LDL Program Team

The Learning Design and Leadership concentration has a group of individuals to support you prior to, during, and after your graduate school experience.

Who to Contact

While you are welcome to contact your faculty advisor at anytime, it is likely that the LDL Program and Academic Advisor or Teaching Assistants can help you. If we are unable to assist you, we will refer you to your faculty advisor or another person within the College or department.

Dr. Kara Francis, LDL Program Advisor: Questions about the LDL program, program advising, including course selection, Exam-Dissertation Sequence, General questions or anytime you aren’t sure who to call

LDL Program TAs: Regular LDL Course-related questions, CGScholar questions

LDL Program Leaders and Faculty Advisors

Bill Cope is a Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include theories and practices of pedagogy, cultural and linguistic diversity, and new technologies of representation and communication. His and Mary Kalantzis’ recent research has focused on the development of digital writing and assessment technologies, with the support of a number of major grants from the US Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation. The result has been the CGScholar multimodal writing and assessment environment.


Mary Kalantzis was from 2006 to 2016 Dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before this, she was Dean of the Faculty of Education, Language and Community Services at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, and President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education. With Bill Cope, she has co-authored or co-edited: New Learning: Elements of a Science of Education, Cambridge University Press, 2008 (2nd edition, 2012); Ubiquitous Learning, University of Illinois Press, 2009; Towards a Semantic Web: Connecting Knowledge in Academic Research, Elsevier, 2009; Literacies, Cambridge University Press 2012 (2nd edition, 2016); A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies, Palgrave, 2016; and e-Learning Ecologies, Routledge, 2017.


LDL Program, Academic, and Dissertation Advisor

Kara Francis earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Learning Design and Leadership in February 2021. Her research focused on the relationship between sense of community and peer review for doctoral dissertation students.  She currently serves as the LDL program, academic, and dissertation advisor. She is your first point of contact for anything related to the LDL program, including course selection, forms, research topic exploration, or the exam-dissertation sequence. Kara is also a consultant who partners with organizations to implement social collaboration and learning solutions using online communities.  While born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, she has lived in Minnetonka, Minnesota for nearly twenty years. She enjoys stamping home-made cards, exploring the many bike trails throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, attending Minnesota Twins baseball and Gophers Women’s volleyball games, and spending time with her husband and young son.


LDL Program Teaching Assistants

LDL Courses:

Stuart L. Mattingly is in his 3rd year as a Doctor of Education student in the Learning Design & Leadership program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Originally, he is from Louisville, Kentucky but currently lives in Tucson, Arizona with his awesome wife and son. His research interests center around authentic assessment, effective online pedagogy, and higher education policy change. In addition to teaching, Stuart enjoys pottery, cooking, guitar, travel, and home construction projects.


Akash Kumar Saini is a 1st year Ph.D. student in the Learning Design and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). His research and practice focus on developing, designing, exploring, and testing digital tools (such as Virtual Reality, Games, etc.) to facilitate learning and provide specialized instructions, training, and guidance for integrating such technologies in educational practices. He is also very keen to investigate the impact of new media and technology (especially Virtual and Augmented Reality) on the various domains of learning and explore the impact and benefits of visualizing mathematical concepts using Augmented Reality in school education.