Kieran is from Brisbane, Australia, where he learned programming in 1978. He studied at the University of Queensland, where he was also a systems programmer. Kieran completed his Ph.D. at Indiana University in 1987. He joined Oakland University in 1991. His research focused on formation of beliefs and attitudes about information systems.
In 2006, Kieran gave up disciplinary research, to study teaching and learning. It became clear to him that he could be doing a much better job in the classroom. Kieran decided to flip his web programming courses, and wrote CoreDogs to help. CoreDogs used schemas, characters, embedded exercises, and other elements motivated by learning research.
CoreDogs was replaced by CyberCourse (Cyco) in 2013. Cyco had the first complete version of the formative feedback system, which Kieran thinks was the key to its success. Cyco was the first system designed for other people to use.
Skilling is the third generation. It has a better feedback system, a timeline for students, more research-inspired authoring tags, and much else. It also better matches institutional needs, for privacy, security, accessibility, and customization.
Skilling aligns with the cognitive tradition in learning research, exemplified by scholars like Sweller, Kirschner, van Merriënboer, and others. Skilling also borrows ideas from classroom teachers like Craig Barton, who use research findings to great effect.
Finally, Skilling reflects Kieran's interests in productivity, and continuous improvement. A small team, or even one person, can make a high-quality course that will last for years.