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

Category: courses

My contribution to the Change MOOC #change11

Posted on September 6th, by George Veletsianos in courses, emerging technologies, NPS, online learning, open, scholarship, sharing. No Comments

I just came across Nancy White’s discussion of her contribution to the 2011-2012 Change MOOC organized by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier (through Stephen’s announcement). Draft schedule here. I thought that Nancy’s description of her session sounded wonderful – so wonderful actually, that I wish that we had all shared our session descriptions with each other prior to designing them so as to create more synergies between the weekly sessions. There’s always room for re-design however, and I’m sure the #change11 organizers wouldn’t mind (smile)!

I am sharing my session description below, and even though I have tried to draw links to other sessions, you will see that task #2 is asking participants to make connections to other parts of the course in a very specific and personal way.

I would love to hear any input that you may have about this!

Scholars’ online participation and practices (April 30-May 6, 2012)

George Veletsianos, Instructional Technology – University of Texas at Austin

1. Overview

Within the openness movement, we have seen increasing calls for scholars and educators to employ open digital practices. For instance, enthusiasts argue that networked technologies such as blogs, social networking sites, microblogging fora, and other emerging social media can help democratize knowledge production and dissemination. During this week, we will explore how academics co-opt and appropriate technology in their day-to-day professional lives, with specific emphasis on social networking technologies. We will discuss faculty members’ experiences and practices when they adopt online social networks (e.g., Twitter) and online scholarly networks (e.g., for professional purposes, and investigate whether their online participation is (re)defining academic work (i.e. teaching and research).

My work in this domain has started with a desire to understand faculty member’s digital practices. Professor Weller’s research (2011), which was also presented in this MOOC, has set the foundations for this investigation. Thus, the digital scholarship movement influences and informs my work. In this context, I have studied the relationship between scholarly practice and participatory technologies, and sought to understand (a) what faculty members’ do in online social networks, (b) what their experiences in these networks are like, and (c) what issues and pitfalls we might face when suggesting the use of social media for faculty members’ professional practice. This is an important topic of study because (a) digital scholarship is gaining increasing interest, and (b) a large percentage of higher education faculty have adopted, are considering the use of), or have rejected social networking technologies for professional practice, Importantly, the field is in dire need of empirical data to be in a position to critically evaluate claims with regards to the benefits that social technologies might afford academic practice (i.e. teaching and research).

During this particular week, we will consider whether the rise of online social networking within academic circles is a result of technological or cultural shifts, and investigate the purposes, goals, and pitfalls of networked participation. For instance, we will ask: What are academics doing in online public spaces? What are their intentions and what are their fears? Are faculty members’ altruistically sharing information on social media for the benefit of the community in which they belong? Or, is information-sharing a self-serving activity? Are academics sharing information in order to assist the profession grow intellectually, or are they attempting to develop a “brand” around themselves? Are we seeing the rise of the “public scholar” or the rise of the “celebrity scholar?” A critical evaluation of academics’ participation in digital spaces matters because an understanding of these reasons will allow us to gain a better sense of how and why online social networks are used in the ways that they are. Whether we recognize it or not, we are part of a complex techno-cultural system that is ever changing in response to both internal and external stimuli, including technological innovations and dominant cultural values. An understanding of the cotemporary forces that shape academic work is necessary for enhancing education and scholarship.

2. List of Readings

Hall, R. (2010). Open Education: The need for critique. Blog entry retrieved on August 12, 2011 from

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65-73.

Veletsianos, G. (in press). Higher Education Scholars’ Participation and Practices on Twitter. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Weller, M. (in press). The digital scholar: How technology is changing academic practice. Bloomsbury Academic.

Plus two other papers that I am not yet able to share publicly, but will be available by the time this session arrives.

3. Suggested Activities

Task 1: What do academics do on _________________ ?

The intention of this task is to describe academics’ participation on a number of social technologies (e.g., Twitter, Quora, Google +, Linkedin, Blogs, etc).  The goal is to evaluate participation and understand (a) how technology and its affordances influence participation, and (b) professional roles influence participation and use of technology. This is essentially a mini research task.

Your “description” can be done individually or collaboratively. It can also take any form that you are comfortable with. For instance, it can be an essay posted as a blog entry, a video narrative, a digital story, or a concept map. You should include support for any claims that you make. For instance, you can use empirical data or references to the literature (or other writing) to support your claims.

Task 2: Create a concept map that explains how the topic studied this week relates to and/or contributes to further understanding the topics studied in preceding weeks.

Digital Stories to study Instructional Design Models

Posted on August 25th, by George Veletsianos in courses, work. No Comments

A new semester is upon us and the university is buzzing with excitement!

This semester I am teaching two courses: (1) our program’s introductory Instructional Design & Technology course, and (2) a PhD level course on Design-Based Research.

Last year, I shared my Instructional Design & Technology syllabus. This year, I thought I would share a more involved description of one of my activities with you. The goal of this activity is to engage students in investigating various instructional design models through developing a digital story, and comparing and contrasting various models through discussion with each other. Part of the activity occurs on an online discussion board, but it’s easy to adapt it for face-to-face courses as well. A description (and a link to a pdf version of the activity) can be found below. Enjoy!

Exploring Instructional Design Models: An activity for introductory Instructional Design courses

Dr. George Veletsianos (; University of Texas at Austin

Students are assigned to online discussion groups (three or four students per group). They each select an ID model other than Dick and Carey, create a digital story about their model, describe how the models differs from Dick and Carey, and discuss their findings with each other. The reason that students pick a model other than Dick & Carey is because Dick & Carey was the model used in this particular course. This activity can be implemented with any other model used as a core ID model.

Individually, students:

  • Study an alternative ID model,
  • Develop a digital story explaining the ID model and its focus,
  • Write a one paragraph description (about 300 words) explaining the ways the model they selected differs from Dick and Carey.
  • Share the story and the paragraph within the group that they were assigned, and
  • post two comments on 2 alternative models shared within their own group

How do I choose an ID model to study?

One way to go about this is to visit the library and look for books on ID. Another way is to search the web for instructional design models and find one that appears interesting to you.

A list of instructional design models can be found at or

Skim through these and select one. You might choose one that appears similar to Dick and Carey or one that is quite divergent from it. Spend some time reading about this model. Consider what it focuses on and figure out how to explain it to others using a digital story.

What is a digital story?

In short Digital Storytelling is the practice of using Internet tools to tell stories. In this case, you are creating and telling the story of an ID model. Next, you might want to look at the tools that you can use to develop your story. I would like you to use tools that would make the process both challenging and fun. For instance, look at this page and look at the comic/sketch tools on there. A few more tools that would be fun are:

(or any others that you find and you think would help you get your story/ID model description across)

Once you create the story you should share it within your group (either by uploading a screenshot of the comic along with the paragraph, or by posting a link to it in your group along with the paragraph).

The next step is to look at your colleagues’ postings, explore their model through their story, and post 2 comments on their models (1 on each model).

This activity is shared under the following Creative Commons license:
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Student Adventure Learning Project: Why We Don’t Teach

Posted on May 10th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, courses, my research, online learning, sharing. No Comments

This is the second entry on student projects developed during my Spring 2011 Adventure Learning course. Students in this class  developed online learning environments using the Adventure Learning approach, and one team focused their project on teachers who leave the profession and examined their reasons for doing so. I particularly enjoyed this project because (a) it informs an important and pertinent topic, and (b) it departs from traditional adventure learning projects, treating “adventure” as a location-independent activity. What follows is a description of the project, largely based on student text:

Video from student project depicting one of the project findings: Studies have shown that one of the major reasons
that teachers leave the profession is related to what they consider to be bureaucratic or administrative issues.

Why We Don’t Teach is an Adventure Learning project intended to give policy makers, administrators, and others interested in the current state of public education in the United States an understanding of why teachers are leaving the profession. It has recently been shown that the shortage of quality teachers we are facing as a nation stems from problems of retention rather than problems of recruitment. According to one study, nearly 50% of all teachers leave the field within their first five years of teaching.

Why is this happening? While this topic is complex with many factors that confound easy remediation, the Why We Don’t Teach environment offers resources and curriculum (e.g., Session 1, Session 2, Session 3) for exploring the issue both systemically and from the perspective of teachers who have left the profession.

Student Adventure Learning Project: GrowPlantHere!

Posted on May 9th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, courses, online learning. No Comments

During Spring 2011, I taught a course on Adventure Learning, which is an approach to designing open-ended online learning environments that provide learners with opportunities to explore real-world issues through collaborative, experiential, and inquiry-based learning experiences. Students in this class had to develop an online learning environment using this approach, and what follows is one student project, as described by students themselves:

GrowPlantHere! is a hybrid learning project. Our three garden adventurers planted their own gardens and shared their experiences in order to provide the framework for a lesson plan that teaches the fundamentals of urban gardening. The curriculum was devised for a classroom of adults participating in a 4-week informal class. The nature of the curriculum is focused squarely on Austin, and field trips have been included to local gardening sites. However, the issues of sustainability, self-reliance, and health are universal and often discussed to bring prospective to the project. This online learning environment serves not only to serve up the curriculum and date we created for GrowPlantHere!, but also to provide a place for students, experts, instructors, and the garden adventurers to connect. Students are encouraged to share pictures, ask questions of experts on our resources page, and post about their home gardens in the forum. As they progress, they can read about the garden adventurers as they take on the same tasks and experience the same frustrations and victories.

Open Teaching article in the Chronicle

Posted on August 30th, by George Veletsianos in courses, open. 1 Comment

Marc Parry posted a new story on the Chronicle of Higher Ed on Open Teaching. It’s great for the topic to get mainstream attention and I[‘m looking forward to reading the comments on the site. Alec Couros, George Siemens, David Wiley, and Wendy Drexel have contributed their thoughts to the piece and Mark has represented the topic thoghtfully. Interesting side note: The article was originally behind a paid wall, but it has now been made freely available. Enjoy!

Instructional Systems Design: Syllabus

Posted on August 25th, by George Veletsianos in courses, open, scholarship, sharing, work. 2 comments

I am very excited to be teaching our introductory course this semester, entitled Instructional Systems Design. It’s a challenging course because it is introductory, but also because there’s so much I want to cover! Even though the syllabus is a reflection of what I think is important for someone entering the field, I want to highlight the main objective, which is to introduce students to the practice of instructional design and to enable them to become better learning experience designers.The syllabus is embedded below, but feel free to download it from scribd as well. If you’ve taught or taken a similar class in the past, I would love to hear your feedback!

Conference paper submissions as final papers

Posted on June 1st, by George Veletsianos in courses, scholarship. 1 Comment

One of the new activities that I tried this semester was to ask my MA and PhD students to submit their final papers to a (well-known, well-attended, international) conference. To do this, I aligned the requirements for the final paper to the requirements for the conference submission. The reasons for doing this are plenty: (a) authenticity isn’t just something we should pay lip-service to, (b) we require our students to present at a conference prior to graduating, so this activity allows them to fulfill two requirements at once, (c) this way, students can easily see that their work has implications beyond the confines of our classroom and university. And, while the process of conference submission is more important than the outcome, I can’t help but be content with the outcome shown below:

Congratulations to the students – I am looking forward to taking pictures of you presenting at the conference!