Research Staff

Kui Xie

Kui Xie – Cyphert Distinguished Professor & Lab Director | . . . .
Dr. Kui Xie is Cyphert Distinguished Professor and program chair of Learning Technologies in Department of Educational Studies at The Ohio State University (OSU). He is the founding director of The Research Laboratory for Digital Learning. He earned his Ph.D. in Instructional Psychology and Technology from University of Oklahoma. He is a member of the editorial board for Contemporary Educational Psychology. Nationally he served chair for American Educational Research Association(AERA) SIG Design and Technology, and section chair for AERA Division C Section 3.A. Learning Environments. In 2015, Xie was named the Ted and Lois Cyphert Distinguished Professor. In 2017, Xie received the EHE Distinguished Research Award from The Ohio State University. He also received a Chang Jiang Scholar Award from the Chinese Ministry of Education. His research interests include: computer-supported collaborative learning, motivation and human cognition, learning analytics and social network analysis, artificial intelligence in education, instructional design and development, problem solving and scaffolding, and technology integration in teaching and educational research.

Gennaro Di Tosto

Gennaro Di Tosto – Data Analytics Research Lead | . .
Dr. Gennaro Di Tosto holds a Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of Padova, Italy.
Before joining Ohio State, he was a research associate at the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research of the University of Manchester, UK, and before that he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. His research activity has focused on the study of multi-agent systems as tools to understand social processes, including the dynamics of social conventions and norms or the evolution of trust and cooperation.
He is interested in understanding decision-making processes through data analysis and simulation in both theoretical terms and applied scenarios.

Vanessa Vongkulluksn

Vanessa Vongkulluksn – School-based Research Lead | .
Vanessa Vongkulluksn holds a Ph.D. degree in Urban Education Policy from the University of Southern California, with a concentration in Educational Psychology and Quantitative Methods. She has focused her research on examining factors that impact learning and motivation in technology-integrated contexts. Her additional research interests include the development of digital literacy skills and their influence on children’s academic motivation and achievement in technology-rich learning environments. She has over five years of experience in school-based research and statistical analyses of data related to learning, cognition, and motivation.

Faculty Affiliates

David Stein

David Stein – Associate Professor | .
Dr. David Stein is an associate professor of adult and distance education at The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology. He directs the minor in Virtual Teaching and develops online courses with a focus on the virtual classroom and adult learning. His main area of interest investigates how distance learning technologies can enhance and improve the design and delivery of online learning experiences. Dr. Stein has been recognized and regarded throughout the higher education community as a lead developer of institutional online and distance learning, including the 2014 finalist award from the National University Technology Network, the 2013 Imogene Oakes Award for Outstanding Research in Adult Education from The American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, the 2012 Best Research Paper Award from the National University Technology Network, and the 2012 Shauna Schullo Award for Best Distance Teaching Practices at the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning.

Ola Ahlqvist

Ola Ahlqvist – Associate Professor | . .
Dr. Ola Ahlqvist is Associate Professor in Geography at the Ohio State University, USA. He has worked professionally with local and regional environmental planning in Finland and Sweden in the early 1990’s. After completing a PhD in Geography at Stockholm University in 2001 followed by post-doctoral training at Penn State University he joined Ohio State in 2005. His interest revolves around three broad areas: 1) semantic uncertainty and formal ontology in analysis of land cover change, landscape history, and visualization. 2) how online maps, social media, and games form a nexus for spatial collaboration, social-environmental simulation, and decision making. 3) the scholarship of teaching and learning in GIS and Service-Learning.

Graduate Research Associates

Lin Lu

Lin Lu – Doctoral Student | . .
Lin Lu earned her bachelor’s degree in Educational Technology from Beijing Normal University, China. Her academic interests include student motivation and engagement in online learning, online collaborative learning, analytics-supported virtual learning environment building, and technical supports and improvement for qualitative studies.

Sheng-Lun Cheng

Sheng-Lun (Shonn) Cheng – Doctoral Student | .
Shonn Cheng received his M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University with Honors and B.A. in English from Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages. Cheng completed Master’s thesis in 2013 fall, titled “The Design of Online Experiential Financial Literacy Games.” His academic interests encompass game-based learning, the impacts of technologies on knowledge, attitude, and behavior change, critical pedagogy, evaluations of technology-enhanced programs, and quantitative measurement.

Zilu Jiang

Zilu Jiang – Doctoral Student | .
Zilu Jiang received her Master’s degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Language from Lanzhou University, China. She worked as an online Chinese teacher and course designer in Chinese Teaching Center at the Open University of China 2012-2017 and also served as an online Chinese instructor for American high school students at Confucius Institute at Michigan State University in 2013-2016. She has designed and developed online courses for multiple levels and also involved in the online curriculum design and online flipped classroom research. She was selected as an online Chinese teacher at the STARTALK program at the University of Virginia in 2016. She also provides workshops and teacher training on distance teaching and technologies integration in classrooms. Her current academic interests include instructional design and development, technology integration in teaching and learning. technology-enhanced language learning, and learner’s motivation and engagement in the digital environment.

Caglar Sulun

Caglar Sulun – Doctoral Student | . . .
Caglar Sulun holds an M.A. in Educational Technologies from the Department of Educational Studies at The Ohio State University. He previously earned his bachelor degree in Computer Education and Instructional Technology (CEIT) from Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey. His research interests include: game-based learning, technology integration in teaching and educational research, integration of traditional and modern education, multimedia design, instructional design and development.

Graduate Research Affiliates

Sheng-Bo Chen

Sheng-Bo Chen – Ph.D. Candidate | .
Sheng-Bo’s research interests are students’ Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) in online learning, Learning Analytics (LA), Learning Management System (LMS) development, and Data/Information Visualization (InfoVis). He has taught User Interface (UI) Design, Front-end and Back-end Web Development (Full-Stack Web Development), Database, and Object-Oriented System Analysis and Design in Taiwanese universities, computer training schools, and online for 10+ years. Also, He was a lecturer, a course consultant, a course designer, a textbook editor and author for a Responsive Web Design (RWD) course for a big chain computer training school in LCCNET, Taiwan. This RWD course has been taught by many lecturers that Sheng-Bo has trained in 29 branches of LCCNET. He was a Japanese Language lecturer for 4 years in a Taiwanese big chain foreign language training school, GVOedu, too. When he worked as a part-time lecturer, he was working full-time for the web industry as a Project Manager (PM) as well as the Director of Design and Technology for several web agencies for 15+ years with his User Interface (UI) design, Front-end, and Back-end Web Development skills. He received his M.S. degree in Multimedia Design from National Taichung University of Science and Technology (Taiwan) and B.A. degree in Applied Japanese from Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology.


Nathan Hawk – Doctoral Student | .
Nathan Hawk earned his Bachelors Degree in mathematics from Carthage College (Kenosha, WI) and Master of Arts in Educational Technology Leadership from The George Washington University. He currently works as a high school instructor in a non-traditional high school setting, primarily serving at-risk students. The school focuses on different distance education instructional models. His research interests include the role of technology and technology integration into K-12 education and online learning, STEM, technology professional development, the role of technology for at-risk students and the role of instructional technology in charter schools.


Margaret Bowman – Doctoral Student | .
Margaret Bowman earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Ashland University (Ashland, OH) with a teaching license in Middle Grades Education, and her Master of Education from Tiffin University (Tiffin, OH). She was a middle school Math and Language Arts teacher for 6 years, before joining the Academic Design Department at McGraw-Hill Education in Columbus, Ohio. She currently works as an in the Middle School Mathematics Department, writing and designing digital curriculum. Her research interests include the role of technology and technology integration into K-12 education, professional development needs for technology integration, and gender biases in learning technology.

Past Members

Min Kyu Kim

Min Kyu Kim | . .
Dr. Min Kyu Kim was a postdoctoral researcher in the lab from 2015 to 2016. He joined the Learning Technology Division at Georgia State University as an assistant professor in Fall 2016.

Young Suk Cho

Young Suk Cho | .
Young Suk Cho was a data scientist in the lab from 2015 to 2017. Before joining the OSU, he worked as a researcher and developer at KT (Korea Telecom) Corporation in the area of Social Media and Network Analysis area. His research interests include Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Social Media Analysis, Data, Text & Opinion Mining, Audio Source Separation, Recommender System, and Deep Learning.

Semih Bursali

Semih Bursali | .
Semih Bursali completed his master’s degree in the lab in 2017. He earned his bachelor degree in Computer Education and Instructional Technology from Anadolu University, Turkey in 2012. His research interests include: improving educational efficiency by applying research results from natural sciences and tablet technology, and game-based learning.

Zhiru Sun

Zhiru Sun | .
Dr. Zhiru Sun is a OSU alumna, who completed her doctoral work with the lab in 2015. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Southern Denmark.

Serkan Izmirli

Serkan Izmirli | .
Dr. Serkan Izmirli was a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University for the academic year 2015-2016. He works at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University (COMU) as an assistant professor in Turkey. He is the director of Distance Education Implementation and Research Center at COMU.

Ozden Sahin Izmirli

Ozden Sahin Izmirli | .
Dr. Ozden Sahin Izmirli was a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University for the academic year 2015-2016. She is an assistant professor at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey.

Bo Liu

Bo Liu | .
Dr. Bo Liu was a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University for the academic year 2014-2015. He is an associate professor at South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.

Guijuan Gao

Guijuan Gao | .
Dr. Guijuan Gao was a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University for the academic year 2014-2015. She is an associate professor at Tongji University, Shanghai, China.