Watson 4 WL

Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. My name is William (Bill) Watson, and I'm running for a position on the West Lafayette school board in 2020. Please see below to learn more about me, why I'm running, and my background and goals for the school district. As a parent of a WLES student and an educational researcher at Purdue, I'm highly motivated to strengthen the district's communication with and involvement of parents in the learning process and promote research-backed approaches to maximizing our children's learning while supporting teachers. I would also love to hear from you so please email me at watson4wl@gmail.com and subscribe to updates!

About Me

I was born in Lafayette; although, I did not live here until my wife, Sunnie, and I moved here shortly before our son was born, eight years ago. My K-12 education took place in public schools in Indiana. I am faculty in the College of Education at Purdue University and an educational researcher focused on realizing personalizing learning through technology and the design of educational systems.

I'm running for a position on the school board in order to focus on improving engagement and communication with parents and teachers in our school district and to ensure that decisions are backed by data and research, enacted with collaboration from the community, and promote continuous improvement towards a community-built, idealized vision of education. I also want to help the district resist damaging state policies that focus on standardized testing over student learning - the tail wagging the dog - and the privatization of education at the cost of public education.

I am an avid Indianapolis Colts fan; I play D-league ice hockey in Carmel when I am able, collect vinyl records and love playing board games with my family and friends.

Why I'm running

Photo of open sign by Tim Mossholder

Like any parent, I want the best for my son. And so far, we have had nothing but absolutely fantastic teachers in the district. But parents want to be involved in their children's' education. We want to know when they are struggling and when they need to be further challenged. We want to know what decisions are being made for our schools and why (read more about transparency).

I would like our school board and administrators to further engage with our parents and teachers and leverage the strengths of this community to take what are strong schools and make them even stronger. This sort of connection already exists in the mission and belief statement and strategic plan, but as a parent, I have not seen it yet successfully reflected in the district's actions. Opportunities for actual dialogue have been extremely limited or non-existent (read more about collaboration).

The focus on standardized testing at the state and national levels does very little to actually help students learn, reproduces systemic injustice, and takes away valuable time and learning opportunities. Furthermore, school choice as currently implemented is more about reallocating money than improving student learning.

I believe my background in education and a career focused on improving the processes and systems of learning and envisioning and moving towards the future of education are uniquely suited to this role (read more about vision).


photo of tablet being used by RF._.studio
  • Increase parent and teacher engagement and collaboration with the school board through improved communication and transparency.

  • Promote a culture of shared decision making at our schools.

  • Hire a director of diversity and inclusion to ensure that the learning environment throughout the school corporation is safe and equitable for all learners.

  • Improve teacher recruitment and retention through increased support, training, and resources.

  • Formalize a community-backed ideal vision for the future of our schools and school district.

  • Facilitate the operation of our schools as learning organizations, committed to data-based decision making and continuous improvement towards our ideal vision.

  • Further establish a community of educational activists who can push back against the problematic policies enacted by the state that pose a threat to our children's access to effective and meaningful learning.


photo of Bill Watson by Kevin O'Shea

I am the parent of a WLES second grader and brother and brother-in-law to two Indiana middle school teachers.

I am an Associate Professor of Learning Design and Technology in the College of Education at Purdue and director of the Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments.

My research focuses on realizing a personalized system of education that meets the needs of all students and is driven by learning rather than the calendar. I have been quoted or my work discussed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, Campus Technology, and U.S. News and World Report.

I have served as president of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology's Division for Systemic Change, and the American Educational Research Association's Systems Thinking in Education SIG.

I have been recognized by the Center for Digital Education as one of the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, & Trailblazers of 2015, and have been a Purdue Teaching for Tomorrow junior and senior fellow.

Watch my TEDx talk about redesigning education for personalized learning: