My colleague Ash Shaw and I are working on a book. The book aims to highlight student voices in online learning. The main aims are to surface the experiences of online learners in an evocative and accessible manner, synthesize literature on the topic, and present our original work. Below is our draft table of contents. If you have a couple of minutes, could you take a look at it and let us know if there are any topics/debates/issues that might be of interest to the average faculty member and student that we are missing?
|#||Topic||Summary and questions answered|
|2||Demographics||Examines who today’s online learners are and how online learners demographics have changed over time. Who are today’s online learners? How many students enroll in online courses nationally and globally? How have demographics changed over time?|
|3||Who succeeds? (or, The online paradox)||Investigates the reasons why students who take online courses have greater degree completion rates when online courses are characterized by higher attrition rates.|
|4||Motivations||Investigates the reasons that individuals take online courses. Shows that students take online courses for a variety of reasons, and reveals that reasons differ depending on the type of online course (e.g., some learners take MOOCs for different reasons than online courses).|
|5||Digital Literacies||Examines the need for skills and the skills required to participate productively in online courses.|
|6||Note-taking||Uses note-taking to illustrate that online learning research that focuses on tracking student activity on platforms alone is insufficient to understand the human condition and hence improve learning outcomes.|
|7||Self-directed learning||Investigates self-directed learning as a process necessary for contemporary learners to develop and apply.|
|8||Openness||Investigates the meaning of the term openness in the context of online learning.|
|9||Personalized learning||Examines efforts to develop adaptive learning software and automate instruction (system control), and juxtaposes those efforts with designs that allow learners to personalize their own learning (learner control). Explores instructor strategies and designs to personalize learning.|
|10||Flexibility||Examines the ways that online courses can be designed to accommodate learners’ lives and allow flexible participation. Investigates issues of modality and (a)synchrnonicity.|
|11||Social Media||Investigates how social media are used in online courses and shows how intentional integration of such tools can lead to positive outcomes.|
|12||Loneliness or “The student who watched videos alone”||Examines how online learning can be a lonely and isolating experience and proposes strategies for enhancing presence and immediacy.|
|13||Emotions||Shows that learning online is an emotional experience, calling for a more caring pedagogy and critiquing the calls to employ online learning to simply make online learning offerings more efficient.|
|14||Lurking or “The student who learned as much by just watching videos”||Investigates the topic of lurking. Highlights the visible and invisible practices that online learners engage in. Demostrates…|
|15||Time or “The student who stole time from his family to study”||Explores the topic of time-management in online students’ lives, and investigates how courses can be designed to fit with the complexity of learner’s day-to-day realities (e.g., work and family requirements).|
|16||Dropout, Attrition, and Persistence||Explores the topic of attrition, as online courses often face higher attrition rates than alternatives.|
|17||Instructor||The role of the instructor in online learning environments. Investigates instructor presence, support, and explores how instructors can contribute to meaningful and effective learning experiences|
|18||Online vs. face-to-face learning||Investigates the question as to whether face-to-face learning is better than online learning. Presents the empirical research on the question and highlights (a) how different forms of education serve different needs, and (b) how learning design is a more significant factor in determining learning outcomes than modality.|
|19||MOOCs or “The student who completed 200 courses: And other, less profound, online learning experiences”||Explores the topic of MOOCs and summarizes the empirical research that exists on the topic. Explains the origins of the term, the different designs, and how the concept has evolved over time, with particular emphasis on students’ experiences in MOOCs.|
|20||The Learning Management System and Next-Generation Digital Learning Environments||Investigates the idea that Learning Management Systems contribute little to student learning. Proposes the courses are “nodes in a network” as opposed to hermetic containers of knowledge. Shows how course design differs between these two ideas.|
|21||Challenges and remediation strategies||Investigates the challenges that online learners face and the strategies employed by themselves and others to remediate them.|
What follows is a summary of one of the chapters included in Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications.
How do people learn in digital and online contexts?In this chapter, Terry Anderson examines a variety of way to theorize online learning including social constructivism, heautagogy, and connectivism.
Anderson, T. (2016). Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications (pp. 35-50). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.
Digital learning environments are everywhere. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are used almost universally. People learn how to play the ukulele by watching YouTube videos. They learn how to grow organic veggies by joining Facebook groups. And they join a vast array of specialist communities that help them improve their skills, from knitting, to drawing, to managing their finances. All these technologies, resources, and platforms that people use to learn online, constitute digital learning environments. I wrote a chapter (pdf) that draws attention to four important issues that researchers and designers need to consider when designing/studying digital learning environments (organizational structures, design, guidance, and technology’s lack of neutrality). Below is a video I created with Laura Pasquini summarizing this chapter. And if you just want the audio, it’s available on my soundcloud channel.
Veletsianos, G. (2016). Digital Learning Environments. In Rushby, N. & Surry D. (Eds) Handbook of Learning Technologies (pp. 242-260). Wiley.
Last month we invited applications from and provided funding to advanced doctoral students and early-career researchers to conduct research with our research group. Michael Paskevicius received one of these awards and we are supporting him in his endeavour to make sense of the discourse around openness and open education. You can read more about this project on his website. One of the steps involved in this process is identifying Twitter hashtags that are related to openness and open education. Below are the hashtags that we have so far. We would love your help. Do you know of any other hashtags used in the context of openness or open education? If so, could you please add them to this shared spreadsheet?
Once we have a list to start with, we’ll search tweets tagged with those hashtags for co-occcurring hashtags, and we’ll add those below as well.