Ronald Anderson

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Ronald Eugene Anderson (born June 14, 1941), also known as Ron Anderson, is Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities where he taught sociology from 1968 to 2005. His early work focused on social and institutional factors shaping the diffusion of technology-based teaching. Since 2007, his work has focused on web-based compassion and world suffering.

Personal History[edit]

While born in Sikeston, Missouri, from 1944 to 1953 he lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from La Sierra University in Riverside, CA with a BA in psychology, and from Stanford University with a PhD in sociology in 1970. In 1968, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Minnesota and still resides in the Minneapolis area.

Professional History and Honors[edit]

During most of his professional career, Dr. Anderson actively contributed in three distinct disciplines: sociology, educational research, and computer science. While his publications reside within the intersection of these fields, he has received honors or awards for outstanding service from the principal professional associations of each of these three fields: American Sociological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the Association for Computing Machinery. In 2001, he was awarded the Outstanding Service Award[1] by the Special Interest Group for Computers and Society[2] of the Association for Computing Machinery. In 1990, he became an invited member of Sociological Research Association; and in 2008, he became an invited Fellow[3] of the American Educational Research Association. In August, 2012, the Communication and Information Technology Section[4] of the American Sociological Association will honor him with the prestigious William F. Ogburn Lifetime Achievement Award[4]

Secondary (Re-purposed) Survey Data Analysis[edit]

Ron Anderson learned secondary data analysis skills from his mentor, Stuart C. Dodd at the University of Washington in 1963, and his advisor, John W. Meyer at Stanford University. Anderson applied these skills with John O. Field to study how ideology influenced presidential elections. The resulting paper,[5] published in the Public Opinion Quarterly, was reprinted in several major political science texts and was discussed at length by Herbert Hyman, who considered the Anderson-Field link between theoretical analysis and creative mining of secondary data resources to be exemplary and a contribution to both theory and data analysis methodology.[6]

In 1981, Anderson received a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct secondary analysis of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of science and math. One of the papers from this project was published in 1984 and was the first report on the digital divide in the United States using large-scale, national survey data.[7] The term digital divide did not appear in the literature or the media until 11 years later.

These results, with lengthy quotes from Anderson, who directed the US portion of the study, were widely disseminated in the popular media including articles in the New York Times,[8] the Washington Post,[9] Business Week,[10] the Wall Street Journal,[11] and Ms. Magazine.[12] In the academic literature, Anderson is reported as “explicating the depth of the digital divide in shaping the adolescent life course.”[13] While the media focused upon the findings of sex and income gaps in access and computer course enrollments, Anderson and his associates also found major differences by race and region.[7] Thirty years later, researchers continue to find major gaps (digital divides) in the demographics of the use of information technology[14][15] In 1981, Anderson founded and served as Director of the Minnesota Center for Survey Research.[16] He served in that capacity for five years and started the Minnesota State Survey and the Twin Cities Area Survey, both of which are still conducted annually by the Center, which is a unit of the University of Minnesota. During the next two decades, Anderson continued survey work but mostly cross-nationally, which is described in later sections below.

Computing Applications in Research and Teaching[edit]

In the late 1960s, Anderson worked full-time as a computer programmer at the Stanford University Computation Center, now called Information Technology Services. Throughout his career as a sociologist, he also worked as a computer consultant developing applications for many educational, governmental and business organizations.[17] Many of publications by Anderson (125 articles, 4 books authored, and 5 books edited) describe and critique the use of computers and new media in research, teaching, and learning.[18] He also (with David Garson) has served as Co-Editor of the Sage Publishing academic journal, Social Science Computer Review, since 1987.[19]

Simulation Modeling[edit]

Ronald Anderson pioneered the development of two major simulation models. The first provides scenario-based analysis of the impacts of changing sentencing laws. This work started in 1979 for the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission[20] and the [Minnesota Department of Corrections] (MDOC). It consisted of a [microsimulation] model of the effects of hypothetical changes in sentencing laws upon prison and probation populations. The model, now called the Structured Sentencing Simulation,[21][22] is still used by [Minnesota] and [North Carolina] in prison population projections and “what if” scenario simulations.

His second major simulation work, between 2009 and 2012, addresses college student retention. He and demographer, Dr. Martin Spielauer,[23] developed a computer model called MicroCC.[24] It was developed under a grant from the [National Science Foundation], and has been applied to 250,000 community college students in New England.[25]

Educational Software[edit]

During the 1970s and 80s, Anderson pioneered educational software applications for social science teaching and research. He developed over 50 applications that were distributed by Random House, Longman Publishing, and Control Data Corporation. Some of the more popular titles include Social Indicators Game, The Public Opinion Exercise: American Sexual Values and Social Power Game.[26] The latter game received the NCRIPTAL/EDUCOM Higher Education Distinguished Software Award in 1987.

Lectures on New Media in Education[edit]

Principally during the 1980s and 1990s, Anderson gave invited lectures on using new media, which includes educational technology and instructional technology, to teachers and administrators in both secondary and postsecondary institutions as well as national educational organizations. The latter included the Ministry of Education (Singapore), Japan’s National Institute for Educational Policy Research,[27] and the Ministry of Education and Research (Norway). Within the United States, his lectures included the National Academy of Sciences, Eastern Montana College, University of Akron, University of Dayton, Ball State University, and Eastern Michigan University.

Social Implications of Technology[edit]

During the 1970s, Professor Anderson published a number of articles on the ways in which the social context of computing shaped its use and development. In his writing on the social aspects and implications of computing, he persistently emphasized the need for research data for making decisions about the implementation of computer technology. The ACM Digital Library contains 33 articles by Anderson with a total of 982 citations and 617 downloads in 2012 alone.[28]

With funding from the National Science Foundation to the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, Ron Anderson and Dan Klassen conducted the first large-scale survey, which surveyed the nearly 7,000 Minnesota high school teachers of math and science regarding their use of computers in teaching.[29] They found that in 1978, before the release of the PC, half of the teachers used computers in their classes and the social context and social attributes of the teachers determined computer utilization.[29]

In 1982, then U.S. Congressman Al Gore invited Anderson to participate in the “Computers and Education Hearings” of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Science and Technology Committee[30] in Washington, D.C., on September 29, 1983. The full Statement of Dr. Ronald E. Anderson before the Subcommittee can be downloaded from the ACM Digital Library.[31] The statement emphasized differences in the implementation of computer utilization in schools based upon social and demographic factors, and the need for local and national evidence-based accountability.[31]

In 1980, Anderson became the founding Chair of the Section of the American Sociological Association that is now called “Communication and Information Technologies” (CITASA)[32] Barry Wellman describes Anderson’s organizing role as a stalwart of the technology movement within sociology.[33]

In 1992, Anderson under the auspices of the ACM organized a conference on “Computers and the Quality of Life,” the first conference to link IT with quality of life issues. The Conference Proceedings is still downloadable at the ACM Digital Library and was downloaded 414 times in 2012.[34]

In 2000, the Association for Computing Machinery Council appointed Anderson to represent ACM and the United States on the 30-nation Technical Committee (TC9) on “Relationship between Computers and Society”[35] of the International Federation of Information Processing Societies (IFIPS). He served in that capacity for five years. The principal products of this international Committee during that time was to hold two symposia and collectively author a book entitled Perspectives and Policies on ICT in Society, which was published by Springer in 2007.[36]

Code of Ethics for the Computing Professions[edit]

During the 1980s, Anderson held several leadership positions in the [Association for Computing Machinery] (ACM), the principle association of computer scientists and computing professionals. He served as a Council member as well as Chair of the Special Interest Group on Computers and Society (SIGCAS)[37] [His most important achievement within ACM was to chair the Working Group that developed the new ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. It was officially published in 1992 and remains the official ACM Code of Ethics.[38] The ACM Digital Library Guide lists 2,393 citations of the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in the literature since 1992.[39]

Following the publication of the new ACM Code of Ethics, Anderson wrote and published several articles on the ethics of computer work including an article on ethics for digital government.[39][40] Pavlichev and Garson described his work as embodying the moral imperatives that are needed in the age of e-Government.[41]

Social Dynamics of Technology in Teaching and Learning[edit]

In 1992, coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA),[42] nearly 20 countries simultaneously surveyed (1) schools about the installed base of technology for K-12 instruction, (2) teacher practices for integrating technology into their teaching, and (3) students skills in using computers.[43] Anderson directed the United States portion of the study.

Not only was this the first international assessment of ICT in school-based learning, but it was the first such study in the United States.[44] The key findings were that school computers were more outdated in the USA than in most other countries in the study and the diffusion of computer augmented learning tended to be less prevalent in lower income school districts and in highly rural areas. These results, with lengthy quotes from Anderson, who directed the US portion of the study, were widely disseminated in the popular media including articles in USA Today,[45] and Education Week.[46] and many others.

Six years later in 1998, Ron Anderson (with Henry J. Becker) conducted another national survey of schools and teachers: Teaching, Learning and Computing.[47] The project produced 16 reports that were widely circulated. The principal findings of the study were that teacher professional identities, constructivist pedagogy, and instructionally oriented technology support were key factors in effective use of computers in teaching.[48]

Second International Technology in Education Study (SITES)[edit]

Beginning in 1997, Dr. Anderson Co-Chaired the International Steering Committee for the first two modules of the IEA’s[49] Second International Technology in Education Study (SITES).[50][51] Anderson continued with the SITES 2006 Study[52] until 2007 when it ended.[53]

In 2000, Ron Anderson and Sara Dexter, directed a large national study funded by the U.S. Department of Education, "Exemplary Technology-Supported-Schooling Case Studies," a project providing for the United States participation in both the IEA[42] SITES Module 2[51] and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) "case studies of reform and innovation using information technology in learning."[54] The results of this large study of innovative exemplars of teaching with technology for the United States can be found online.[55]

Contribution to Theories on the Social Dynamics of Technology[edit]

Ron Anderson has contributed to theories on the sociology of educational technology, especially in the areas of Diffusion of Innovations and application of Information Society concepts. In 1976, he published results about the diffusion of computer utilization among sociologists[56] and in 1979 about secondary mathematics and science teachers.[29] The former study found that while the time of adoption of computers in teaching followed an S-shaped curve as predicted by diffusion theory, the majority of applications used were not particularly innovative. In the latter study, he found that technology resources and social factors were about equally powerful in explaining adoption of technology in teaching. More interesting, however, in terms of theory was the finding that a substantial number of teachers had discontinued their use of the innovation, an aspect of the theory not yet developed.[57]

A second area of theoretical contribution was that of theories of the information society, of which the concept of “knowledge society” is an extension. While Anderson began in the 1990s, applying information economy and knowledge management concepts to theories of what students would need in the 21st Century, his most extensive analysis was published in 2008.[58] Anderson introduced the concepts of tacit knowledge and tacit knowledge demand to pedagogical reform with technology. His original notions of the information society paradigm are generally accepted among those concerned with defining 21st Century Skills. The acceptance of the concept of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a case in point.

Evaluation Research[edit]

Anderson frequently received consulting requests to evaluate educational interventions and conduct [educational research], especially with regard to the role of [information technology] in teaching. Numerous clients include: [Control Data Corporation], [Xerox Corporation], the [United States Department of Education], and the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong.[17] For example, he reviewed test items and research designs for the Australian Center for Educational Research helping them administer the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) project. In 2004 he spent two weeks working with the [Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology] in [Bangkok], Thailand reviewing their IT-related projects and research needs. He also has worked with several SRI International projects, funded by the [National Science Foundation] to develop performance assessments and surveys related ion the use of Information and communication technologies in education by both teachers and students.

Expert Witness[edit]

On several occasions, Anderson was asked to serve as an expert witness on issues related to survey research. From 2003 to 2005, he served as an expert witness for Mahoney & Foster, Ltd on an advertising fraud case.[59] His role included the conduct a survey of consumers of deer hunting products and critiquing the research quality of other surveys conducted.

Anderson also served as an expert witness on several Change of venue hearings. One was the trial of Marjorie Congdon Caldwell Hagen for the 1977 murder of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse in her Glensheen Historic Estate.[60] Another change of venue hearing in which he testified was a murder trial in which William Kunstler was involved. The hearing occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1978.[61]

Major Books[edit]

The WorldCat Identities three of Anderson’s books as held by over 400 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.[62] The three books are: Computer Literacy, Academic Press, 1982; Computer Applications in the Social Sciences, (with Edward Brent)[63] NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1990; with T. Plomp, N. Law, & A. Quale) Cross-National Policies and Practices on Information and Communication Technology in Education. Greenwich, CT, USA: Information Age Publishing, 2009, which was reviewed by Bhasin.[64]

In addition, Anderson (with David Sullivan) authored the college textbook World of Computing (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1988), which was adopted by an estimated 660 college classrooms.[65] Among his other authored books were: ICT and the Emerging Paradigm for Life Long Learning: A Worldwide Educational Assessment of Infrastructure, Goals and Practices, (with W. Pelgrum), which was published by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement in 2001 and is available at:[66] and Assessing Com¬puter Literacy, Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1982.[67] Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear & Leu note that this original work on measuring computing from the standpoint of literacy was a ground-breaking direction in educational research.[68]

Recent Research[edit]

Beginning in about 2007, Professor Anderson decided he could contribute to the common good by addressing larger societal issues rather than technology alone. He established the nonprofit Foundation for Compassionate Societies, Inc. to develop and promoted the website, and proceeded to develop a taxonomy of compassion and caring oriented websites. His first paper on this research was published in 2012 and included a network analysis of key caring-oriented websites.[69]

A second thread of this compassion-oriented research concentrated on finding indicators of compassion and caring at the societal level, leading to a measure or Index of Good Societies.[70] This in turn led to the development of a measure of subjective suffering also at societal levels. A research report on world suffering, compares 123 countries on suffering, taking into account religion and social support.[71] Ironically, after 43 years he has returned to his creativity with secondary data that launched his academic career in 1969.[6][72]


  1. ^ Awards — SIGCAS – Computers & Society
  2. ^ SIGCAS Mission — SIGCAS – Computers & Society
  3. ^ AERA Fellows
  4. ^ Awards | CITASA
  5. ^ Field, J. O. & Anderson, R. E. (1969) "Ideology in the Public's Con-ceptualization of the 1964 Election," Public Opinion Quarterly 33, pp. 380-398
  6. ^ a b Hyman, Herbert (1970) Second¬ary Analysis of Sample Surveys, pp. 185-191.
  7. ^ a b R. Anderson, L. Harris, W. Welch (1984) “Inequities in Opportunities for Computer Literacy," The Computing Teacher, 11, 8, pp 10-13.
  8. ^ “Richer Schools Likelier to Obtain Computers” New York Times (Sept 6, 1983).
  9. ^ “Computers Give Poor Kids New Handicap” The Washington Post (Front page, September 12, 1983).
  10. ^ “If women don’t go into Computers” Business Week (June 21, 1982)
  11. ^ “Courses in Computer Literacy Beginning to Draw Bad Marks,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 16, 1983)
  12. ^ “Do Schools Teach Computer Anxiety?” Ms. Magazine (December 1982)
  13. ^ Mortimer, J T. and Larson, R. W. in The Changing Adolescent Experience (2002), [1].
  14. ^ Anderson, R. E. & Ainley, J. (2010) "Technology and Learning: Access in Schools Around the World" in Baker, E., Peterson, P, & McGraw, B. (Eds) International Encyclopedia of Education, Third Edition, Elsevier, vol. 8, pp. 21-33.
  15. ^ Bank, Barbara J. (Editor) Gender & Higher Education, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, Pp. 254-260.
  16. ^ Minnesota Center for Survey Research:
  17. ^ a b Vita of Ronald Anderson:
  18. ^ Vita of Ronald Anderson:
  19. ^ Social Science Computer Review
  20. ^ Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission:
  21. ^ Anderson, R. E.(1993) "Development of a Structured Sentencing Simulation," Social Science Computer Review 11,2 pp. 166-178.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Martin Spielauer:
  24. ^ Spielauer, M. & Anderson, R. E. (2012) “Microsimulation Modeling of Student Success in Community Colleges Using MicroCC,” Social Science Computer Review 30, 4 (Nov 2012) pp499-512.
  25. ^ DECA report on community college student progress:
  26. ^ Magnuson-Martinson, Scott (1995) "Classroom Computerization: Ambivalent Attitudes and Ambiguous Outcomes." Teaching Sociology. 23:1-7.
  27. ^ Japan’s National Institute for Educational Policy Research:
  28. ^ ACM Digital Library:
  29. ^ a b Anderson, R.E., Hansen, T., Johnson, D.C., and Klassen, D.L.(1979) "Acceptance and Rejection of Instructional Computing by Secondary School Teachers," Sociology of Work and Occupations 6,2 pp 227-250.
  30. ^ Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the U. S. House Science and Technology Committee:
  31. ^ a b Statement before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Science and Technology Committee on 1984 [2]
  32. ^ ASA Section on Communication & Information Technologies (CITASA)
  33. ^ Wellman, B. (2006). “CITASA” Social Science Computer Review 24,2, 150-157.
  34. ^ Proceedings of the conference on Computers and the quality of life:
  35. ^ TC9 of IFIPS:
  36. ^ Berleur, J. & Avgerou, C.,(2005) Perspectives and Policies on ICT in Society. New York: Springer.
  37. ^
  38. ^ ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: Communications of the ACM 35, 5 (May 1992) Pages 94–99:
  39. ^ a b Anderson, R. E. "The ACM Code of Ethics: History, Process, and Implications," Social Issues in Computing McGraw-Hill 1994.
  40. ^ Anderson, R. E., "Social Impacts of Computing: Codes of Professional Ethics,” Social Science Computer Review 10,4 (1992).
  41. ^ Pavlichev, A. & Garson, G. D. (2004) Digital Government: Principles and Best Practices. Hershey PA: Idea Group Inc.
  42. ^ a b The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA):
  43. ^ IEA Computers in Education study:
  44. ^ R. Anderson (ed.) Computers in American Schools, 1992: An Overview, IEA Computers in Education Study, University of Minnesota, 1993.
  45. ^ Henry, Tamara (1993) “Computers serve as equalizers in schools” USA Today (front page)
  46. ^ West, Peter (1993) “Survey Finds Gaps in U.S. Schools' Computer Use” Education Week (December 15, 1993)
  47. ^ Teaching, Learning and Computing:1998
  48. ^ Report to Participants:
  49. ^ The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA):
  50. ^ Second Information Technology in Education Study Module 1:
  51. ^ a b Second Information Technology in Education Study Module 2:
  52. ^ Second Information Technology in Education Study 2006 (SITES 2006):
  53. ^ Law, N., Pelgrum, W.J., & Plomp, T. (Eds.). (2008). Pedagogy and ICT use in schools around the world: Findings from the IEA SITES 2006 study. Hong Kong: CERC-Springer.
  54. ^ Kozma, R. (2003) Technology, Innovation and Educational Change—A Global Perspective. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
  55. ^ USA Exemplary Case Studies:
  56. ^ "Diffusion of Computer Utilization among Sociology Instructors," Computers and the Humanities, 10 (1976), pp. 201-07.
  57. ^ Rogers, Everett M. (1983). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-926650-2
  58. ^ Anderson, R. E., (2008) “Implications of the Information and Knowledge Society for Education,” In Voogt, J. and G. Knezek (Editors) International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, Springer.
  59. ^ Wildlife Research Center, Inc., Plaintiff, v. Robinson Outdoors, Inc., f/k/a Robinson Laboratories, Inc., Defendant. Civil No. 02-2773(DSD/SRN) UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46701
  60. ^ Hendry, S. D. (1998) Glensheen’s Daughter, the Marjorie Congdon Story. Brule, WI: Cable Publishing.
  61. ^ UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. James Theodore EAGLE, Appellant, No. 78-1405. United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit., Decided Oct. 24, 1978.
  62. ^ WorldCat Identities page for Ronald E Anderson
  63. ^ Brent, E. and Anderson, E. (1990) Computer Applications in the Social Sciences. ISBN 0-87722-666-0
  64. ^ Bhasin, B. (2012) "Integration of Information and Communication Technologies in Enhancing Teaching and Learning" Contemporary Educational Technology, 3, 2, 130-140
  65. ^ World of Computing
  66. ^
  67. ^ Assessing computer literacy : Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1982.
  68. ^ Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D. J. (Editors) Handbook of Research in New Literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  69. ^ Anderson, R. E. (2012) “Caring Capital Websites” Information, Communication and Society, 15, 4, pp. 479-501.
  70. ^ Good Societies Index 2012:
  71. ^ “World Suffering” Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, 2011, downloadable at
  72. ^ Field, J. O. & Anderson, R. E. (1969) "Ideology in the Public's Con-ceptualization of the 1964 Election," Public Opinion Quarterly 33, pp. 380-398;

External links[edit]