We have a new paper available that continues our research on networked participation/learning and networked participatory scholarship. This one arises out of Royce Kimmons’ dissertation, which I had the joy, honor, and good fortune of chairing.
The media is filled with stories pertaining to educators’ and researchers’ participation in online social networks. For example, a debate erupted in Kansas in December 2013 regarding faculty members’ use of social media and teachers have found themselves in trouble for their social media updates. Yet, little research has been done to understand the relationship between educator identity and participation in Social Networking Sites (SNS) or to examine the implications that institutional regulation of such media may have upon educator identity.
In our latest research study, we developed a framework to understand how a group of teacher education students viewed their developing identities within social networking sites as they began the life transition to becoming educators. We found that educator identity consists of a constellation of interconnected acceptable identity fragments (AIF)*. These acceptable identity fragments are intentional, authentic, transitional, necessarily incomplete, and socially-constructed and socially-responsive.
We arrived at the term “acceptable identity fragment,” because study participants:
- shaped their participation in social networking sites in a manner that they believed to be “acceptable” to their audiences,
- viewed this participation to be a direct expression of “identity” or their sense of self, and
- felt this expression to only represent a small “fragment” of their complete identities.
The AIF suggests that participants in a given social context may limit their participation or expression of identity in a way that is appropriate to that specific context or is acceptable to the specific relationships they have with others in that context. The existence of the AIF means that educator identities within SNS are contextual and intentionally limited and structured. Participants believe that, when participating in SNS, they are expressing their identities in a limited, though authentic, manner. In their view, such expression represents a genuine fragment of their identities.
This view of educator identity contrasts sharply with previous views of identity by highlighting the complicated, negotiated, and recursive relationship that exists between educator participation in SNS and educator identity.
First, existing literature assumes that individuals have an authentic identity and suggests that they attempt to express these identities in varying degrees via social media. Our research finds that human beings may not ever find themselves in social contexts wherein they will choose to (or are even able to) express their full authentic identities and, instead, express a different AIF depending upon the situation.
Second, in Goffman’s view (1959), identity is adaptable and constantly emergent as we “act” in contexts. In the AIF view, there is no “acting” occurring, but rather we see a guarded revelation of fragments of the self. Thus, identity was not an emergent phenomenon of the scene; it was controlled and revealed partially.
Finally, Turkle (1995) suggests that the online self lacks coherence and is fluid. However, participants in our study were operating from what they believed to be a coherent sense of self and judged their SNS participation based upon alignment with that sense. Participation did not lack coherence – it was merely a partial manifestation.
What does this mean for educators, educational administrators, and educational researchers?
First, if the AIF is intentional and authentic, then it seems important for educators to retain control of their SNS participation. If institutions seek to prescribe appropriate and inappropriate uses of the medium, then it seems that this will prevent educators from being able to make meaningful choices regarding authentic self-expression and self-representation
Second, if the AIF is transitional, social media technologies must accommodate individuals’ transition into new life phases. At present, social media spaces do not support this (e.g., Facebook’s Timeline and the difficulty of deleting participation history en masse). If technologies doe not support the transition into new life phases, they risk being abandoned.
Third, educators should seek to recognize the assumptions that SNS platform developers are making about human nature, meaningful social participation, relationships, and so forth and consider the impact that such assumptions may have on their participation and identity.
Fourth, judgments made about educators based upon their participation in SNS should consider life transitions, time-based contexts (e.g., behavior as a college freshman vs. behavior as a student teacher), and the embedded values of the media.
Finally, if the AIF is a necessarily incomplete component of a larger identity constellation, any judgments of educators based on SNS participation must recognize that the relationship of the AIF to overall identity is subject to interpretation and may not reflect an individual’s perception of how the AIF represents authentic identity. Fragmentation of identity, then, should be seen as a valuable response to complex social situations. SNS platforms should account for this, and as we make judgments about others based upon their fragmented identities, we should be cognizant of the complex relationship existing between the AIF and one’s larger identity and dispel the myth of a simple authentic vs. inauthentic binary.
You can download a pre-print copy of the study from the link below:
Kimmons, R., & Veletsianos, G. (2014). The Fragmented Educator 2.0: Social Networking Sites. Acceptable Identity Fragments, and the Identity Constellation. Computers & Education, 72, 292-301. Journal link.
* The usual grounded theory and interpretive research caveats apply.
Enilda Romero-Hall and Min Kyu Kim have organized the second AECT Research and Theory division Professional Development Webinar session. Join us!
Dr. Ryan Baker (http://www.columbia.edu/~rsb2162/)
Learning Analytics – Potential and Principles
February 6, 2014 at 1:30 P.M. (EDT)
Increasingly, students’ educational experiences occur in the context of educational technology, creating opportunities to log student behavior in a fashion that is both longitudinal and very fine-grained. These data are now available to the broad education research community through large public data repositories such as the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (cf. Koedinger et al, 2008).
In this talk, I will discuss how the emerging Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining communities are combining these data sources with data mining methods in order to scalably use this data to make basic discoveries about learners and learning. In this talk, I will both discuss learning analytics methods in general, and some of their key applications in studying and supporting learners.
42 blog posts later, and the lights on 2013 are about to go out. Collecting my 2013 posts in one location was a good way to think back to this year and reflect on it Because, these are days for reflecting, pausing, sharing, embracing, and remembering. Because these are days for doing what we should be doing more often.
I am looking for reports (1 or 2 would suffice, really), describing what people learned the first time they taught/offered a MOOC and how they changed the design of the course the next time it was offered. In other words, how have you revised the course? What data led you to make the changes that you did?
I have not been able to find any writing on the subject – I am hoping that it’s just me not using the right keywords.
Friends who oversee MOOC design/development and colleagues who taught the same MOOC more than once. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Design-based research? Iterative design, anyone? Perhaps even just a formative evaluation with suggestions for future courses?
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!