Category: my research Page 2 of 20

Public & networked scholarship and its challenges

Much of my work on public/networked/participatory scholarship approached the topic with the understanding that

  • scholarly practices impact how scholars use technology (e.g., institutional metrics and rewards systems shaping what kinds of activities faculty participate in, and thereby seek to amplify or improve via technology)
  • technology impacts scholarly practices (e.g., the adoption of a particular technology at an institution shaping what kinds of practices academics use; this can be anything, ranging from proctoring tools that encourage adoption of traditional assessment practices to institutional websites that ‘nudge’ faculty to include their social media profiles).

Note: “scholarship” here includes teaching, and isn’t just a synonym for research.

Much of this work was framed within a broader context of forces that shape how scholars enact digital and networked scholarship.  Over the last few years, I’ve become more interested in the broader context and the broader forces. Of particular interest are three forces (or problems)

  • online harassment
  • systemic inequities (that impact online participation)
  • the mediating roles of ranking, sorting, and attention economy algorithms

There three areas overlap in unique ways as well (e.g., the case of an an op ed going viral and its author being on the receiving end of particularly vitriolic forms of abuse based on their identity).

I’d like to develop this framework of challenges further.

November 2021 talks/panels/events

I participated in four online events in November.  Do I miss being with colleagues in person? Yes. But, I don’t think I’d be able to be with so many colleagues in person in different parts of the world in the span of a month. Would I have tried? Perhaps. And I would have likely exhausted myself over and over.

The first was an invited talk for Université Laval.

Better than normal: Finding a future beyond “a return to normal” on campus | Cette conférence s’inscrit dans une série d’activités visant à poser un regard réflexif sur l’évolution de l’enseignement supérieur, et ce, sous de multiples perspectives et points de vue.

Rather than a return to an imagined “normal” that existed in pre-pandemic times, this talk invites us to explore the future of our teaching and learning environments. What do they look like? What should they look like? Who do they serve, and do they serve everyone equitably? Grounded in ongoing research projects examining student experiences with online and remote learning, and studies examining what the future of education may look like, this talk invites us to recognize that various pre-pandemic teaching, learning, and institutional practices were problematic. “Normal” was (and is) problematic. What are some better futures for students, faculty, and institutions of higher learning?

Plutôt que d’imaginer un « normal » qui existait à l’époque prépandémique, ce webinaire vous invite à explorer l’avenir de nos environnements d’enseignement et d’apprentissage. À quoi ressemblent-ils ? À quoi devraient-ils aspirer? Qui servent-ils et servent-ils nos populations équitablement ? Fondée sur des projets de recherche en cours qui examine l’expérience des étudiantes et des étudiants avec l’apprentissage en ligne, à distance et des études qui s’intéresse à quoi pourrait ressembler l’avenir de l’éducation, cette séance vous invite à reconnaître les problématiques de nos diverses pratiques d’enseignement et d’apprentissage ainsi que nos politiques institutionnelles prépandémiques. Notre “normal” était (et est toujours) problématique. Quelles décisions concernant l’avenir présentent potentiellement de meilleurs résultats pour les personnes étudiantes, le corps professoral, les membres du personnel enseignant et les établissements d’enseignement supérieur ?

 

The second was a panel discussion hosted by the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia, as part of the Asia-Pacific Online Distance Education (APODE) week.

Lessons from Learners: Students’ Insights on Effective Learning Online
Description:
This webinar features a lively panel discussion with three leading scholars working in online distance education with a strong learner focus to their work. Professor George Veletsianos holds the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Flexible Learning. He is well-known internationally for his research in online distance education and is author of the book Learning Online: The Student Experience (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020). Dr Elaine Beirne works in the National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University, Ireland and has a strong interest in the role of emotions in online learning. She played a key role in the development of A Digital Edge: Essentials for the Online Learner, a free course that has attracted over 10,000 people worldwide. Dr Melissa Bond, previously a Researcher Officer at University College London (UCL) and who has recently returned to Australia, is known for her meta-analysis research on student engagement in educational technology contexts. Melissa is co-author of several seminal major systematic literatures reviews in this area. The panel will discuss lessons that we have learnt from learners and other valuable insights into the online learning experience from a student perspective.

 

The third was a panel webinar discussion on Instructional Design In & After COVID-19 hosted by Royal Roads University and our MA in Learning and Technology program.
Description: The field of instructional design and instructional designers’ role and value has been amplified by the pandemic as organizations work to continue to provide education and training offerings to their students, staff, and employees. Join us for a conversation with leaders in this space as they share their perspectives on instructional design and the field of educational technology and how it has responded to the challenges and opportunities resulting from the global pandemic.

 

The fourth was a fireside chat on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Open and Distance Learning. This was an internal event for the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), with Dr. Suzan Koseoglu (Goldsmiths, University of London, U.K) and Dr. Sindile Ngubane (Institute for Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa) aimed at introducing COL staff to current
thinking on equality and social inclusion in Open and Distance Learning, from concepts such as feminist pedagogy, to perspectives on current challenges of social inclusion in learning contexts during COVID-19.

Impacts Experienced by Faculty Stemming from the Intersection of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Racial Tensions

The Journal of Interactive Media in Education published a special issue entitled Learning from Lockdown: challenges and benefits. Colleagues and I contributed a paper on the Professional and Personal Impacts Experienced by Faculty Stemming from the Intersection of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Racial Tensions. Our abstract appears below:

The disruption that resulted from COVID-19 in 2020 impacted the ways in which higher education faculty lived and worked. Earlier literature describes how faculty members’ experiences during the early months of the pandemic included emotional impacts such as stress and anxiety, with little support to manage these impacts. In this paper we report on a thematic analysis of interviews with Canadian faculty members which revealed that the sources of impacts on Canadian faculty were both the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as racial tensions. These impacts revealed themselves in both the personal and professional lives of participants. With regard to their professional role, participants reported that the additional time and care that they put towards learning new technologies, implementation of new teaching practices, support of students, and efforts to sustain their perceived obligations as a scholar carried an emotional burden. With respect to their personal lives, participants noted that emotional impacts emanated from increased caring responsibilities for family and friends, reduced in-person connections, and news reports and social media. We conclude by presenting support recommendations for individual faculty members, teaching and learning centres, and university administrators.

Belikov, O., VanLeeuwen, C., Veletsianos, G., Johnson, N., Torcivia, P. (2021). Professional and personal impacts experienced by faculty stemming from the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial tensions. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1, p. 8. http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.647

One highlight of this paper that isn’t visible in the final product: Being able to support and mentor Olga, Charlene, and Nicole in publishing. Also: finally being able to identify an opportunity to work with Patrice on a paper!

You may also be interested in the rest of the papers in this issue:

Recent talks on returning back to “normal”

Institutions, institutional leaders, faculty, and students face very many challenges in “returning back to normal.”

In our ongoing research – which we are furiously trying to make available as soon as possible – students and faculty in particular tell us that they hope institutions “carry forward” what was learned during the pandemic, while they hope to avoid a return back to “normal.” There’s an important distinction here. Hopes for a “return to normalcy,” aren’t hopes for a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. They want better futures, different futures, futures that are more accommodating, supportive, equitable, and stable, and see this as an appropriate and opportune time for making long-awaited changes.

I gave two talks recently focused on these ideas. Below is the abstract from my keynote at Simon Fraser University’s Symposium on Teaching and Learning. My keynote for the Faculty Summer Institute at Texas State focused on this topic as well, but from the perspective of student voice and resilience, drawing on earlier research.

Online and blended learning in post-pandemic settings
Much of the conversation in higher education at this particular point in time focuses on “building back better.” To engage in such rebuilding means to recognize that various pre-pandemic teaching, learning, and institutional practices were problematic. “Building back better” invites us to ask: What do future online and blended learning environments look like, who do they serve, what are they for, and how do we justly make them available to everyone? How do we make our learning environments more equitable, flexible, accessible, enriching, sustainable, decolonial, and responsive? As we are invited to return back to campus, what aspects of pre-pandemic teaching and learning should we strive to avoid returning back to? In this talk, I draw from a series pan-Canadian studies conducted over the last year with students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and share findings that inform our collective efforts for creating effective, but also engaging and equitable, learning environments.

Surveys of Canadian students during the pandemic?

We are working on a project that is informed by surveys of Canadian post-secondary students during the pandemic. We have identified a number of surveys/reports and are making them available in this spreadsheet.

I’m certain we’re missing a few. Have you seen any other surveys or reports informed by student responses that we may be able to look at? Please leave us a comment below, and we’ll add new items to the spreadsheet.

Canadian faculty experiences during COVID-19: Never-ending repetitiveness, sadness, loss, and “juggling with a blindfold on

Many surveys examined faculty member experiences during the pandemic, highlighting the challenges and affordances of a mass transition to remote forms of teaching and learning, but also its unequal and disproportional impacts. In a new study, we wanted to develop a much more detailed and visceral description of what some faculty have been experiencing during the pandemic, informed by our specific interests in online learning and teaching with technology. This study is part of a broader SSHRC grant which funded the postdoc and research assistants who wrote this with me (thank you!). The abstract and citation is below:

VanLeeuwen, C.A., Veletsianos, G., Belikov, O. Johnson, N. (in press).  Never-ending repetitiveness, sadness, loss, and “juggling with a blindfold on:” Lived experiences of Canadian college and university faculty members during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Journal of Educational Technology. http://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13065 or author’s pre-print copy.

We report on the lived experiences of faculty members during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring the broader experiences of faculty members as individuals living multi-faceted lives whose homes became their offices, their students scattered geographically, and their home lives upended. Using a phenomenological approach for data collection and analysis, we conducted twenty in-depth interviews with faculty holding varied academic appointments at universities across Canada. Experiences during the early months of the pandemic were described as being overwhelming and exhausting, and participants described as being stuck in a cycle of never-ending repetitiveness, sadness and loss, of managing life, teaching, and other professional responsibilities with little sense of direction. In keeping with phenomenological methods, this research paints a visceral picture of faculty experiences, seeking to contextualize teaching and learning during this time. Its unique contribution lies in portraying emergency remote teaching as an overlapping and tumultuous world of personal, professional, and day-to-day responsibilities.

 

Teaching During a Pandemic: Spring Transition, Fall Continuation, Winter Evaluation

Informed by survey studies using nationally representative samples, in a recent project we examined the nature and magnitude of remote approaches to teaching and learning at three points in time:

  • April 2020: The pivot to emergency remote teaching was well underway.
  • August 2020: Prepping and planning for the fall offerings.
  • December 2020: Looking back at the fall term.

Some of the big picture findings include the following

  • agility and resilience in the face of numerous and ongoing challenges over the time period under investigation
  • the development of a new appreciation of and understanding about online education
  • growing reliance on technology
  • equity as a focal point of interest and concern
  • flexibility as a design feature that of interest and relevance

 

The report is CC-BY licensed and is available at: Johnson, N., Seaman, J. and Veletsianos, G. (2021) Teaching during a pandemic: Spring Transition, Fall Continuation, Winter Evaluation Bay View Analytics: Oakland CA, March 22, pp. 53.

 

 

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