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

Tag: social media

#et4online notes, thoughts, reflections

Posted on April 15th, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, my research, online learning, open, scholarship. 19 comments

I just returned from the 2013 Sloan-C Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference in Las Vegas. What a fantastic gathering! The value of the conference to me was the numerous great conversations with new friends (Jen Ross, Christopher Brooks, Amy Collier, David Wicks) and old friends (Tanya Joosten, Laura Pasquini). And, as always, I finally met friends and colleagues who I have interacted with online for a while (Mark Lee, Rolin Moe).

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Amy notes that the unconference was fantastic. She is spot on!

I’ve been trying to make sense of the conference and my experiences since I left. My friend and colleague Joel Donna (of 3ring) came to Austin to spend some time with me on Saturday-Monday and the conversations I had at the conference continued with him as well. Here’s what has been on my mind:

1. Three years ago, I used to have conversations with colleagues wherein I was desperately trying to make the case that technology-enhanced pedagogy was a powerful approach to have in our “how to improve education” toolkit. I wouldn’t  be surprised if at times I was called a technology evangelist (any of you that follow my work know that I am not). Nowadays, I am finding myself on the other end of the spectrum – cautioning colleagues about the narrative that education is broken, educational technology is the fix, and for-profit corporations are here to save the day. If Gardner Campbell was here, he would have said, “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.” What is education for? Who is it for? What does it mean to learn? If education really “is broken,” what exactly is broken? Is the funding structure broken? Are the pedagogies that we use broken? Is instructor preparation broken? Is our understanding of how people learn broken? Is the notion of academic freedom broken? What is broken?

In the world that I inhabit, “broken” refers to educational systems that employ unjust practices, disregard unequal access, promote exploitation, and embrace pedagogies of hopelessness and marginalization. Unfortunately, I suspect that the notion of “broken” that I perceive may be unlike the notion of “broken” that popular narratives embrace.

2.  I can try to convince individuals that this contemporary fable of education being broken is a story told and retold by powerful individuals/entities who have something to gain by creating alternative systems (…and just to clarify, I am not arguing that education is perfect – see above). Do we stop there? Ideally, no. What educators and researchers need to do is to become involved in the design and development of educational systems and educational technology. If we don’t, someone else will design our future for us. Do we really want that? Do we really want future educational systems designed without input from educators and researchers? I hope not. I am working on a project related to this and I hope to be able to share it with you within the next two weeks.

3. I met a a lot of colleagues at the conference that are thinking about similar issues. This makes me quite happy. And I am very glad and fortunate to be able to spend time with all of you!

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I had a great time participating in the Career Forum roundtables, giving advice to PhD students about academia and sharing my own experiences. I value this. I value having conversations with students and spending time together answering difficult questions. The question that keeps coming up here is: What is your passion? Is it teaching? Is it service? Is it a particular research method, a particular pedagogy, or worldview? How does that relate to the world at present? How can you pursue your passion? And to close the circle, unstructured time with colleagues is important and can be very productive for these types of conversations.

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I was originally invited to the conference to give a plenary talk on emerging technologies. Huge thanks to David and Jen for all their help in making this a success. My presentation was recorded and I am really hoping that it will be made available online for free (hint, hint). My slides are  below, and a storify of my talk, courtesy of Laura Pasquini, is here.

Upcoming research. In search of collaborators

Posted on March 15th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 7 comments

Social media and open online learning have been extolled and decried in the popular press. Yet, as researchers, we still need to understand the experiences and practices of students, educators, and researchers with emerging practices and social media. We also need to understand why learners, educators, and researchers use social media and engage in open online education in the ways that they do. danah boyd (2012, ¶48) argues that “we need people engaging critically with the dynamics that unfold as a result of a new structure of connecting people.”

My research agenda centers around these issues, and seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What does learning “look like” in open online courses?
  2. How do learners use social media for learning?
  3. What are learners’ experiences with open online learning?
  4. What does the experience of effective social media use for learning consist of?
  5. What is the lived experience of researchers/educators using social media for scholarly activities?
  6. How do scholars perceive and construct their identity using social media/networks?
  7. How do users 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)?

These questions form the core of my work. I am posting them here because I know that others are interested in finding answers to these questions as well. If you are like me, you enjoy collaborative work and qualitative research. If so, get in touch and let’s figure out how we can collaborate on (a) empirical work that answers the questions above, and (b) design and development work that integrates pedagogical knowledge and social technologies to create innovative learning environments.

What is the experience of instructors who use a social networking site in their teaching?

Posted on February 11th, by George Veletsianos in my research, scholarship. 8 comments

It has been suggested that the use of social technologies (e.g., social media, social networking sites) in higher education may be a worthwhile endeavor. Nevertheless, empirical literature examining user experiences, and more specifically instructor experiences, with these tools is limited. My colleagues and I conducted a study recently to address this gap in the literature. Our goal was to  identify, describe, and make sense of initial instructor experiences with a social networking platform (Elgg) used in higher education courses. This follows a prior study in which we examined learner experiences with Elgg.

This study does not purport to describe the experiences of all instructors. Rather, it provides an in-depth examination and rich description of the experiences of five instructors who used a social networking platform in their courses. Readers should examine the context in which this study occurred and decide whether these findings may apply in their own situations.

We found that instructors:

  • had expectations of Elgg that stemmed from numerous sources
  • used Elgg in heterogeneous ways and for varied purposes
  • compartmentalized Elgg and used it in familiar ways, and
  • faced frustrations stemming from numerous sources.

Importantly, the ways that Elgg came to be used “on the ground” was contested. These ways contrasted starkly with the narrative of how social software might contribute benefits to educational practice. Furthermore, we found that learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Desire2Learn) may frame the ways through which other tools, such as social media and Elgg, are understood, used, and experienced, as instructors in our study continuously discussed their experiences with Elgg in comparison to an LMS, even though Elgg is not a traditional LMS.

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., & French, K. (2013). Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: Expectations, Frustrations, Appropriation, and Compartmentalization (pdf). Educational Technology, Research and Development, 61(2), 255-278

You can download a pdf of the paper from the link above, or visit dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11423-012-9284-z for the published version.

 

Plenary talk at Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference

Posted on January 16th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 5 comments

I was recently invited to deliver a plenary talk at the 2013 Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference, hosted by the Sloan Consortium. Steve Wheeler will be giving a keynote and I am excited to hear him talk. My presentation will pick up where Emerging Technologies in Distance Education (download it for free here http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120177) left off, and will take readers through a set of stories intend to clarify how emerging technologies are, and are not, changing education.

The talk is entitled Seven Tales of Learning Online with Emerging Technologies, and I described it as follows:

During the last few years, emerging technologies and online learning have dominated narratives regarding the future of education and the potential role that technology may play in education. Are we reaching a point where “anyone can learn anything from anyone else at any time?” Or, are Google, Facebook, and Twitter “infantilizing our minds,” distracting us from meaningful learning and purposeful living? As societies, governments, and other social groups adapt and change over time, so do institutions of learning, the work that they do, and how they do that work. In this presentation, I will share seven research-based stories describing the integration of emerging technologies in learning environments. These stories paint an intricate picture of online learning with emerging technologies and demonstrate how (a) emerging learning technologies have impacted educational practice, (b) the use of emerging technologies “on the ground” is often negotiated and contested, and (c) a “culture of sharing” may be finding increasing acceptance in education under emerging phenomena such as Massive Open Online Courses, Open Educational Resources, and social media use by scholars. These stories highlight how learning and education are (and are not) changing with the emergence of certain technologies, social behaviors, and cultural expectations.

“Sharing” as a valued and desirable educational practice

Posted on January 14th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 23 comments

I recently gave a presentation in which I sought to capture some of the activities that I see happening when researchers are using social media to enact scholarship. In this presentation I argued that while faculty members have always shared their work with each other (e.g., through letters, telephone calls, and conference presentations), techno-cultural forces are prompting educators and researchers to share scholarly work in an ongoing and open manner. I also argued that “sharing” is a value and literacy that we should embrace and teach, not just because it is compatible with the purpose of higher education but also because it may contribute to a more equitable society.

 

Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship

Posted on November 1st, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, moocs, my research, NPS, open, papers, scholarship, sharing. 15 comments

What is the value of a critique?

The value of critique is to help us see a phenomenon through a different lens, to help us make sense of something in a different way, and to spark a conversation. This is the purpose, and value, of a paper we recently published with IRRODL on the topic of open scholarship.

The paper identifies the assumptions and challenges of openness and open scholarship and attempts to put forward suggestions for addressing those. A summary of our paper, appears below:

Many scholars hope and anticipate that open practices will broaden access to education and knowledge, reduce costs, enhance the impact and reach of scholarship and education, and foster the development of more equitable, effective, efficient, and transparent scholarly and educational processes. Wiley and Green (2012, pp. 88) note that “only time will tell” whether practices of open scholarship will transform education or whether the movement “will go down in the history books as just another fad that couldn’t live up to its press.” Given the emerging nature of such practices, educators are finding themselves in a position in which they can shape and/or be shaped by openness (Veletsianos, 2010). The intention of this paper is (a) to identify the assumptions of the open scholarship movement and (b) to highlight challenges associated with the movement’s aspirations of broadening access to education and knowledge. The goal of this paper is not to frame open scholarship as a problematic alternative to the status quo. Instead, as we see individuals, institutions, and organizations embrace openness, we have observed a parallel lack of critique of open educational practices. We find that such critiques are largely absent from the educational technology field, as members of the field tend to focus on the promises of educational technologies, rarely pausing to critique its assumptions. Selwyn (2011b, pp. 713) even charges that our field’s inherent positivity “limits the validity and credibility of the field as a site of serious academic endeavour.” Our intention is to spark a conversation with the hopes of creating a more equitable and effective future for digital education and scholarship. To this end, this paper is divided into three major sections. First, we review related literature to introduce the reader to the notion of open scholarship. Next, we discuss the assumptions of openness and open scholarship. We then identify the challenges of open scholarship and discuss how these may limit or problematize its outcomes.

Common assumptions and challenges are summarized as follows:

Common themes and assumptions Challenges
Open scholarship has a strong ideological basis rooted in an ethical pursuit for democratization, fundamental human rights, equality, and justice. Are these ideals essential components of the open scholarship movement or are merely incidental to those who are pioneering the field?
Open scholarship emphasizes the importance of digital participation for enhanced scholarly outcomes Scholars need to develop an understanding of participatory cultures and social/digital literacies in order to take full advantage of open scholarship.Need to redesign university curricula to prepare future scholars to account for the changing nature of scholarship.

 

Open scholarship is treated as an emergent scholarly phenomenon that is co-evolutionary with technological advancements in the larger culture Technology both shapes and is shaped by practice.Technology is not neutral, and its embedded values may advance tensions and compromises (e.g., flat relationships, homophily, filter bubbles).
Open scholarship is seen as a practical and effective means for achieving scholarly aims that are socially valuable Open scholarship introduces new dilemmas and needs (e.g., personal information management challenges; Social stratification and exclusion).

Given the topic, the best home for this paper was the International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, through which you can download the paper for free in an open access manner:

Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R. (2012). Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning,13(4), 166-189. [HTML access or PDF access]

 

Invited talk at ICEM 2012

Posted on September 23rd, by George Veletsianos in emerging technologies, learner experience, moocs, my research, NPS, online learning, open, scholarship. 9 comments

I am in Cyprus to meet with a number of colleagues and give an invited talk at ICEM 2012.

Talk title: What does the future of design for online learning look like? Emerging technologies, Openness, MOOCs, and Digital Scholarship

Abstract:  What will we observe if we take a long pause and examine the practice of online education today? What do emerging technologies, openness, Massive Open Online Courses, and digital scholarship tell us about the future that we are creating for learners, faculty members, and learning institutions? And what does entrepreneurial activity worldwide surrounding online education mean for the future of education and design? In this talk, I will discuss a number of emerging practices relating to online learning and online participation in a rapidly changing world and explain their implications for design practice. Emerging practices (e.g., open courses, researchers who blog, students who use social media to self-organize) can shape our teaching/learning practice and teaching/learning practice can shape these innovations. By examining, critiquing, and understanding these practices we will be able to understand potential futures for online learning and be better informed on how we can design effective and engaging online learning experiences. This talk will draw from my experiences and research on online learning, openness, and digital scholarship, and will present recent evidence detailing how researchers, learners, educators are creating, sharing, and negotiating knowledge and education online.

What is open scholarship?

Posted on September 5th, by George Veletsianos in sharing. 14 comments

What is open scholarship? We discuss it, allude to it, but what are its components?

Royce Kimmons and I were working on a revision to a paper that we hope to be able to share soon and the following comment from a reviewer led us down the path of reflecting upon the concept. The comment was:

One challenge the authors face is defining the “open scholarship” movement when there is so little consensus about what that is. I think many readers will object to the very broad term “Digital Presence through Blogs, Microblogs, Personal Websites, and Social Networking Sites” as being considered “open.” I might consider focusing more on the open publishing and OER and less on social media which may or may not be open.

The reviewer was right in that social media may or may not be open, especially when contrasted to open access and OER, and considering that social media can often be viewed as walled gardens. However, we also think that the use of social media is reflective of current scholarly practice and that open practices are enacted through them. This led us down the path of describing open scholarship as composed of three components. Our revised description was as follows:

We view open scholarship as a collection of emergent scholarly practices that espouse openness and sharing. Boyer’s (1990) framework of scholarship is often used as a starting point for defining scholarly practices in the digital age and a number of authors have sought to update Boyer’s model to reflect contemporary thinking relating to scholarly practice (e.g., Garnet & Ecclesfield, 2011; Heap & Minocha, 2012; Pearce et., al, 2010; Weller, 2011). Nonetheless, there appears to be little consensus in the field about what exactly constitutes open scholarship. Here we take an inclusive approach to open scholarship and consider it to include three components: (1) Open Access and Open Publishing, (2) Open Education, including Open Educational Resources and Open Teaching, and (3) Networked Participation. In our previous work, we have discussed networked participatory scholarship, which is the third component of open scholarship and refers to scholars’ uses of online social networks to share, critique, improve, validate, and enhance their scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012). We are taking an inclusive approach to open scholarship because we believe that this is reflective of current scholarly practice. All three components noted above are instances of open scholarship, but they are enacted or made visible in different forms. Within our frame of understanding, open scholarship is a set of phenomena and practices surrounding scholars’ uses of digital and networked technologies underpinned by certain grounding assumptions regarding openness and democratization of knowledge creation and dissemination.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your insights.