Author: George Veletsianos Page 2 of 73

AI use in class policy

Ryan Baker shares his class policy on foundation models, and asks for input:

Within this class, you are welcome to use foundation models (ChatGPT, GPT, DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, GitHub Copilot, and anything after) in a totally unrestricted fashion, for any purpose, at no penalty. However, you should note that all large language models still have a tendency to make up incorrect facts and fake citations, code generation models have a tendency to produce inaccurate outputs, and image generation models can occasionally come up with highly offensive products. You will be responsible for any inaccurate, biased, offensive, or otherwise unethical content you submit regardless of whether it originally comes from you or a foundation model. If you use a foundation model, its contribution must be acknowledged in the handin; you will be penalized for using a foundation model without acknowledgement. Having said all these disclaimers, the use of foundation models is encouraged, as it may make it possible for you to submit assignments with higher quality, in less time. The university’s policy on plagiarism still applies to any uncited or improperly cited use of work by other human beings, or submission of work by other human beings as your own.

As far as policies go, I like what Ryan created because

  • It functions as a policy as well as a pedagogical tool (“you should know that these models do X”) that draws students’ attention to specific issues that are important (e.g., ethics and equity).
  • It encourages use of foundation models. It recognizes that they are available and they can have benefits, unlike head in the sand efforts that ban their use
  • It invites students to engage with the output of foundation models in meaningful ways

In the LinkedIn thread, Jason D. Baker has a great comment that speaks to this, when he asks whether students solely need to state whether they used a model or whether they will need to explain in detail how they used model outputs. What would an explanation accompanying a submission look like? I’m not quite sure, but here’s an example of an article demonstrating the ways the human was involved and the ways the AI contributed to an article.

A pan-Canadian certification program for higher education instructors?

Tony Bates wrote his five wishes for online learning in 2023, along with reasons why he’s somewhat pessimistic about them being fulfilled. I wanted to spend a few minutes here discussing alternatives to Tony’s second wish: “A national certification program for higher education instructors.” If this wish has a “5% odds of happening” (and I agree with Tony here), what kinds of alternatives might have greater chances of success?

Provincial responsibility for higher education means that (at present) this is the kind of wish that is dead in the water. Some alternatives that might go towards addressing the problems of teaching competence might be the following:

  • Provincial certification programs for higher education instructors. The BC government has developed a digital learning strategy, which includes a variety of steps, resources, actions, recommendations, and tools to support and expand the effective and equitable use of digital learning in the province. With a strategy in place, developing a provincial certification program makes good sense. Some of the challenges that Tony identifies a federal program facing will still be present in the provincial context (e.g., research-teaching hierarchies, cost, academic freedom issues), but the odds of this are greater than 5%. My guesstimate? 10%. Still poor. And smaller-scale. On the other hand, a provincial program, say in BC, might become a proof of concept for other provinces, especially, if it is openly licensed, is cross-disciplinary, and is flexible enough in its design and assessment.
  • Institutional and cross-institutional certification programs, such as BCIT’s Polytechnic Academy proposal, which I understand to be similar to the work that Centers of Teaching and Learning at multiple institutions do, such as, for example, the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) offerings, that are offered by a number of institutions/organizations in the province. There’s a slew of benefits that can come from  multi-institutional collaboration on such efforts, like Tony describes. I’m more optimistic on this, especially because there was quite a lot of collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic that might provide the impetus and support for this, and also because I see collaborative-minded institutions coming together for other initiatives (like the new campus that four island institutions are opening in the Westshore).
  • Institutional certification programs for future faculty. This is close to my heart. Preparing current doctoral students for online/hybrid teaching – and preparing them for teaching in general – is necessary (which, I might add, also prepares them with skills that are relevant outside of the academy, like leading teams in collaborative groupwork). There’s other challenges here to be sure (such as academic departments agreeing that this is topic that is significant enough to warrant a course/certificate/microcredential/something), but this might be an area where the office/school/college of graduate studies plays a pivotal role. Another challenge: this kind of initiative addresses the current problem, but in the future, while remaining unresponsive to the status quo. It’s not a solution, but it’s part of a package for a solution.

If you would like to add more to this, the comments are open!

Η ξενιθκιά τζιαι οι ανθοί

There’s been a recent movement in Cyprus to accept and recognize the beauty, richness, and significance of the Cypriot language. Typically understood as a dialect, Greekcypriot (and Turkishcypriot for that matter, i believe) are oral, not written languages: There’s no courses in “Cypriot” in K-12 schools. The courses are Modern Greek (Turkish), and the language spoken in professional contexts is Greek. There’s all sorts of issues wrapped up in this around people’s concepts of what is and isn’t proper, and around what ought to be or not be taught in schools. As part of the movement to use Cypriot in written contexts, a local newspaper has started publishing op eds written in Cypriot on any topic, and I wrote the following story around my grandmother’s cooking of stuffed zucchini flowers.

Η ξενιθκιά τζιαι οι ανθοί

Έσιει πάνω που είκοσι χρόννια που έφυα που την Κύπρο. Πρώτα Αμερική. Ύστερα Αγγλία. Πίσω Αμερική. Τώρα Καναδά. Τζιαι όι Τορόντο, που τουλάχιστον εν’ 10 ώρες απευθείας πτήση προς την Αθήνα τζιαι ύστερα ανάμιση ώρα που τζιαμαί. Όι! Στην άλλη πλευρά του Καναδά. Στην πλευρά του Ειρηνικού ωκεανού. Στη Βικτώρια, που εν’ στο νησί Βανκούβερ, που πολλοί συγχύζουν με την πόλη του Βανκούβερ. Στην πλευρά που θέλει τουλάχιστον τρεις πτήσεις τζιαι 24 ώρες για να έρτω πίσω. «Στα τριβίλλουρα», λαλεί ο φίλος μου ο Φόττας που το γυμνάσιο. Να μεν τα πολυλογώ, Αγγλία, Αμερική ή Καναδάς εν είσιεν σημμασία για την μακαρίτισσα τη γιαγιά μου την Ελένη που την Τρεμιθούσα. «Ζάβαλλε μου, τζιαι εννά σε φάει η ξενιθκιά γιε μου» ελάλεν μου κάθε φορά που επήαιννα να την δω.

Εν ηξέρω ακριβώς ίνταμπου εννόαν με την έκφραση «εννά σε φάει η ξενιθκιά». Εχαμογέλουν τζιαι εκαθησύχαζα την, αλλά θαρκούμαι εσκέφτετουν ότι τα πράματα εν’ δύσκολα στο εξωτερικό. Ότι εν θα έχω συγγενείς, γνωστούς, τζιαι φίλους σε ώρα ανάγκης. Ότι ο κοσμος εν’ άλλωσπως. Αξινόστραφος, σε σύγκριση με τους Κυπραίους; Χωρίς εμπιστοσύνη; Ότι σαν την Κύπρο εν έσιει; Εν ηξέρω. Έπρεπε να την ρωτήσω, αλλά πού να το κόψει ο νους μου! Ένα πράμα όμως έξερα το: Ότι στη ξενιθκιά σίουρα εν θα έβρισκα μια πιατέλλα γεμάτη με ανθούς έτοιμους πας στο τραπέζι, έτσι όπως τους έκαμνεν κάθε φορά που επήαιννα να την δω.

Η κοτζιάκαρη η μακαρίτισσα ήταν αγράμματη αλλά, τελικά, γνωστική. Ως ένα σημείο έντζιαι είσιεν άδικο. «Εξίασες τα ελληνικά σου, ρε» είπε μου η αρφή μου πας στην κουβέντα τον Ιούνη που ήρτα να δω τους δικούς μου, ύστερα που δκυόμισι χρόννια πανδημίας. Τζιαι όταν έγραψα της άλλης μου της αρφής στο φέισμπουκ «Πολλά ωρεο! Πίος το εκαμε;» για ένα γλύκισμα, απάντησε μου: «Re, me polli agapi einai *ωραίο και *ποιος». Ορθογράφος η ροκόλα, που ήταν δέκα χρονών όταν έφυα, τζιαι τωρά εν’ τριάντα. Τέλος πάντων, έχουν τζιαι τούτες δίκαιο. Η ξενιθκιά εμισοέφαεν μου την γλώσσα μου την μητρική. Τούντο άρθρο εννά το έγραφα σε καμμιάν ώρα στα αγγλικά αλλά επήρεν μου τρεις τζιαι κάτι στα κυπριακά. Τζιαι επειδή λυσσιώ της πείνας, εν ημπόρω να περιγράψω τωρά πως η ξενιθκιά εν’ όπως την Ιθάκη, τζιαι εννά σταματήσω να γράφω.

Μια πιατέλλα γεμάτη με ανθούς έτοιμους πας στο τραπέζι, έτσι όπως τους έκαμνεν κάθε φορά που επήαιννα να την δω, όμως γιοκ.

Assistant Professor positions at Royal Roads University to join the Emerging Indigenous Scholar Circle

RRU has two faculty positions available for Indigenous scholars. The appointments are flexible as to the discipline of focus, and so this is open to Indigenous colleagues studying topics related to education, educational technology, learning design, critical pedagogy, education futures, online learning, etc etc, who may be situated in the same field as I am. A short summary appears below, but see the full posting (link above) for full details.

In collaboration with local First Nations, and with guidance from the Heron People Circle, Royal Roads University is committed to establishing an Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle. The Circle is a community that provides connection, mentorship and support as emerging Indigenous scholars begin or are looking to augment their academic career.

Royal Roads is seeking two Emerging Indigenous Scholars to join our Circle. These three-year limited term faculty appointments will be at the assistant professor level. Indigenous applicants are First Nations, Metis and/or Inuit individuals who maintain ties to their nations, ancestors and families.  Emerging Indigenous scholars are early in their academic careers (ABD, or within the first five years of graduating with a doctorate, including those who have pursued non-academic work). We are seeking applicants from diverse academic backgrounds, areas of expertise and research interests who can contribute to our existing programs.

The successful applicant will be a faculty member based in the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences or the College of Interdisciplinary Studies or the Faculty of Management, with the flexibility to teach, assist Indigenous Education initiatives and to conduct research in any area. They will have the opportunity to contribute to positive change in the world through course development, teaching, and continuing to build upon their research interests.  RRU’s academic culture values research applied to real world issues, creativity, and the timely dissemination of knowledge that meets the needs of our communities.

The Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle initiative to recruit a small group of recent or pending Indigenous doctoral graduates to three-year limited terms with the intention of providing these new academics with supported opportunities to teach, conduct research and participate in service to the academy and community to help prepare them for regular full-time roles at Royal Roads or at other institutions, or opportunities such as Canada Research Chairs. Recognizing that these scholars will be at the beginning of their academic careers, the Chair of the Circle will provide a robust support program that will include mentorship, training, and programming to augment skill development in areas such as learning and teaching, gaining research funding, Indigenous research methodologies, information literacy, understanding student support services and more. These scholars will also benefit from intentional activities designed to support them to learn and be in relation to local Lands, communities and teachings while also staying connected to their own communities. Peer support will be cultivated amongst the group, and networking opportunities would be sought for them as well. This work will rely on building strong relationships with our Heron People Circle and other local Indigenous Knowledge Keepers.

Since this is a special opportunity for Indigenous scholars, in accordance with Section 42 of the BC Human Rights Code, this opportunity is limited to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.  Applicants will be asked to complete self-identification information for the purposes of screening and consideration.  Please note that this information will be securely accessed only by members of the selection committee on a need-to-know basis and will otherwise be kept confidential.

Job Requirements

This opportunity is open to Indigenous scholars who maintain ties to their nations, ancestors and families through regular connection to their traditional culture(s). Arrangements will be considered to help successful candidates maintain close ties to traditional territories, sources of culture and research interests.

RRU recognizes that alternative career paths and/or career interruptions can impact an early academic career. We encourage applicants to highlight in their cover letter how interruptions may have impacted them. RRU also recognizes the value of community service, professional service, and non-traditional areas of research and applicants are encouraged to describe these as well.

Ideally, RRU is looking for an individual who:

  • Is ABD within one year of degree completion, or has an earned PhD or other doctoral degree

  • Demonstrated commitment to continued practice of their culture(s), with evidence of strong ties to their nations, ancestors, families, and/or traditional Knowledge Keepers

  • Demonstrated experience building strong, positive relationships with a wide range of people, including Old Ones/Elders, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and community leaders, Indigenous people living in urban settings, Indigenous and other scholars, and university community members

  • Demonstrated commitment toward advancing Indigenous knowledges, pedagogies and research traditions

  • Has exceptional oral and written communication and interpersonal skills

  • Is comfortable working in a team-based, collaborative environment

Speculative fiction articles in Post-digital science and education

Post-digital science and education has recently been publishing short education fiction focused on education futures. There’s a wide diversity of articles there, with plenty of topics to explore, and lots of food for thought. The collection includes an article from my colleague Shandell Houlden, focused on coming together and finding community.

And together, the human listeners and the flesh-tech wanderers, these were the people who became the teachers, after the collapse. And with prayers in their hearts, they went out together into the storms, so that we could all find each other and listen and sing together again.

Comments: Exploring speculative approaches to digital education futures

Today, the good folks at the University of Edinburgh held a book launch for Dr. Jen Ross’ new book, ‘Digital Futures for Learning’ (Routledge, 2022), and led a discussion about “how speculative methods and pedagogies can allow digital education researchers, educators and students to engage creatively with the sociotechnical imaginaries that underpin policy, practice and innovation in our field.” I was asked to offer some comments, so I thought I would post them below (Dec 8, 2022 update: The recording for the event is now also available).

A beach at night time, with five big flowers standing up

Book cover: Digital Futures for Learning

Hi everyone,

I live on the traditional and unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples who have lived here for thousands of years. These territories are now known as Victoria, British Columbia. To acknowledge these lands is to acknowledge the need for conciliation, and the harms that colonization has had on Indigenous people both here and around the world.

I am grateful to be here with you today. And I am happy because we are celebrating my friend and colleague Dr. Jen Ross and her new book. I was told I didn’t have to talk about the book. But how can I not talk about it? Digital Futures for Learning is a prime example of scholarship that stands to carve new and exciting paths for field. It’s engaging, critical, and invites us to open our minds, and hearts, to the possibilities. What if education, digital or not, were otherwise? What could it look like? If you haven’t already, you should buy yourself a copy. Or ask your library to buy a couple of copies.

I’m also happy to be here because it’s such a pleasure to see many of you again here today. I’m grateful that technology allows us to gather and have this event. But as our education systems face economic, demographic, political, environmental, and social challenges, I can’t help but wonder what our gatherings may look like in, say, the year 2040.

Speculative approaches to research enable us to explore beyond the question of “what is happening.” They allow us to imagine, to explore what the world could be like, perhaps even what it should be like.

So, with that, I would like you to join me in a short and simple exercise. I would like you to close your eyes – no peeking – and just listen to the sound of my voice. Go ahead, I’m waiting. Thank you.

I want you to join me in a journey. It’s now time to suspend disbelief and step into my time machine. Let me open the door here, and one by one, all 80 of you, please step over the ledge, and enter this large, specially modified plane that will take us to the future. There’s room for all of us in here, and you all get business class seats. But fasten your seatbelts, just in case something unexpected happens. I’ll set the year to 2040, close the door, and in a moment or two we’ll arrive in 2040…. Ok, here we are. See, that didn’t take long! Now that we’re here, I want you to step outside the time machine. As you step outside the machine, notice that you are now observing a different meeting happening in 2040. At that meeting we’re celebrating the fifth edition of Professor Ross’s book.

Yes, sure, we’re all a bit older, but what else do you see?

  • Where are we?
  • Are we all in the same location? Or are we participating through different means?
  • And what does a book look like in 2040?
  • Who is speaking at the event?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you feel?

Is this a future that gives you hope, one perhaps that you want to make changes in your immediate world so that we can eventually get there?

Or is it a future that fills you with dread, one that you should be resisting right now so that we don’t end up there?

In other words: What is the future that you are seeing telling you about the present moment?

What is it telling you about the places that we gather, about the technologies we are using, about the ways that we are organizing ourselves to share, to teach, to learn?

What is it telling you about activities that we ought to continue engaging in and activities that we ought to stop engaging in?

One of the most powerful lessons of speculative methods, to me, is how they inform the present. Speculative methods may give us a glimpse about the future, but they also shine a light on what is happening right now.

Now, before you open your eyes, I want to remind you to come back into the time machine for our journey back to 2022. We need you back in 2022 to create more hopeful, more just, and more equitable learning futures for ourselves and our students! We tell a lot of dystopian stories about the future of education, so as you are coming back I want to share with you one of our own papers that builds on Jen’s work and that invites us to tell more hopeful stories about the futures of education that you can read at a different time.

Thank you very much!

Critical Digital Pedagogy in Higher Education & collaborating with Suzan and Chris

Critical Digital Pedagogy in Higher Education will be published in January 2023. Suzan Köseoğlu, Chris Rowell, and I started working on this open access book <checks notes> around October 2019. It’s an edited volume that includes research and scholarship from many wonderful colleagues from around the world who have stuck with us and entrusted us with the process of trying to publish a book during a pandemic. I’ll be posting about each chapter in January, but here I wanted to share a note of appreciation for my co-editors.

It takes some perseverance to publish a book. But it takes a special of dedication and patience to edit and publish a book consisting of thirteen chapters written by more than 20 colleagues, while in a pandemic, while navigating life, while switching institutions, like both Cover for the book critical digital pedagogy in higher educationSuzan and Chris did.

Suzan is sharp, thoughtful, supportive, and approaches this work with the critical mindset it deserves. She read through every single manuscript (and countless submissions that did not end up being included in the final version of the book) with an eye to detail and in consideration of the broader work that is being done in the area.

Chris is equally sharp and reliable. He approaches this work with a keen understanding of practice, and that lens adds volumes to this work. He is equally dedicated to critical pedagogy, as well as to mobilizing knowledge in diverse ways (including through a podcast he’s been experimenting with for the book).

While working with them I appreciated their kindness and dedication. I knew I could rely on them, and I know that this work is better because of them.

Editing a book is a lot of hard work, and I don’t know of any academics who do it for the money, because frankly, there’s very little of it in scholarly publishing. Perhaps you might consider inviting Suzan or Chris to speak at your next event?

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