The leadership team of the EdTech Network is comprised of administrators and professionals with a lifetime of experience in a wide variety of positions in higher education and private industry. Many have been with Penn State in some capacity since the founding of the Penn State World Campus in 1998. They share a mission to grow the World Campus and push the boundaries of accessibility and interactivity in online education.
"Our leadership team is firmly committed to driving educational technology forward to enhance the learning experience we provide to Penn State students."
Daren Coudriet is the Director and Entrepreneur in Residence for the Penn State EdTech Network. He has devoted his entire career to helping organizations leverage and adapt to the change created by disruptive technologies. He established his first consulting firm while pursuing his B.S. in engineering at Penn State. Upon graduation, he helped start a venture-backed firm in State College, Pennsylvania, that developed solutions using geographic information systems (GIS). He started his first Internet consulting firm in the 1990s and has been involved in helping organizations leverage the disruptive nature of the internet ever since. Daren also earned his M.S. in engineering and an MBA in strategy and marketing from Penn State.
Dr. Renata S. Engel is Interim Vice Provost for Online Education at Penn State. She is responsible for the academic affairs of Penn State World Campus, which encompass the more than 125 undergraduate and graduate online degree programs, minors, and certificates, including support for academic advising, faculty teaching online, and the development, piloting, and evaluation of online curricular innovations and enhancements.
A member of the Penn State faculty since 1990, Dr. Engel is Professor of Engineering Design and Engineering Science and Mechanics, and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering from 2006 to 2014 and the Executive Director of the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State from 2000 to 2006. She earned a B.S. in engineering science from Penn State and a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from the University of South Florida.
Tracey DeBlase Huston is the Interim Vice President for Outreach and the Associate Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Services for Outreach and Online Education at Penn State University. She has more than 31 years of experience in the university relations, strategic communications, marketing, and student recruitment fields.
Prior to her appointment as Associate Vice President, she held several positions during her early tenure at Penn State including Executive Director for Outreach and Online Education Marketing and Admission Services and Director of Communications. Prior to her appointment at Penn State, Tracey served in two different roles at Juniata College. She was the Assistant Director of Public Relations and the Director of Sports Information.
Her work has been recognized nationally with awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the University Professional Continuing Education Association, and the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America. She holds a B.A. degree from Juniata College and an M.S. degree from Penn State University. She is a consultant and lecturer on issues and opportunities related to strategic communications and she is a certified facilitator for Development Dimensions International (DDI).
Dr. Lawrence C. Ragan is the Principal Community Aggregator for the Penn State EdTech Network. In this role, Dr. Ragan helps to foster relationships between members of the Penn State community who share a dedication to advancing innovation in education.
From 2012 to 2017, Dr. Ragan served as a Co-Director for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning at Penn State, where he directed the center's mission of research, scholarship, technology innovation, and leadership development programming. He has been a part of the creation and management of Penn State World Campus since its inception in 1998, serving as Director for Instructional Design and Development and Director of Faculty Development.
Since 2009, Dr. Ragan has served as Co-Director of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL). In partnership with the Online Learning Consortium, IELOL addresses the operational and strategic leadership of the design, development, and preparation of the next-generation of leadership in online learning. Dr. Ragan previously served as founding Co-director and faculty of the EDUCAUSE Learning Technology Leadership program. He is active in the design and delivery of international leadership development institutes, and in 2011, was recognized as a Sloan-C Faculty Fellow.
Jeff Smith has been with Penn State World Campus since 1999. He joined Penn State after 15 years with IBM, where he held leadership positions in HQ consolidation and restructuring accounting, as well as joint ventures strategy and operations.
Smith has been with Penn State World Campus since its inception and has been responsible for building the finance models that have supported and enabled its growth to its current count of more than 15,000 online students, with the plan to grow to 45,000 students. He holds a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Penn State.
Dr. Craig D. Weidemann is currently serving as Special Assistant to the Provost for Innovation Education Technology Initiatives, and the EdTech Network. In his current role, he is responsible for a number of University initiatives that build on his leadership experiences in advancing innovations in education and learning. Through the newly established EdTech Network, he is advancing the use of educational technologies to improve teaching and learning, within the University and through engaging with external partners. The Network is a vertical under Invent Penn State, the University’s economic development initiative. In addition, he is providing leadership support for the transforming education theme in the University’s strategic plan.
After fourteen years at Penn State, in January, 2017, he stepped down from his position as Vice President for Outreach and Vice Provost for Online Education, where he led the University’s outreach initiatives, including the online Penn State World Campus. Nationally ranked, the World Campus provides a rigorous Penn State education for over 18,000 students studying at a distance each year, The World Campus has been recognized as one of the premier online learning organizations in higher education and is noted for its innovative practices in online teaching and delivery, and engagement with educational technology partners to advance student success. In his previous role, he provided leadership for the University’s external outreach, engaged scholarship, and online education initiatives. Penn State Outreach was the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education.
Dr. Weidemann currently serves as board member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), and member of the Advisory Council for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) Center for Online Leadership and Strategy. He has served as a board member of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), chair of the APLU Council on Engagement and Outreach, and treasurer and board member of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium.
In addition, Dr. Weidemann has served on several boards in Pennsylvania, including two terms on the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, and as past board member of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. He currently serves on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Education and Workforce Development. He is the recipient of the UPCEA Julius M. Nolte Award for Extraordinary Leadership, and was recognized by the University of Georgia with the Professional Achievement Alumni Award. He writes and presents on many issues, including engaged scholarship, online learning, innovation, and adult learning.
Prior to his tenure at Penn State, Dr. Weidemann held administrative positions at Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Weidemann received his B.S. in psychology from Illinois State University, and his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Georgia in Athens.
Brad Zdenek is the Innovation Strategist for the Penn State EdTech Network, bringing to the team over 20 years of experience in supporting, developing, and leveraging disruptive technologies to improve the student experience across the K–20 spectrum. Prior to joining Penn State, Brad solidified his love of education while teaching middle school social studies in North Carolina. After choosing to pursue his graduate studies, Brad took on a number of roles at Penn State, including directing the professional development and outreach efforts for both the STEMScouts and Regional Educational Laboratory – Mid-Atlantic initiatives, helping K–12 teachers to leverage research-based practices for improving teaching and learning. More recently, Brad served as Innovation Strategist for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning, strategically building and supporting a culture of innovation across the university. Brad is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership at Penn State with research interests that include educational ethics, innovation, and the integration and diffusion of educational technology.