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Internet

He’s not a medical doctor. Nor does he play one on TV or at work. But Greg McVerry is passionate about improving the health of the Internet, and ensuring that the public has access to it – especially as cyberspace is becoming more and more critical in our daily lives.

McVerry, an associate professor of curriculum and learning at Southern, has been working over the last six years with the Mozilla Foundation to foster an open and secure Internet. Among their goals are to reduce criminal hacking; enable more open sources of information to be available, especially when it comes to education curricula; enhance Web literacy and bolster access to the Internet.

“There are about a billion people online at the moment,” McVerry said. “But what is the Internet going to be like as the next billion people go online?” He said that is a question he keeps in the back of his mind.

One of the major projects McVerry has been working on is testing an online code editor called Thimble, which seeks to make it easier for people to create their own Web pages. McVerry said he has asked students in his “New Literacies” education class to test the program, as well as offer their perspectives on it.

For all of his efforts, he was recently named by Mozilla as one of 50 individuals worldwide who made the Internet a better place in 2016 – called the “Network 50.”

“Greg drives the Internet health mission forward through his contributions as a participation lead, Mozilla Club Captain, curriculum tester, and Thimble champion,” said the Mozilla Network in an online announcement. “As a teacher, Greg naturally thinks about how our tools and curriculum will be received by learners. His thoughtful feedback about how Thimble is used in learning contexts helped us make important decisions about the user experience, the feature set, and the curricular content. He has been an active tester of our curriculum and has made valuable contributions, helping to increase the overall quality.”

McVerry earned the Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship in 2014. One of the benefits of the award is to grant newer faculty members work time to pursue their research projects. “I was able to engage more thoroughly in creating open-source learning tools to help improve the learning curriculum,” he said.

He added that he is a staunch advocate of having more of the repository of knowledge available to all on the Internet for free. “As a state university, taxpayers pay for our salaries and other costs,” McVerry said. “In my view, all of the research we do should be published openly.”