Sam Catherine Johnston


Research Scientist, CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)

Sam Johnston brings expertise in peer-based learning models, distance and blended education, and program evaluation to her work at CAST.

With support of the Gates Foundation’s Open Professionals Education Network, she recently led the development of UDL On Campus (–a collection of online resources to aid postsecondary educators in implementing UDL.

Her primary research focus is on the use of networked technology to support peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.  She has conducted design-based research in both professional development and formal education settings.

Before joining CAST, Dr. Johnston was a Senior Associate and Distance Educator at the Center for Social Innovation (c4si), leading the company’s online learning strategy.  She also helped develop a blended learning curriculum for criminal justice and behavioral health professionals to create community-based alternatives to jail for individuals with serious mental illness.

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Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.