Teachers, Parents, Principals, Professors, Students, Researchers, and all the shades in-between: We’d like to hear from you! My research/development team (Cesar Navaerrete, Greg Russell*, and Janice Rios) has been diligently working with me on a project in which we intend to study the diverse roles of teachers. The goal of our activity is to collect and share as many ideas and opinions as possible.
And, what a better way to learn about this, by asking all of you to share your thoughts with us in the form of a video! Some of you may have seen examples of crowdsourced video already. For instance, Alan Levine’s Amazing Stories of Openness serves as one of the models we are using for this project. And the Learning Technologies group at the University of Minnesota (Aaron, Charlie, & Cassie) is traveling around the globe to create a narrative around the question “what is education?“
Our goal here is to build a collection of user-created videos on the topic of teacher’s roles and create a freely-available curriculum for anyone interested in exploring the topic. The more voices shared, the more open and diverse the discussion can be. Thus, we hope that if you have a few spare minutes, you might contribute a video clip and add your own perspective.
If you’d like to help out, we would greatly appreciate your response to one of the following:
- What should the role(s) of a teacher be?
- Tell us a story about your most memorable teacher.
Talk about your thoughts as they relate to your background, beliefs, or practices! There are no correct answers and we aren’t looking for one single answer. The definition of “teacher” is also fluid: it can be a k-12 teacher, a professor, or a family member who acted as a teacher, a coach, or someone/something else that you consider to be a teacher.
Your contribution should be a short (45-90 sec.) video clip of your ‘off-the-cuff’ response, recorded with a webcam or digital camera. There is no need for editing, HD, or a great deal of planning. Just keep it short and simple. But, don’t let us constrain your creativity. When you are finished upload it to Youtube or Vimeo and either post a link on the comments, email us a link (veletsianos |AT| gmail.com), or send us a note on twitter at @veletsianos or @mrgsrussell
Another example of the videos we have so far is below:
We will be posting a portion of interviews onto our project’s website; therefore, you must be willing to have your video published online. A link to the site will be posted within the next two weeks
Thank you in advance for your time and help!
George, Greg, Cesar, Janice
* This entry has largely been written by Greg Russell, one of our first-year PhD students at UT Austin.
I took the following two pictures in two recent trips of mine. Similarities and differences abound, but one difference (other than the language) stands out for me. And that difference reminds me of an unfortunate state of affairs in the learning technologies field.
Look at the photo below. It’s from a menu that I came across in Dublin.
And the next one: It’s from a menu that I came across in Stockholm.
Other than the differences in the language, do you notice anything else? (Hint: Look at the typography.) Wouldn’t it be amazing if instructional/learning designers paid that much attention to the details as well? Yes, beauty and aesthetics are probably the least of our problems (so say the critics), but they count, and they count more and more in a world where beauty (constructed as it may be) surrounds us.
(High resolution images are available on my flickr page)
One thing that I don’t usually post on this blog is information related to my research on pedagogical agents and virtual characters, which is one of the research strands that I’ve followed for the past 4 years. I am breaking away from that mold by posting this note : )
Specifically, my colleagues (Aaron Doering and Charles Miller) and I developed a research and design framework to guide smooth, natural, and effective communication between learners and pedagogical agents. Our reasons for developing this framework were varied, but after four years of research and design in the field, I became convinced that to push the field forward, we needed guidance. I use the word “guidance” as opposed to the words “rules” or “laws” because we “anticipate that designers, researchers, and instructors will adapt and sculpt the guidelines of the EnALI framework into their unique instructional contexts, ultimately kindling future research and design that will expand the framework foundations.”
The framework (called Enhancing Agent Learner Interactions or EnALI) is grounded on three major theories: socio-cultural notions of learning, cooperative learning, and conflict theory. In this, we have tried to bring a humanist perspective and encourage designers and researchers to move beyond the use of pedagogical agents as dispassionate tools delivering pre-recorded lectures… but I’ll save that information for a different post. The paper is to appear in the Journal of Educational Computing Research as: Veletsianos, G., Miller, C., & Doering, A. (2009). EnALI: A Research and Design Framework for Virtual Characters and Pedagogical Agents. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 41(2), 171-194 [email me for a preprint].
The framework is posted below, but if you want a full explanation of the guidelines, please refer to the paper. As always questions, comments, and critique are appreciated:
1. Pedagogical Agents should be attentive and sensitive to the learner’s needs and wants by:
• Being responsive and reactive to requests for additional and/or expanded information.
• Being redundant.
• Asking for formative and summative feedback.
• Maintaining an appropriate balance between on- and off-task communications.
2. Pedagogical Agents should consider intricacies of the message they send to learners by:
• Making the message appropriate to the receiver’s abilities, experiences, and frame of reference.
• Using congruent verbal and nonverbal messages.
• Clearly owning the message.
• Making messages complete and specific.
• Using descriptive, non-evaluative comments.
• Describing feelings by name, action, or figure of speech.
3. Pedagogical Agents should display socially appropriate demeanor, posture, and representation by:
• Establishing credibility and trustworthiness
• Establishing role and relationship to user/task.
• Being polite and positive (e.g., encouraging, motivating)
• Being expressive (e.g. exhibiting verbal cues in speech).
• Using a visual representation appropriate to content.
[This posting is divided into 2 parts. This is part 1 and it provides an editable listing of open access journals publishing research in educational technology]
For the Fall semester of 2009, I am teaching a course for MA students on “Researching Digital Technologies, Communication, and Education.” One of the resources developed for my students is a listing of open access journals (name, url, and RSS feed) that publish papers on the nexus between technology and education (educational technology, instructional design, e-learning, online distance education, and so on, and so on). I initially thought that this list would be available elsewhere, but I couldn’t find it. I could find numerous other collections of journals (here, here, here, and here) but nothing that consisted of only open access and only for technology-enhanced education. So, we created our own.
Obviously, it would be plain silly to develop such a resource and not share it openly. Therefore, I am making the list available as a Google Spreadsheet that you can access here (update: if you don’t have a google account, you can view the document in html format). The spreadsheet is also open, so that if you have a Google account, you can add any journals/information that we were not able to find (if you don’t have a Google account to add information to the spreadsheet you will need to use this form). You will see that the information that is mostly missing are the journals’ RSS feeds (if you are the editor of one of the journals listed, please consider adding RSS feeds to your online journal and adding this information in the spreadsheet). Note that there is also a column that allows you to add your name so that additions to the spreadsheet are properly attributed.
I hope that this is useful for the community, for instructors who want to introduce their students to open access, and to researchers who would like to have a handy list around when considering where to submit their next paper.
[Stay tuned by subscribing to this blog's RSS feed or following me on twitter: Part 2 of this series presents popularity metrics for these journals. These metrics are calculated in real-time and are automatically generated for every new addition to the spreadsheet]
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
This past week, my colleague and I had the pleasure of having with us a group of 25 faculty members from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In cooperation with the National Center For e-learning and Distance Learning, we held a two week workshop/training session for them on e-learning, digital technologies and education. Our conversations over these days touched upon multiple aspects of online and distance learning, ranging from cultural issues to techno-social affordances, to LMS evaluation, quality assurance, creativity, and pedagogical transformation. While I had a curriculum designed for my workshop days, I followed about half of it. The rest was revised on the spot according to what we felt we needed to cover and the needs that arose. In reality, the workshop wouldn’t have been successful had the curriculum was set in stone, but, if you are reading this far, I am probably preaching to the wrong choir
Below, is a list of items/ideas surrounding workshop issues. Other than being helpful to me, they might also be helpful to you if you are planning on leading a workshop/training session:
- People seem to like lists. I don’t know why, but they do. I think it was Curt Bonk who had wrote that people like lists and acronyms (probably because they are memorable), but the last item that I gave to my colleagues before they left today was a list of 10 things to keep in mind when using technology in education.
- This group was especially interested in learning from our experience with e-learning. Frequent questions were: How does the University of Manchester do e-learning? How do you train instructors/professors in using technology in education? What is your e-learning agenda? How do you convince instructors to adopt technology? What went wrong and what did you learn?
- Pedagogy and technology-enhanced pedagogy should be central and this should be made explicit from the very beginning. By George (!) enough with pedagogy-enhanced technology!
- University networks are just plain weird. On the one hand, my computer (that is registered on the network by its mac address, which is a unique identifier) would not connect to the network via ethernet. On the other hand, more than 1 person can log on the lab machines using the same username and password. The reason why the first issue arises while the second issue is ok is baffling me.
- Practical activities and discussion trump theory.
- People also seem to like to explore the courses that others have created and investigate specific design ideas or specific things that worked well or didn’t. I had my own courses to showcase and a few other open courses, but I wasn’t able to invite others to talk about their own experiences/courses. Perhaps the next time.
- Every university is different and it’s always difficult to give specific input on what might work in a specific situation. Recipes for success are generally recipes for disaster. For example, in some of these universities, the university’s budget is a non-issue. Yes, you read this right. In this economic climate. This was something new for me. To be more specific, it doesn’t matter if Blackboard costs money and Moodle doesn’t.
- Studying your learners helps. Did you know that online learning and distance education are pressing matters in Suadi Arabia due to the fact that 38% of the country’s population is between the ages of 10-14 and the country needs to provide higher education to these people? It’s an exciting time for our field in this part of the world.
- Respectfulness, politeness, openness, appreciation, and kindness (along with a desire to improve education) go a long way.
I will end by posting a link to a twitpic posting that occurred during class time when we were trying to explore how the college of applied arts could promote student work online. And, in the spirit of the cross-cultural learning that transpired during the sessions, I look forward to visiting my newfound colleagues in the near future in Saudi Arabia. Inshallah (which, incidentally is a common Cypriot expression and is not derived from a specific religion)… oh, the things that this blog’s visitors learn are never-ending
This is an update on my work regarding my attempt to define the term emerging technologies for education: I was feeling a bit uneasy to write that the term “emerging technologies” has not yet been defined. Perhaps I was simply not discovering the definition? Perhaps the definition was laying somewhere out there and my research abilities weren’t up to par? (Unlikely, I know : ), but possible). I asked a few more people about this and ended up emailing George Siemens asking if he had a definition that he is using in his work. He asked the question on twitter here, and posted the replies he received here. Picking up on the twitter message and George’s blog post, a few other definitions have emerged here and here. Thank you everyone for contributing your thoughts – once again, I am thrilled to see educators worldwide adding their knowledge to this work! I will be using these thoughts to improve the ideas presented in my paper. The working book chapter with the definition of emerging technologies for education, teaching, and learning is now updated and available. This book is planned to be published as an open access publication by Athabasca University Press and the knowledge sharing that underpins this specific chapter makes a better case for why an open license is the best way forward!
[Update 2: The ideas discussed below appear in full detail at: Veletsianos, G. (2010). A Definition of Emerging Technologies for Education. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emerging Technologies in Distance Education (pp. 3-22). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press. You can download a pdf of this chapter from: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/01_Veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf ]
[Update 1 : Nov 30, 2008: I was feeling a bit uneasy to write that noone has yet come up with a definition of emerging technologies. So, I emailed George Siemens asking if he had a definition that he is using in his work. He asked the question on twitter here, and posted the replies he received here. Picking up on the twitter message and George's blog post, a few other definitions have emerged here and here. Thank you everyone for contributing your thoughts! The working book chapter with the definition of emerging technologies for education, teaching, and learning is updated and available]
Surprisingly enough, the education, e-learning, educational technology, instructional design, and so on literatures do not include a definition of emerging technologies for education. Below is my attempt at defining the term. This definition will be part of a book chapter to be published in 2009. The complete chapter will be posted here by the end of January 2009. Enjoy, and if you have any comments, or if you happen to stumble upon a definition of emerging technologies, please feel free to comment!
Emerging Technologies are tools, innovations, and advancements utilized in diverse educational settings (including distance, face-to-face, and hybrid forms of education) to serve varied education-related purposes (e.g., instructional, social, and organizational goals). Emerging Technologies (ET) can be defined and understood in the context of the following five characteristics:
1. ET can be, but are not necessarily, new technologies. It is important to note that in this context the words emerging and new are usually treated as synonymous, but they may not necessarily be so. While a definition of new might be perilous and contentious, ET may represent newer developments (e.g., utilizing the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote to practice surgical techniques) as well as older ones (e.g., employing open source learning management systems at higher education institutions). Even though it may be true that most emerging technologies are newer technologies, the mere fact that they are new, does not necessarily categorize them as emerging. This idea of new technologies being emerging technologies also begs the following two questions: When do technologies cease to be new? When technologies cease to be new, do they also cease to be emerging? For example, synthetic (or virtual) worlds were described as an emerging technology more than ten years ago (Dede, 1996). Today, virtual worlds are still described as emerging technologies (e.g. de Freitas, 2008). Newness, by itself, is a problematic indicator of what emerging technologies, as older technologies can also be emerging– the reasons for this will become clearer after we examine the characteristics that follow.
2. ET are evolving organisms that exist in a state of “coming into being”. The word evolving describes a dynamic state of change and continuous refinement and development. Twitter, the popular social networking and micro-blogging platform, represents an illustrative example of an ET that is “coming into being.” Twitter’s early success and popularity would often cause frequent outages. Such issues were most noticeable during popular technology events (e.g., during the MacWorld keynote address). After a while, Twitter’s outage issues were both lambasted and anticipated by the industry. When a new company moved into Twitter’s old offices, an image was posted on the office door (Figure 1) as a tongue-in-cheek statement regarding Twitter’s downtime and office relocation. Early attempts to satisfy sudden surges in demand included using more servers and implementing on/off switches to various Twitter features (e.g., during the 2008 WorldWide Developers Conference), while later efforts included Re-designing the application’s architecture and withdrawing services (e.g., free SMS and instant messaging support). Existing in a state of evolution, Twitter continuously develops and refines its service, while maintaining its core purpose, and still being an emerging rather than an established technology.
3. ET go through hype cycles. Today’s emerging technology might be tomorrow’s fad, and today’s simple idea might be tomorrow’s key to boosting productivity. While it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that today’s innovations will completely restructure and revolutionize the way we learn and teach, it is important to remain critical to hype. Even though technology has had a major impact on how distance education is delivered, managed, negotiated, and practiced, it is also important to recognize that due to organizational, cultural, and historical factors, education, as a field of study and practice, is resistant to change (c.f. Cuban, 1993; Lortie, 1975). Technologies and ideas go through cycles of euphoria, adoption, activity and use, maturity, impact, enthusiasm, and even infatuation. In the end, some of today’s emerging technologies (and ideas) will become stable (and staple), while others will fade in the background.
One way to describe the hype that surrounds emerging technologies and ideas for education is to observe the Hype Cycle model (Fenn & Raskino, 2008) developed by Gartner Inc. This model evaluates the relative maturity and impact of technologies and ideas and follows five stages that have been successfully applied to diverse topics (table 1). Most specific to the topic of this book are the hype cycle models developed for Higher Education (Gartner, 2008a) e-learning (Gartner, 2006), and emerging technologies (Gartner, 2008b).
4. ET satisfy the “not yet” criteria. The “not yet” criteria refer to two interrelated issues:
a. ET are not yet fully understood. One factor distinguishing ET from other forms of technology is the fact that we are not yet able to understand what such technologies are, what they offer for education, and what they mean for learners, instructors, and institutions. For example, what exactly is mobile learning? How does it differ from other forms of learning? What does it mean to have access to data regardless of geographic location? What are the social and pedagogical affordances of mobile learning in relation to alternative forms of learning? As a result of ET not being fully understood, a second issue arises:
b. ET are not yet fully researched or researched in a mature way. Initial investigations of ET are often evangelical and describe superficial issues of the technology (e.g., benefits and drawbacks) without focusing on underdtanding the affordances of the technology and how those affordances can provide different (and hopefully better) ways to learn and teach at a distance. Additionally, due to the evolutionary nature of these technologies, the research that characterizes it falls under the case study and formative evaluation approaches (Dede, 1996), which, by itself, is not necessarily a negative facet of research, but it does pinpoint to our initial attempts to understand the technology and its possibilities. Nevertheless, because ET are not yet fully researched, initial deployments of emerging technology applications merely replicate familiar processes, leading critics to argue that technologies are new iterations of the media debate (e.g., Choi and Clark, 2006; c.f. Clark, 1994; Kozma, 1994; Tracey & Hasting, 2005). Unfortunately, to a large extend, they are right – newer technologies are often used in old ways: Linear PowerPoint slides replace slideshow projectors; blogs – despite the opportunities they offer for collaboration – replace personal reflection diaries; and pedagogical agent lectures replace non-agent lectures (e.g., Choi and Clark, 2006).
5. ET are potentially disruptive but their potential is mostly unfulfilled. Individuals and corporations recognize that a potential exists, but such potential hasn’t yet been realized. The potential to transform practices, processes, and institutions, is both welcomed and opposed. For example, open access journals have the potential to transform the ways research and knowledge are disseminated and evaluated. While this advancement has the potential to disrupt scholarship, to date, the majority of research is still published at closed access journals and periodicals.
As I have said before, i developed the above “definition/description” because i couldn’t find one in the literature. If you have one that for one reason or another i couldn’t find, please feel free to add the citation/reference to the comments or send me an email. If you have any critiques, i also wouldn’t mind hearing those either
Learning and teaching in virtual worlds
While the concept of multi-user virtual worlds is not a new one, the rising popularity of virtual world applications has been rapid over the last five years. Although much attention around such immersive environments has centred upon Second Life, there are currently 80 virtual world applications available and another 100 planned for 2009, with some targeting specific populations (e.g., young girls with BarbieGirls) and others catering for broader audiences (e.g., training applications in There.com). The appeal of virtual worlds is that they allow users to cross over into new spaces that can be used to support a range of social interactions. In this way, they have proven to be quite versatile, embracing varied activities and purposes, including business, cultural activities as well as having educational capabilities.
With its focus upon the educational uses of virtual world applications, this special issue of the British Journal of Educational Technology (Volume 40, Issue 6) aims to provide a definitive profile of the current status of virtual worlds for education and training. Specifically, we invite contributions from the research community to advance our understanding of this field of study and research. In order to build upon existing research, and to support the development of the field as a unique academic discipline, in this unique issue the editors are interested in hosting a forum for rigorous and leading edge contributions to the nascent field that:
- explore new frameworks, approaches and pedagogical models,
- present case studies of practice where innovative techniques are pioneered,
- investigate new methods of teaching, learning and research in the area,
- evaluate the experiences of teachers, learners and institutions using immersive worlds.
The aim of the special issue is to bring together the most leading edge research and development in the field and allow practitioners and researchers to benefit from these valuable contributions. Towards this aim, recommended topics of interest for this special issue include, but are not limited to, the following research questions:
- What value can virtual world applications add to conventional methods of education and what evidence exists to support such propositions?
- What are the institutional changes needed to accommodate learning approaches centred on virtual worlds?
- What pedagogies and approaches are needed to make the use of virtual world applications most effective and engaging, and what evidence exists to support such approaches?
- Are particular learner groups engaged more with virtual world applications than others?
- What are the main challenges for tutors and trainers using virtual world technologies?
- What are the main technological challenges associated with using virtual world applications?
- What frameworks and approaches can be developed to support effective, engaging and transformative usage of virtual worlds?
- Does the use of virtual worlds necessitate more learner-centred approaches? What evidence exists to support claims for or against such approaches?
- Will using these applications change how people learn? If so, what evidence exists to support such a claim?
- Do virtual world applications offer greater support than alternative technologies for building and supporting distributed learning communities?
- How do learners experience virtual worlds? How do they experience their interactions with others?
- How do learners choose to represent themselves in virtual worlds?
The issue also envisages contributions that relate to a wider range of virtual world applications particularly where learning and training issues are highlighted. Studies focusing upon massively multiplayer role-playing games (e.g. World of Warcraft), mirror worlds (e.g. Google earth) and hybrid worlds (e.g. mixed reality experiences) will also be considered for the issue where they make sure that the focus is upon learning activities and practices and where lessons learnt may be applied to virtual worlds for learning.
The issue will also be twinned with the First International IEEE Conference on Serious Games and Virtual Worlds which will be held in March 2009 at the University of Coventry, UK.
April 1, 2009: Full length papers due (see http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/submit.asp?ref=0007-1013&site=1 for guidelines). Please send an email to the editors with the title of your submission and submit your paper online using Manuscript Central. To make a submission, go to http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjet. If this is the first time you have used the system you will be asked to register by clicking on ‘create an account.’ Full instructions on making your submission are provided. You should receive an acknowledgement within a few minutes. Thereafter, you will be kept in touch with the progress of your submission through refereeing, any revisions that are required, and – hopefully – to final acceptance.
Please advise Sara de Freitas that you have made a submission for the special issue. If you do not then it will be treated as an ordinary submission for a subsequent general issue
June 1, 2009: Notification of acceptance
July 1, 2009: Final papers with revisions due
November, 2009: Publication date
Note: Submissions to the Crossing boundaries Serious Games and Virtual Worlds conference to be held at Coventry University in March 2009 that fit the purpose of this call may be recommended for co-submission to the special issue. Authors will be contacted directly where this is the case so that they can revisit the paper for the BJET special issue review process. Successfully reviewed papers will be processed by BJET in the normal way and according to the normal peer-review procedures. For those wishing to submit papers to the conference, details can be found at: http://www.sgandvwconference.net/announcement.asp?event=42
Special Issue Editors
Dr. Sara de Freitas B.A. (Hons), M.A., PhD
Sara de Freitas is Director of Research at the hub for research and development in serious games and virtual worlds at the Serious Games Institute at the University of Coventry, UK. Her research interests include evaluating the efficacy of serious games and virtual world applications, pedagogic modelling and policy and strategic development of e-learning. Sara chairs the Lab Group, speaks internationally and has a significant publications list in the field of e-learning, game-based learning and lifelong learning. Sara also holds a visiting fellowship at the University of London where she continues to build on leading edge research in the field at the London Knowledge Lab. She currently has four books in publication and is setting up an interdisciplinary research group focusing upon artificial intelligence, evaluation and validation for immersive forms and developing links between physical and virtual spaces through smart buildings. (Address: Sara de Freitas, PhD, Serious Games Institute, University of Coventry, Cheetah Road, Coventry, CV1 2TL, United Kingdom; s.defreitas|at|coventry.ac.uk).
Dr. George Veletsianos B.A., M.A., Ph.D
George Veletsianos is Lecturer of Digital Technologies, Communication & Education at the University of Manchester, UK. His research interests involve the design, development, and evaluation of electronic learning environments, adventure learning, emerging technologies in distance and hybrid education, virtual characters, and the learner experience. His research and development work has been published in excess of 30 times in articles and manuscripts in academic journals, books, and conference proceedings, while his work has been presented at over 40 national and international conferences. (Address: George Veletsianos, PhD, LTA, School of Education, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom; veletsianos|at|gmail.com)