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

Category: open

Critiques of Openness (digital/open scholarship)

Posted on June 21st, by George Veletsianos in my research, NPS, online learning, open, scholarship, sharing. 1 Comment

While a lot of us embrace openness, there have been more and more discussion about its virtues in recent months. For instance, Frances Bell, Cristina da Costa, Josie Fraser, Richard Hall and Helen Keegan are discussing this issue during ALT-C 2011 in a symposium entitled The Paradox of Openness, Richard Hall has been contemplating this topic for a while, David Wiley has been thinking about the issue, and I have collected a few critiques in July 2010 when the topic started surfacing in the circles that I was following.

This is not to say that openness is inherently negative or positive: While early adopters have demonstrated the benefits of openness, these critiques help us be mindful about the future that we are creating, and help us develop tools, frameworks, and systems that enable democratic spaces and participation.

To that end, and extending the participatory scholarship work I started last year, Royce Kimmons and I will be moderating the following “Questioning our assumptions” session during the Open Education 2011 conference. The session focuses on openness in digital scholarship, but the arguments apply to openness overall:

Title: Does researcher participation in online networks democratize knowledge production and dissemination?

Description: An assumption of the open scholarship movement is that by participating in online networks, scholars can democratize knowledge production and dissemination. This feat is accomplished through openly sharing, reflecting, critiquing, improving, validating, and furthering their scholarship via publicly-availably online venues (e.g., blogs, Twitter, etc). To participate productively in online scholarly networks, however, scholars not only need to understand the participatory nature of the web, they also need to develop the social and digital literacies and skills essential to effective engagement with the open scholarship commons. Lack of digital literacies leads to a participation gap (cf. Jenkins et al., 2006), which, in the context of scholars, refers to those scholars who participate in networked spaces and are able to take advantage of digital literacies to advance their career vis-à-vis those who have had no exposure to participatory cultures or who do not have the essential literacies to engage in such activities online.

Understanding participatory cultures, developing digital literacies, and participating in online scholarly networks, however, does not necessarily mean that scholars will become equal participants in online spaces. Social stratification and exclusion in online environments and networks is possible. Indulging in idealized notions of participation and sharing may be misguided because interaction and collaboration may not be the norm across all individuals or scholarly subcultures. As Chander and Sunder (2004, p. 1332) point out while discussing what they term the romance of the public domain, “[c]ontemporary scholarship extolling the public domain presumes a landscape where each person can reap the riches found in the commons … [b]ut, in practice, differing circumstances – including knowledge, wealth, power, and ability – render some better able than others to exploit a commons.” Thus, in the case of open scholarship, issues surrounding the accessibility and use of scholarly networks by diverse audiences will arise and should be a matter of concern for participants when considering who profits from their collaborative work.

At the moment, the open scholarship movement largely reflects the values of the early adopters who already engage with it and includes notions of openness, sharing, and social-collaborative research. As with those in any community, scholars engaging in the open scholarship commons are susceptible to the risks of making decisions about the future of their community which may be arbitrary, prejudiced, or otherwise harmful to the community’s well-being. Thus, scholars should be vigilant and reflective of open scholarly practices as such practices continue to emerge and develop. Such vigilance should focus both on determining who profits from such practices and who is excluded from them, so as to combat both under-use by some (i.e. those lacking entry to or knowledge of useful networks) and over-use or exploitation by those with the wealth, power, and prestige necessary to effectively strip mine sources. While solutions to these problems may not be simple, we need to acknowledge, discuss, and act upon these issues proactively rather than retrospectively.

Emerging Technologies and Transformative Learning

Posted on February 25th, by George Veletsianos in my research, online learning, open, papers, sharing. 1 Comment

I’m excited to announce the publication of a special issue that Brendan Calandra and I did for Educational Technology, focusing on the complex relationship(s) between emerging technologies and transformative learning [Educational Technology, 51(2)]. The  issue is in part the result of a conversation we have had over the last two years about emerging technologies and their potential to foster unique types of learning. We have found that these unique types of learning to be qualitatively different than goal-based and performance-oriented learning, and to share many characteristics with Jack Mezirow’s original notion of transformative learning such as disorienting dilemmas, critical reflection, dialogue, and changes to frames of reference (1978, 1991, 1997). Our suggestions for future work include further examination of how transformative learning might be negotiated in technology-enhanced contexts, and how emerging technologies might foster and influence transformative outcomes.

Here is a copy of the introduction to the special issue: Emerging Technologies and Transformative Learning.

The papers for this issue are as follows:

Teaching in an Age of Transformation: Understanding Unique Instructional Technology Choices which Transformative Learning Affords
Kathleen P. King

Transformative Learning Experience: Aim Higher, Gain More
Brent G. Wilson
Patrick Parrish

Learning Experience as Transaction: A Framework for Instructional Design
Patrick Parrish
Brent G. Wilson
Joanna C. Dunlap

The Seven Trans-disciplinary Habits of Mind: Extending the TPACK Framework Towards 21st Century Learning
Punya Mishra
Matthew J. Koehler
Danah Henriksen

Virtual Worlds as a Trigger for Transformative Learning
Steve W. Harmon

Using digital video to promote teachers’ transformative learning
Brendan Calandra
Anton Puvirajah

Opportunities for and Barriers to Powerful and Transformative Learning Experiences in Online Learning Environments
Benjamin B. Bolger,
Gordon Rowland,
Carrie Reuning-Hummel,
Stephen Codner

Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies (pdf posted by permission)
George Veletsianos

Shaping global citizens: Technology enhanced inter-cultural collaboration and transformation
P. Clint Rogers

A Framework for Action: Intervening to Increase Adoption of Transformative Web 2.0 Learning Resources
Joan E. Hughes,
James M. Guion,
Kama A. Bruce,
Lucas R. Horton,
Amy Prescott


The importance of ALT-J going open access

Posted on February 15th, by George Veletsianos in my research, open, scholarship, sharing. 3 comments

The ALT-J Journal has been renamed to “Research in Learning Technology”, but more importantly, starting in January 2012 the journal will be published under an open access license.Why is this important? ALT-J is quite respected in the field, and the number of high-profile, highly-respected journals in the field that are open access is limited. As high-profile, high-quality journals take the open access route, it is highly likely that more and more researchers will entertain the idea of publishing in venues that embrace openness (and not the type of “openness” that requires researchers to pay to have the ability to disseminate their work).

Scholarly publishing has traditionally been evaluated in terms of perceived journal quality and citation counts. Empirical research has indicated (a) citation advantages for papers published in an open access manner [Hajeem, Harnad, & Gingras, 2005], or (b) no significant differences in terms of citation counts between open access and non-open-access journals [Zawacki-Richter, Anderson, & Tuncay, 2010]. As far as journal quality goes: even though the number of high-quality open access in the field is limited, open access does not necessarily mean low quality. ALT-J’s move into the open access realm demonstrates this, and a number of people even predict that ALT-J will gain a higher status in the field.


Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-year cross-disciplinary comparison of the growth of open access and how it increases research citation impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28(4), 39-47.

Zawacki-Richter, O., Anderson, T., & Tuncay, N. (2010). The growing impact of open access distance Education journals: A bibliometric analysis. The Journal Of Distance Education / Revue De L’ÉDucation à Distance, 24(3).

Full disclaimer: I serve on ALT-J’s editorial board.

Data Snippet: Connections in an Online Course

Posted on January 22nd, by George Veletsianos in my research, online learning, open, sharing. No Comments

This post is part of this year’s goal to share more data and findings from my in-progress papers. My research assistant and I are working on a paper examining certain aspects of an online course. We came across an interesting quote and I thought that it might be of interest to others because this student is describing an experience that (some might say) is not frequent:

[I am] really liking that connection with our classmates… it’s interesting that in a traditional face-to-face course, I don’t always feel as connected to my classmates, even though I’m going to be sitting right next to them, engaged in face-to-face conversation.

Even though I am not at all interested in comparing face-to-face and online courses (other than to point out that online affords different opportunities), I think that the quote above indicates once again that online courses can be enjoyable and that face-to-face does not necessarily mean interactive or connected. To play with Sherry Turkle’s new book title, is this a case of “together alone?”

Photo credit: Sitting alone, by naraekim0801

Emerging Technologies in Distance Education: Summary

Posted on January 19th, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, open, sharing. 1 Comment

Following Elizabeth Wellburn on her project to blog summaries of each chapter of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education has been very exciting. She has now blogged summaries of each chapter and if you’d like a short introduction to the book, you can head to her blog.

2010: Blog Analytics

Posted on January 1st, by George Veletsianos in open, scholarship, sharing. 1 Comment

A new year always brings with it a reflection of the past, and what better way to do so by looking at some of the data behind this blog. In no particular order, during 2010, this blog was

  • visited 8,475 times
  • by 5,693 unique visitors
  • who viewed 13,709 pages.
  • The most popular page was the About me page that was viewed 1,175 times.
  • The second most popular page was my publications page with 1,067 views, and the third most popular was the draft paper I posted on participatory scholars (916 views).
  • The most popular date was September 7, with 204 visits. This was the result of posting my Introduction to Instructional Design syllabus online and sharing it on ITFORUM.
  • Visitors from 127 countries came to this blog, with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India, being at the top of the list. Cyprus (my homeland) only sent 55 visitors during 2010 (where’s the love?!)
  • The most frequent sources of traffic were from Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Athabasca University Press (a result of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education being published in August 2010).
  • The most frequently search query used to reach this blog was my full name.
  • My last name was spelled in 16 different ways when individuals searched for me (there’s pros and cons in having a unique last name I suppose!)
  • During 2010, I posted 30 entries. My hope for 2011 is to post more entries, more frequently, and to post more entries related to my in-progress research.

Thanks for reading… I look forward to 2011!

YoTeach.US: Adventure Learning project

Posted on October 26th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, emerging technologies, online learning, open, sharing. 2 comments

We are in our second week of our latest Adventure Learning project and I am really excited to be working with a group of committed graduate students on this! It is called YoTeach.US and is currently being used in a large sociology course at UT. The aim of the project is to assist sociology students in exploring the relationship between large social forces and individual behaviors and actions. Outside of that course, the project is also intended to be a free resource for students and educators when discussing teacher roles, teacher excellence, and memorable teachers. Here’s a small audio teaser:

Cesar: The teacher’s role by veletsianos

Adventure Learning is an approach to learning design that involves students in the authentic, experiential, and collaborative exploration of topics of interest. It usually revolves around an adventure or a narrative, and engages students in inquiry-based activities. For instance, the GoNorth adventure learning projects have been admired as an example of an innovative approaches to education. A review of research on adventure learning is available at the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning journal.

In our project, our team traveled through the city of Austin and asked individuals to respond to the following:

  • What is the role of the teacher/instructor?
  • Tell us a story about your most memorable teacher.

These contributions were then compiled into mini documentaries and shared on the online learning environment. At the same time, we crowdsourced contributions online and received notes, audio files, and short videos from Texas, California, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from students, teachers, parents, professors, and researchers. Once student exploration with this topic ends, they will then investigate the relationship between social forces and individual choices within their own communities, create digital artifacts on this exploration, and discuss the results of their research with others.

As always, this project is free to use. If you do use the project or media in your courses, we’d love to hear about it, and if you have any questions or concerns, please lets us know!

Videos on Teacher Roles and Memorable Teachers

Posted on October 6th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, E-learning, emerging technologies, online learning, open, sharing. 3 comments

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|, 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.