarios. The project aims to develop a robust collaborative learning scenario and apply analytics to understand and measure the success of collaborative learning interactions within the CEASAR environment.

Funded through the National Science Foundation.

Contributors: Robb Lindgren (Principal Investigator), Nathan Kimball (Co-Principal Investigator), Emma Mercier (Co-Principal Investigator), Jina Kang (Co-Principal Investigator)

Contact: Jina Kang

Digital Library Connect

Develop and implement innovative professional development workshops and tools to disseminate the NSDL within elementary, middle, and high school settings.

Contributors: Mimi Recker, Andrew Walker, Brooke Robertshaw, Linda Sellers, Heather Leary, Jeffrey Olson, Beijie Xu, Bart Palmer, Xin Mao, Ye Liu, Yan Ma, Sam Halioris, Deonne Dawson, Jaeyang Park

Contact: Mimi Recker, Andrew Walker

The Early Career Research Project

The goal of this project is to examine student development outcomes and equity among doctoral students in the biological sciences. The project will follow 268 biology students through the final stages of graduate school and into their careers, considering how features of graduate education affect career trajectories. Feldon, D. F. (P.I.), Roksa, J., & Griffin, K. (2018-2022). Trajectories into Early Career Research (Division of Graduate Education; DGE 1760894), $2,459,199.

Contact: David Feldon
The Early Career Research Project

Educational Data Mining Approaches for Digital Libraries

Investigate how to use digital library and online learning resources to apply web usage data mining strategies and Educational Data Mining (EDM), combined with other strategies, to better understand science teacher behaviors, motivations, and learning experiences.

Funded by the National Science Foundation.

Contributors: Mimi Recker, Beijie Xu, Bart Palmer, Sherry His, Rob Rothfarb

Contact: Mimi Recker

The Instructional Architect

Find, use, and share learning resources from the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and the Web.

Funded by National Science Digital Library.

Contributors: Mimi Recker, Andy Walker, Min Yuan, Jim Dorward, Kristy Bloxham, Xin Mao, Ye Liu, Bart Palmer, Deonne Dawson, Jaeyang Park, Sam Halioris, Heather Leary, Linda Sellers, Lei Ye, Hui Qiao.

Contact: Mimi Recker

Learn, Explore, Design Lab (L.E.D.)

LED Lab investigates how people learn and collaborate through making, designing and producing physical and digital artifacts across in and out-of-school contexts.

Funded by the National Science Foundation.

Contributors: Breanne Litts, Julie Lamarra, Apoorva Chauhan, Lili Yan, Matthew Havertz, Chase Mortensen, Kamaehu Matthias, Daniel Robinson, Whitney Lewis, Stephanie R. Benson, Tressa Haderlie, Karen Selbach Borges, Nathan Blaylock, Dallin Graham, Zhang Feng

Contact: Breanne Litts

Playful Exploration Lab (PEL)

Focus on projects that explore women's persistence in Computer Science majors, and investigate different models that enhance girls’ interest in and capabilities to pursue CS programs and occupations.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Women and Gender at USU, and Utah State University.

Contributors: Jody Clarke-Midura, Katarina Pantic, Frederick J. Poole, Megan Hamilton, Vincent Sun

Contact: Jody Clarke-Midura

Stitching the Loop

An Electronic Textiles Unit in Exploring Computer Science. This new curriculum unit is full of resources for teachers to help students explore electronic textiles. They can make articles of cloth­ing, accessories, or home furnishings with embedded electronic and computational elements.

Funded through the National Science Foundation.

Contributors: Yasmin Kafai, Joanna Goode, and Jane Margolis

Contact: Deborah Fields
E-textiles Curricular Unit & Guides


STITCH is a professional development project for grades 3-6 and middle school. The goal of this project is to prepare teachers to do integrative STEM learning that incorporates eTextiles.

Funded by the NSF iTest Grant.

Contact: Kristin Searle

Supporting STEM

This project focuses on the use of scaffolding in STEM learning in formal and informal setting. Andrew Walker, who is interested in Problem-Based Pedagogy and meta-analysis, partnered with Brian Beland, who is interested in scaffold education. The researchers used meta-analysis to determine the impact of scaffolding on cognitive outcomes.

Funded by the National Science Foundation

Contributors: Andrew Walker, Brian Belland

Contact: Andrew Walker

The Theory Building Project

The goal of this project is to compare how kids design and construct theories of scientific phenomena, including computational models, by having kids engage with scientific practices and produce written theories. This project will be implemented as a two-week unit for middle school students.

Contact: Hillary Swanson