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

Category: sharing

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.

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| gmail.com), 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.

ElearningEuropa Newsletters

Posted on September 21st, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

Each month, I enjoy receiving the elearningeuropa newsletter that provides information on research, papers,  events, funding, and other European initiatives relating to technology and education. I am posting selected bits from the latest issue (per the EU permission on content reproduction), but you can subscribe for the (free) newsletter at the  elearningEuropa site.

elearningeuropa.info Newsletter – September 2010

Ongoing topics

ELEARNING PAPERS. Call for Papers: Training and work. Deadline October 8th. Today, a large part of learning takes place in a work environment, rather than in tertiary and post-tertiary education settings. In order to stay relevant and contribute to the human capital of future workers, learning needs to be tightly integrated into organizational work processes, allowing it to become a fundamental part of workers’ and managers’ everyday activities. Read more here

YOUTH ON THE MOVE. A new European Union initiative. During the month of October, international youth mobility will be celebrated in all its forms. Budapest and Bordeaux will provide the stage for the launch of a major European initiative that seeks to encourage youth mobility in all fields of education, training, creation and solidarity-based commitment. These two cities and their community, educational and economic actors will come together for an event at which the dominant theme will be mobility for young people and the values that they represent. Read more here

PROJECT OF THE MONTH. ICOPER is a best practice network that seeks to collect and further develop best practices for the design, development and delivery of interoperable content supporting competency-driven higher education. Read more here

ICT 2010, Digitally Driven, 27-29 September 2010, Brussels (Belgium). Europe’s most visible forum for ICT research and innovation. This biennial event has become a unique meeting point for researchers, business people, investors and high-level policy-makers in the field of digital innovation. ICT 2010 will focus on policy priorities such as Europe’s Digital Agenda and the 2011-2012 European Union financial programme (€ 2.8 billion) funding research and innovation in ICT. Read more here

Selected articles, events and open calls

At what age can a child start using a computer?

Without necessarily advocating the use of ICT as early as possible in childhood, this article tries to temper the negative view being an invitation to informed reflection and to interpretation of the…

ICT Resources Centres for Special Needs Education

In the framework of the recent reorganization of Special Needs Education in Portugal, aiming at the inclusion of children and youth, with permanent special needs, in mainstream schools, several…

Lifelong Learning Programme Info Days 2011

What are the European funding possibilities in the field of Lifelong Learning? What is the latest news on the Lifelong Learning Programme? How to increase your chances of having your project…

Second European Innovation Summit

A debate will take place on how to achieve Europe’s goal to become a global leader in innovation and how we can make innovation partnerships successful. The Summit also includes a three-day…

Diverse 2011 Developing Innovative Visual EducationalResources For Students Everywhere

The main goal for the conference is to enhance the use of visual media in teaching, learning and creative inquiry. To achieve this we are inviting those who produce, use or want to use visual media…

CSEDU 2011 – 3rd International Conference on Computer Supported Education

CSEDU 2011, the International Conference on Computer Supported Education, aims at becoming a yearly meeting place for presenting and discussing new educational environments, best practices and case…

Sixth EDEN Research Workshop. User Generated Content Assessment in Learning: Enhancing Transparency and Quality of Peer Production

The Budapest event will offer a platform to present newly born research, theory and practice about assessing the value and impact of e-learning, exchange ideas about the objectives, methods, tools…

VII International Seminar of the UNESCO Chair in e-learning. Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development – Silver Bullet Found?

The topic will be Mobile Learning. In the seminar, we will discuss and analyze this emerging phenomenon from three different approaches: academic, technological and cooperative….

Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators

The indicators show who participates in education, how much is spent on it and how education systems operate. They also illustrate a wide range of educational outcomes, comparing, for example,…

PISA Computer-Based Assessment of Student Skills in Science

PISA Computer-Based Assessment of Student Skills in Science describes how the 2006 survey was administered, presents 15-year-olds’ achievement scores in science and explains the impact of…

HOW TO Identify & Design Great Digital Content

What does exemplary digital learning content look like for Business? Use this check list to help you purchase or develop great content. The checklist has been developed over many years of…

The use of Web 2.0 in VET and adult training in SVEA Consortium’s regions. Summary of the Regional Needs Analysis

The report not only outlines the current needs and status quo in the use of web 2.0 tools in VET and adult training, but also responds to the identified needs and barriers by outlining appropriate…

EC Public consultation on next-generation EU programmes – education, training and youth policy

The new programmes should support the Europe 2020 strategy, which promotes an economy based on knowledge, research and innovation, high levels of education and skills, adaptability and creativity,…

Flexibility and Innovation Fund

The fund represents LSIS’s commitment to directing funding into the learning and skills sector and using provider expertise to build the sector’s capacity to innovate and improve…

Youth in Action – Partnerships

Call for proposals aiming to support partnership projects which intend to develop or reinforce their long-term actions, strategies and programmes in the field of non-formal learning and youth….

European Policy Network on Key Competences in School Education

This call for Proposals will support the implementation of the 2006 Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning. It will do so by addressing in particular the issues raised by the 2009…

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!