Meet the Chairs
Yanghee Kim, Morgridge Endowed Chair
I started my educational career as an English teacher in secondary schools in South Korea. Day in and day out, month after month and year after year, I recited the same information to my students, and my classroom time was too busy to have time to actually interact with my students in a meaningful way. Thinking, ‘I could do better than this,’ I turned to computers as a possible solution to this problem, designing software to do some of the recitation of classroom material. I found that computers enabled me to innovate in a humanistic way; they freed me to interact more with my students.
I persuaded my colleagues that educational computing was beneficial, and they used my courseware in their classes. After being promoted to Model Teacher, I taught in-service teachers at the regional Teacher Training Center, increasing their confidence and competency in using computers in classrooms. Also, funded by the South Korean Ministry of Education, I led lesson-study groups of in-service teachers. In 1998, I was awarded National Teacher of the Year co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Korean English Teachers’ Association. After a while, I wanted to investigate the impact of technology integration scientifically and took a leap to do my doctoral work in Instructional Systems and Design at Florida State University in 2000.
After earning my doctoral degree in 2004, I started my academic career as an assistant professor at Utah State University (USU). I have conducted research on the use of state-of-the-art technologies (pedagogical agents, humanoid robots, and online learning) to support equitable and inclusive technology-based learning experiences. With pedagogical agents technology (animated, life-like on-screen characters), I designed digital virtual tutors and peers that helped elementary-school students develop reading comprehension skills, and middle-grade girls enhance self-efficacy in mathematics learning. I designed applications for a humanoid robot to assist young English-learning children in the development of early language and literacy. I also designed a robot to act as a cultural broker that mediates equitable friendship and collaboration among young children from diverse family backgrounds. Lastly, I studied the design of online courses for pre-service teachers in the framework of a community of inquiry, supporting the development of positive instructor/student relationships.
I view teaching as guiding through fully understanding students’ unique backgrounds and drawing out their potential to grow as capable and caring individuals in society. In my teaching and mentoring, mirroring my research, I view student diversity as an asset. I have taught in two contrasting cultures, a community-oriented culture that educates youths to emphasize the importance of community and harmony and an individualistic culture that promotes individual talents and personal accomplishments. This experience enabled me to incorporate the best of both cultures to optimize my students’ educational experiences.
At the same time, I view educational research as applied science, believing that the development of educational theories become meaningful only when the theories are applied to educational practices. I view my technology-based environments as supplemental tools for teachers in increasingly diverse classrooms. Whenever I have created technological solutions, I have implemented and evaluated them in ordinary classrooms to see their practical impacts and implications. Local teachers have been excited when I have worked with them to implement these technological environments in their classrooms. Teachers have been enthusiastic and stated that the technologies addressed their needs.
In my professional career, I have served a variety of leadership roles in both South Korea and the U.S. I have worked openly and collaboratively with students, teachers, researchers, administrators, and policy makers locally, nationally, and internationally. With my broad experience in two very different countries, I’m confident and competent in leading both research and practice in teacher education and technology integration. I believe that my achievements as a teacher, researcher, and leader will be an asset to LD and Ruth G. Morgridge Endowed Chair. As an advocate for using advanced technology to innovate classrooms, I will continue to push the boundaries of the technology frontier for Illinois schools and commit to developing the best teacher education programs in the nation in Illinois. It is my great honor to serve as the Endowed Chair.
The LD and Ruth G. Morgridge Endowed Chair emphasizes innovation and advancement in teacher education, particularly in relation to the integration of technology into classroom practice.
The first two Morgridge Chairs, Drs. Donna Wiseman and Sharon Smaldino, focused on building relationships with school districts and developing Partnership Projects aimed at infusing technology into K-12 and college classrooms.
Since the Morgridge Endowed Chair’s inception, the number of NIU partner schools has more than tripled, from eight originally to 25 today. And the reach has expanded too, from districts in and around DeKalb to districts and schools in Aurora, Glenview, Chicago and, with the creation of the COE’s Educate U.S. program, Houston, Texas.