Hi, I’m Zhou - software engineer, researcher, and explorer in educational technology

I am interested in making education better through advanced technology and research. Right now, I’m a software engineer at the EdLab of Teachers College, Columbia University.

I hold an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology & Media from Teachers College, Columbia University. My academic and professional experience extensively involves software engineering and educational technology research. Below are a few examples of my favorite engineering and research projects.

Engineering Projects


Vialogues is the nation’s first video-driven discussion tool designed for education. By providing the capability of associating discussions to specific points of a video, this application promotes reflective, critical educational dialogues in private or public user communities. Instructors can also embed time-coded polls and open-ended questions in the Vialogues discussions to scaffold or assess student learning.

Vialogues was named the Best Website for Teaching & Learning in 2012 by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

Roles: co-founder, main developer, and researcher (2009-2016)

New Learning Times

New Learning Times provides daily coverage of the transformation of learning opportunities in the information age for those shaping the future of education. Readers include those who are concerned about the latest progress, trends, and figures of technology and research in the education sector. Proudly produced in house of EdLab.

New Learning Times is included in the Ed Tech Developer’s Guide by the Office of Educational Technology of U.S. Dept. of Education.

Roles: lead developer and project manager (2015-2016)

YoungArts Master Class

YoungArts Master Class is an online study guide developed at Teachers College aiming at promoting art education based on HBO’s Masterclass documentaries. Funded by the National YoungArts Foundation. This project was a collaboration between the EdLab and the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College.

Role: lead developer (2011-2012)

Research Projects

Data Dashboard

Data Dashboard consists of a series of data analytics projects based on the awesome open-source Jupyter project, where various roles at EdLab can collaborate on the data mining of EdLab’s educational product suite. For example, the product managers and administrators can specify what kind of analytics reports they would like to receive for each product, and the software engineers and researchers will team together to produce the data analytics scripts (often with interactive features) based on the requests.

Data Dashboard has also helped me complete the data collection of my doctoral dissertation.

Roles: project manager, researcher, and lead programmer (2015-present)

VICTOR (my doctoral dissertation)

VICTOR stands for VIdeo-Course-Teacher-discOuRse, which is a theoretical framework for understanding and evaluating video-driven teacher education discourses. The major challenges in maximizing the power of video in teacher education have been the fact that 1) video is difficult to be integrated with other learning resources (e.g. course readings, writing assignments, quizzes, etc.) due to its self-contained nature, that 2) critical, reflective learning around video is often throttled by superficial discussions due to insufficient participation time and out-of-video-context collaborative knowledge building.

VICTOR is proposed based on the video-driven discussion learning model like in Vialogues, and utilizes topic models (TM), a suite of machine learning algorithms, to identify the underlying relations between the discussions and various learning resources (i.e. video and other course materials) in the likely contexts. Based on VICTOR, video-driven discussion is most likely to be meaningful when TM indicates it has high similarity with both the video and course readings because the discussants successfully connect the video content to the theoretical perspectives in the course readings.

While VICTOR is contextualized in TPPD, it has implications in many learning and professional development settings where video-driven discussion is employed. Here is the link to my oral defense presentation.