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Sam Catherine Johnston

Director of Postsecondary & Workforce Development
Photo of Sam Catherine Johnston

Dr. Sam Johnston, Ed.D., is the Director of Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development at CAST. Sam’s primary expertise is centered on social learning processes and the use of online and blended learning to support workforce development. She has designed training models and conducted research into professional development in the fields of mental health care, human services, criminal justice and education. Sam is the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant to co-design a multigenerational STEM makerspace in affordable housing and co-principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant to design and research a mobile-first STEM career exploration and readiness environment for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from both school and the workforce. Sam is also the Project Director for a CTE Biofabrication career exploration project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to broaden participation in advanced manufacturing careers. She served as the CAST Project Director for a Bill and Melinda Gates-funded project with Creative Commons and Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative to integrate UDL and case-based learning into the design of community and technical college open educational resources. This grant also produced UDL On Campus—a collection of online resources to aid postsecondary educators in implementing UDL. Sam also serves on the CAST-led National Center on Accessible Educational Materials focusing on postsecondary and workforce take up of accessible materials and technologies and prior to that was a researcher on the U.S. DOE, Center for Online Learning and Students with Disabilities.

Before joining CAST, Sam was a Senior Associate and Distance Educator at the Center for Social Innovation (C4), a woman-owned small business focused on upskilling the homelessness and affordable housing workforce. At C4, Sam led the company’s online and blended learning strategy.

My Inspiration

Education, in the deepest sense and at whatever age it takes place, concerns the opening of identities-exploring new ways of being that lie behind our current state. Whereas training aims to create an inbound trajectory targeted at competence in a specific practice, education must strive to open new dimensions for the negotiated self. It places students on an outbound trajectory toward a broad field of possible identities. Education is not merely formative - it is transformative.

Etienne Wenger in Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity(1998, p.263)

Current Projects

Past Projects


EdD, MEd, Harvard Graduate School of Education
BA, McGill University

Selected Publications 

Johnston, S.C., & Rose, D. H., Print and Its Disabilities. Exceptional Children in Today’s Schools, Fifth Edition. Edited/authored by Ed Meyen and Yvonne Bui. 2017. Pro-Ed.

Connell, M.W., Johnston, S.C., Hall, T.E., Stahl, W.M. (2017) Disconnected Data: The Challenge of Matching Activities to Outcomes for Students with Disabilities in Online Learning in Journal of Online Learning Research, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Johnston, S. C., Greer, D., & Smith, S. (Spring 2014). Peer learning in Virtual Schools. Journal of Distance Education (28)1.

Rose, D.H., Johnston S.C., & Vanden Boogart, A. (Winter 2013). Eds. Technology and Dyslexia Part 2. Perspectives on Language and Literacy (40)1.

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