During September-October, I spent 10 days as a visiting Researcher at the Open University of Catalonia (UoC) in Barcelona, and specifically with the gracious and hospitable researchers, designers, and faculty members of the eLearn Center. The eLearn Center manages an impressive array of projects, events, and resources, a large number of which are funded by the European Union. It also funds researcher visits to the UoC for knowledge exchange and exploration of collaborative work, and I was very fortunate to be invited to participate in this program.
A custom-built system, dubbed “home lab,” is mailed to each UoC engineering student for hands-on work
The Open University of Catalonia is strikingly similar to Royal Roads. The institution was established in 1994 when a group of creative individuals came together and envisioned a virtual institution that would capitalize on the opportunities of a nascent Internet to serve adult learners and working professionals. While these ideas might sound familiar in 2013, they were quite bold and innovative in 1994, bringing traditional distance education into new and uncharted waters. UoC, like Royal Roads, has an institution-wide educational model that focuses on progressive pedagogies, highlighting and valuing interdisciplinary thinking, collaborative learning, and ongoing assessment (here is a copy of Royal Road’s teaching and learning model to compare). I was especially excited to see the institution’s support for open access and open scholarship.
While in Barcelona, I spent a lot of time talking with colleagues and discussing opportunities for collaboration. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting with individual doctoral students and advising them on their research. It was especially fun to spend an hour or so with Antonella Esposito who studies doctoral students’ digital practices, as her work relates to the concept of Networked Participatory Scholarship that Royce Kimmons and I have been investigating since 2011. I also gave a seminar on qualitative methodologies for analyzing learners and educators’ naturalistic online participation and a lecture with a very long title: The significant opportunities and challenges that learners, educators, researchers, and learning institutions are facing in the age of “open” and “connected.”
Are you interested in a post-doctoral fellowship in any of the following topics?
- open online learning
- emerging forms of online participation
- digital and open scholarship
- online social networks
- learner, instructor, and scholar experiences in any of the above
If so, I would love to see an application from you to our call for Banting post-doctoral fellows! The call is open to Canadians and non-Canadians alike.
On the call listed above, you will see that we are seeking applicants for multiple positions. The section relevant to my interests is the following:
Working with Dr. George Veletsianos, Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Innovative Learning and Technology, the post-doc will focus on emerging technologies and innovations in online education, and in particular open education, open/digital scholarship, and social media/networks. The experiences and practices of learners, instructors, and scholars with emerging forms of online participation (e.g., MOOCs, social media) are ill-understood and ill-researched. The objective of a Banting post-doc within this research program will be to make sense of participants’ experiences and practices with open online education and social media/networks in higher education and to understand why individuals use these emerging innovations in the ways that they do. Research questions may include, but are not limited to: What is the nature of open online learning, teaching, and participation? What does the experience of open online learning/teaching and/or social network learning consist of? What is the lived experience of open scholars? How is technology changing scholarship? How do scholars perceive and construct their identity using social media/networks? How do individuals use social media/networks to cope with the expectations of their academic roles (e.g., being a doctoral student, being a newly-hired faculty member, etc)?
Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote that “Life is a tapestry woven by the decisions we make” and to that, I would add, “and the experiences we create.”
I am taking the next step in my life and career. One that I expect will add many more experiences to my life.
I have decided to accept a position with the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. I have been appointed as Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology by the Canadian federal government and my post will begin on September 1st. As in the past, my position will be research-focused, and I will continue my research on understanding learners’ and scholars’ practices and experiences in emerging online settings (e.g., online social networks, open courses, etc).
Royal Roads is a public university with a successful university-wide teaching model that combines short-term f2f residencies with online learning. I’m excited about being at a university that has had a blended learning model since 1995 and has a reputation of innovation that it embraces. I’m excited that my research is a natural fit with the institution and that the synergies exist for applying a lot of the work that I have been doing regarding online education, openness, and digital scholarship. I’m also excited about being in British Columbia, which will soon “become the first province in Canada to offer students free online, open textbooks.” On a more personal note, I’m excited to be able to live and work by the ocean.
It probably goes without saying, but I will miss the University of Texas at Austin, my colleagues, and my students at the College of Education. UT-Austin is an amazing university and I am very fortunate and grateful to have been able to spend a few years of my life there.
Leaving a university often leads individuals to ask why. And, I’ve experienced that already: Why leave a research-1 university that is recognized worldwide, especially when your tenure and promotion case would be easy to make? I have asked myself that same question. Why am I working long hours? Why do I spend time away from my family visiting back-to-back conferences? Why do I take pride in my students’ work and do all I can to help them succeed? I engage in these activities because I care, not because of tenure (though, admittedly, that is a positive by-product). I personally chose my field of study and research because I care about education and individual’s learning experiences. I care about societal well-being and growth, about social justice, and see education as a way to eradicate inequities and injustices. These values run across my work (which is partly why I make all of my publications available online).
…and since this post is getting long, a final thought: I don’t like moving. But… I AM looking forward to the road trip to Victoria.
I was at the annual AERA conference last week, held in San Fransisco, CA. My colleagues and I presented the following research and design work:
Instructor Experiences With a Social Networking Site in a Formal Education Setting: Expectations, Frustrations, Appropriation, and Compartmentalization (Royce Kimmons, George Veletsianos, Karen French) – This paper has recently been published.
What Do Learners and Pedagogical Agents Discuss When Given Opportunities for Open-Ended Dialogue? (George Veletsianos, Gregory Russell) – This paper is in press. It presents a content analysis of conversations between learners and virtual characters supported by an AI engine.
A First Iteration of a Pedagogical Model for Teaching Computer Science Through Problems (George Veletsianos, Tara Craig, Bradley Beth, Gregory Russell, Calvin Lin) – We have developed an “introduction to computer science” course for high schools that is blended and guided by a problem-based pedagogy. In this presentation, we described our design process and findings after deploying the course in 6 high schools (see project website and other posts on my blog relating to this).
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I was happy to see that AERA has finally caught up and sought to integrate technology throughout the conference. Twitter was encouraged and a select few sessions were streamed. Even though there is room to do much more, I appreciate that it is difficult for large organizations to change. I suspect that Chris Greenhow was involved in making this happen in her role as Communications Director of Division C. I am particularly eager for AERA to start thinking more broadly about technology and openness though… a lot of people are.
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While at San Fransisco, I took half a day to visit Stanford University. My friend and colleague Amy Collier invited me to spend some time with the Lytics Lab, and I am glad I did. I enjoyed hearing everyone talk about their projects, but most of all I LOVED the students’ dedication, excitement, and eagerness to help and support each other. On a related note: You might have heard me bemoan the lack of educator participation in recent initiatives. If so, you can probably appreciate the fact that I am excited that the Lytics Lab is an interdisciplinary team of people that includes educators and learning scientists.
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Some of the sessions that I attended were extraordinary and the presenter’s passion for their work was evident. Some sessions weren’t as great, but I suspect that this is an outcome of the traditional 15 minute talk. Other than that, I had a lot of great experiences at the conference. I can honestly say that I’ll remember this one with fondness for a number of reasons. Not only did I get to celebrate Brendan Calandra’s birthday, but I also got to congratulate my friend Brant Miller for getting one of his photographs on the cover of Nature. Woot!
We are in year 2 of an NSF-funded project intended to improve and broaden participation in high school computer science courses. We are using a technology-enhanced PBL approach and are adopting the Computer Science Principles as our guiding curricular framework. (P.S. Our course is available here for free under a Creative Commons license). I have received the near-final copy of our course trailer today, and I’m really excited about it. Houndstooth Studio and Respiree Learning worked with us for this, and as you can see from the video below they have done a great job!
A new semester is upon us and the university is buzzing with excitement!
This semester I am teaching two courses: (1) our program’s introductory Instructional Design & Technology course, and (2) a PhD level course on Design-Based Research.
Last year, I shared my Instructional Design & Technology syllabus. This year, I thought I would share a more involved description of one of my activities with you. The goal of this activity is to engage students in investigating various instructional design models through developing a digital story, and comparing and contrasting various models through discussion with each other. Part of the activity occurs on an online discussion board, but it’s easy to adapt it for face-to-face courses as well. A description (and a link to a pdf version of the activity) can be found below. Enjoy!
Exploring Instructional Design Models: An activity for introductory Instructional Design courses
Dr. George Veletsianos (http://www.veletsianos.com); University of Texas at Austin
Students are assigned to online discussion groups (three or four students per group). They each select an ID model other than Dick and Carey, create a digital story about their model, describe how the models differs from Dick and Carey, and discuss their findings with each other. The reason that students pick a model other than Dick & Carey is because Dick & Carey was the model used in this particular course. This activity can be implemented with any other model used as a core ID model.
- Study an alternative ID model,
- Develop a digital story explaining the ID model and its focus,
- Write a one paragraph description (about 300 words) explaining the ways the model they selected differs from Dick and Carey.
- Share the story and the paragraph within the group that they were assigned, and
- post two comments on 2 alternative models shared within their own group
How do I choose an ID model to study?
One way to go about this is to visit the library and look for books on ID. Another way is to search the web for instructional design models and find one that appears interesting to you.
A list of instructional design models can be found at http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~mryder/itc/idmodels.html or http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/index.html
Skim through these and select one. You might choose one that appears similar to Dick and Carey or one that is quite divergent from it. Spend some time reading about this model. Consider what it focuses on and figure out how to explain it to others using a digital story.
What is a digital story?
In short Digital Storytelling is the practice of using Internet tools to tell stories. In this case, you are creating and telling the story of an ID model. Next, you might want to look at the tools that you can use to develop your story. I would like you to use tools that would make the process both challenging and fun. For instance, look at this page http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools and look at the comic/sketch tools on there. A few more tools that would be fun are:
(or any others that you find and you think would help you get your story/ID model description across)
Once you create the story you should share it within your group (either by uploading a screenshot of the comic along with the paragraph, or by posting a link to it in your group along with the paragraph).
The next step is to look at your colleagues’ postings, explore their model through their story, and post 2 comments on their models (1 on each model).
This activity is shared under the following Creative Commons license:
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)
The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) urges the inclusion of Computer Science in the K-12 Core Curricula. In my opinion, an understanding of computing and computing literacies (not just programming) is much needed:
“Computing is by far where the greatest demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs is in today’s economy,” said Bobby Schnabel, Chair of ACM’s Education Policy Committee. ”But the major efforts by the Governors and the Academy to define what students should know for the 21st Century make little mention of the need for computer science in the core curriculum. This is a missed opportunity to expose students to a fundamental discipline that they will need for their careers as well as their lives.”
Read the rest of the statement here.
I was very excited today to watch a video posted at Teachers College Record where Anthony Brown (a colleague in Curriculum & Instruction) discusses his research on how African American males have been constructed in the social science and educational literature. What a great way to summarize and present one’s work! I am embedding the video below, but keep on reading for more social/digital research goodness.
I’ve mentioned before that I think that educational research needs to be more social that it currently is. Why? Because I think that we can improve education by talking more to each other (and debating more with each other). TCR provided another example of this: Miseducating teachers about the poor is a critique of Ruby Payne’s framework written by Randy Bomer et al. (Randy is another colleague at UT). One can go through the TCR archives to see comments on the article, responses, and so on. Plus, there’s a couple of videos on the topic, which I am also embedding below.
And a response:
The point is that new technologies and cultural trends are exerting pressure on scholarship to change. The field has a lot to gain from scholarship becoming more conversational, transparent, social, and open. But, there are also pitfalls and complexities (e.g., TCR has the resources to create the professional videos included above while other publishing outlets might depend on individual scholars to contribute videos, which means that scholars’ technical abilities might limit their digital scholarship contributions). How’s that for a Saturday morning update? <smile>
P.S. Open access and TCR aren’t the best of friends however, so if you are not at a subscribing institution you may be out of luck there (though some of this content is publicly available for a while).