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

Category: sharing

Instructional Systems Design: Syllabus

Posted on August 25th, by George Veletsianos in courses, open, scholarship, sharing, work. 2 comments

I am very excited to be teaching our introductory course this semester, entitled Instructional Systems Design. It’s a challenging course because it is introductory, but also because there’s so much I want to cover! Even though the syllabus is a reflection of what I think is important for someone entering the field, I want to highlight the main objective, which is to introduce students to the practice of instructional design and to enable them to become better learning experience designers.The syllabus is embedded below, but feel free to download it from scribd as well. If you’ve taught or taken a similar class in the past, I would love to hear your feedback!

Summer is over and Fall plans are underway!

Posted on August 22nd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. No Comments

CC licensed photo by Magic Madzik

This summer has gone by faster than I hoped it would! Highlights included:

  • work and pleasure trips lasting a few days in Lund (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Frankfurt (Germany), Larnaca (Cyprus),
  • three days of fun and productivity in Madison, WI for the 26th annual Distance Teaching & Learning conference
  • the release of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education
  • my summer course taught online via ELGG (which seems to have been received extremely well)
  • an interview with Mark Parry at the Chronicle of Higher Education on social and participatory online learning
  • and writing a paper with Royce Kimmons, one of our PhD students (information on this coming shortly…)

I am however looking forward to the Fall semester (which starts on Wednesday). Our new students have arrived and I am teaching the introduction to instructional design class that they are taking – I’m very excited about that class and look forward to working with brilliant minds to pursue learning innovations! The fall semester promises to be a busy one though as I am  presenting at 2 conferences, giving keynotes at 2 other ones,  and launching an adventure learning project in the Sociology department…. while working on a couple research papers.

How’s that for a 4-month summary update?! More detailed posts will follow, but, for now, you can’t complain that I haven’t kept you updated :).

Social media & Open Education Critiques

Posted on July 27th, by George Veletsianos in open, scholarship, sharing, work. 4 comments
Critiquing eyes, by CarbonNYC (CC-license)

Critiques of the current state of education are omnipresent. In such critiques, authors often highlight the positive role that social media and open education can play. While I don’t believe that the status quo is the best environment for education and scholarship to thrive, I also don’t live in a social media utopia. Yet, the critiques of social media and open education that I read are often superficial and easily countered: face-to-face interaction is important and the “best” mode of communication, we can’t allow open participation due to federal regulation such as FERPA, etc, etc. This is frustrating. Critique and self-reflection are healthy, even for mere humans who support both the integration of social media and openness in educational settings (especially higher education). To help me (and my students) better understand the complexities, hidden agendas, implications, and rhetoric vs. reality, surrounding social media and open education, I have been collecting serious and well-articulated critiques of the two. I am posting a few of these below, but if you know of any more, please feel free to add them in the comments and I’ll update this entry!

Open Education: The need for critique (Richard Hall)

The educational significance of social media: A critical perspective (Neil Selwyn)

Citizenship, technology and learning –a review of recent literature (Neil Selwyn)

The romance of the public domain (Chander & Sunder)

What does ‘open’ really mean? (Tony Bates)

Trying out ELGG

Posted on July 10th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 3 comments

I am teaching an online course starting on Monday and I am using the ELGG social networking platform as the tool through which I will run the course. I’ve used ning, pbworks, and wordpress (and yes, even Moodle… and WebCT and Blackboard) to run courses in the past, but I am really excited about using ELGG because I don’t have to hack together various tools to offer a diverse social learning experience for my students. Judging from past experience and other users, the platform is promising and will deliver quite a lot! @roycekimmons and the people at UT’s IDEA Studio deserve a public thank you as well, as they had to tweak the installation and hack various plugins to fit our needs. More experiences with ELGG will be shared in due course!

Technologies to support Adventure Learning projects

Posted on May 19th, by George Veletsianos in adventure learning, online learning, sharing. 4 comments

I am often asked how Adventure Learning projects come together. The usual question goes something like this, “It seems that there are so many technologies used to create an Adventure Learning project. How do you bring it all together?” The answer is rather simple actually: You center the project on an narrative and you use technological and social affordances to bring the narrative to life. Here is a simple example, that excludes any kind of interaction, other than the option to reply via comments on this post:

Saturday was a beautiful day.  The shining sun was appealing enough to put an end to my plans to work.

My partner in crime and I got our bikes and sought to explore parts of town off the beaten path. Art Alliance Austin was hosting an art fair and that was our destination. This is the story of our adventure to the fair and the art we encountered during our trip. Urban biking can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s mostly a fulfilling experience if you take the time to pause and look around. I ride a 2008 Marin Muirwoods. It’s a rugged, steel-framed city bike that allows me to go off-road quite easily. I rode this same bike in Minneapolis, MN, Manchester (UK) and Austin, TX and it has always been reliable.

The trip started a few miles North of the University of Texas at Austin. I am posting the route below along with placemarks of interest along the way. The route was automatically created via MyTracks which is an application for Android-based phones that records GPS tracks. I turned on the application when I started the trip and turned it off at the end of the trip. At times when I wanted to note locations of interest, I added points to MyTracks which then appeared on the map. The final map along with the 8 markers I added are shown below.

Each time I added a marker, I also took a picture. Each picture can therefore be mapped to the marker on the map above. In addition, if you select street view on the map above you may be able to match the picture to the images there (except perhaps in the cases where I was cycling through the alleys!). Geotagged pictures can also be added automatically to a map.

Our first stop was Sparky Park. This is an Austin Energy substation that was converted to a “pocket” park. We found this by accident, but is was quite fitting that we came across it on our way to the art fair!

From there, we rode towards downtown. The trees provided much needed coverage from the sun and it was great riding through the residential neighborhoods and looking at old houses. At some point we decided to cross Guadalupe Street which is one of the main Austin streets and runs right by the University of Texas.

View Larger Map

We quickly abandoned the plan to stay on that street because of the number of cars and people that were on it, and got on side streets again. That’s when we came across the following graffiti, celebrating UT Austin’s football team. Now, I’m not really into football, but from what I hear, UT has a pretty good football team with a dedicated following. That’s probably a topic for a different post though!

Riding past the university and towards downtown still, the next form of public “art” encountered was one of Austin’s still-standing moonlight towers. These structures were built in the late 1800’s as a way to provide light to the city. Originally, there were 31 of these structures in Austin – nowadays, there are only 15 towers left, while, according to Wikipedia, Austin is the only city left that still operates this system (as part of the “keep Austin weird” program I am assuming! )… To provide more contextual information, I “checked in” at this location using Gowalla.

The first leg of our journey ended at Lady Bird lake – which is named after Lady Bird Johnson former first lady and wife of Lyndon B. Johnson. Our very own Learning Technology Center at UT Austin keeps a presidential timeline of the 20th century along with digitized assets and information on LBJ is of course available.

The trip included many more highlights, but this short example provides the main ideas behind designing adventure learning experiences for real-world, participatory, and inquiry-based experiences that capitalize on events that happen outside of the classroom. Literature on adventure learning and these ideas can be found in my publications page.

And for those of you interested in data and the use of data to help teach relevant topics, here’s the graph of the trip!

Last day of class

Posted on May 6th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

It’s our last day of class today and we are wrapping it up with a Pecha Kucha celebration. If you recall, it all started with a request to “hack my syllabus” (i.e. asking students to comment and critique the syllabus of the class). It’s rather strange actually; sitting here trying to put together a couple of slides to summarize 4 months of work, I am realizing that I’ll miss my students. We had some good times together this semester. Special thanks to the students for making this a fun class and special thanks to all of you who joined our little community and added real value to our learning via your insightful blog comments, virtual visits, and twitter replies. Given that the class was focusing on online and participatory learning, being able to engage with the community for online and participatory learning was quite fitting! Stay tuned for more: I am teaching this class again in the summer (though, this time, online!)

RFID to check student attendance?

Posted on May 5th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 5 comments

(via shashdot and George Siemens)

It looks like Northern Arizona University is planning on implementing a system to “use sensors to detect students’ university identification cards when they enter classrooms, according to NAU spokesperson Tom Bauer. The data will be recorded and available for professors to examine. Bauer said the university’s main goal with the sensor system is to increase attendance and student performance….NAU Student Body President Kathleen Templin said most students seem to be against the new system. She added students have started Facebook groups and petitions against the sensor system. NAU sophomore Rachel Brackett created one of the most popular Facebook groups, “NAU Against Proximity Cards,” which has more than 1,400 members.”

I usually refrain from replying on initiatives that annoy me. This one goes over the top however, because it puts the blame on one of the groups that I care deeply about: students and youth.

May I suggest a few simple alternatives? :

  • Improve student performance by making teaching and education more appealing (i.e. increase instructor performance to increase student performance).
  • Redesign curricula with engagement at the core. Content learning will follow.
  • Treat lack of attendance as a sign of the problems that the institution faces rather than a student  issue.
  • Require professors to attend courses that are consistently rated above-average (and use RFIDs to check whether they are actually attending those course if you are so inclined to use the system)
  • Institute policies that encourage and reward instructor innovation.
  • Encourage sharing of innovative teaching approaches, transformative technology use, and curricular innovation.
  • Learn from your students and involve them in the decision-making process. It seems that they are  harnessing the power of the technology much better than you are (see facebook initiative above)
  • Invite me to give you a workshop (that’s a joke, but I won’t refuse if you actually do invite me)
[Update 5/5, 2:25pm: Terry Anderson just returned from a trip to New Zealand, and he provides an excellent example of instructors sharing when he says: ” Ako [the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence] funds post-secondary faculty members $3,000 each to compose 2,000 word good practice chapters on a host of topics relevant to teaching and learning in tertiary education. The results are a very impressive e-book with 30 chapters online  and still growing.”]

Thanks for listening. We now return to our regular programming.

AERA 2010 and publication

Posted on April 30th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

I am getting ready to leave for the annual AERA conference, held in Denver. I’m limiting myself to one presentation and one discussion session this year, focusing on Adventure Learning and technology integration (whatever that means!). My slidedeck is posted below, and you’ll see that I’ve gone totally minimal this year (i.e. 2 slides)! Those of you who got used to seeing my photographs in my presentations, you’ll unfortunately be disappointed. I’m taking on the challenge to simply talk for 12 minutes. Part of the reason is because the paper I am presenting just got published in one of the well known open-access journals and you are welcome to go read it:

Veletsianos, G., & Doering, A. (2010). Long-term student experiences in a hybrid, open-ended and problem based Adventure Learning program. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 280-296. Retrieved April 14, 2010 from

Understanding complex ecologies: A long-term investigation Of student experiences in an Adventure Learning program

View more presentations from George Veletsianos.

Second, I have volunteered to be a last-minute discussant for the following session:
Sat, May 1 – 4:05pm – 6:05pm Building/Room: Sheraton / Plaza Court 1
Innovative Pathways to the Development of Teacher Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Empirical Accounts From Preservice and In-Service Teachers

Session Participants:

Evidence of TPACK in Preservice Graduates’ Rationales for Future Technology Use: *Joan E. Hughes (University of Texas – Austin)

Preservice Teachers’ Technologically Integrated Planning: Contrasting Quality and Instructional Variety by Development Approach: *Mark J. Hofer (College of William and Mary), Neal Grandgenett (University of Nebraska – Omaha), Judith B. Harris (College of William and Mary), Karen Work Richardson (College of William and Mary)

Using Classroom Artifacts to Judge Teacher Knowledge of Reform-Based Instructional Practices That Integrate Technology in Mathematics and Science Classrooms: *Margaret L. Niess (Oregon State University)

Effects of Practice-Based Professional Development on Teacher Learning in Technology Integration: *Chrystalla Mouza (University of Delaware)

GeoThentic: Designing and Assessing With Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Aaron Doering (University of Minnesota), *Cassandra Scharber (University of Minnesota)

Chair: Chrystalla Mouza (University of Delaware)

The purpose of this symposium is to examine multiple approaches to the development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) among preservice and in-service teachers. These approaches include participation in laptop infused teacher education programs, instructional planning, and development of portfolios, teaching cases, and online learning environments. All approaches have in common a clear focus on helping teachers: (a) understand the interplay among technology, content and pedagogy; (b) situate learning into authentic activities and contexts; and (c) reflect on their experiences with technology. Key elements of each approach are identified and their impact on teacher learning is described. Implications are drawn for the design of learning opportunities and technologies that could better prepare teachers to teach with technology.