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

Measuring (and forging a path to) openness

Posted on December 31st, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

George posted a note on elearnspace blog on developing a Measurement of Openness in Education Systems (MOES) to raise awareness and draw attention to openess, while at the same time providing a measure that allows discussions to ensue. George lists a number of measures to be included in a metric to openness and asks what else can be added to this. The following additions may be of interest:

  • Adopting an institutional repository (or at the very least, supporting researchers in posting their publications on university-sponsored sites).
  • Open access to the data behind publications (perhaps published concurrently)
  • Open Tenure and Review applications, decisions, and data supporting them (see for example, Alec’s application)
  • Open access to instructor, department, school, college, and university reviews (e.g., student course evaluations and institutional reviews/assessments)

More importantly however, in line with developing a Measurement of Openness in Education Systems (George’s phrase), we need to develop guidelines on becoming open thus forging a path to openness. As highlighted in the various discussions occurring at the moment surrounding “openness” (here, here, here, and here), the term and it’s meaning are somewhat mystified. To confuse you even more, I suggest that being open doesn’t necessarily mean being open, which I gather is the point behind Siemen’s latest posts.  For example, having a university-wide statement on openness is not the same as adopting and actively supporting an institutional repository or providing incentives for instructors to teach open courses. I keep returning to the shades of gray idea: We usually treat issues as if they are black or white when in actuality they are not. There is no one single notion of closed, open, virtual, real, hybrid education, online learning, constructivism, and so on. There are multiple shades of gray in much the same way that there are multiple variations on constructivism, in much the same way that virtual experiences are quite real.

I am ranting… anyway, the point is that it would be beneficial to publish a document on steps to becoming more open, with each step representing a stronger stance to adopting openness. Such a document can align with the Measurement of Openness in Education Systems suggestion, highlighting relative positions on an openness scale.

< How’s that for an end of year post!? :) >

(Closed) Open Access, or Open Access Fail

Posted on December 28th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

A few minutes ago, I received an email alerting me that the following paper was available at the TC Record website: Open Access, Education Research, and Discovery. I clicked on the link, eager to read my colleague’s ideas! But then I hit the subscription wall that you see in the image above. This led to my current state of dizziness. I tried to access the paper through my university’s databases and figured out that we don’t subscribe to TC Record. I searched the googlesphere in case the author posted a copy on his own website or institutional repository, but I couldn’t find it. It’s not that I don’t have $7 to buy the article, though, arguably, some people may not (hence, the economic argument for open access).

I also want to see if this paper would be good for my students since we will be examining the notion of “openness” in technology-enhanced learning next semester. Unfortunately, I have adopted an open access policy for my class, and unless someone directs me to a publicly available copy of the paper, it does not look like this paper will be on the mandatory reading list…

Pedagogical Agents in Virtual Worlds

Posted on December 23rd, by George Veletsianos in pedagogical agents. No Comments

It’s standard practice by now that each one of my publications gets its own blog post, not least to alert anyone interested of the availability of the paper and of the fact that they can access a pre-publication copy of it from my publications page.

Our latest paper, which was really fun to write, is:

Veletsianos, G., Heller, R., Overmyer, S., & Procter, M. (2010). Conversational Agents in Virtual Worlds: Bridging Disciplines. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 123-140. [pdf]

This paper is part of a a BJET special issue focusing on Virtual Worlds that I edited with Prof. Sara de Freitas who’s heading the Serious Games Institute at the University of Conventry. In our introduction to the special issue we note that, “…over the last 30 years, academic disciplines have been encouraged to engage in, and have re-arranged methods that better facilitate, cross-engagement and cross-collaboration.”

Lots can be said about the value of multidisciplinary practice. Yet, due to various barriers that exists across the disciplines, such practice is often limited.  Partly to highlight the benefits of multidisciplinary practice and partly to further understanding of issues related to pedagogical agent/avatar design, three colleagues and I engaged in a simple thought experiment: Suppose that you are designing a geriatric avatar with which medical students can hold conversations such that students engage in the diagnosis of certain conditions based on the avatar’s input. How would you design this avatar?

The paper therefore presents the perspective of researchers/practitioners from four disciplines: cognitive
psychology, computing science, learning technologies and engineering. Major challenges are identified, discussed and contrasted across all disciplines. Taken together, the four perspectives draw attention to the quality of agent–user interaction, how theory, practice and research are closely intertwined, and highlight opportunities for cross-fertilisation and collaboration.

Image licensed under a CC commons license by Jungle_Boy.

Educational Design Research: Local Change, Global Impact

Posted on December 19th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

If you are interested in design-based research and (like me) have a great appreciation of Dr. Reeve’s contributions to our field, you might be interested in the following conference/celebration (via ITFORUM):

“Educational Design Research: Local Change, Global Impact”
A Special Conference to Honor Professor Thomas C. Reeves upon his retirement from The University of Georgia

March 26 – 27, 2010

Call for Participation

Barab and Squire (2004) describe design research as “a series of approaches, with the intent of producing new theories, artifacts, and practices that account for and potentially impact learning and teaching in naturalistic settings” (p. 2) (italics added). This definition highlights the twin outcomes that educational design research ideally yields, important local change with respect to enhancing learning, teaching, and performance, and viable global impact with respect to the development of reusable design principles and enhanced theory. With roots in the 1980s and earlier, educational design research has begun to be more widely adopted by educational researchers and practitioners across a variety of fields, including educational technology and the learning sciences. You are invited to submit papers and posters that report the status and results on recent and on-going design research projects. In addition, papers and posters are encouraged that present arguments for and against educational design research, recommend new directions, and/or share new methods and tools.

Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14.

Submission Overview

Proposals for full papers will be due by January 23, 2010.  Proposals for full papers will be subjected to review by an editorial team. Presenters will have 20 minute slots in the program with 15 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for discussion. Accepted papers will be considered for inclusion in an edited volume of papers from the conference.

Poster proposals (500-1000 word description) will be due by January 23, 2010. Poster proposals will be reviewed by an editorial review team.

Guidelines for paper and poster submissions appear below.

Full paper and Poster proposers will be notified of acceptance decisions by February 15, 2010. Once a proposal has been accepted, each presenter must register for the conference. Presentations/posters will not be scheduled in the program until the presenters of papers or posters have registered. Final revisions of accepted papers will be due no later than March 5, 2010 in order to be included in the conference proceedings.

There will be a minimal registration fee for all attendees. A highly discounted rate for students will be available. The registration fee will primarily be used to help cover the costs of the refreshments and materials for this event. Additional information will be posted to the conference Web site: http://etc.coe.uga.edu/conference/ in January 2010.

Full Paper Proposal Details

Presentation time: 20 minutes including questions
Proposal submission length: 1,000 -1,250 words (without references)
Proceedings length (if selected for presentation/publication): 4,000-5,000 words

Full paper proposals should report on significant work related to research, development or applications of best practices related to the focus of the conference. Integrative literature reviews that advance the knowledgebase in interesting ways are also invited. In addition, paper proposals are encouraged that present arguments for and against educational design research, recommend new directions, and/or share new methods and tools. Proposals reporting studies should include the following information:
The topic and how it relates to the theme of the conference
A description of the problem or opportunity addressed in the work
The goals and/or questions posed
A clear description of what was done (data collected, system development, processes implemented)
Results of the work or major findings
Implications for research, theory, and practice

Please submit your proposal to Diane Igoche (specialconference@gmail.com) as a PDF document by January 23, 2010 at 11:59p. Proposals will be reviewed by an editorial review team and rank ordered according to how well they fulfill the proposal requirements.

If your paper is selected, you must be able to attend the conference, March 26-27 2010.

Poster Proposal Details

Proposal submission length: 500-1,000 words (without references)

Poster proposals should report on significant work related to research, development or applications of best practices related to the focus of the conference. Projects that are in-progress may be presented if preliminary results can be presented. In addition, poster proposals are encouraged that present arguments for and against educational design research, recommend new directions, and/or share new methods and tools. Proposals reporting studies should include the following information:
The topic and how it relates to the theme of the conference
A description of the problem or opportunity addressed in the work
The goals and/or questions posed
A clear description of what was done (data collected, system development, processes implemented)
Results of the work or major findings
Implications for research, theory, and practice

Please submit your proposal to Diane Igoche (specialconference@gmail.com) as a PDF document by January 23, 2010 at 11:59p.

Proposals will be reviewed by an editorial review team and rank ordered according to how well they fulfill the proposal requirements.

If your poster is selected, you must be able to attend the conference, March 26-27 2010.

Preliminary Conference Schedule

Friday, 26 March
Time
Activity
10AM – 12PM
EPIT Department Retirement Celebration for Dr. Reeves
1– 5 PM
Pre-Conference Workshop (4 Hours) – “Conducting Educational Design Research” will be provided by
Dr. Jan Herrington (Murdoch University, Australia),
Dr. Susan McKenney (University of Twente, The Netherlands), and Dr. Thomas C. Reeves (The University of Georgia, USA)
6 – 8 PM
Poster Reception with Refreshments* (Posters will remain up until 5 PM on Saturday)

Saturday, 27 March
Time
Activity
9 – 10:15 AM
Welcome and Keynote – Dr. Jan Herrington
10:15 – 10:30 AM
Coffee Break
10:30 – 11:30 AM
Paper Session 1 (3 papers – 20 minutes each with questions)
11:30 – 12:30 PM
Paper Session 2 (3 papers – 20 minutes each with questions)
12:30 – 1:45 PM
Lunch and Keynote – Dr. Susan McKenney
1:45 – 2:45 PM
Paper Session 3 (3 papers – 20 minutes each with questions)
2:45 – 3:00 PM
Coffee Break
3:00 – 4:00 PM
Paper Session 4 (3 papers – 20 minutes each with questions)
4:00 – 5:00 PM
Keynote and Farewell – Dr. Thomas C. Reeves
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Buffet dinner with folk music and fun

Teachable agents and design-based research

Posted on December 10th, by George Veletsianos in pedagogical agents. No Comments

Another blog post from 35,000 feet, but for a shorter flight, this time to Cyprus. I am spending my time working on a proposal for a book chapter that is to be co-authored with my Swedish colleagues, Agneta, Magnus, Annika, and Bjorn. This chapter discusses how to best design conversational pedagogical agents, in the context of “teachable agents.” Specifically, we are using a design-based research (DBR) approach to discuss how we are addressing the pedagogical agent challenges identified in the literature. This is the first time I am working with teachable agents and I am quite excited about the possibilities. Teachable agents are those that are able to be taught by the learner, and are an example of what Jonassen called cognitive tools in work he has done in the 90’s. Instead of the agent being the domain expert and teaching the “novice learner,” the perspective taken here is one where the agent (or, the Artificial Intelligence engine) is treated as a novice and the learner is treated as someone who has valuable knowledge to contribute. This work occurs in the context of a web-based game, which gives us the ability to play with quite a few parameters relating to the relationship between agents-learners. More about this soon!

What Google Wave does best

Posted on December 3rd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

Has everyone blogged about Google Wave yet? I have to confess that I haven’t yet found a profound use for it in my work, but it just occurred to me that what Google Wave does best is to discover your social network and connections, and to allnetworkow you to seamlessly collaborate with them without any mediating steps. Google Wave takes the view that people I have contacted should be added as contacts to my account. If I contacted someone, I therefore “know” him/her, and this person can automatically be added as a contact to my account, so that I don’t need to add them again. Rather than spending time on re-establishing connections, figuring people’s usernames, and going through the process of sending invitations to connect, Google does that all that automatically (at least for those of us who already use google products)…. is this marking a new era of living where our networks (both within and across services) become discoverable and transferable? The implications are wide-reaching.

Photo courtesy of Nimages DR licenced under a CC-license.

Choosing a career (14-17 year olds)

Posted on December 3rd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. No Comments

I started writing this post when I was at 38,046 ft in the sky, somewhere above the great state of Virginia, 3,670 miles away from Manchester. I’ve been flying for six and a half hours and in-between watching TED videos, listening to an audio recording of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and sleeping on the two empty seats next to mine, I have been thinking about how people decide on their career choice. This seemingly random thought has been nagging me for a while. This thought has nothing to do with me personally: I love what I do and I would do it again if I had the option. But going beyond my own experience, and leaving aside the cultural and need-to-work aspect of things, how do people decide on what they want to become? Sure, we take classes that sound interesting, appealing, or just different. Or, in some situations, we are forced to take classes from different domains (two thumbs up for liberals arts degrees). Or, we just stick with classes that we like or are forced to take (and two thumbs down for Anglo-type universities that force students to focus on one single discipline). Maybe we have role models or we have certain aspirations in life and figure out a career/job that allows us to achieve those certain aspirations. Or, our parents encourage us to take a certain path in life. Or, it’s all of these factors together or a combination of these. But this is all relative still. Where I want to end up is the magnificent (for those of us who aren’t yet parents) age of 14-17. That age is critical for one’s aspirations in life, for what one wants to become. Note that the emphasis is on having goals and becoming, and not on simply getting a job. So… at the age of 14-17, what guidance are we providing to students to help them choose socially important and personally meaningful, challenging, and interesting careers? When I went to school, I was given an outdated booklet describing (and stereotyping) jobs that would be available to me. I was also given the option to participate in a learning practicum. In Cyprus, this is still standard practice. I am interested in learning what schools worldwide offer for their students, especially when technology is involved. How do you introduce students to possible career options? Do you bring individuals to school to talk about their professions? Do you offer day trips? What do you do? Let me know!