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

Category: open

Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought MOOC & open course transparency

Posted on November 25th, by George Veletsianos in moocs, my research, open, sharing. 1 Comment

The New York Times published an article on an edX course (Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought) offered by Tsinghua University. Inside Higher Ed (IHE) wrote about it, too. The following quote from IHE articles summarizes the articles:

“That course is raising eyebrows because, despite hours of video lectures and supplemental material in the course, students would still have to tab over to Wikipedia to learn about the millions who died as a result of Mao’s land reforms or that his economic initiatives led to what may have been the greatest famine in human history, which killed tens of millions. Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought references those events glancingly in passing as “mistakes,” and generally heaps praise on Mao and his philosophies.”

I was asked to provide commentary for the New York Times article, and since it wasn’t included in the writeup, I thought it would be a good idea to share it publicly rather than leave it hidden away in my email inbox. Here is what I said:

Open courses are transparent, and that’s one of their positive aspects. They allow anyone to examine the ways that course creators think about a topic. The instructional materials from the Mao course are available to anyone to examine and study. One can look at the materials and ask: How do these materials position Mao Zedong? What are the elements of Mao’s thought that the creators of this course want to highlight? What elements of Mao’s thoughts are left behind and what are the elements that are being highlighted? What is the story that is being told here, and who stands to benefit from this story?

Stephen Downes made a similar argument in the IHE article: ““courses that might have been offered behind closed doors are offered for everyone to see.”

Now, that’s parsimonious :)


Are professors naive users of social media?

Posted on November 20th, by George Veletsianos in my research, networked scholars, open, sharing. 1 Comment

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a commentary some time ago that argued that professors are “naive users of social media” and must exercise caution. It’s difficult to argue with the recommendation to exercise caution, when one looks at the list of scholars who found themselves in trouble in the last year: Salaita, Goldrick-Rab, Grundy, and so on.

But, the claim that professors are naive users of social media is unsubstantiated and reveals a limited understanding of the literature on how professors actually use social media and what they think about them. My colleagues and I have been conducting research on networked scholarship and scholars’ use of social media since 2009, and since that time, I can’t recall interviewing a faculty member or reading a study that revealed naiveté regarding social media and the challenges/tensions they introduce. If anything, most academics have an astute understanding of how social media intersect with their professional (and personal) lives and make informed (and tactical) decisions regarding their use of these technologies.

Granted, many find themselves in conundrums as a result of being in collapsed contexts and being exposed to unanticipated audiences, but to argue naiveté is misinformed.

Theorizing Openness at #opened15

Posted on November 19th, by George Veletsianos in my research, online learning, open, scholarship. No Comments

I’m at the Open Education 2015 conference, and I am struck by the continuing focus on costs, and the absence of theorizing openness, (and by extension OER and open textbooks). Is this a problem? Reducing costs is of course important. There’s no question about it. But whether the absence of theory is a problem depends what we believe theory does. After hearing many talks start with statements akin to “we asked faculty to use open textbooks, but…” or “we hoped the institution would embrace openness because it reduced costs, but…”, I thought that it might be worthwhile to ask more why questions:

  • Why do some faculty do and others do not adopt open textbooks?
  • Why do some faculty revise OER?
  • Why do some faculty choose to publish their work in closed journals?

Theorizing openness can help us answer many of these questions. Because openness does not exist in a vacuum. I think that a sociocultural theoretical framing of openness  can help practitioners and researchers make better sense and use of openness. Here’s a quote from a recent paper that argues for and clarifies this framing:

“A sociocultural perspective on openness, open practices and open scholarship views these practices as being socially shaped, and the technologies used to enact openness as necessarily, if not always intentionally, embedding their developers’ worldviews, values, beliefs, and assumptions into their design and the activities they support and encourage. By recognizing that open practices are shaped by social, cultural, economic, and political factors, this perspective rejects the notion that such practices are deterministic and holds that, with adequate information and evidence, learners, instructors, and researchers have the agency to accept or reject any particular technology or practice or to find alternative uses for it that will better serve their needs.” (p. 202)

Veletsianos, G. (2015). A Case Study of Scholars’ Open and Sharing practices. Open Praxis 7(3), 199-209.

Related: See this presentation by Royce Kimmons which argues the following:

“[O]penness is more than economy. The freedoms afforded by open practices have great promise for improving the pedagogy and professionalism in our educational institutions as educators are empowered to differentiate, collaborate, and innovate in ways that were impossible under non-open paradigms.”


What is it like to learn and participate in MOOCs?

Posted on November 16th, by George Veletsianos in learner experience, moocs, online learning, open. No Comments

We recently published a special issue for Educational Media International by asking authors to submit papers focusing on the following question: What is it like to learn and participate in MOOCs? This has now been published.

We developed this special issue to enhance our collective understanding of learner experiences and participation in MOOCs because the scholarly community still has an incomplete mosaic of students’ learning experiences with open online learning.

The following papers are included:

Editorial: Contributions to the mosaic describing learners’ experiences with open online learning (pdf)
George Veletsianos and Vrasidas Charalambos

Learning from MOOCs: a qualitative case study from the learners’ perspectives
Yeonjeong Park, Insung Jung and Thomas C. Reeves

A classroom at home: children and the lived world of MOOCs
Yin Yin, Catherine Adams, Erika Goble and Luis Francisco Vargas Madriz

What makes a cMOOC community endure? Multiple participant perspectives from diverse cMOOCs
Maha Bali, Maureen Crawford, Rhonda Jessen, Paul Signorelli and Mia Zamora

Fulfilling the promise: do MOOCs reach the educationally underserved?
Lorrie Schmid, Kim Manturuk, Ian Simpkins, Molly Goldwasser and Keith E. Whitfield

Examining learners’ perspective of taking a MOOC: reasons, excitement, and perception of usefulness
M. Liu, J. Kang and E. McKelroy


  • Note: While the journal is not open access, a number of the authors above have self-archived copies of their paper, like I am doing above.


Openness and Digital Learning Symposium

Posted on November 10th, by George Veletsianos in online learning, open, Royal Roads University, scholarship. No Comments

We are hosting a symposium on Openness, Digital Learning, and Networked Scholarship.

 Please consider joining us (for free) by visiting the livestream page (

November Tuesday 17th 2015, (10am- 3pm Pacific)

Organized by the School of Education and Technology & the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning & Technology


This symposium is intended to raise awareness about open educational resources, open pedagogy, and emerging approaches to digital learning. It provides a showcase for the work being done at Royal Roads University (RRU) and convenes open education practitioners and researchers.

In keeping with the RRU strategic mandate, this symposium builds on the work currently being done at RRU by our Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Innovative Learning and Technology and the School of Education and Technology (SET) to investigate promising innovations in educational technology. It is an opportunity to contribute back to the open community and further the developments in this area.


Time Item Who
10:00 – 10:05 First Nations Welcome Asma-na-hi (Asma) Antoine
10:05 – 10:15 What makes RRU unique and a hotspot for innovation? Steve Grundy
10:15 – 10:25 Introductions and context George Veletsianos
10:30– 11:00


What can Open be: Advances at the Provincial, National & International level Mary Burgess
11:05 – 11:40


For whom, for what? Not-yetness and challenging the “stuff” of open education Amy Collier

Jen Ross

11:45 – 12:55 Break  
1:00 – 1:30


Creative Commons: Where are we now? Paul Stacey
1:35 – 2:05


Expansive Openness: Why Reducing Cost is Not Enough for Realizing the Full Benefits of OER Royce Kimmons
2:15 – 2:45


Panel Discussion: What can Open do?


* Each panelist to weigh in on panel topic and then open to the floor for questions

Amy Collier; Jen Ross; Royce Kimmons; Center for Teaching and Learning; RRU Library; George Veletsianos
2:45 – 3:00 Wrap Up Elizabeth Childs


* Each session, excluding the panel will consist of a 20 minute presentation followed by a 10 minute Q&A


Speaker Bios

Mary Burgess is the executive director of BCCampus which supports the work of the B.C. post-secondary system in the areas of teaching, learning and educational technology. Prior to joining BCcampus in 2012, Mary Burgess was the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies at Royal Roads University where she started the University’s first open educational resources project. She is a career instructional designer and longtime advocate of OER.

Dr. Elizabeth Childs is an Associate Professor at Royal Roads University and the Program Head of the MA in Learning and Technology program. Her research interests include the design and implementation of flexible learning; online networked communities and, the professional development and support for learners and faculty in these emerging online learning environments.

Dr. Amy Collier is Associate Provost for Digital Learning at Middlebury College. She provides leadership in creating and sustaining a global learning community at Middlebury through the effective use of digital pedagogies and technologies. Amy studies how digital environments can foster emergence in teaching and learning.

Dr. Steve Grundy is vice-president academic and provost at Royal Roads University. He is responsible for the overall academic direction and quality of the university’s academic programs. He is particularly interested in the directions of post-secondary education, the evolution and development of online learning and new models of university governance and leadership.

Dr. Royce Kimmons is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University where he studies technology integration in K-12/higher education, emergent technologies, open education, and social networks. He received his PhD from The University of Texas at Austin and formerly served as the Director of the Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning at the University of Idaho.

Dr Jen Ross is co-director of the Digital Education group at the University of Edinburgh, teacher and former programme director on the MSc in Digital Education, and co-creator of the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC and the manifesto for teaching online. Her research interests include online distance education, MOOCs, digital futures, reflective practices, and museum and gallery learning and engagement.

Paul Stacey is Associate Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. Paul’s core expertise is in adult learning, educational technology, and open education. Prior to joining Creative Commons, Paul led Open Educational Resource (OER) and professional development initiatives across all the colleges and universities in British Columbia Canada

Dr. George Veletsianos holds a Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and is an Associate Professor at Royal Roads University. He has dedicated his research to understanding the practices and experiences of learners, educators, and scholars in emerging online settings such as online social networks and digital environments.

Game design for education webinar

Posted on October 7th, by George Veletsianos in open. No Comments

We (the AECT Research and Theory Division) are hosting a free webinar focusing on game design for education. Please join us!

Presenter: Dr. Kurt Squire, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Director of the Games, Learning & Society Initiative.
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2015
Time: 1 pm CDT

Registration Link:


Crumpled Paper Mario Wallpaper by Tiger Pixel – CC-lcensed

Strategies for designing student- centered, social, open, and engaging digital learning experiences

Posted on October 6th, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, learner experience, my research, online learning, open, scholarship. No Comments

Recently, I had the privilege of organizing a workshop for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Athabasca University. The goal was to help the organization work through what they might need to do to put in practice a new strategic plan which calls for student-centered and open digital learning. I used the slides below to assist faculty, instructors, and instructional designers translate theory into practice.


Networked scholars – final table of contents

Posted on August 12th, by George Veletsianos in my research, networked scholars, NPS, open, scholarship. No Comments

I’ve received the publisher queries on my book yesterday, and the table of contents has been finalized as below.

I’ve opted for a few first-person narratives, interviews, and descriptions of the habits of academics who use social media in their day-to-day life. One gap in the literature that is becoming increasingly problematic is that researchers are focusing on social media use for scholarship – when social media are intertwined in scholars’ lives in complicated ways. One example is the use of social media for activism and raising awareness (e.g., targeting casualization). A second example is the use of social media to connect with friends and family in social media spaces where colleagues and supervisors are present and figuring out how to navigate the personal-professional tensions that arise as a result of the collapsing contexts.

Social Media in Academia: Networked Scholars



Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Networked Scholarship

Chapter 3

Anna: A Social Media Advocate

Chapter 4

Knowledge Creation and Dissemination

Chapter 5

Realities of Day-to-Day Social Media Use

Chapter 6

Networks of Tension and Conflict

Chapter 7

Nicholas: A Visitor

Chapter 8

Networks of Inequity

Chapter 9

Networks of Disclosure

Chapter 10

Fragmented Networks

Chapter 11

Scholarly Networks / Scholars in Networks

Chapter 12