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USU PROFESSOR IS PERSON OF YEAR IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY FOR ’89

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M. David Merrill, professor of instructional technology at Utah State University, is Person of the Year in Educational Technology for 1989.

The national distinction is presented by Educational Technology magazine.Merrill is the second recipient of the honor; Robert M. Gagne of Florida State University received the honor in 1988.

The men are recognized for careerlong contributions to the field of educational technology, said Lawrence Lipsitz, editor and publisher of the New Jersey-based magazine.

Merrill's national reputation in instructional-design theory and expert systems recently brought a half-million dollar contract with IBM Corporation to USU's Department of Instructional Technology. Merrill and colleagues are developing an instructional design expert system.

"An expert system is like having a consultant to help you solve your problem, only in this case the consultant is a computer program rather than a live person," Merrill explained. "Expert systems are being used more and more in education and industry for such purposes as diagnosing diseases, locating possible drilling locations for oil wells, configuring complex computer systems and determining special scholastic needs."

Instructional-design expert systems are badly needed in public schools where there is a significant shortage of trained teachers, especially in science and mathematics, Merrill said.