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Matthew Pittinsky

Matthew Pittinsky's picture

Member for: 10 years 17 weeks

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Matthew works at the intersection of educational research and practice, both inside academe and out. At Teachers College, he is the creator of EdLab’s Networked Education Database Project (NED), and a Ph.D. candidate studying Classmate Effects in the Sociology of Education program. At Blackboard, an eLearning software company he co-founded in 1997, he serves as chairman of the board of directors.

NED is an innovative new data collection model and dataset that uses school district eLearning systems to change the economics of classroom level quantitative data collection. The project takes advantage of the growth in Internet-enabled school information systems to collect data via class Web sites and existing databases in a manner that ensures anonymity for the human subject, minimal effort and disruption for the teacher and students, and significant efficiency for the researcher.

Classmate Effects is the study of how the composition of a student’s classmate group exerts an independent, significant influence on many important educational processes and outcomes. Matthew’s dissertation research uses social network analysis to test whether a teacher’s performance expectations of a student are significantly influenced by the teacher’s expectations of the student’s classmates (particularly those classmates with whom she perceives the student to be friends). To do so, he used quantitative and qualitative data collected through fieldwork studying four 8th-grade science classes during the 2005-2006 academic year.

As Chairman and co-founder of Blackboard, Matthew is an educational entrepreneur as well. Blackboard provides software and services to several thousand universities and school districts around the world that enables networked learning environments. Its software applications have helped improve the quality, access and efficiency of education for millions of students and instructors.

In 2003, Matthew completed a book project on eLearning as editor of The Wired Tower, which critiqued the Internet’s impact on higher education. He continues to frequently speak, write, and be quoted about eLearning related topics.

Matthew received his undergraduate degree from American University and his master's degree from Harvard University's Graduate School Education. He serves on the Board of Trustees of American University and the Board of Directors of In2Books, a non-profit that uses technology to improve literacy in early education. His background includes training as a social studies teacher, and many years as the youngest in a family of six, three of whom are educators. Alas, he remains the youngest today.