Bill Ferster headshot

William A. Ferster

Research Assistant Professor
Unit: Curry School of Education
Department: Curry School of Education
Office location and address
Alderman Library 323
104 Midmont Ln
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2007
B.F.A., George Washington University, 1979

Bill Ferster is an assistant research professor in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and Director of Visualization for the Sciences, Humanities & Arts Technology Initiative (SHANTI). He teaches undergraduate classes that use interactive visualization to explore topics in American history and graduate courses in learning tools design. He is the author of Interactive Visualization: Insight through Inquiry (2013), published by MIT, and Teaching Machines, to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2014.

At SHANTI he directs VisualEyes and SHIVA projects. VisualEyes is web-based authoring tool developed at the University of Virginia to weave images, maps, charts, video and data into highly interactive and compelling dynamic visualizations.  The SHANTI Interactive Visualization Application (SHIVA), which makes it easy to create interactive visualizations and uses the new HTML5 web standard.

He directs the PrimaryAccess Project which enables middle and high school students to create digital documentaries using primary source documents online, and recently won the American Library Association’s 25 best educational websites award. In previous lives,  Ferster founded StageTools, ( which is the leading developer of digital motion control tools with its MovingPicture product. MovingPicture is a tool for documentary and industrial filmmakers to pan and zoom on high-resolution images.  He founded Editing Machines, developer of the first digital nonlinear editing system and won an Emmy Award for pioneering a technology that has revolutionized the way all films and videos are edited and had founded West End, a pioneer in PC-based animation and presentation graphics tools.

MDST 3703: Introduction to the Digital Liberal Arts
Credits: 3
Students will gain a practical and critical introduction to key technologies that are shaping research, innovation, and critical thinking across the liberal arts curriculum: specific technologies, including a programming language, that will empower them to better envision and develop technology-mediated projects in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students will reflect on the history and discourse in these areas.
MDST 7703: Introduction to the Digital Liberal Arts
Credits: 3
An historical, critical, and practical introduction to technologies and ideas that are shaping teaching, research, publication, and collaboration across the liberal arts curriculum. Topics include hypertext, remediation, graphesis, ontology, and cultural analytics. Students study specifc cases and technologies, develop technology-mediated projects in a collaborative settings, and keep an online journal of their reflections on the material.
EDIS 9995: Independent Research
Credits: 1–6
Permits students to work jointly with faculty or other students in cooperatively designing and executing research projects. The nature and scope of such projects are advanced beyond the master's level, and a plan of research should be signed and filed in the student's permanent file. Prerequisite: Advisor permission.