College of Education and Human Services

William Beasley

William Beasley Head Shot
William Beasley with his grand daughters.

In this pandemic era, instructional design is having a major boom. People are discovering that emergency remote delivery is neither easy, nor the same thing as carefully designed online instruction.

William Beasley is an “early adopter” by nature. He started out as a public school teacher, and quickly discovered that he enjoyed teaching both with technology and about technology.

Today, as professor and program coordinator of Instructional Design and Technology at WVU, he says he is incredibly fortunate to be able to earn a living doing something he enjoys.

“In this pandemic era, instructional design is having a major boom. People are discovering that emergency remote delivery is neither easy, nor the same thing as carefully designed online instruction.

“Quite a number of the educators engaging in emergency remote delivery are either seeking the services of instructional designers, or trying to learn about instructional design themselves,” he says. “It’s a great time to be teaching instructional design.”

William also describes himself as a constructivist and quotes Cesare Pavese, who said “To know the world, one must construct it.”

“I find that my students at WVU consistently respond well to being asked to construct their own worlds of meaning, whether explaining the connections between disparate ideas or designing an online class of their own choosing.”

Recently Beasley has become fascinated by the issue of making files in online courses more accessible for students with disabilities.

“I dipped my toe into this area a year or two ago only to discover that it’s still at the ‘Wild West’ stage. I’m currently working on an introductory article with one of my graduate students that attempts to provide an overview, along with specific procedures for common situations.”

Thoughts About Online Learning
A few years ago, I wrote a brief article called “Infiltrating the Walled Garden,” (a discussion of Learning Management Systems as walled gardens). Even though formal online instruction has taken a different direction in recent times, I believe we’ll ultimately come back to the approach described there.

Work most proud of
The work I did with the Cleveland Free-Net project in the late 1980s. It was a free, open-access community computer system before the Internet came into common use. We did any number of things in prototype form that later became common (and much more polished) on the Internet.

Favorite Book
One of my favorites is Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From. I’m also a huge fan of everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote.

Pedagogical Changes on the Horizon
I think micro-credentials and competency-based education are going to become much more important over the next few years.

Technology He Utilizes in the Classroom
Computers, hand-held devices, synchronous video, asynchronous online delivery, social media – pretty much whatever is available at any given time. I’m really interested in finding ways to combine technologies to create personal learning networks.

About His Students
Everyone benefits from instruction that meets them where they are and connects with their own interests and values. One of my professors used to say, “Everybody is just waiting to be asked to create something.”