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

Category: sharing

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.

Computers and Internet Applications in Education SIG (AERA, 2010)

Posted on April 26th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 1 Comment

I am excited to announce the program for the Computers and Internet Applications in Education SIG (AERA, 2010)! During 2010, the SIG was run by Sara Dexter, Aaron Doering and Cassandra Scharber. The elected members for 2011 are Charles Miller, Cassandra Scharber, and myself. Hope to see you at AERA later this week!

Saturday, May 1

Potholes and Possibilities: Pre-K–12 Technology Integration and Internet Use,
Paper Session, Sat, May 1 – 8:15am – 9:45am, Sheraton, Governor’s Square 9

  • Students, Teachers, and School Leaders: A Nested, Ecological Case Study of Technology Integration What Makes Technology “Risky”? An Exploration of Teachers’ Perceived Risk in the Context of Technology Integration
  • An Ecological Techno-Microsystem Explanation of Internet Use and Child Development
  • Gender Similarities and Differences in Computer Use in Web 2.0 Trends

The Efficacy of Tools for Social Networking, Tutoring, and e-Portfolios, 
Roundtable Session 12, Sat, May 1 – 10:35am – 12:05pm, Sheraton / Grand Ballroom Section 2

  • Supporting and Enhancing Social Scholarship in the Digital Age: The Case of Pocket Knowledge
  • The Effect of Access to an Online Tutorial Service on the Achievement and Attitude of College Algebra Students
  • A Capstone Experience for Preservice Teachers: Building an Online Portfolio With ZUNAL

What Is Happening in Schools and Classrooms in the Context of National Policies and Developments? Symposium, Sat, May 1 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm, Sheraton / Plaza Court 1

  • ICT in Education Policy and Practice in Chile: Does It Correlate?
  • The Challenges of Implementing ICT in Poorly Resourced Schools in Developing Environments
  • Multiple Levels of Influence on the Implementation of ICT in Teaching in Australia

Sunday, May 2

Investigating Accommodations and Disabilities With Web-Based Applications, 
Roundtable Session 22      Sun, May 2 – 8:15am – 9:45am, Sheraton / Grand Ballroom Section 2

  • Web-Based Learning and Students With Learning Disabilities
  • Thinking About the Accommodations Selection Process

Professional Development, Course Design, and Community: The Impact on Learning,
Roundtable Session 28, Sun, May 2 – 12:25pm – 1:55pm, Sheraton / Grand Ballroom Section 2

  • Evaluating Community Formation in an All-Online, Academic, Semester-Long Course Computer Use and Perceived Course Effectiveness: Is the Relationship Changing Over Time?
  • Exploring Differences in Online Professional Development Seminars With the Community of Inquiry Framework
  • Revisiting Communities of Practice: New Trends in Online Learning Environments

Technology Integration Innovations for Elementary and Middle School Contexts
Roundtable Session 30, Sun, May 2 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm, Sheraton / Grand Ballroom Section 2

  • A Networked Learning Model for Construction of Personal Learning Environments in Seventh-Grade Life Science
  • Teachers Planning for Curriculum-Based Learning With Technology
  • Creating a Learning Environment for Successful Scaling Up of a Project-Based Technology Initiative

Monday, May 3

Designing Environments, Experiences, and Tools for Teaching and Learning, 
Paper Session, Mon, May 3 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm, Sheraton / Plaza Court 1

  • The Layers of Authenticity: Designing for Learner Experience
  • The Development, Delivery, and Sustainability of a Blended Learning Initiative for Part-Time Undergraduate Students on Health Care Practice Programs
  • Design and Development of a Web Application for English and Composition Classes Validation of the Electronic Portfolio Student Perspective Instrument: Conditions Under a Different Integration Initiative

From Collaboration to Cyberbullying: Insights From Technology Use in Higher Education,
Paper Session, Mon, May 3 – 4:05pm – 5:35pm, Sheraton / Plaza Court 1

  • Collaborative Case-Study Analysis Using MediaWiki in an Educational Psychology Course: A Mixed-Method Investigation
  • Technology-Mediated Learning in Pathology: How Collaborative Use of Virtual Microscopy Shapes Students’ Reasoning
  • African American Female Students’ Participation in Online Collaborative Learning
  • Cyberbullying Subtypes and Sex Differences Among College Students

Interesting articles in Distance Education Journal

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

The latest issue of Distance Education looks VERY promising, with quite a few articles of interest. I’m especially looking forward to reading the one by Hilton et al that seems to present much needed data on the topic of open teaching. Two thumbs up for empirical research! Enjoy:

Compton, L., Davis, N. & Correia, A. (2010). Pre-service teachers’ preconceptions, misconceptions, and concerns about virtual schooling. Distance Education, 31(1), 37-54. doi:10.1080/01587911003725006
Over the last decade, online distance education has become a common mode of study in most states in the USA, where it is known as virtual schooling (VS), but many people have misconceptions about it. Pre-service teachers’ personal histories as students and their preconceptions, misconceptions, and concerns influence pre-service teacher training experiences. A qualitative study of an introductory field experience course that included this new mode of schooling for the first time analyzed the personal journals and online discussion responses of 65 pre-service teachers in the USA. Analysis identified that common misconceptions and concerns included career threat, viability of VS, academic dishonesty, reduced interaction, teacher feedback, and lack of rigor. The curriculum innovations in this innovative teacher preparation program were shown to address these misconceptions and concerns and facilitate understanding and acceptance of VS as an alternative form of education by many of these pre-service teachers.

Oliver, K., Kellogg, S., Townsend, L. & Brady, K. (2010). Needs of elementary and middle school teachers developing online courses for a virtual school. Distance Education, 31(1), 55-75. doi:10.1080/01587911003725022
Eight teams of elementary and middle school teachers developed pilot online courses for the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) in the USA. A qualitative case study with focus groups and a follow-up survey helped to identify common needs of these non-traditional course designers during course development efforts. Findings suggest virtual schools can better support non-traditional course designers by providing leadership components such as technical expertise, regular feedback, and clear expectations, including an understanding of the target students. Findings further suggest designers need a range of bite-sized professional development on replicating model courses, using course management systems, assessing learners online, designing with copyright and safety issues in mind, integrating Web tools, and developing course documentation for deployment. The article concludes with a discussion of support structures that may aid instructors tasked with online course development.

Hilton III, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P. & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education, 31(1), 77-92. doi:10.1080/01587911003725030
The authors studied a course in which an instructor allowed individuals at a distance to participate. Although these students were not formally enrolled in the university where the class took place, the instructor gave them full access to all course materials and encouraged them to complete course assignments. The authors examined the time and technical proficiency required to involve learners at a distance. We surveyed these learners to determine their perceptions of the course and examined their work. Learners at a distance reported receiving some benefit from the course, particularly in terms of learner–content interaction. We surveyed students in the face-to-face classroom to determine whether having students participating at a distance in the same class affected their perception of the course. They reported no impact. The implications and limitations of these results are discussed.

Baggaley, J. (2010). The satirical value of virtual worlds. Distance Education, 31(1), 115-119. doi:10.1080/01587911003725055
Imaginary worlds have been devised by artists and commentators for centuries to focus satirical attention on society’s problems. The increasing sophistication of three-dimensional graphics software is generating comparable ‘virtual worlds’ for educational usage. Can such worlds play a satirical role suggesting developments in distance education practice and policy? The article examines the emergence of Hinterlife, a cartoon world run by a disarmingly despotic academic known to the real world only by his virtual name, Professor Horace. This article suggests that a healthy dose of satire can help distance education to overcome the problems generated in difficult economic times.

Participatory scholars v2

Posted on April 22nd, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 4 comments

Last week I shared an early draft of a paper discussing issues to consider in redefining scholarship and scholars. The posting opened up lots of discussion including replies on twitter, discussions in the comments section of the post, a week-long discussion on the ITFORUM listserv (for which the paper was originally intended), and face-to-face conversations with students/colleagues who saw the paper. Even though I got lots of great feedback on the actual paper, I also realized the following:

  • Resistance. There’s lots or resistance to the ideas presented in the paper (and quite a bit of support). To some extent, this is understandable, but what does it mean? To me it says two things: (a) the ideas need to be better presented/explained to be understood by those who don’t actually breathe social media (guilty as charged), and (b) the current system is so ingrained in our daily reality that the knee-jerk reaction is to criticize proposed solutions as opposed to evaluate both the status quo and the proposed solutions to discover a better way to do things. A and B are probably related in some ways.
  • Others are studying similar concepts. For instance, I found out that Andy Coverdale and Michael Rees are working on similar ideas. I already knew that Gideon BurtonTerry Anderson, and Cristina Costa are interested in similar ideas.

I am looking forward to more discussions on the topic… and if any of you will be in Denver next week for AERA, let’s chat!