About Us

The Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC) is the only university-based research center specializing in the field of mobile technology in K-12 education. Established in 2011 by a grant from Dr. Irwin Jacobs and Joan Jacobs, MTLC provides the research, training and services needed to support school districts in their efforts to significantly change the way learning is delivered through mobile technology. Using an innovative approach to align research and practice, MTLC is an international thought leader in K-12 mobile learning and a resource on the local, regional and national levels.

MTLC researchers seek to understand how teachers and students use forms of mobile technology, what factors influence types of tool use and associated educational outcomes, and how districts and school leaders can best support and develop their teachers' mastery and utilization of mobile technology. In addition, MTLC delivers a number of professional learning offerings to provide current teachers, teacher leaders and school/central office leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully navigate the transformation to 21st century learning environments

By looking at mobile technology integration through contextual factors within a school district, MTLC connects research to the K-12 learning environment. A unique contextual review process focuses on the changing relationship between school leaders and students in the 21st century learning environment.  This mixed-methods research process was developed by MTLC to help school districts better understand the contextual factors that are either supporting or challenging their integration of technology.  The findings allow school leaders to make evidence-based decisions, based on the perspectives and experiences of all stakeholders, in order to address contextual barriers and build on foundational supports to more effectively integrate technology.

Administration and Staff

Scott Himelstein, Director

Scott Himelstein

Scott Himelstein is the founding director of the Center for Education Policy and Law and the interim director of MTLC.   Appointed in 2008 by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Community College Board of Governors, he currently serves as the board president. Himelstein is the former deputy secretary of education and later acting secretary of education for the state of California. In that capacity he served as chief policy advisor to the governor on K-12 and higher education. Prior to this appointment, he served as chairman and CEO of the National Even Start Association, president of the William D. Lynch Foundation for Children, and chairman and CEO of San Diego Reads. Himelstein is a former board member of the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.

Rich Thome, Director of Professional Learning

Rich Thome

In addition to his position with MTLC, Rich Thome also serves as co-director of the Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA) and has served as an educational leader in residence in SOLES.

Prior to joining SOLES, Rich served as assistant superintendent, technology and human resources for the San Diego County office of education. In this role he led the development and operation of three regional technology centers, including the technology infrastructure serving 500,000 students in 42 school districts, and was responsible for advancing technology initiatives in all districts to assure equal access for all students. A highlight of his work in this role was the collaboration with the government of Mexico to bring numerous technology and digital resources in the Spanish-language to the entire state of California, benefiting students at the K-12 level. Rich also supervised the operation of a public television channel reaching 1 million homes and led the development of content for 24 digital closed-circuit television channels.

Rich, before joining the technology team at the San Diego County Office of Education, served as superintendent in the South Bay and Cardiff School Districts. During this time he chaired the superintendents’ technology advisory committee (STAC), whose responsibilities included coordinating county-wide technology implementation. Rich was a pioneer of educational technology in the early 80s, serving as coordinator, instructional technology in the Capistrano Unified School District and teaching computer literacy and productivity classes at Long Beach State University. Rich also served as assistant superintendent, instructional operations in Capistrano Unified, after having served as a director, principal, and teacher at both the elementary and high school levels. He began his career as a middle school teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District.

Shawn Gross, Director of Technology and Innovations

Shawn Gross

Shawn Gross’ educational training, public policy involvement, and his private sector education technology experiences position him as a digital learning thought leader in mobile learning. Through his efforts to identify optimal uses of technology to increase student achievement, Mr. Gross designed, developed and implemented the 1st US mobile learning initiative in K-12, Project K-Nect. Mr. Gross assembled a team of experts comprising software developers, curriculum specialist, curriculum developers, professional development staff and education researchers in order to achieve the goal of demonstrating the efficacy of utilizing mobile devices to increase student achievement. In addition to the development, implementation and management of Project K-Nect, Mr. Gross was responsible for launching the 1st US Mobile Learning Conference. Mr. Gross continues to provide both domestic and international guidance to ensure the full proliferation of K-12 based mobile learning. In addition to his position with MTLC, Gross serves in a variety of advisory leadership capacities to support the growth of mobile learning which include: advisory board member to the Consortium for School Networking’s Leadership for Mobile Learning Initiative, advisory member to the International Society for Technology in Education’s Special Interest Group on Mobile Learning, and advisory board member to the Wireless Ed Tech Conference. 

As founder and managing director of DMC, he provides the guidance and product development for this project. He has extensive public sector experience as senate legislative aide and senior policy advisor. He was honorary executive to the Congressional Web Based Education Commission, a contributing author to the National Education Technology Plan, chairperson to the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Task force on Education Technology, and the author of a portal implementation technology guide for 1997 Summit of the Americas. His work in the private sector includes Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer, in product development and marketing, K-12 education practice, e-learning account management, and as government relations liaison on issues of education technology.

B.A. in International Studies, Ohio State University
M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh
M.P.I.A., University of Pittsburgh

Michael Corke, Interim Director of Research

  Michael Corke

Michael brings 15 years of experience leading evaluation and research projects in education settings. His academic preparation includes undergraduate and master level training in psychology and exercise science from San Diego State University as well as a Ph.D. in education research methodology from Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State. Dr. Corke’s research interests include STEM, student resilience, informal education and technology in schools.  Prior to this appointment, he spent 13 years doing research and evaluation in a public-private partnership focused on community redevelopment through the education system.

Julie Zoellin Cramer, Senior Research Associate

Julie Cramer 

Julie is part of the K-12 public/private education cohort in the leadership studies doctoral program. Julie’s central area of study is public education policy reform and system-level change. Of particular interest is the role of parent involvement, school choice, and public charter schools. As a doctoral candidate, her dissertation (in progress) involves research on parent empowerment as a social movement and parent trigger legislation in the United States. In 2012, Julie was named a David L. Clark National Graduate Research Scholar by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and Divisions A and L of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Julie is currently working as the Director of Operations for the USD Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC) and the Senior Research Associate for the USD Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL). As part of her work with CEPAL, Julie has been involved over the past three years in developing a charter high school on the 6th and 7th floor of the new San Diego Central Library. The school, E3 Civic High, is scheduled to open in August 2013 and will serve 500 students.

M.A., Leadership Studies, University of San Diego B.S., Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley

John Franey - Research Associate

John Franey 

John is a 2013 graduate of the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences PhD program. His dissertation work focused on aspiring school leaders’ development of instructional leadership capacity and instructional coaching skills. Prior to joining CEPAL and MTLC, John spent the last decade as a teacher in the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District. He also served for two years as the district’s Coordinator of Emergency Preparedness, where he led the process of aligning the district’s emergency preparedness plans to the federally mandated National Incident Management System. He holds Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Physical Education and English, and Literature, as well as a certificate for eligibility for a California Administrative Services Credential.  John specializes in the use of qualitative research methods to better understand the K-12 educational system through the lenses of educational reform, instructional leadership, professional development practices, mobile technology implementation, school contexts/cultures, transformation of perspectives, and human developmental theory.

Ph.D., University of San Diego: Leadership Studies
M.A., California State University, San Marcos: Teaching, Learning, & Leadership
B.A., Harvard University: Folklore & Mythology

Veronica Garcia

Veronica Garcia

Veronica Garcia is a social sciences research associate at both CEPAL and MTLC. She also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching. Her dissertation focused on the life histories and literacy experiences of formerly incarcerated Latino males. Veronica was a former high school English and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher in Los Angeles. She has worked with high school youth to conduct critical education research in their schools through university, nonprofit and district programs. Veronica has also worked at the Boston Plan for Excellence support their High School Renewal Initiative. Veronica has presented in national professional conferences, such as the National Council for Teachers of English and the American Educational Research Association. Veronica has taught social foundations courses for new teachers at UCLA and USD. She is a co-author of the book entitled Critical Media Pedagogies: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools published through Teachers College Press.

Ed.D., University of Southern California: Education

Ed. M., Harvard Graduate School of Education: Education
B.A., University of California, Los Angeles: Psychology 

Katie Martin, Professional Learning Specialist

Katie Martin

Dr. Martin’s work with districts and individual schools focuses on the development of a collaborative context that facilitates teacher innovation through sustained, personalized professional learning.  With a focus on developing the global competencies of all students, Katie works with instructional leaders to support and empower teachers to integrate technology and Common Core State Standards. Prior to joining MTLC, Katie spent 10 years in Hawaii’i on the Leeward Coast of O’ahu. Dr. Martin taught middle school English language arts and was the school based literacy coach.   She continued as a new teacher mentor and coordinator of district programs to support and retain effective teachers. Dr. Martin continues to conduct research on teacher development and effectiveness in 21st century classrooms. Through MTLC partnerships she continues to refine approaches to professional learning based on findings to reflect emerging best practices.  

B.A., California State University, San Marcos: Liberal Studies
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential: California State University, San Marcos
M.Ed., University of Hawaii’i, Manoa: Middle School, Teacher Leadership
Ph.D., University of Hawaii’i Manoa: Curriculum & Instruction


Devon Foster, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing

Devon Foster

Maria Kelly Horsley

Maria Kelly

Maria Kelly Horsley is a second year doctoral student in SOLES' leadership studies program, specializing in K-12 education, and she is a research assistant for MTLC and CEPAL. This is the third degree at the University of San Diego that Maria is pursuing: She graduated with a B.A. in anthropology in 2003, and with her M.A. in teaching international relations and social sciences in 2012.  Maria previously taught children with autism for 12 years and engaged in non-human primate behavioral research in both Africa and Latin America.  Maria currently divides her time between researching mobile learning adoption projects in the Unites States and traversing sub-Saharan Africa, when she studies learning environments, teacher practice and the use of ICT for development.

Andria Shook, Graduate Assistant

Andria Shook

Andria Shook is a third year leadership studies doctoral student specializing in K-12 education. Her assistantship position spans between research conducted by both MTLC and CEPAL. Her resulting publications include San Diego Unified School District: Schools in City Council Districts 1-8 and the California Mayoral Empowerment Study. Current projects include the Encinitas Yoga and Wellness Program Evaluation and The Encinitas iPad Research Project.  Additional upcoming work will be released through Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) where she interned in 2012 at Stanford University. 

Andria’s central area of study is education policy reform predominantly focused on the role of health and wellness instruction in public education. Her upcoming dissertation will be focused in this realm of education reform. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies she was an elementary teacher in central Los Angeles through Teach for America.

M.A., Education, Loyola Marymount University
B.A., International Relations, University of Southern California

Kai Thomas

Kai Thomas

Kai Thomas is a second year doctoral student on the K-12 track in SOLES' Department of Leadership Studies. She received her B.A. in English with a minor in creative writing from Spelman College and her M.A. in Communication for Public Relations from Ellis University. Kai’s research interests are in educational technology for K-12 environments, specifically utilizing technology to increase the success rate of underrepresented students and developing alternative models to traditional pedagogy through the use of hybrid/blended classrooms. Kai has been a graduate assistant with MTLC since she began her doctoral studies in the fall of 2012.

Teresa Drew, Project and Personnel Manager

Teresa Drew

Teresa is the project and personnel manager for both CEPAL and MTLC. Teresa holds a California Teaching Credential and, prior to her work at USD, co-developed a preschool-age kinesthetic learning program and was part of the founding team of two local nonprofit organizations centered on local education reform. Teresa has committed the last 13 years of her professional life to education, community leadership and advocacy. She is currently a graduate student in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management M.A. program at SOLES.

Polly Traylor, Center Support Coordinator

Polly Traylor