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

Category: sharing

Wordle summary of the Emerging Technologies in Distance Ed book

Posted on October 26th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. No Comments

I am editing an open access book for Athabasca University Press on Emerging Technologies for Distance Education. It consists of 16 chapters, and the 230-page word file is about 4.9MB. While not yet ready for public use, below is a basic summary of it. Apart from the obvious high-frequency words you will also notice a few favorite of mine including process, community, open, experience, and agents.

Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program

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

The following showed up in my inbox. It may be helpful to some…

Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICTs:

Up to 12 Research Fellowships will be awarded, each providing a grant of up to 22,000 € and specialized guidance to enable emerging scholars to carry out their own new and original study examining the impact of public access to information and communication technologies (ICT).

Emerging developing country researchers from Africa, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region and Latin America and the Caribbean are invited to apply for a Fellowship. They may submit their application and conduct their research in English, French, Portuguese or Spanish. The deadline for applying is Midnight Eastern Standard Time, 31 December 2009.

The Program is an eighteen-months project sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and managed by Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, in collaboration with scholars from Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina, the University of the Philippines, Manila, and the LINK Centre, South Africa.

Detailed information is available at the Program Website. The Frequently Asked Questions section ( is comprehensive and a good starting place to learn more about the Program.  We’d also like to encourage those interested to make use of the topic query to help refine their proposals.

Again, we hope you can help us disseminate this announcement (which is also attached) to other researchers and scholars who might be interested in ICT for development research.

Electronic dissertations/theses

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

Starting this academic year (2009/2010), the University of Manchester has moved to allowing MA students to submit their dissertations in electronic format, and gives students the option to “allow the University to make the dissertation open access.” [Insert applause here]

I would also like dissertations from prior years to be posted online, especially because (a) our current distance learning students would benefit from seeing examples of past dissertations, and (b) knowledge stored in libraries is easily lost. And for that, as long as there is the desire to share, there’s scribd (or any other file hosting site). So…

Below you will find two MA dissertations from two of our talented students who completed our MA in Digital Technologies, Communication & Education degree in September 2009. The first one (by Eman Tariq Mehana) is entitled Perceptions of Saudi Female Higher Education Students Using Web-Based Videoconferencing and it’s one I supervised. Eman used a videoconferencing system in a traditional higher education classroom in Saudi Arabia and juxtaposed the results with current practice. If you are interested in the global uses of educational technology, use of technology to solve real problems, cultural relevance, and don’t subscribe to the notion that technology is culturally neutral, then you should take a look at this one. Some illustrative quotes to entice you follow:

“In Saudi Arabia, gender segregation is conducted in institutions from the beginning of formal education until graduation from university…most campuses are designed with two main areas, one for males and the other for females, with high walls separating them. In each academic and administrative department there are female and male counterparts for all posts. The issues around gender segregation in higher education arise when male lecturers are asked to deliver lectures to female students; however, it is not acceptable for female lecturers to lecture males. For female students in higher education, the lectures they attend when given by male lecturers are delivered through videoconferencing or closed circuit television (CCTV). The rest are given by female lecturers, where there is no need for CCTV” (page 14).

“It is important for the sake of completion [comparison] to visualise the traditional CCTV class these female students are using as a means of comparing this new experience for them. A typical CCTV class in a Saudi Arabian university will be an auditorium of up to 100 seats with two medium-sized monitors hanging from the ceiling to allow better observation from the whole class. Female students take their seats before the class starts and a supervising university employee takes attendance and closes the auditorium doors before she notifies the male lecturer that they are ready for the lecture to begin.  The male lecturer has no means of seeing what is happening in the female class except for what the university employee will tell him. There is no camera in the female auditorium. The single method of communication between the lecturer and the rest of his class is through a telephone placed on a desk across the auditorium. A student who wishes to speak to the lecturer, or request clarification as the distance between a student’s seat and the screen makes it difficult to observe details, has to leave her seat, walk through the auditorium until she reaches the telephone and then ring the extension of the telephone in the lecturer’s auditorium. Although this is technically two-way synchronous communication, these calls can only be made at the end of the lecture and there is only a remote possibility that a lecturer will engage his female students in a debate or an ongoing discussion” (page 81-82).

Full Dissertation appears below:
Perceptions of Saudi Female Higher Education Students Using Web-Based Videoconferencing

The second one, How effective is ICDL Training for Omani Teachers (by Fahad Khalifa Humaid Al Hatmi) is another good example of the type of work that our students engage with and it was supervised by my colleague  Drew Whitworth.This one looks at a standardised computer training certification, the ICDL (International Computer Driving License), and, espousing a critical theory perspective,  examines whether teaching fundamental technology skills to teachers effectively prepares them to critically integrate technology in their classrooms. Education departments who teach technology skills to their teacher trainees (aka pre-service teachers) should read this one. Here’s a quote:

ICT literacy, described in terms of both core skills and transferable skills, is an important element of education from the standpoint of both students and teachers. ICT education needs to include core skills training, critical thinking skills applied to ICT selection and use, and the ability to evaluate the outcomes related to the use of ICT. In general, and specifically in the Sultanate of Oman, ECDL/ICDL programs are not achieving all of these goals. (p. 35)

Full dissertation appears below:
How Effective is ICDL Training for Omani Teachers
Enjoy! If you have any comments, I am sure that both Eman and Fahad would love to read them.

[Note that the students own the copyright to their dissertation (see point 14 on this page) and have given me written permission to make their dissertations publicly available via Scribd. The text from point 14 in the previous page is also posted below in case the page goes offline:

“Usually under The University of Manchester’s Intellectual Property Policy (subject to some exceptions), the student owns the copyright and intellectual property (IP) in their thesis itself (IP described in the dissertation may belong to someone else). Those exceptions are where:

  • the student is undertaking a sponsored studentship and the sponsoring body has a claim on arising IP
  • the student participates in research together with employees of the University (other than simply being supervised) where potentially commercialisable IP may be created
  • the student creates IP outside of their course using more than incidental use of University resources
  • the student writes a thesis which is generated by research performed in whole or in part using equipment or facilities provided by the University under conditions that impose copyright restrictions e.g. software licenses”

An article and two CFPs

Posted on October 15th, by George Veletsianos in cfp, papers, sharing. No Comments

My RSS reader brought these presents today. Hope they are useful to you. The article will strike a chord with those who seek to improve schooling (with or without technology). The CFPs also relate.

Singal, Nidhi & Swann, Mandy (2009). Children’s perceptions of themselves as learner inside and outside school. Research Papers in Education. Published online: October 15, 2009 (today) at
Abstract: This exploratory study set out to investigate how a group of children, who were identified as underachieving in school, constructed understandings of themselves as learners inside and outside school. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and image-based methods with the children. Interviews were also conducted with their parents and teachers. Findings of this study highlight the centrality of the children’s relational world and the richness of their learning experiences and capacity for learning outside school. Significant differences were evident in their descriptions of learning processes inside the classroom and outside the formal school setting. Outside school learning experiences, both structured and less formalised were perceived by the children as being more active, collaborative and challenging. Knowledge and understanding in these contexts seemed to be located within the children. In contrast, learning inside school was characterised by dependence on the teacher. Knowledge and understanding in this context appeared to be located within the teacher.

CFP #1: Call for a special issue of QWERTY. Generation Y, Digital Learners, and Other Dangerous Things (via the red-ink doctoral school)

CFP #2: Call for chapters for an e-book on Personal Learning Environments and Networks (via George Siemens)

Pedagogical Agent Talk at Linköping

Posted on October 6th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. No Comments

On the 7th of October, I am giving an invited talk at Linköping University in Sweden on my work and research with pedagogical agents. I will also be meeting with Agneta Gulz, Magnus Haake, and their colleagues whom I haven’t yet met (but really looking forward to meeting) to discuss various projects and future directions. Below is my presentation for attendees and for those who may be interested.

Two Interesting papers

Posted on October 4th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. No Comments

I’ve been away from my RSS reader a couple of days, and when I came back to it today I saw these two interesting articles. The first one looks at avatar design with respect to perceived interactivity and immersion, and although implications for education are not explored, it’s easy to see how this work applies to the increasing importance of pedagogical agent’s visual aesthetics. While I may not completely agree with the second article, it does a good job delineating the complexity of our work.


Avatars Mirroring the Actual Self versus Projecting the Ideal Self: The Effects of Self-Priming on Interactivity and Immersion in an Exergame, Wii Fit

in CyberPsychology & Behaviour by Seung-A Annie, Department of Communication, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Abstract: As exergames are increasingly being used as an interventional tool to fight the obesity epidemic in clinical studies, society is absorbing their impact to a more intense degree. Interactivity and immersion are key factors that attract exergame consumers. This research asks, What are the effects of priming the actual self versus the ideal self on users’ perceived interactivity and immersion in avatar-based exergame playing? and What are important moderators that play a role in exergame users’ self-concept perception? To answer these research questions, this study leveraged the Wii’s avatar-creating function (Mii Channel) and exergame feature (Wii Fit) in a controlled, randomized experimental design (N=126). The results of a 2×2 factorial design experiment demonstrated the significant main effect of self-priming on interactivity and the moderating role of the actual-ideal self-concept discrepancy in influencing immersion during exergame playing. Game players who created an avatar reflecting the ideal self reported greater perceived interactivity than those who created a replica avatar mirroring the actual self. A two-way ANOVA demonstrated the moderating role of the actual–ideal self-concept discrepancy in determining the effects of the primed regulatory focus on immersion in the exergame play. The underlying theoretical mechanism is derived from and explained by Higgins’s self-concept discrepancy perspective. Practical implications for game developers and managerial implications for the exergame industry are discussed.

Technology-supported learning innovation in cultural contexts

in Educational Technology Research and Development by Jianwei Zhang, University at Albany, SUNY Department of Educational Theory and Practice

Abstract: Many reform initiatives adopt a reductionist, proceduralized approach to cultural change, assuming that deep changes can be realized by introducing new classroom activities, textbooks, and technological tools. This article elaborates a complex system perspective of learning culture: A learning culture as a complex system involves macro-level properties (e.g., epistemological beliefs, social values, power structures) and micro-level features (e.g., technology, classroom activities). Deep changes in macro-level properties cannot be reduced to any component. This complex system perspective is applied to examining technology-supported educational change in East Asia and analyzing how teachers sustain the knowledge building innovation in different contexts. Working with the macro–micro dynamics in a learning culture requires a principle-based approach to learning innovation that specifies macro-level changes using principle-based instead of procedure-based terms and engages teachers’ deep reflection and creative engagement at both the macro- and the micro-level.

Dubious Ethics

Posted on September 23rd, by George Veletsianos in open, sharing. No Comments

You are in your first scheduled session at the University. Your prof says:

“You must buy these X books for the semester”
(on some level, that’s  ok, i guess)
“Copyright laws don’t allow you to photocopy more than 10% of the book”
(this is getting a bit weird)
“You should bring all your books to class”

“If I don’t see you with your own copy of the book, I won’t like it, and you don’t want that to happen”

(… you then realize that the author of the books is the instructor, and the build up to the threat makes sense)

As a student at the university, what do you do? What can you do without risking failing the course, and risking your career at the university?  Remember that in the background is the fact that throughout your educational career, you were being treated as an empty jar waiting for knowledge to be poured into you (at least that’s what the system and those that support it had you believe). Can you speak up?

More importantly, let’s shift our focus to the academic. How on earth can this behavior be reconciled with the goals of the university that employs you? As stated on the manual (available through the university’s website), the university, through research and teaching, aims to:

inspire and develop the values of intellectual freedom, free movement of ideas and dialogue, and tolerance to new or opposing views.
I placed this post under the “open” category because it’s anything but. I don’t have a category for closed and opportunistic. The problem of course isn’t just the individual instructor, but (s)he does keep oiling the cogs that keep the system going.
Throughout my career, students have come first. I spend hours upon hours, often taken from my leisure time, to work with them, to advice and help them, to ask more questions and to avoid providing simple answers. This kind of thing, student exploitation masqueradeing as education, not only frustrates me, but reinforces my belief in putting humanity at the center of education, regardless of discipline and level/grade.

The changing nature of publishing

Posted on September 17th, by George Veletsianos in Ideas, open, sharing, work. No Comments

This is another one of those mini posts related to the changing nature of the work that academics do; specifically, publishing. I wrote this after  being directed to the Public Library of Science site from Tony Hirst‘s tweet:


If you visit the website mentioned (here) you will see that the Public Library of Science will be making available a number of metrics intenting to evaluate the reach of published articles (I played with a similar concept here). These metrics (which will accompany each article) include reader notes and comments, ratings, social bookmakrs, citations in the academic literature, and so on. Not only is this a step toward transparently assessing the value of a publication, it provides another impetus for academics to seriously consider engaging with and participating in social media spheres. In an age where ongoing debate, collaboration, interaction, participation, and engagement are daily buzz words when envisioning improved education, shouldn’t the same ideas apply to our publications? If you are interested in these issues you may like to look at this cloudwork (and especially the comments made by Giota on the credibility, resistance, legitimacy, and power structures). It’s an interesting conversation.

Your thoughts?