William Watson

William Watson

Associate Professor
Director, Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments
Learning Design & Technology
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Link to Curriculum Vitae


Professor Watson's research interest focuses on the critical, systemic change of education to realize a learner-centered paradigm, including the application of technology such as video games, virtual environments, and learning management software in order to create customized and personalized learning environments.

With a background in computer information and technology, Dr. Watson’s experiences teaching undergraduates fresh out of high school led him to transition to the field of education, where his initial focus on educational video games as a form of engaging instruction expanded into how technology can be used to leverage the realization of a new paradigm of education – one focused on personalized learning. He collaborated on the design of Purdue’s digital badges platform, Passport, which has was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, Campus Technology, and U.S. News and World Report. The Director of the Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments, he was nominated and selected as one of the Center for Digital Education’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, and Trailblazers for 2015 and gave a TedXPurdueU talk in 2014 describing the new paradigm.

Watch it here: https://youtu.be/Z9dt5qlgO24


Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University, 2007
M.S. in Information Science, Indiana University, 2000
B.A. in English, Indiana University, 1998


Co-chair, Systems Thinking in Education SIG, American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Former president and current communications officer, Division for Systems Thinking and Change, Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)

Editorial board member, Technology, Knowledge, and Learning

Select Publications

Watson, W. R., & Watson, S.L. (2016). Personalized instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth & B. Beatty (Eds.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models (Vol. 4). New York: Taylor & Francis.

Watson, W. R., Kim, W., & Watson, S. L. (2016). Learning outcomes of a MOOC designed for attitudinal change: A case study of an Animal Behavior and Welfare MOOC. Computers & Education, 96, 83-93. DOI:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.013

Watson, W. R., Watson, S.L., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2013). Education 3.0: Breaking the mold with technology. Interactive Learning Environments.

Watson, W. R. & Fang, J. (2012). PBL as a framework for implementing video games in the classroom. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 2(1), 77-89.

Watson, W. R. Mong, C. J., & Harris, C. A. (2011). A case study of the in-class use of a video game for teaching high school history. Computers & Education, 56(2), 466-474.


Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Purdue University, August 2014 - Present

Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Purdue University, August 2007 to 2014

Courses Taught

EDCI 55600
EDCI 56900
EDCI 57200
EDCI 58800
EDCI 66000
EDCI 67200