New VP of R&D joins emotuit
We’d like to welcome Roger Taylor to the emotuit team as VP of R&D, and thought we’d take the opportunity for everyone else to find out a bit more about our new team member and what makes Roger tick.
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Hi Roger, firstly welcome to the team! We’re really excited to have you on the team. What are you most looking forward to, and have you worked for a company like emotuit before?
I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to massively scale up some of the research I’ve done in educational technology and emotion. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some excellent educational technology researchers in different labs, and even created my own, but this is the first time I’ve been involved with a startup like emotuit.
So take us through a quick tour of the history of Roger… what’s your journey looked like?
My first job after college was teaching science and technology in the inner city with at-risk youth. Many of the educational techniques that I’d learned in college were effective, but others didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. This made me curious about alternative approaches. So I returned to school and completed a Master’s degree in educational psychology at Rutgers University. My training was primarily focussed on understanding and implementing the most current educational theories. My curiosity got the better of me again – I wanted to delve more deeply into the psychology of learning with the hope of developing interventions that were even more effective. This led me to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
My interest in studying the role of emotion in learning really took hold when I began a postdoctoral research position and started working with Art Graesser at the Institute for Intelligent Systems. Then, I began a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship through the Institute of Education Sciences at Vanderbilt University. This allowed me to work with Gautam Biswas on an Intelligent Tutoring System in which middle school students took on the role of being a ‘teacher’ and learned through teaching a computer-based ‘virtual student’. Most recently, I’ve been an Assistant Professor in Psychology and Human Computer Interaction at SUNY Oswego, which allowed me to create my “Learning and Emotion Lab.”
You mentioned you’ve worked a lot on tracking emotion and engagement in learning, can you tell us about the work you’ve done here, and how you think that will strengthen the emotuit offering?
As you know, the face is a very powerful indicator of students’ emotional states, but it can be difficult to study. To help with this I learned Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS). In my research projects I had students doing STEM learning activities and video recorded their faces. Afterwards I’d analyze how their emotional states corresponded with both their problem solving and learning and how these changed over time.
Why do you think this, and what emotuit does is so important in elearning and education? What do you think it will help in the bigger picture?
Quite simply, I believe that this is the most important topic in the field of education today. Understanding and adapting instruction is particularly critical in the area of e-learning where students are “one click away” from terminating a lesson.
We’ve heard all about work Roger, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A few years ago I got bitten by the “surfing bug”. Believe it or not, you can actually surf on the Great Lakes! It’s a bit chillier, but it’s also shark free. I also enjoy snowboarding, especially when the ice on the lake becomes too dangerous to go out. I’ve been doing martial arts for awhile – mostly karate, but also a little Tai Chi. I’ve dabbled in sculpture but haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’d like on it.
My wife and I spend a lot of time with our curious and very energetic 6-year old daughter. Most recently we bought her a Raspberry Pi and are teaching her an introductory programing language called “Scratch”. We also believe in the importance of Art education, so we spend a lot of time together drawing and painting.
We heard you teach the science of surfing as well? What an utterly cool thing to teach and be taught!
Thanks, it’s a blast! One area of my research has been STEM education in both formal (classrooms) and information (e.g., museums) settings. I’ve had the privilege of helping with the creation of a local children’s museum. I had no idea about the potential power of storms on the Great Lakes. During storms the waves can reach close to 30 feet high! In fact, the old Gordon Lightfoot song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald ” was about this topic. However, the biggest I’ve ever experienced out surfing was only 7 or 8 feet. Our hands-on exhibit will have MUCH smaller waves, but I’m sure the kids will still get wet.
Fantastic! Thank you so much for giving us a slice of your life, it’s been great getting to know a bit more about you. We’re extremely excited to have you on the team and we’re looking forward to exponential future success with you as the VP of R&D.