CTLT Dialogues

The Blog of the Center for Teaching & Learning with Technology

Spotlight: Roger Koppl

Roger Koppl
(December 2006)

Roger KopplRoger Koppl is the Director of the Institute for Forensic Science Administration (IFSA) at FDU’s Silberman College of Business, where he is Professor of Economics and Finance. The Director of IFSA guides the research, education programs, and policy advocacy of the institute. For more information, visit IFSA’s Web site at Institute for Forensic Science Administration.

Professor Koppl is also the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation grant for research on “Democratic Epistemics in Lab-Based Processes.” Following the studies of the Scottish Enlightenment, Professor Koppl argues that our understanding of knowledge works better when we see it as individual and distributed, rather than institutional and centralized. The research acknowledges how hard it is to avoid error and to know anything, including in a forensic context, and seeks to test the principles Koppl and others have proposed for forensic science administration.

The environment for forensic science administration has been changing rapidly, based on scientific advances, changes in rules of evidence, and on social factors, such as expectations resulting from “the CSI effect,” named after the popular television series. Jurors may have unrealistic expectations that conflict with recent administrative failures in some centers of forensic science. The result has been a call for higher standards for the profession.

Science itself “works by connectedness and communication,” in Professor Koppl’s view. Technology serves an important role in this process. Knowledge is always decentralized, and technology helps each of us individually get at the knowledge others have. “The Internet was made for me,” Professor Koppl says, “the World-wide Web has drawn our attention to the fact that knowledge is distributed.” Individuals in many different places have a lot of factual knowledge, and our ability to connect through the Internet helps us find where that know-how exists, and to include it in our conversations.

People learn well if you provide a good environment for communication. That’s “the same as in the time of Plato,” so using educational technology requires “no real change.” This semester, Professor Koppl is teaching a selected studies in economics course, with the topic of “Forensic Science Under the Microscope.” He’s using Webcampus to bring in seven guest lecturers for class, experts from San Francisco, Rome, Southampton, and elsewhere, “getting more advantage out of distributed knowledge than we used to be able to get.”

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