Daniela (Ela) Castellanos-Reyes is the newest Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire at NC State University. In August, she will join NC State’s Digital Transformation of Education cluster’s interdisciplinary team and NC State’s College of Education as an assistant professor of learning, design and technology. Currently, she is a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellow earning her Ph.D. in learning design and technology from Purdue University.
“I decided to join the College of Education at NC State because of its interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative approach to educational research, specifically as part of the Digital Transformation of Education cluster,” said Castellanos-Reyes, whose appointment will be in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences. “Given that the essence of my work is interdisciplinary collaboration, I’m positive that NC State has the perfect environment to nurture my research agenda.”
As part of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, the Digital Transformation of Education (DTE) cluster brings together efforts across multiple colleges that address the potential of digital technologies to enhance learning in formal and informal education settings in the context of both existing and future technologies. The DTE cluster currently has core and associated faculty in both the College of Education and the Department of Computer Science within the College of Engineering.
DTE faculty engage in collaborative work where educational research, theory, technologies and methods leverage data analytic and computational methods to examine learning in a range of pedagogical and learning contexts. Of particular interest is how these technologies, methods and insights can be used to serve learners from populations that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in knowledge economy careers.
Castellanos-Reyes’ research focuses on how online and distance learning can improve people’s lives, particularly the lives of women. She studies online learning interaction in communities of inquiry and the identification of course design features that support online learners’ social presence through learning analytics. Her research has also focused on networked learning and the role of Latinos in instructional design.
“As a researcher in online and distance learning, Ela Castellanos-Reyes will bring with her to the college and NC State an expertise on a timely and important topic that impacts learners of all ages and from every corner of the world,” said Paola Sztajn, dean of NC State’s College of Education. “She will also help enhance our college’s participation in the DTE cluster and elevate our leadership across the university when it comes to online learning.”
Over the past two years, Castellanos-Reyes has served as a co-principal investigator on several-grant funded projects that have focused on digital badges for intercultural training and teaching as well as best practices in higher education post-COVID. She has authored or co-authored several articles and book chapters related to online learning, the relationship between social media and learning, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning. As an NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow, she developed a digital badge to promote intercultural competence in teaching assistants and has served as a mentor for Latina women who wish to pursue graduate school after completing their undergraduate degree.
As she joins NC State, Castellanos-Reyes said she will continue to work towards the digital transformation of education through her work in online learning communities and supporting nontraditional distance learners. “On the one hand, my scholarship seeks to prepare educational researchers, practitioners and K-12 teachers for 21st-century life and work by applying cutting-edge methodologies that are learner-centered to inform educational decisions. On the other hand, part of my research focuses on working towards affordability and access in education, which I seek to maintain by researching open and networked learning as cost-effective alternatives to educational platforms and establishing research partnerships with industry,” she said, adding she will also work to continue to “amplify the voice of Hispanic scholars and researchers in the Global South.”
Castellanos-Reyes earned her bachelor’s degree in English philology and English education from the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia, and her master’s degree in Learning Design and Technology: Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University.
This post was originally published in College of Education News.