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

Category: scholarship

Networked Participatory Scholarship or Open/Digital Scholarship?

Posted on November 6th, by George Veletsianos in my research, NPS, open, scholarship, sharing. 13 comments

In my blog post explaining scholars’ participation and practices on Twitter, I alluded to Networked Participatory Scholarship (yet another acronym!). I have mentioned this on and off over the last year and a half, but I am now happy to announce that Royce Kimmons (who recently became a doctoral candidate – woot!) and I published a paper explaining pressures that exist for educators’ and researchers’ to participate in digital scholarship and online social networks. Our work complements recent research in the field by suggesting that the rise of digital scholarship is not simply due to technological advances. Digital scholarship also relates to social and cultural pressures (e.g., scholars’ questioning scholarly artifacts, such as peer-review, and experimenting with new forms of teaching, such as open courses and MOOCs). For this reason, we prefer to think about digital scholarship in terms of practices, as “scholars’ participation in online social networks to share, reflect upon, critique, improve, validate, and otherwise develop their scholarship.”

Networked Participatory Scholarship

Here’s the abstract:

We examine the relationship between scholarly practice and participatory technologies and explore how such technologies invite and reflect the emergence of a new form of scholarship that we call Networked Participatory Scholarship: scholars’ participation in online social networks to share, reflect upon, critique, improve, validate, and otherwise develop their scholarship. We discuss emergent techno-cultural pressures that may influence higher education scholars to reconsider some of the foundational principles upon which scholarship has been established due to the limitations of a pre-digital world, and delineate how scholarship itself is changing with the emergence of certain tools, social behaviors, and cultural expectations associated with participatory technologies.

We conclude by noting that, “Whether they recognize it or not, scholars 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. Though such an understanding may lead to a certain level of trepidation regarding the shape of scholarship’s uncertain future, we should take an active role in influencing the future of scholarship and establishing ourselves as productive participants in an increasingly networked and participatory world.”

A copy of the paper is also available:
Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent Techno-Cultural Pressures Toward Open and Digital Scholarship in Online Networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766-774.: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001

Image courtesy of: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/onecm/5862945226/. Licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

What do scholars do on Twitter?

Posted on October 24th, by George Veletsianos in my research, NPS, online learning, open, papers, scholarship. 7 comments

I have just had an article published with the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, entitled Higher education scholars’ participation and practices on Twitter. The paper focuses on a qualitative analysis of 45 scholars’ (anonymized and edited) tweets to acquire a deep meaning of practice, and is part of my research into Networked Participatory Scholarship. Those of you interested in how faculty members use social media, the relationship between social media and identity, digital scholarship, scholarly use of online networks, and the rise of the digital scholar, may find this worthwhile.

Citation and link to pdf: Veletsianos, G. (2012). Higher Education Scholars’ Participation and Practices on Twitter. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(4), 336-349.

Twitter bird logo icon illustrationIf you have been participating on Twitter for a while, some of the findings won’t be surprising, but the paper can serve as a starting point for deeper conversations on the why and how social media is used by scholars, academics, and faculty members. Nonetheless, interesting implications to point out include the following:

“Even though social networking technologies in general were developed for purposes unrelated to education, they have been co-opted and repurposed by scholars, in part, to satisfy educational and scholarly pursuits.”

“Is Twitter fostering more social opportunities and community-oriented approaches to education and scholarly participation? Or, do the individuals who espouse these kinds of beliefs happen to make use of Twitter for scholarly pursuits?”

“Are scholars altruistically sharing information for the benefit of the community in which they belong? Or, is information sharing a self-serving activity? Are scholars sharing information in order to assist the profession grow intellectually, or are they attempting to develop a ‘brand’ around themselves?”

“Twitter is often dismissed as a platform of meaningless soliloquies and dull updates…Rather than representing meaningless chatter, [Twitter] updates may introduce opportunities to explore shared interests, experiences, goals, mindsets, and life dispositions/aspirations.”

The themes relating to participation and practices highlighted in the paper are the following: Scholars participating on Twitter (1) shared information, resources, and media relating to their professional practice; (2) shared information about their classroom and their students; (3) requested assistance from and offered suggestions to others; (4) engaged in social commentary; (5) engaged in digital identity and impression management; (6) sought to network and make connections with others; and (7) highlighted their participation in online networks other than Twitter.

Enjoy, and if you have any input, I would love to hear it!

Assessing digital scholarship (#change11)

Posted on September 28th, by George Veletsianos in NPS, open, scholarship. 1 Comment

It’s digital scholarship week at #change11 and I am in the midst of following the activity on Twitter and a number of blogs. At the same time I am preparing my annual activity report that details the work that I’ve been doing over the past year. In this report, one will find evidence on research, teaching, and service. Evaluation norms for these include: citations, average teaching scores compared to departmental/university averages, journal impact factors, evidence of impact on education and the profession, etc.

One of the issues that often comes up, and one that Martin raises in chapter 11 of his book as well, is the lack of established frameworks to evaluate digital scholarship, digital artifacts, and academics’ digital participation. That’s not to say that all digital participation should be evaluated or that all digital participation is even worthy of evaluation. The lack of frameworks, in addition to indicating that academia may not value digital artifacts, also signifies the difficulty of assessing the impact of scholarship. This is not a new problem, as academia has struggled with figuring out methods with which to evaluate innovations. A similar issue is facing Design-Based Researchers. Collins, Joseph, and Bielaczyc (2004, pp. 40) for instance, note that Design-Based Research generates mountains of data that independent researchers can use  in answering their own questions about teaching and learning. But “this would require the community to honor such reanalysis of data with the same status as original research and it would require research journals and tenure committees to take such work seriously.” While other fields have found value in the analysis of secondary data (e.g., bioinformatics), education has yet to make advances in this domain.

Food for thought: Institutions are complex entities that serve numerous stakeholder. How do we create frameworks that value the important work that is being done on digital spaces, while also valuing the cultural norms and values of the institution?

Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_2

Digital Scholarship Week at #change11

Posted on September 26th, by George Veletsianos in NPS, open, scholarship. No Comments

This week’s session at the #change11 MOOC is focusing on Digital Scholarship. Professor Martin Weller is leading this session and  I’m excited to see how the week unfolds. Importantly, Martin’s new book, The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, has just been published by Bloomsbury Academic both for purchase and for free under an open access format.

I became familiar with Martin’s work within the last year or so. Within this time frame I have been increasingly interested in how academics are repurposing technology tools to improve teaching and research. At the same time, I’ve been studying how traditional research/teaching practices are defining the use of technology, and how technology aligns with or conflicts with cultural values. I was quickly drawn to Martin’s work, and I’m glad that I now have a book to recommend to my colleagues who are looking to understand the issues surrounding digital scholarship.

So… stay tuned… I hope to post some of my thoughts here during the upcoming week, but if you are interested, feel free to tag along through the #change11 site or through the other networks in which conversations are happening (e.g., on Twitter through the #change11 hashtag or on the Open Study change11 group).

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., Academia.edu) 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 http://www.learnex.dmu.ac.uk/2010/07/27/open-education-the-need-for-critique/

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.

Online social networks in scholarly work

Posted on August 12th, by George Veletsianos in NPS, scholarship, sharing. No Comments

Online social networks in scholarly work (in Greek) – Διαδικτυακά «εργαστήρια» της έρευνας

Digital Scholarship Practices: Fellowship post #4

Posted on August 6th, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, my research, NPS, open, scholarship, sharing. 2 comments

This is post #4 of my StellarNet Fellowship (see posts 1, 2, and 3). The purpose is to examine practices undertaken by academics and educators in networked publics. These practices fall under the general heading of “digital scholarship” and these individuals have been called “digital scholars” or “open scholars.”

I am preparing to leave Cyprus, and this is  my final fellowship entry. In this short entry, I’d like to discuss the spaces in which digital scholarship is becoming visible and what this visibility means for expertise and impressions. On the one hand, we have seen an increase in specialized technology tools targeting scholars. For instance, here is my academia.edu profile and my mendeley profile. On the other hand, we have seen general purpose tools that have been appropriated by academics and used in ways that further their teaching and research. Examples include such spaces as Facebook and Twitter (e.g., #PhDchat), but also YouTube, personal blogs, and iTunes. Some examples of open activities taking place in these spaces include:

  • – Book and manuscript authoring in public (while sharing ongoing drafts). This includes both individuals who have earned their PhDs, but also individuals who are working on their PhDs and are using online spaces to reflect and network on PhD-related topics.
  • – Debates on issues pertaining to theory and research
  • – Crowdsourcing videos, thoughts, solutions to problems
  • – Sharing clips from classroom teaching

These activities contrast to academic notions of expertise. While experts are sometimes perceived to be those individuals who “have the answers,” the experts that I have been following are willing to share drafts of their work in public and work through the issues that they are studying with the help of others. The trails that they leave on the web show may show how their thinking and work developed and improved over time; yet, individuals who are not immersed in this culture have often asked me: “How would others perceive me and my work, if they just happen to see my blog entry from June 2010 and nothing else, when in June 2010 I was just starting work in this area?”  That is a valid concern; and perhaps one that may be felt more by those who are just beginning their career or those who do not have a wide and persistent following. In the world of the open web, it’s not just our activities that matter, but also how our activities are perceived by others. To this extent, the scholars that I’ve been following have not only been sharing content, but they are also seeking to manage the impressions of others. Furthermore, activities aimed at impression management are undertaken not just on content that the individual posts, but also on content that others post. For example, in the words of a participant from a related project, “it’s my facebook wall, and if you write something I don’t like, I’m going to delete it.” It’s becoming increasingly clear I think, that participation in these communities (a) assists academics in improving their work (e.g., by receiving feedback on drafts), (b) enables them to become part of various academic subcultures, and (c) is used by academics as a way to further their career and their position. One may question why item C matters. Reasons for sharing matter 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. Such an understanding aligns with recent calls for educational technology research to investigate the social, political, cultural and economic factors that influence technology use and non-use (e.g., see Selwyn, 2010).

That is all for now, but if you are interested stay tuned. I’ll be sharing a longer draft of this work soon. In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to post them!

References

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

Ethics of Doing Research in Online Networks: Fellowship post #3

Posted on July 26th, by George Veletsianos in NPS, scholarship, sharing. 3 comments

This is post #3 of my summer Fellowship. The purpose is to examine practices undertaken by academics and educators in networked publics. These practices fall under the general heading of “digital scholarship” and these individuals have been called “digital scholars” or “open scholars.”

Though research in online spaces is gaining increasing acceptance, it has also gained notoriety recently. A story in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week raised ethical concerns about a Harvard study that included about 1,700 Facebook profiles as its data source. The sticking point was the use of data that should have been private, but was considered public.

Online research involving public data (like the one I am conducting for my Fellowship) is becoming increasingly common. The question becomes, what is public and what is private? Can researchers treat all information posted online as public? If it’s public, is consent to use that information for research purposes still required? Offices of Research Support have adopted policies guiding researchers to the ethical use of public data (though as you will see below, these policies do not fit all molds). My institution’s Review Board for example states that the following does not constitute Human Subjects Research:

Public and/or published data sets, accessible without restriction (e.g., password not needed*), and containing readily identifiable information and where individuals can reasonably expect this information to be available to the public (examples include letters to the editor, blogs) (source)

As such, research involving information posted publicly (e.g. on Twitter, YouTube, etc) can be used for research purposes without informed consent. The problem with the Harvard case was that the individuals mining the data were accessing data that were restricted (i.e. not public), and thus should not have been used without first securing informed consent.

The more difficult questions that I’ve been grappling with in my use of public data for research purposes are the following:

  • Let’s assume I have a public twitter account, a researcher downloads a set of status updates for analysis, and I later delete those posts. Does that mean that the researcher can no longer can use it in his/her research? Does that mean that I have “withdrawn my participation”? Or is the data still considered “public” just by virtue of it being public at one point in time?
  • Consider the case where my profile is private and someone whose profile is public re-tweets one of my status updates. Can a researcher archive the public re-tweet and use it in his/her research, even though the tweet originated from a non-public account?

These are important questions to consider. Both academics and students need to equip themselves with a greater understanding of their rights and responsibilities when conducting research in online spaces such as social networking sites.

As far as my data sets are concerned, I’ve gone at great lengths to anonymize and de-identify them (e.g., by rewriting narratives/tweets/etc and having a second researcher check whether the meaning changed and deleting any identifying information). Re-writing narratives is an acceptable, even encouraged, strategy, in various phenomenological circles (e.g., Kuiken 2001 and van Manen, 1997) and in this instance it also serves ethical purposes.