Rolin Moe and I just published an article in Educause Review that examines the rise of educational technology as a phenomenon within the context of broader political, economic, ideological, and technological issues of concern to the future of higher education. This paper continues the call for thinking critically about the impacts, aims, and uses of technology in education, in our educational institutions, and in students’ and academics’ lives.
The paper posits that the rise of educational technology represents (a) a response to the increasing price of higher education, (b) a shift in political thought from government to free-market oversight of education, (c) a view of education as a product to be packaged, automated, and delivered, and (d) a technocentric belief that technology is a solution to the problems of higher education.
This investigation questions both the potential outcomes and ideological aims of technodeterministic thinking and argues that educational technology may ultimately exacerbate rather than mitigate the very problems it purports to solve.
Digital Learning and Social Media Research Funding for 2017
Description of Opportunity
The Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University invites applications from advanced doctoral students (i.e. those who completed their graduate coursework) and post-doctoral associates to conduct research with the Digital Learning and Social Media Research Group.
Funding for five (5) research opportunities are available.
The Digital Learning and Social Media Research Group (http://www.thedlrgroup.com/) is an international and interdiciplinary team of researchers investigating the ways that social media and other emerging technologies are used in learning, teaching, scholarship, and institutional settings. The group is led by Dr. George Veletsianos (Canada Research Chair & Associate Professor, Royal Roads University) and Dr. Royce Kimmons (Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University). The Digital Learning and Social Media Research Group executes the CRC’s program of research.
The research funding opportunities aim to involve applicants in the scholarly endeavors of the research group and thus provide experiential mentoring focused on supporting the students’ or post docs’ scholarly and professional development. With a mentor, each student or post doc will co-plan, execute, and submit for publication a research study.
Funding is available for research that focuses on one or more of the following areas: networked scholarship, social media use in education, digital/online learning, open learning, emerging technologies, learning analytics, social network analysis, or educational data mining.
Potential researchers should submit their application materials by April 15, 2017.
Start date is around May 15th
Submission of a co-authored research study to a peer-reviewed journal.
Research opportunities are expected to last anywhere from 3 to 5 months
- Advanced doctoral student status (usually in the 3rd or 4th year of their studies) OR post doctoral status having completed a graduate degree (PhD/EdD) within the last 3 years.
- Enrolment in or having attained a graduate degree (PhD/EdD) in education, educational technology, learning technologies, learning sciences, curriculum and instruction, cognitive science, or other related field.
- Individuals must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, or must hold a valid employment visa or work permit issued by the Government of Canada.
To be well-suited for this opportunity, individuals must have excellent organizational abilities, analytic skills, and be familiar with methodologies involving the analysis of quantitative or qualitative data.
Questions regarding this opportunity can be send to CRCILT.Research@RoyalRoads.ca
Interested applicants are invited to submit the following materials to CRCILT.Research@RoyalRoads.ca April 15, 2017:
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- A single-authored paper (single-authored class papers are acceptable)
- An expression of interest or research proposal (not to exceed 2 single-spaced pages) that includes the following:
- Description of a research project that the applicant wishes to complete under the auspices of the research group (This description should include at least 2-3 research questions of interest and a proposed methodology)
- Description of experiences analyzing quantitative or qualitative data
Applications will be evaluated by an academic panel.
Though the research group is interested in any proposal examining digital learning and social media use in higher education, we are especially interested in proposals focusing on analyzing large-scale datasets such as those gathered from public sources (e.g., Twitter, university websites, and YouTube). The research group has expertise in this area and can collect, structure, and organize data necessary for such endeavors. Thus, we welcome applications from those with and without technical expertise. Past studies conducted in this context include the following:
|Research question||Data sources|
|How do students and professors use Twitter?||~600K tweets from ~400 Twitter profiles|
|What narratives do institutional Twitter acccounts construct for students and faculty?||Images posted by public Canadian Universities on Twitter|
|How well do institutional websites meet mandated accessibility requirements?||~3,000 U.S. university homepages|
|What does informal learning look like on YouTube?||~1.4 million YouTube comments|
For examples of research studies in this area conducted by the research group, please refer to:
The individuals receiving funding in 2016 have:
- Used historical twitter data to study the discourse surrounding openness over time
- Examined the ways that instructional design & technology programs use Twitter
- Investigated whether empathy, civility, and thoughtfulness are present in the comments posted in a YouTube community
$2,000 CAD upon submission of the study.
John Hilton III wrote an excellent entry describing three categories of renewable assignments:
- Renewable Assignments that Primarily Benefit the Public,
- Renewable Assignments that are Primary Course Resources such as Textbooks, and
- Renewable Assignments and Secondary Learning Resources Designed to Improve the Understanding of Future Students
A fourth one might be Renewable Assignments that are Original Scholarship. One example might be the collection and subsequent analysis and publication of data that are then made available for use by other students or scientists. Such projects can often be found under the citizen science category. For example, here are some whale sighting data around Vancouver Island. As long as collected data and resources dependent on that data have appropriate permissions attached to them, such projects may fall under the renewable assignment as scholarship category. This category might also include books (but not textbooks that might be classified under category 3 above). For example, when my students wrote essays on their experiences with open online learning back in 2013, those essays captured student experiences and perspectives around MOOCs and open education as a time when scholarly literature on the topic was nascent.
I’m sure there are other examples, and like John, I’d love to hear other ideas on the topic!
Researchers have proposed that social media might offer many benefits to Massive Open Online Courses. Yet such claims are supported by little empirical evidence. The existing research exploring the use of social media in MOOCs has been conducted with individual courses and convenience samples, making it difficult to know to what extent research results are generalizable. In this mixed methods research, I used data mining techniques to retrieve a large-scale Twitter data set from 116 MOOCs with course-dedicated hashtags. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, I then examined users’ participation patterns, the types of users posting to those hashtags, the types of tweets that were posted, and the variation in types of posted tweets across users. I found little evidence to support the claims that Twitter as an adjunct to MOOCs is used much/effectively. Results show that learners make up only about 45% of users and contribute only about 35% of tweets. The majority of users contribute minimally, and an active minority of users contributes the preponderance of messages.
These findings do not reveal substantive evidence of learners contributing to multiple hashtags, which may suggest that learners did not find Twitter to be a useful space that provided added value or responded to their needs. Ultimately, these results demonstrate the need for greater intentionality in integrating social media into MOOCs.
I am linking to the pdf pre-print of this article below.
Veletsianos, G. (in press). Toward a Generalizable Understanding of Twitter and Social Media Use Across MOOCs: Who Participates on MOOC Hashtags and In What Ways? Journal of Computing in Higher Education.