I am married with three children and have a PhD in instructional systems design (my major professor was Dr. Marcy Driscoll) and MS in educational psychology (my advisor was Dr. Bruce Tuckman) from Florida State University and a BS in developmental psychology from San Francisco State University. After a few years working in training for the Florida Department of Revenue and an Internet company, I became a non-tenured track faculty member at Florida State’s School of Information Studies where I headed up their online learning program, usability lab, and their information technology department. I began teaching courses in leadership, usability, and technology and have just completed my 20th year teaching, conducting research, and consulting in the LIS field (6 years at FSU and 14 years at UNCG). As a consultant, I am the CEO of Strategic Performance Systems, where I develop strategic plans for libraries as well as conduct evaluations and needs assessments for a wide array of organizations.
I was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida the son of Chinese immigrants. Along with my older brother, it was a wonderful time to grow up and we spent most of our time outdoors exploring the open wilderness that surrounded our neighborhood at the time. Two other passions of ours were reading and sports. My parents purchased all of the books we wanted and also took us to the public library frequently. Sports was another focus of our family as our father was both a former basketball and soccer player and I first played baseball and soccer starting at a young age and then started playing football and basketball as I got older.
I am the proud graduate of Florida High class of 1987, which is the research school for Florida State University. Throughout my secondary education I was a participant in a large number of research studies conducted by students from FSU and I imagine that may have been the beginning of my interest in research as I was exposed to a lot of different ideas and approaches to education. I prided myself in being a strong scholar athlete in school and played five varsity sports including football, basketball, baseball, track, and soccer and was honored to be our class’ Stan Dietrich Award recipient (scholar athlete of the year). I also developed a strong work ethic by working at my families’ two restaurants starting in elementary school and worked as a busboy, waiter, and cashier.
College and Going West
After high school, I attended the University of Florida my freshman year (I walked onto the UF football team while there) and Florida State my sophomore year, where I became fascinated with the field of psychology under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Dunham. My high school sweetheart (now my wife of 25 years) and I decided we wanted to see more of the world and moved to San Francisco, CA. There I earned by bachelor’s of science in developmental psychology in 1992 from San Francisco State University. To put myself through college, I worked as waiter and bartender at a Japanese restaurant in the Marina District and as a tutor for at-risk middle school students. In addition, as San Francisco State has a tradition for advocacy, I also became a student activist for social justice and participated in a number of sit-ins protesting increases in tuition and also several demonstrations in downtown San Francisco. It was here that my interest and passion for exploring the relationship between education and human development in children and school-aged children was also born.
Political representation and social advocacy was also a growing interest and I became a member of Chinese American Democratic Club (CADC) and also a volunteer at San Francisco’s Suicide Prevention crisis line. As a member of CADC, I served as both vice-president and president of CADC and ran for San Francisco School Board in 1994.
After graduation, Theresa and I got married and I began exploring the possibility of becoming an attorney and started down that path by working as a legal assistant at a large law firm and joining the Marine Corps Officer Training Program. The plan was to become an attorney in the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. After I began my officer training, however, coupled with my first-hand experience of corporate law, I decided both were not a good fit for who I was and wanted to become.
Graduate School and Starting a Family
I went back to graduate school and earned my masters of science in educational psychology from Florida State where I became enamored with computer based instruction and developed my first software program in collaboration with Dr. Walt Wager. I also had the distinct privilege of learning about the rationale and how to conduct a need assessment from Dr. Roger Kaufman, educational reform from Dr. Bob Morgan, and foundational theories of learning from Dr. Marcy Driscoll. For the next few years, I worked in both government and industry and the IT area.
Upon starting a family, I realized that becoming a professor would be an ideal life where I could make a great living, have the intellectual autonomy and freedom I desire to be creative and make a meaningful
difference to society, and most importantly have time to be a great husband and father to my family.
The rest is history as they say, as I taught on the faculty at FSU’s College of Information in IT for six years as I pursued my doctorate in instructional systems and then moved to Greensboro, NC as I finished my degree.
Professor and Impacting the Field and Society
I joined the faculty of the Department of Library and Information Studies at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2006 and am now an Associate Professor. I have held many different leadership positions across different levels of UNCG and local, state, and national organizations in both instructional design and LIS fields. I have served as co-chair of legislation and advocacy for the North Carolina Library Association for the past five years and also was elected 2018 Chair-Elect of UNCG’s Faculty Senate and will serve as the 2019 and 2020 Chair.
Seven of my greatest accomplishments to date I am most proud of:
- Researching and helping disseminate Dr. Joe Harless’ vision for what a 21st century education could look like in my research with the Central Educational Center in Newnan, GA and the State of Georgia.
- Helping dream up the concept of the STARS Alliance (Students and Technology in Academia, Research, and Service) and then help it become a reality (www.starsalliance.org) under the great leadership of Dr. Teresa Dahlberg and Dr. Tiffany Barnes and many of my original colleagues that worked with me in 2006.
- Advocating for systems thinking and its role in asking the right questions and providing a holistic context from which to understand and attempt to address in a systematic ways of improving public k-12 education. In collaboration with member of AECT’s Systemic Change Division, I created the web portal Systemic Change.
- Having the honor and privilege of working with North Carolina libraries and serving them through advocacy, conducting needs assessments, and long range strategic planning in partnership and close collaboration with the communities they serve.
- Understanding the information needs of victim advocates and helping redesign one of the world’s foremost portals for prevention of violence against women – VAWnet.org. On the Web, it is all about providing people with the information they need, when they need it, as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- Researching the usability of our nation’s library websites both for academic and public libraries (Chow, Bridges, and Commander, 2014) and school libraries (Chow, Morris, Figley et al, 2016). As more library services are digital it is essential that information science is strategically applied to understand the needs of our users and delivering relevant information to them in the ways they are most likely going to use.
- Serving as co-founder of Reading Nation in 2018, an IMLS funded project studying barriers to access to literacy and libraries for Blackfeet children, youth, and families.
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