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.
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.
“Educational technology seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Many exciting things are happening in the field, but increasingly we educational technologists find ourselves on the sidelines in our own ballgame. People from other disciplines are taking an interest in educational technology, but they show little interest in our knowledge base (often even little awareness that it exists!) and little interest in our professional organizations and publications. Why is this happening? What can we do about it? To what extent might our mindset be the problem? What new directions do we need to pursue to improve the health and value of our field? These are the central issues which this article discusses.”
This could have been written yesterday, or five years ago. Or, 1989: Reigeluth, C. M. (1989). Educational technology at the crossroads: New mindsets and new directions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 37(1), 67-80.
Here’s what my email spam folder looks like some days:
Predatory open access publishing: “an exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals.”
Jeffrey Beal gathers information on predatory open access publishers and journals. If you are ever unsure, double-check before submitting your paper. Better yet, start with a list of reputable open access journals in your field, such as the one below, which comes from page 33 in Perkins, R., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2016). Open access journals in educational technology: results of a survey of experienced users. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32(3), 1-37.
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education
Educational Technology & Society
Electronic Journal of e-Learning
European Journal of Open and Distance Learning
IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies*
International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education*
International Journal of Designs for Learning
International Journal of Educational Research and Technology
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Journal of Distance Education
Journal of Information Technology Education
Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
Journal of Technology Education
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration
Research in Learning Technology (ALT-J)
Turkish Journal of Educational Technology
Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education
What do scholars share on social media? Like the jelly jars below, some topics shared/discussed are familiar. The center jelly nn the top row? I’ve seen many of those. A scholar sharing a link to a paper? I’ve seen many of those, too. Other jellies, and scholarly activities online, are more complex and require a closer look. The bottom right jelly? I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Some scholars disclose challenging professional and personal issues on social media. That’s what Bonnie Stewart and I set out to understand in a our paper Discreet Openness: Scholars’ Selective and Intentional Self-Disclosures Online. Popular literature tends to offer conflicting advice on this topic. Scholars are encouraged to share both personal and professional aspects of their self online, but at the same time they are advised to “watch what they say.” The empirical literature examining scholars’ online self-disclosures and the reasons for making these disclosures remains limited.
DGJ_5184 – Jelly Jars by Dennis Jarvis
Research into emergent forms of scholarship focuses on academics’ use of technology for learning, teaching, and research. Very little attention has been paid in the literature to scholars’ uses of social media to disclose challenging personal and professional issues. This article addresses the identified gap in the literature and presents a qualitative investigation into the types of disclosures that 16 scholars made online and their reasons for doing so. Results identify wide-ranging personal and professional disclosures. Participants disclosed not only about academia-related issues but also about challenges pertaining to family, mental health, physical health, identity, and relationships. Some scholars disclosed as a way to grapple with challenges they faced; others disclosed tactically, sharing information for political rather than personal reasons. Yet others disclosed as a way to welcome care in their lives. In all instances, though, disclosures were selective, intentional, and approached with foresight.
Unlike popular literature that suggests that scholars are “naive users of social media” and must exercise caution, our research shows that people might be thinking deeply about the the ways that the share aspects of their lives.
You can retrieve the paper from here:
Veletsianos, G. & Stewart, B. (2016). Scholars’ open practices: Selective and intentional self-disclosures and the reasons behind them. Social Media + Society, 2(3). doi: 10.1177/2056305116664222
Education Scholars’ Evolving Uses of Twitter as a Conference Backchannel and Social Commentary Platform
The scholarly community faces a lack of large-scale research examining how students and professors use social media in authentic contexts and how such use changes over time. Continuing our investigation into how professors and students use social media, Royce Kimmons and I just published a paper in which we used data mining methods to better understand academic Twitter use during, around, and between the 2014 and 2015 American Educational Research Association annual conferences both as a conference backchannel and as a general means of participating online. The first paper we published using similar methods, data, and comparing students and professors’ social media use is here. All of our research on networked scholarship and students’ and faculty members’ use of social media is gathered here.
Descriptive and inferential analysis is used to explore Twitter use for 1,421 academics and the more than 360,000 tweets they posted. Results demonstrate the complicated participation patterns of how Twitter is used “on the ground.” In particular, we show that:
- tweets during conferences differed significantly from tweets outside conferences
- students and professors used the conference backchannel somewhat equally, but students used some hashtags more frequently, while professors used other hashtags more frequently
- academics comprised the minority of participants in these backchannels, but participated at a much higher rate than their non-academic counterparts
- the number of participants in the backchannel increased between 2014 and 2015, but only a small number of authors were present during both years, and the number of tweets declined from year to year.
- various hashtags were used throughout the time period during which this study occurred, and some were ongoing (ie, those which tended to be stable across weeks) while others were event-based (ie, those which spiked in a particular week)
- professors used event-based hashtags more often than students and students used ongoing hashtags more often than professors
- ongoing hashtags tended to exhibit positive sentiment, while event-based hashtags tended to exhibit more ambiguous or conflicting sentiments
These findings suggest that professors and students exhibit similarities and differences in how they use Twitter and backchannels and indicate the need for further research to better understand the ways that social technologies and online networks are integrated in scholars’ lives.
Here’s the full citation and paper:
Kimmons, R. & Veletsianos, G. (2016). Education Scholars’ Evolving Uses of Twitter as a Conference Backchannel and Social Commentary Platform. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(3), 445—464.
A number of literature reviews have been published on MOOCs. None has focused exclusively on the empirical literature. In a recent paper, we analyzed the empirical literature published on MOOCs in 2013-2015 to make greater sense of who studies what and how. We found that:
- more than 80% of this literature is published by individuals whose home institutions are in North America and Europe,
- a select few papers are widely cited while nearly half of the papers are cited zero times,
- researchers have favored a quantitative if not positivist approach to the conduct of MOOC research,
- researchers have preferred the collection of data via surveys and automated methods
- some interpretive research was conducted on MOOCs in this time period, but it was often basic and it was the minority of studies that were informed by methods traditionally associated with qualitative research (e.g., interviews, observations, and focus groups)
- there is limited research reported on instructor-related topics, and
- even though researchers have attempted to identify and classify learners into various groupings, very little research examines the experiences of learner subpopulations (e.g., those who succeed vs those who don’t; men vs women).
We believe that the implications arising from this study are important for research on educational technology in general and not jut MOOC research. For instance, given the interest on big data and automated collection/analysis of the data trails that learners leave behind on digital learning environments, a broader methodological toolkit is imperative in the study of emerging digital learning environments.
Here’s a copy of the paper:
Veletsianos, G. & Shepherdson, P. (2016). A Systematic Analysis And Synthesis of the Empirical MOOC Literature Published in 2013-2015. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(2).