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Charlotte "Lani" Gunawardena

Distinguished Professor

Organization, Information and Learning Sciences

Contact Information

  • Zimmerman Library 242
  • (505) 277-5046


Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Charlotte "Lani" Gunawardena is Distinguished Professor of Distance Education and Instructional Technology in the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences (OILS) program in the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Gunawardena received her PhD and master's degrees from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, and her bachelor's degree from the University of Sri Lanka, Kelaniya.

She has published and presented on distance education for over 25 years and has over 100 publications to her credit. She currently researches the sociocultural context of digital learning environments and social presence theory, and employs interaction analysis to examine social construction of knowledge in online learning communities. She has directed evaluations for the U.S. Department of Education, and the Native American Research Center for Health funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Service, conducted research as a Fulbright Regional Scholar in Morocco and her native country Sri Lanka, and consulted for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, U.S. corporations, and international higher education institutions. In 2010, she was appointed by the United States Secretary of Defense to serve on the Army Education Advisory Committee - Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Board of Visitors Subcommittee, for a period of three years.

She has won several awards, including the University of New Mexico's General Library Faculty Recognition Award for outstanding work as a College of Education faculty member, the University of New Mexico Regents' Lecturership, Regents' Professorship, and Distinguished Professorship, and the Charles A. Wedemyer Award for Excellence in Book-length Manuscripts in the Field of Distance Education.

See her personal website for details:

Selected Publications

  • Gunawardena, C. N., Frechette, C., & Layne, L. (2019). Culturally Inclusive Instructional Design: A Framework and Guide for Building Online Wisdom Communities. New York: Routledge.

  • Gunawardena. C. N., Flor, N. V., & Sanchez, D. M. (2018). Learning analytics and social construction of knowledge online. In Proceedings of the 34th Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference (pp. 271-277). Madison, Wisconsin: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

  • Gunawardena, C. N. (2017). Cultural perspectives on social presence. In A. L. Whiteside, A. G. Dikkers, & K. Swan (Eds.), Social Presence in Online Learning: Multiple Perspectives on Practice and Research (pp. 113-129). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

  • Gunawardena, C. N., Flor, N. V., Gomez, D., & Sanchez, D. (2016). Analyzing social construction of knowledge Online by Employing Interaction Analysis, Learning Analytics, and Social Network Analysis. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(3), 35-60.
  • Jayatilleke, B. D., Gunawardena, C.  (2016). Cultural perceptions of online learning: Transnational faculty perspectives, Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 11 (I), 50 – 63.
  • Frechette, C., Gunawardena, C. N., & Layne, L. (2016). How to design culturally inclusive online learning experiences (Yiwei Peng trans.). Journal of Distance Education in China, 12, 5-14. DOI 10.13541/j.cnki.chinade.20161216.001
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Palalas, A., Berezin, N., Legere, C., Kramer, G., & Amo-Kwao, G. (2016). Negotiating cultural spaces in an international mobile and blended learning project. In L. E. Dyson, J. Fergusson, &  W. Ng, (Eds.), Mobile Learning Futures-Sustaining Quality Research and Practice in Mobile Learning: Proceedings of the 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning, mLearn 2016 (pp. 83-94).  Sydney, Australia: The University of Technology.
  • Palalas, A., Berezin, N., Gunawardena, C. N., & Kramer, G. (2015). A design based research framework for implementing a transnational mobile and blended learning solution. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 7(4), 57-74.
  • Jung, I. & Gunawardena, C. N. (Eds.), (2014). Culture and Online Learning: Global Perspectives and Research Sterling, VA: Stylus.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (2014). Globalization, Culture, and Online Distance Learning. In O. Zawacki-Richter & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online Distance Education - Towards a Research Agenda. (pp. 75-107). Athabasca University Press.
  • Lucas, M., Gunawardena, C., & Moreira, A. (2014). Assessing social construction of knowledge online: A critique of the interaction analysis model. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 574-582.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (2013). Culture and Online Distance Learning. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (3rd Edition) (pp. 185-200). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Gunawardena, C., Faustino, G., Keller, P., Garcia, F., Barrett, K., Skinner, J., Gibrail, R., Jayatilleke, B., Kumarasinha, M., Kulasekara, G. & Fernando, S. (2013). E-mentors facilitating social construction of knowledge in online case-based reasoning. In Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Mentoring Conference (pp. 60-68). Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico, The Mentoring Institute.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Layne, L. C., & Frechette, C. (2012). Designing wise communities that engage in creative problem solving: An analysis of an online design model. In Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Conference of the International Council of Educational Media (pp. 369-379).
  • Gunawardena, C.N., Linder-VanBerschot, J. A., LaPointe, D. K., Rao, L. (2010). Predictors of learner satisfaction and transfer of learning in a corporate online education program. The American Journal of Distance Education, 24(4), 207-226.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Idrissi Alami, A., Jayatilleke, G., & Bouacharine, F. (2009). Identity, gender, and language in synchronous cybercultures: A cross-cultural study. In R. Goodfellow & M. N. Lamy (Eds.), Learning cultures in online education (pp. 30-51). London, UK: Continuum.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Hermans, M. B., Sanchez, D., Richmond, C., Bohley, M., & Tuttle, R. (2009). A theoretical framework for building online communities of practice with social networking tools.  Educational Media International, 46(1), 3-16.
  • Knight, E., Gunawardena, C. N., Aydin, C. H. (2009). Cultural interpretations of the visual meaning of icons and images used in North American web design. Educational Media International, 46 (1), 17-35.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (2009). A cross-cultural study of online social presence: Implications for designing virtual learning communities. Proceedings of the 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education. Maastricht, The Netherlands.
  • Hollifield, M., Hewage, C., Gunawardena, C. N., Kodituwakku, P., Bopagoda, K., & Weerarathnege, K. (2008). Symptoms and coping in Sri-Lanka 20-21 months after the 2004 tsunami. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 192, 39-44.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Ortegano-Layne, L., Carabajal, K., Frechette, C., Lindemann, K., Jennings, B. (2006). New model, new strategies: Instructional design for building online wisdom communities. Distance Education, 27(2), 217-232.
  • Ortegano-Layne, L. & Gunawardena, C. N. (2004). Synthesizing social construction of knowledge in online conferences using concept maps. In A. J. Canas, J. D. Novak, & F. M. Gonzalez (Eds.). Concept maps: Theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the first international conference on concept mapping, (pp. 495-502). Pamplona, Spain 2004.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., & McIsaac, M.S. (2004). Distance education. In D. Jonassen (Ed.), The handbook of research on education communications and technology, 2nd Ed. (pp. 355-395). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (2004). The Challenge of Designing Inquiry-based Online Learning Environments: Theory into Practice. In T. Duffy and J. Kirkley (Eds.), Learner centered theory and practice in distance education: Cases from higher education ( pp. 143-158). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8-25.
  • Gunawardena, C. N., Lowe, C. A., & Anderson, T. (1997). Analysis of a global online debate and the development of an interaction analysis model for examining social construction of knowledge in computer conferencing. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 17(4), 395-429.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (1995). Social presence theory and implications for interaction and collaborative learning in computer conferences. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(2/3), 147-166.
  • Hillman, D. C. A., Willis, D. J., & Gunawardena, C. N. (1994).  Learner-interface interaction in distance education: An extension of contemporary models and strategies for practitioners.  The American Journal of Distance Education, 8(2), 30-42.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (1992). Changing faculty roles for audiographics and online teaching. The American Journal of Distance Education, 6(3), 58-71.
  • Dillon, C. L., & Gunawardena, C. N. (1992). Evaluation research in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 23(3), 181-194.
  • Dillon, C. L., Gunawardena, C. N., & Parker, R. (1992). Learner support: The critical link in distance education. Distance Education, 13(1), 29-45.
  • Gunawardena, C. N. (1990). Integrating telecommunication systems to reach distance learners. The American Journal of Distance Education, 4(3), 38-46.