New paper: a longitudinal analysis of faculty perceptions of online education and technology use from 2013 to 2019

Research on faculty use of technology and online education tends to be cross-sectional, focusing on a snapshot in time. Through a secondary analysis of the annual Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology conducted by Inside Higher Ed each year from 2013 through 2019, my colleagues* and I investigated changes in faculty attitudes toward technology and online education over time.

Specifically, the study examined and synthesized the findings from surveys related to attitudes toward online education, faculty experiences with online learning, institutional support of faculty in online learning, and faculty use of technology. Results showed a low magnitude of change over time in some areas (e.g., proportion of faculty integrating active learning strategies when converting an in-person course to a hybrid/blended course) and a large magnitude of change in other areas (e.g., proportion of faculty who believe that online courses can achieve the same learning outcomes as in-person courses). These results reveal that, prior to the widespread shift to remote and online learning that occurred in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty perceptions of technology and online learning were static in some areas and dynamic in others. This research contextualizes perceptions towards online learning prior to the pandemic and highlights a need for longitudinal studies on faculty attitudes toward technology use going forward to identify factors influencing change and sources of ongoing tension.

Johnson, N., Veletsianos, G., Reitzik, O., & VanLeeuwen, C. (2022). Faculty Perceptions of Online Education and Technology Use Over Time: A Secondary Analysis of the Annual Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology from 2013 to 2019. Online Learning, 26(3). https://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/olj/article/view/2824

*Research assistants, post docs, and students working within our research labs/groups/teams are colleagues, and I wish we would all normalize this language.

The business case for edtech startups engaging education research

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve been advocating for edtech companies to collaborate with education researchers for a long while now. At the 2014 SXSW EDU  conference for example, my colleagues and I organized a panel titled Startups Should Talk with Researchers and Educators to highlight mutually beneficial relationships. Much has changed since then, but I often come across startups that can’t seem to grasp that the histories of online, distance, and digital learning can be informative and beneficial.

There are lots of reasons for this – and to be sure universities and researchers aren’t blameless, as a variety of factors limit the reach and impact of our scholarship.

Many have made the pedagogical case for education startups to  use the research available. In this post I want to make the business case for edtech startups to engage education research. Because it’s a win-win. And it’s simple.

By consulting with academics and/or learning designers, reading the research literature, exploring various pedagogical and learning design models, and understanding the relationships between teaching/learning and technology, you (i.e. startups) can save money and time.

How can you save money and time?

By identifying potential pain points and what education research has to say about your value proposition early on, you’d be able to develop minimum viable products that are at the very least  reflective of what we know about teaching and learning.

I’ve seen many startups fail because they took too long to understand the space. And too many startups accidentally stumbling upon what is common knowledge in education research after they’ve burned through initial investment rounds.

You (i.e. startups) do not need to start at 0 to get to 10. You can start at 3, 5, 7 even by engaging education research.

To make this example concrete, below is an excerpt of an email from an edtech startup that I received yesterday. This is a startup that’s been around for 2+ years and raised 2 rounds of funding.

Something unexpected keeps happening in our post-course surveys.

As you might guess, we regularly hear about the quality of [our company’s] instructors and the knowledge they pass on.

But we didn’t expect to hear so often of the value of the other course participants, of taking courses live, alongside other ambitious, generous professionals.

Turns out—it’s the other students in each cohort that make it special.

The power of peer learning and community isn’t a secret. Really, it’s common knowledge. All that post-course surveys do here is confirm what those of us who have been studying distance and online learning for decades already know. Only when startups fail to engage with the rich and long history of this field do they call the realization that motivated and knowledgeable peers working in community foster powerful learning experiences an unexpected discovery.

What if this realization came 18 months ago?

CFP: Women and Leadership in Distance Education in Canada

Call for chapter proposals: Women and Leadership in Distance Education in Canada

Edited by Cindy Ives, Pamela Walsh, and Rebecca E. Heiser (Athabasca University)

Introduction

This book invites chapter contributions from women who are or have been educators in Canadian universities and who have served as leaders (at any level) in distance or online education. Leadership roles may be formal or informal, independent of positional authority, and emerge from the experiences of students, administrators, instructors, and other professionals (e.g., learning designers, educational developers). As leaders in distance education ourselves, we are committed to a deep and broad representation of leadership experiences of Canadian women faculty, students, professionals, and administrators whose stories and research may inform more balanced leadership practices in higher education.

  • In Canada and globally, participation in higher education has steadily increased in recent decades. World-wide enrolment in online learning has also increased, especially in response to the global pandemic. Women students continue to take advantage of the affordances of distance and online
  • While women have played significant roles as leaders in the advancement and development of distance education around the world, they have historically been underrepresented in formal academic and administrative leadership
  • Canadian universities have been among the earliest providers and leaders of distance education and online

Objective and Purpose

This book aims to incorporate narrative accounts of perspectives and insights of women relevant to their experiences with leadership in distance education in Canadian universities. Contributions that include documentation of women’s work, research reports, personal experiences and reflective accounts, or case studies of particular leadership contexts are welcome. Authors will offer their practical recommendations for current and future leaders in the field of distance education.

Areas of Focus

Chapter topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Executive leadership for distance education and online learning in the 21st century
  • Enabling and supporting student leadership
  • Leadership development in graduate programs
  • Enabling and supporting instructor leadership
  • Supporting leadership of professional staff
  • Leadership development through reflective practice
  • Leadership challenges and opportunities for women
  • Leadership support for women and research in distance education
  • Social mobility of women in distance education as a pathway to professional recognition and promotion

Target Audience

The target audience of this openly published book is expected to be global, including academics, executive and department leaders, managers, and others in influential positions such as students, instructional designers, educational developers, student support specialists, and emerging scholars in distance and higher education. Readers will learn from the personal and professional experiences and research findings elaborated in the book’s chapters.

Submission Procedure and Guidelines

The editors are exploring opportunities with open publishers in summer 2022. We invite submissions in multiple formats from a variety of perspectives. Chapters can be theory or practice-based, reflective, conceptual, or other, and can be authored by one or more women.

Interested authors who are or have been leaders, practitioners, students or scholars in distance education should email a chapter proposal (approximately 500 words) for review by the editorial team, c/o Dr. Cindy Ives (cindyi@athabascau.ca) before October 1, 2022.

The proposal must include a 250-word abstract that:

  • Describes the context of the experience or research being described
  • Provides an overview of the proposed chapter, highlighting how it relates to the themes and purpose of the

An accompanying 250-word author biography should include relevant publications and a few author details that situate the distance education context.

Full chapter drafts are not necessary in the first stage of the submission process. After the proposal review process, authors will be invited by October 31, 2022, to contribute full chapter manuscripts of up to 5000 words, with a planned submission deadline of January 10, 2023. Full manuscripts will be subject to a blinded peer review process to evaluate them for inclusion in the volume. Manuscript details will be provided to those whose proposals are accepted.

Tentative Schedule for Publication

Proposal and Abstract Submission: October 1, 2022

Notification of Invite to Submit Chapter: October 31, 2022

Submission of Book Chapter: January 10, 2023

Peer Review Evaluation Sent from Editors to Authors: January 31, 2023

Author Revisions due February 28, 2023

Final editing: March 31, 2023

Final Book Submitted to Publisher: April 1, 2023

Anticipated Publication: This will depend on the publisher’s schedule – to be determined

Inquiries can be forwarded to

Dr. Cindy Ives, cindyi@athabascau.ca

2022 Research Workshop on Studying Anti-Social Behaviour Online

Details on this free (virtual and in-person) workshop below.

2022 Research Workshop on Studying Anti-Social Behaviour Online (in-person in Victoria, BC at Royal Roads University or online via Zoom) on Thursday, Aug 25, 2022.

Registration for this event is free, but space is limited. RSVP :

https://socialmedialab.ca/events/2022-research-workshop-on-studying-anti-social-behaviour-online/

The research workshop will (1) examine the factors influencing the manifestation and propagation of online anti-social behaviour, (2) synthesize a multidisciplinary approach to study this phenomenon, and (3) develop a road map and a research agenda for future work in combating this dangerous trend. The programme features presentations from the organizing team and guest talks by Drs. Caroline Haythornthwaite (Syracuse University), K. Hazel Kwon (Arizona State University) and George Veletsianos (Royal Roads University).

About the event

The rising tide of online anti-social behaviour has elevated public concern and skepticism over the perceived benefits and promise of social media in society. A dark side of social media has emerged and remains evident today, with various countries, governing bodies, and citizens grappling with the impending normalization of aggressive behaviour, hostility, and negative discourse in online spaces. At the individual level, anti-social behaviour on social media has real-life psychological and emotional consequences for everyday people that demand more precise attention and interventions from researchers, practitioners, social media platforms, and policymakers. At the community and organizational level, anti-social behaviour can impact work performance and relationships, community ties, and lead to stress and burnout. At the societal level, there is also a concern that some forms of anti-social behaviour, such as hate speech, may galvanize xenophobic behaviour offline.

Tentative Agenda

8:30 – 9:00 Morning Coffee Reception

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome Remarks (Jaigris Hodson and President Philip Steenkamp, Royal Roads University)

9:15 – 9:30 Workshop Overview (Philip Mai, Toronto Metropolitan University)

9:30-10:00 Data collection: observed data (Anatoliy Gruzd, Toronto Metropolitan University)

10:00-10:30 Data collection: self-reported data (Jenna Jacobson, Toronto Metropolitan University)

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-11:30 Data analysis: quantitative techniques such as Toxicity Analysis & Social Network Analysis (Felipe Bonow Soares, Toronto Metropolitan University)

11:30-12:00 Data analysis: qualitative techniques (Jaigris Hodson, Royal Roads University)

12:00 – 1:30 Lunch Break (Lunch will be provided courtesy of Royal Roads University)

1:30-2:15 Moderator or Algorithm? (Caroline Haythornthwaite, Syracuse University)

2:15-3:00 Data reporting: (Re)telling the stories (George Veletsianos, Royal Roads University)

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-4:00 Research Agenda Overview: Challenges & Opportunities (K. Hazel Kwon, Arizona State University) 

4:00-4:15 Concluding Remarks & Adjournment

Organizing Committee

Jaigris Hodson

Philip Mai

Anatoliy Gruzd

Jenna Jacobson

Felipe Bonow Soares

What makes for good policy? Thoughts in relation to BC’s digital learning strategy draft

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about the digital learning strategy that my home province of BC is considering, as well as talking with various people about it. I’ll be sending my thoughts to the ministry shortly, but haven’t yet decided whether I’ll post them here. What I do want to share though, in case others find it helpful, is the framework that I used in making sense of the strategy and what it might achieve. In other words, in thinking about the content of the policy, I had to answer for myself the question: What are the hallmarks of a good policy? And in turn, I had to answer for myself what “good” means. While this isn’t a typical post for this blog, it’s one that interests me because (a) Royal Roads University offers an MA in Higher Education Administration and Leadership, and (b) i think about policymaking in my grant-seeking efforts.

To help me think through the content of the policy, I considered the degree to which the policy is

  • Inclusive. This strategy should address the needs and concerns of very many groups of people, and every institution in the province. Typically this is conceived in terms of institutional size, focus, location, etc, and, in Canada in particular, in terms of our relationships with Indigenous peoples. However, because of this strategy’s focus on digital learning, it also ought to address both the needs and concerns of predominantly in-person institutions as well as the needs and concerns of predominantly online/hybrid institutions. If the policy is about a particular kind of institution, then it should explicitly focus on, and define, that kind of institution.
  • Informed by evidence. This strategy needs to be informed by the literature on digital learning (duh), but also by the literature on how innovations are supported, sustained, and scaled; as well as by broader literature around sustainability, equity and inclusion, etc etc.
  • Descriptive. The strategy ought to describe macro-level actions, efforts, outcomes, etc rather than prescribe micro-level efforts in order to support the diversity, as well as the opportunity to innovate, in the sector. There’s a bit of a tension here between  descriptiveness and prescriptiveness, and it seems to be that it’s a bit of an art form to find the right balance.
  • Supportive. In inviting the sector to engage in various valued activities, the strategy should explicitly state how the provincial government is going to support the sector in its efforts. In other words, the policy ought to not only state the responsibilities of higher education institutions, but should also highlight the responsibilities of the Ministry and the ways in which it will support higher education institutions (e.g., in terms of resources, fora to provide opportunities for collaboration, funding for institutions to attend fora, etc, etc).
  • Aspirational. The strategy ought to identify its North Star, the thing that not only invites diverse groups to collaborate, but also to agree and strive toward.
  • Contemplative of unintended consequences. The policy ought to consider not just what it might achieve, but what it might unintentionally produce. This is a difficult one because it’s as much about what is in the strategy as it is about what is not in the strategy. To use a university policy example to make this concrete: While a policy which requires open educational resources is laudable in encouraging access etc etc, one of its unintended consequences might be that the course curriculum will be made available to everyone – including groups which use such content to harass and disproportionately target faculty who teach topics they disagree with.

There are other issues here to consider, such as the degree to which a policy includes outcomes which can be evaluated according to fair and explicit criteria, but those are perhaps “general good policy” criteria rather than this-specific-policy criteria. Plus, this post is too long already.

Over to you: What would you add to this list? The comments section is open.

July 31 update: Dr. Chuck Hodges alerted to a forthcoming chapter on National Educational Technology Plans that is relevant.

Digital education in times of climate crisis: beyond content

In an earlier post, I suggested that one way our field could respond to the climate crisis is by helping people understand that climate change will impact them. Stephen Downes takes that to mean “looking at the content of what we are teaching.” That’s true, but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Yes, we should be consistent in updating our curricula to address topics of significance. That includes climate change in relation to digital learning. It also may include data ownership, indigeneity, inclusion, and so on. But, what I was hinting at when I mentioned our field’s involvement in the interdisciplinary kind of work that is needed to address climate change were design, development, and evaluation work that we (and our students) could be undertaking. Such work can be expansive. Two examples are the following

  • partnering with various initiatives to support education-related outcomes. For example, Not Too Late is a project led by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua which involves outreach and community-building, and which may benefit from learning design expertise that relates to building, fostering, and sustaining online communities.
  • partnering with others in the design, development, and evaluation of climate-related education efforts. For example, learning designers and researchers are well suited to lead the kind of action listed in Royal Road University’s 202-2027 Climate Action plan (pdf): “Develop a suite of accessible (low cost/no cost; multiple offering) courses (credit and non-credit) and educational outreach initiatives that raise awareness, increase understanding, encourage involvement, and build support for innovative climate actions within and outside the [university] community. Included in this roster are courses related to a range of climate action competencies including climate science, climate justice, social science and landbased approaches to climate adaptation and climate resilience, biodiversity and Indigenous rights.”

Indeed, amongst the many things that education technology and instructional/learning design programs train our students to do is design, develop, and evaluate of learning experiences that address complex issues in partnership with interdisciplinary teams.

Before it’s too late: On Neil Selwyn’s introduction to “studying digital education in times of climate crisis”

With the same criticality and thoughtfulness that characterizes the rest of his work, Neil Selwyn recently gave a talk for our friends at the U of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research in Digital Education titled “Studying digital education in times of climate crisis: what can we do?” It’s a great talk, and worth watching and reflecting upon.

At the beginning of the talk, Neil makes this comment:

This is a really unfamiliar topic for me to be thinking about and talking about…But I’ve been working since 1995 on various critical lines of digital technology in education and never thought about sustainability, really. I’ve basically spent 27 years pointing out why things don’t work. But, coming over to Australia 10 years ago has given me just a real personal visceral wake-up call to climate crisis and I’ve quickly become super mindful of the need to get my own work, and also my own area of work, edtech, up to speed with issues relating to sustainability, climate breakdown, possible eco-compromised futures to come and all the rest of it. So, the fundamental challenge that I’m currently wrestling with and the challenge which I’m now gonna burden you with, I think is terrifyingly simple. Do we actually need digital education? Is digital education a realistic part of a livable future or even just a survivable planet? And if we think it is, in what form and what do we do about it?

These are important questions, and I expect that more and more researchers in our field will explore facets of them. I would like to add another one that doesn’t quite have to do with edtech, but I think deserves the attention of researchers and designers in our field: How do we help people understand and respond to issues of sustainability and climate catastrophe before they become personal?

Like Neil, i didn’t grapple with climate change in any concerted and scholarly way until recently. I don’t think we’re unique in this regard. The broader literature that I’ve been engaging with over the past two years relating to COVID-19 misinformation includes models that suggest that people negotiate and respond to perceived risks to their health based on their perception of susceptibility to an illness or disease; belief in severity of risk; belief that taking action would reduce severity or susceptibility and therefore have benefits, etc, etc. In other words: How could we help people understand that climate change will impact them (or their children, nieces, nephews, etc?) in significant ways (i.e. susceptibility, severity) and that the benefits of responding to climate change outweigh the costs of not doing so? Importantly, how do we do that before the issue becomes personal*?

To be certain, this is an interdisciplinary question: colleagues in climate science, public policy, and educational psychology are likely dealing with aspects of this already, and partnerships can be mutually beneficial. It would be good to engage with this soon, while climate change still feels like somewhere else, somewhere a little bit distant, because by the time it becomes personal for most of us, it may be too late.

* There’s a debate focusing on the worth/value of individual vs. systemic responses here that I’m going to ignore for this post. Suffice to say it’s an issue worth thinking about.

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