Professor & Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University

Words to live by

Posted on January 12th, by George Veletsianos in scholarship. No Comments

William Pinar’s writing is powerful. This is particular is something worth sharing:

“we scholars must treat each other with the same pedagogical thoughtfulness and sensitivity with which we claim to treat students in our classrooms, and with which we ask our students (prospective and practicing teachers) to treat theirs” (p. 266).

Though Pinar here writes about peer-review, this to me highlights the sort of relationships that institutions of higher education should foster and support.


Kumashiro, K., Pinar, W., Graue, E., Grant, C., Benham, M., Heck, R., … & Luke, C. (2005). Thinking collaboratively about the peer-review process for journal-article publication. Harvard Educational Review75(3), 257-285.

On Teacherbot rights

Posted on January 11th, by George Veletsianos in E-learning, emerging technologies, online learning, pedagogical agents, scholarship, work. No Comments

Pause for a few more minutes and imagine that future in which technologies teach humans. Call them robots, bots, chatbots, algorithms, teaching machines, tutoring software, agents, or something else. Regardless, consider them technologies that teach. Now consider their rights.

Assuming that teaching bots can exhibit (algorithmic) intelligence, can behave with some sort of (algorithmic) morality, can learn, can plan their interactions with students and make choices about them, and overall behave somewhat independently… what rights do they have, or should they have, as non-human entities, as teachers?

Consider this scenario: A teaching bot teaches independently in an online course. It (S/he?) develops a novel pedagogical approach wherein student test scores are maximized for some, but not all, students. University administrators, in collaboration with an edtech company, learn of this and would like to intervene to ensure that every student is served in an equitable manner. They are considering refining the underlying code that runs the bot. If unsuccessful, they are considering replacing the bot with a new one.

What are the bot’s rights? Does it have the right to protest this change? Does it have the right to its life? Does it have the rights that all other workers have?


Followup: Some background reading on ethical principles for robots.

Web browser extension that filters offensive content

Posted on January 5th, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, networked scholars. No Comments

“Nikola Draca, a third-year statistics student, and his colleague, Angus McLean, 23, an engineering student at McGill University, put their heads together to develop an extension called Soothe for the Google Chrome web browser that blurs out homophobic, racist, sexist, transphobic and other hateful language while browsing the web.” Source

I thought this was interesting, because:

  • It’s yet another example of how student work can contribute meaningfully to society
  • It attempts to take back (some) control from platforms, and enable individuals to refine the experiences they have online

Related initiatives include the following:


Recent SSHRC awards

Posted on December 20th, by George Veletsianos in my research, networked scholars, NPS, online learning, open. No Comments

SSHRC recently announced the awards of the latest round of the Insight and Insight Development grants, and we can now announce that we were awarded two grants for our research. Both grants are collaborations. The first with Dr. Royce Kimmons and the second with Dr. Jaigris Hodson. I’m a true believer in people’s ability to collaborate to go farther together. More than 93% of the funding will go to student research assistants. Here’s the work that these two awards will support:


SSHRC Insight grant #435-2017-160. PI: Veletsianos; Collaborator: Kimmons, R. Faculty members’ online participation and expression of self over time.

Summary: Researchers’ understanding of longitudinal aspects of digital technology use in education is limited. While many researchers, policymakers, and businesspeople are hopeful about the potential positive impacts that academics’ use of digital technology may generate, the empirical evidence describing the nature of academics’ online participation over time is scant and is largely predicated on small-scale studies. We will address this problem by studying whether, how, and why academics’ online participation and presentation of the self change over time. We will use a mixed methods approach combining descriptive/inferential analyses with basic qualitative studies using data collected from interviews and data mining of social media sites.


SSHRC Insight Development grant #430-2017-00104. PI: Veletsianos; Co-PI: Hodson, J. Female academics’ experiences of harassment on social media.

Summary: Prior research shows that some female academics, especially those who are in the public eye and use technology to promote their work, are at great risk of harassment. To gain a greater understanding of this issue, this mixed methods investigation seeks to investigate women scholars’ experiences of online harassment.  The proposed research will use data arising from interviews, social media posts, and surveys to gain a deep and multidimensional understanding of harassment aimed at academics.