Bio and Research Focus

Land2ScreenshotSusan Land is a Professor in the Learning, Design, and Technology Program at Penn State University and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Learning & Performance Systems. She earned a doctorate in Instructional Systems from The Florida State University under the direction of Dr. Michael Hannafin. Previously, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Georgia’s Learning and Performance Support Laboratory and held a faculty position at the University of Oklahoma, Instructional Psychology and Technology Program. Before that, she worked on instructional design projects with organizations such as the U.S Air Force Academy, Citibank, and Hewlett Packard.

Land’s research emphasizes frameworks for the design of open-ended, technology-enhanced learning environments (e.g.,, Hannafin & Land, 1997; Hannafin, Land, & Oliver, 1999; Hannafin, Hill, Land, & Lee, 2013; Land, Hannafin, & Oliver, 2012; Land, 2000). A commofoundations2imagen thread of her research involves how to better understand and support the processes whereby learners meaningfully engage learning with technology in student-centered learning contexts. In 2000 and then later in 2012, she co-edited two editions of a book with Dr. David Jonassen entitled Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis (Jonassen & Land, 2000; 2012). The rationale for the book was to advance theoretical convergence in thinking around constructivist conceptions of learning and design. Since its publication, the book has been reprinted repeatedly, translated into Korean, and has sold nearly a record number of copies for an edited book in the Instructional Technology field. Land has published over 60 manuscripts on design of technology-enhanced learning environments, and has been recognized by the Association for Educational Computing and Technology (AECT) for the Young Scholar Award (Land & Hannafin, 1996; Ge & Land, 2003) and Outstanding Article of the Year Award (Ge & Land, 2004) and by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for the 2015 SIG-IT Best Paper Award (Land, Zimmerman, et al., 2015). Land has been listed as one of the top 10 most-published/ frequently-cited authors in Educational Technology Research & Development, which is one of the premier journals of the Instructional Technology Field (Citation analyses published by Hay, 2003; Cho, Park, Jo, & Suh, 2013).

Land’s current research with colleague Heather Zimmerman is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

  • For a more complete listing of citation/publications, see Land’s Google Scholar page.
  • To go directly to Land’s current research group activities with Heather Zimmerman, click here.
  • To follow on Twitter:  @susanmland
  • To contact via email:  sland at psu dot edu

Research Trajectory

Land’s dissertation research (Land & Hannafin, 1997) focused on children using a computer microworld to design and test a virtual roller coaster as a means to build and revise their intuitive theories about force and motion. From this work, she published a conceptual framework (Land & Hannafin, 1996) to explain how learners create and refine theories using technology tools like microworlds or simulations during open-ended learning. This theme was explored further through investigations of student-artifact development using technology for project-based learning (Land, 2004; Land & Greene, 2000) as well as her student’s dissertation work examining children-as-videogame-designers about science using tools like Scratch or GameMaker (Baytak & Land, 2011; Baytak, Land, & Smith, 2011). In related research, Land and colleagues examined scaffolding strategies and technology tools developed to support learners in higher education contexts to better monitor, integrate, and reflect during ill-structured problem solving (Ge & Land, 2004; Kim, Sharma, Land, & Furlong, 2013), online collaboration (Choi, Land, & Turgeon, 2005), and science inquiry for prospective teachers (Land & Zembal-Saul, 2003). Much of Land’s work involves both research and development of technology tools for open-ended learning.

Land’s research with Priya Sharma (PSU) investigates online affinity spaces (online social networks) as cultures for informal learning. Land’s collaborations with Drs. Heather Zimmerman (PSU) and Brian Smith (now at Drexel University) have resulted in research projects and dissertations on the use of digital photography and mobile devices to connect to out-of-school learning (Land, Smith, et al., 2010; Land, Smith, & Zimmerman, 2012). Her research with Zimmerman and the Augmented and Mobile Learning Research Group ( focuses on context-sensitive, place-based learning in outdoor informal environments using mobile technologies, iBeacons, and augmented reality (see, Zimmerman, & Land, 2014; Zimmerman, Land, McClain, Mohney, Choi, & Salman, 2013).

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