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

Category: sharing

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!

Consultation on the promotion and validation of non-formal and informal learning

Posted on December 22nd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

The European Commission is seeking input on the promotion and validation of non-formal and informal learning. The implications of an EU-policy on this issue would be far-reaching, especially if it were to devise an accreditation initiative or  framework evaluating informal learning experiences (e.g., through those gained via open courses such as the ones offered by George Siemens, Alec Couros, Jim Groom, Stephen Downes, David Wiley, & Dave Cormier). A summary of some of the interesting ideas from the consultation call appears below:

We are all constantly learning in our daily lives at work and through our leisure, cultural and social activities. But, all too often, the knowledge, skills and competences we acquire through our work and life experiences remain hidden representing a waste of the talents of EU citizens. Making this learning visible and giving it value is important…The validation of learning gained through work and life experiences has been a cornerstone of EU lifelong learning policy since 1995… Increasing numbers of Member States are introducing validation into their legal and institutional frameworks but across the EU as a whole much more needs to be done to make validation a practical every day reality for all interested citizens…The Commission considers it is very timely to address these issues now as a series of EU initiatives covering qualification and credit systems in general, vocational and higher education and training have been introduced which support a learning outcomes approach…The purpose of this consultation is to collect views on whether further action is needed to make the learning acquired through work and life experience visible and give it value and, if so, what type of action is required and which policy priorities should be focused on to ensure future measures are well-targeted, relevant and respond to real needs on the ground.

BJET adds “practitioner notes”

Posted on December 20th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 3 comments

The British Journal of Educational Technology will now be asking each author to submit “practitioner notes” with each submission (a screenshot of the information requested appears below):

The purpose of this change is to aid practitioners in applying the reported research to their day-to-day work. Even though this change maintains that there is a researcher-practitioner binary, it nevertheless explicitly asks authors to keep in mind the applicability of their research for day-to-day practice, and that, to me, is a positive development.

What’s in a name? “Ed Tech” program names

Posted on December 15th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 4 comments

The “educational technology” field has had an identity crisis for a while (see Lowenthal and Wilson (2009) for a valuable discussion on this, which includes the following quote from Morgan, 1978, pp. 142): ““some would say that a discipline about whose name there is no certainty is no discipline at all, and educational technology has a variety of other labels—instructional systems development, instructional design, and, occasionally, educational engineering.”)

I’ve been discussing degree program names with my colleague Joan Hughes, and she suggested we look at program names to get a sense of how programs choose to view and define themselves. I thought that this was a great idea, but I also thought that degree program name changes were also valuable to look at. A few minutes of scavenging on the AECT website revealed the following information on degrees and programs/departments:

Florida State: Educational Psychology and Learning Systems (previous name: Instructional Systems)
University of Minnesota: Learning Technologies (previous name: Instructional Systems and Technology)
University of Georgia: Department of Educational psychology and Instructional Technology (IT merged with Ed Psych)
Georgia State University: Learning Technologies (previous name: Instructional Technology)
Purdue University: Learning Design and Technology (renamed: Fall, 2010: previous name: Educational Technology)
Indiana University:  Instructional Systems Technology   // Learning Sciences

These changes aren’t that surprising  given: (a) the increasing emphasis on learning (vs. instruction), (b) overlapping interests between educational psychology and instructional design, and (c) the rise of the learning sciences and learning design fields.

Do you know of any other name changes that may be relevant to this discussion?

Reference

Lowenthal, P., & Wilson, B. G. (2009). Labels DO Matter! A Critique of AECT’s Redefinition of the Field. TechTrends, 54(1), 38-46.

Visualizing Data (and digital scholarship)

Posted on December 8th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 2 comments

The video below comes from a BBC program called the Joy of Stats, and features Hans Rosling. The video, and much of Rosling’s work, as shown on his TED talks, demonstrate the usefulness of data visualization, dynamic data representations, and narrated video in clarifying difficult concepts and making strong arguments. I am posting the video as a way to reflect upon educational research practice. How do new technologies, such as NodeXL, allow us to visualize data and how can we enhance our understanding of learning and participation processes by employing richer data mining/representation techniques? The extent to which we are able to benefit from these technologies, depends partly (a) on the value placed upon “digital scholarship” and (2) on the extent to which researchers actually capitalize on the opportunities available to them to visualize and represent data in different ways. While the print-based culture that permeates educational journal publishing limits our ability to create and publish dynamic representations, the academic world also needs to develop frameworks for evaluating diverse forms of scholarly practice.

Enjoy the video!

Data Analytics on our Open Access e-Book

Posted on November 14th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

Last August, I announced the publication of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, a book I edited for AU Press that was published concurrently in print (for purchase) and in e-book format (as a free download). I am very excited (and surprised) to announce that Athabasca University Press is gearing up for a re-print! First of all, thank you to all of you who bought a copy, thus providing support to AU Press to continue publishing free versions of their books online.

I am surprised because I haven’t paid any attention to the printed version of the book. I’m also surprised by how quickly this happened (3 months – this could also mean that only a small number of books was printed). Either way, my interest on the printed version stops at the printed book’s ability to finance the free dissemination of the electronic version. I am more interested on the book’s reach and impact and a snapshot of these factors is provided below:

In relation to the reach of the book, here’s what Google Alerts and some simple tracking tells me:

– Every single day since publication, the book has been mentioned at least once (on blogs, twitter, and other social media)
– The e-book was bookmarked 81 times on the del.icio.us social bookmarking site.
– A number of libraries have bought copies of the printed book.
– Five instructors have used parts of the book in their teaching
Elizabeth Wellburn has been summarizing the book chapter-by-chapter on her blog.

As far as download statistics go, this is what AU has to provided:

– The book was downloaded 350 times in August, 329 in September, and 316 times in October.
– Individual chapter downloads were: 506 times in August, 1,263 times in September, and 861 in October.
– From August to October there has been 306 visits to the book on the Google Books site.  283 of these visits have resulted in actual pages being viewed.
– From August to October there has been a total of 3, 311 pages of the book viewed on Google Books.

One final note: The book does NOT owe its popularity to me. The book is popular because of the authors who contributed their knowledge to this project (see complete list on this pdf file), and to well-known and well-connected individuals who have mentioned/used the book in their work. These include Terry Anderson, Alec Couros, and George Siemens (this list looks suspiciously Canadian!)

I don’t know how to end this entry, but to say a big thank you.

CFP: International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education 2011

Posted on November 9th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

This CFP was emailed to me the other day – My colleagues presented here last year, but I was unable to attend unfortunately. Last year’s program looked quite interesting.

Has online learning quality kept up with its growth?

Posted on November 3rd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 3 comments

The Chronicle of Higher Education has just published a special report on Online Learning. Part of this issue involved asking individuals in the field the following question: Has the Quality of Online Learning Kept Up With Its Growth? Responses printed were from Elliott Masie, Alexander McCormick, Robert Mendenhall, Janet Salmons, Carol Twigg, and myself. You need to subscribe to read some of the content. I was however, given permission to post my response publicly, so here it is:

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the world saw the rise of a method of instruction called the monitorial or Lan­casterian method. This approach involved advanced students’ assisting their less-advanced colleagues in what amounted to modern-day tutoring sessions. Was the method effective? While it eventually fell out of favor, initial reactions varied. On the one hand, the approach allowed increased access to education. On the other, it could lead to poor learning experiences.

A few hundred years later, we face a similar dilemma: Has the quality of online-education offerings kept up with growth? Is the method effective? The answer is still the same: Yes and no. Over all, learning at a distance has dramatically improved during the last 15 years. The problems facing the traditional distance-learning model (e.g., feelings of isolation on the part of learners and instructors) can now be efficiently dealt with via participatory Internet technologies. Yet examples of outstanding online learning are hard to find. While social technologies enable the adoption of student-centered pedagogies, we remain faithful to our didactic approaches.

Nevertheless, we live in exciting times. I am encouraged because I see around me a desire to innovate and question cultural norms that may have hindered technology-enhanced education.

At the same time, three dominant narratives surrounding online learning concern me. These are:

  • Online learning versus face-to-face learning. The tendency to compare the two prevents us from seeing the unique opportunities offered by online learning. While I understand the desire to compare, I would prefer to spend our energy on improving education rather than comparing what should be inherently different approaches.
  • The latest technology as a panacea. To improve online learning, we need to stop thinking of technology as a tool to solve problems and start rethinking the ways we teach. While newer technologies may shape some of those ways, we need to evaluate our approaches, reconsider teacher/student roles, and assess the purposes of education and the meaning of learning in technology-rich environments.
  • Delivering education to the masses. Unfortunately, online learning is often seen as a way to deliver education to large numbers of students. The narrative of online education as a product to be delivered harms education. We need to think of online education as an experience, and the instructor as the designer of that experience—an experience that can be fulfilling, engaging, and powerful.