Category: papers Page 1 of 7

Traxler’s review of our book: Critical Digital Pedagogy in Higher Education

Johh Traxler wrote a very kind review of Critical Digital Pedagogy in Higher Education, the open access book that Suzan, Chris, and I co-edited. In it, he begins by noting that he is concerned of a growing chasm in digital education, as

there seem to be two parallel universes of learning, of two different sets of ideas about how we learn, what we learn, who we learned it from, and we show we have learnt it: one inside higher education, the other in the world outside. On one side are the closed systems around the dedicated EdTech systems in higher education, and around the different cadres and professions that develop, sell, procure, install, and deploy them to deliver the formal curriculum. On the other side are the ever fluid and informal groups and relationships that exploit social media and Web 2.0 to produce ideas, images, information, identities, and opinions, and to share, store, transform, merge, and discard them.

After reviewing individual chapters, he concludes that each chapter populates the spaces in the chasm and “makes an extraordinary contribution, tackling the chasm from a surprising variety of angles and should be valued and explored accordingly.”

I’m filing this into the “positive words” folder, which is a folder that I refer to when I need reminders that gloomy days are temporary.

Are cohort-based course platforms “universities of the future?”

The edtech industry includes numerous learning providers and platforms providing tools, technologies, and resources for course creators to create and sell online courses. These platforms are interesting for very many reasons. What roles do they play in the learning and development ecosystem? How do they measure effectiveness and learning outcomes? What kinds of pedagogical and instructional design practices do they support and advocate for? What education-related claims do they make?

two people working on five laptops. They sit at a table littered with other devices, like phones, headset, and ipads. Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

In a paper we published a few months ago, we examined one such platform because it describes itself as building ‘the university of the future’ and has recently received significant attention and funding. This makes it a compelling case study to better understand the potential roles and risks associated with education platforms operating outside of and alongside more traditional higher education institutions.

We highlight specific concerns about cohort-based platforms. These include lack of transparency, risk of surveillance, lack of adequate financial support for learners, and over-reliance on social media networks as signifiers of educator/instructor qualification (this last one is a big one). Suggested benefits include adaptability, suitability to changing skills needs, and responsiveness to changing environmental scenarios.

The published version of the paper is here, but here’s a pre-print pdf: Veletsianos, G., & Houlden, S. (in press). On the “university of the future”: A critical analysis of cohort-based course platform Maven. Learning, Media, & Technology. 


Tech Trends Special Issue on Race and Racism in Educational Technology

TechTrends Volume 67, Issue 3 is now available online and includes a special Issue on Race and Racism in Educational Technology.


#oer23 presentation: open access to research

Enilda, Josh, and I are working on a project examining the degree to which access to education research is available to the public, bringing together research interests that all three of us have had for a long time now. Enilda presented some of our early findings this week at OER23 in Scotland and shared her reflections here. Our slides are available at

Part of the fun in this work is figuring out how to bring together a set of APIs to allow for programmatically retrieving data about published journal papers from different services (e.g., see Josh’s post).


opening up research through self-archiving practices

A Synthesis of Research on Mental Health and Remote Learning: How Pandemic Grief Haunts Claims of Causality

Stephanie Moore, Michael Barbour and I have published a paper synthesizing the results of all the research we could find relating to remote/online learning and mental health. Full paper and abstract below:

Moore, S., Veletsianos, G., & Barbour, M. (2022). A synthesis of research on mental health and remote learning: How pandemic grief haunts claims of causality. The Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association Journal, 2(1), 1-19.


While there has been a lot of debate over the impact of online and remote learning on mental health and well-being, there has been no systematic syntheses or reviews of the research on this particular issue. In this paper, we review the research on the relationship between mental health/well-being and online or remote learning. Our review shows that little scholarship existed prior to 2020 with most studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. We report four findings: (1) pandemic effects are not well-controlled in most studies; (2) studies present a very mixed picture, with variability around how mental health and well- being are measured and how/whether any causal inferences are made in relation to online and remote learning, (3) there are some indications that certain populations of students may struggle more in an online context, and (4) research that does not assume a direct relationship between mental health and online provides the best insight into both confounding factors and possible strategies to address mental health concerns. Our review shows that 75.5% of published research on this topic either commits the correlation does not equal causation error or asserts a causal relationship even when it fails to establish correlations. Based on this study, we suggest that researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and administrators exercise extreme caution around making generalizable assertions with respect to the impacts of online/remote learning and mental health. We encourage further research to better understand effects on specific learner sub- populations and on course—and institution—level strategies to support mental health.

Keywords: mental health, online learning, remote education, anxiety, stress, well-being, wellness

New paper: A synthesis of surveys examining the impacts of COVID-19 and emergency remote learning on students in Canada

Around the first year of the pandemic, we gathered all the student surveys we could find that examined emergency remote learning in Canada and its impacts on students. We made this work available immediately as a pre-print because we knew it would take a while to actually be published, and in many talks and conversations since then. The paper is now available in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education. The abstract and citation are below.

During the COVID-19 pandemic numerous institutions around the world have surveyed students to gain an understanding of their experiences. While these surveys are valuable at a local institutional level, it is unclear as to which findings from individual
surveys reflect the broader higher education environment, and which patterns may be consistent across student surveys. It is worthwhile to synthesize survey findings in order to explore patterns and potentially new understandings that may arise
from such analysis. In this paper, we reviewed and synthesized 21 surveys examining the impacts of COVID-19 and emergency remote learning on approximately 155,000 student respondents in Canada. Findings reveal that the impacts of COVID-
19 and emergency remote learning on students centered around (1) educational experiences, (2) mental health and wellbeing, (3) financial concerns, (4) impact on future plans, and (5) recommendations for future practice.

Houlden, S., & Veletsianos, G. (in press). A synthesis of surveys examining the impacts of COVID-19 and emergency remote learning on students in Canada. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. Preprint (pdf) or

Intersectional feminism and instructional design & technology

I’d like to share with you a powerful paper that I read yesterday.

As a preamble consider this: The field of instructional design and technology has it’s fair share of problems. Naming them begins the process of tackling them, but it takes ongoing and dedicated work – and courage. I’ve been filled with hope over the past couple of years as a larger and more diverse group of people have led the way in tacking equity, diversity, and inclusion in IDT.

The paper? Romero-Hall, E. (2021). Navigating the Instructional Design Field as an Afro-Latinx Woman: A Feminist Autoethnography. TechTrends, (0123456789). If you have access to the journal: If you don’t have access:

What is the paper about? Dr. Enilda Romero-Hall details some of her personal experiences, as a woman of color and a graduate student, professor, researcher, and instructor in a field dominated by men, and white men in particular. She also describes the ways in which intersectional feminism guided her scholarship and responses. Please read the paper yourself – it’s worth the time reading Enilda’s words in her voice.

Why is the paper important to me (and possibly to you)?

  • The kinds of things that Enilda describes – lack of diversity and representation in the field, aggression and micro-aggression, etc etc –  aren’t just present in other fields. They’re in IDT too. They’re systemic. They’re not other people’s problems. They’re our problems too.
  • If you’ve been to AECT over the past few years, you’ve likely met Enilda. Personal stories, especially when connected to people we meet/know, may have a transformative power (which is partly why the volume that Ana Donaldson edited on Women’s voices in Educational Technology is such a significant piece of work). Full disclosure here: Enilda and I have known each other for many years. Our grad student days overlapped, though at different institutions. We’ve also served in AECT’s Research and Theory division together, and collaborated on a few other areas (a paper, a couple of panels, a grant, etc).
  • Addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the field is an ongoing work that shouldn’t be solely relegated to those who do equity, diversity, and inclusion research. For example, one step that we can all take in our teaching is to diversify and decolonize our reading lists. Toward this, the University of Huddersfield provides a toolkit to explore.

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