A place to log ideas and thoughts

George Veletsianos, PhD

Category: scholarship Page 2 of 20

Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse

For the last year or so, my colleagues and I have been working on a SSHRC-funded project examining the experiences of harassment that women academics face online. “We” refers to my colleagues Jaigris Hodson, and our two amazing research assistants Chandell Gosse and Shandell Houlden. We’re now at a point where we will start sharing artifacts from this work more and more broadly, including a wesbsite, scenario-based simulations, webinars, and, in due course, cc-licensed pedagogical materials to lead workshops on understanding and responding to online harassment.

Our first two papers sought to understand the experience of online harassment: what does it do? how do women cope with it? what supports do they use to respond to it?

These two papers are available below.

Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S., Hodson, J., Gosse, C. (2018). Women Scholars’ Experiences with Online Harassment and Abuse: Self-protection, Resistance, Acceptance, and Self-Blame. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4689-4708. [PDF Preprint]

Abstract: Although scholars increasingly use online platforms for public, digital, and networked scholarship, the research examining their experiences of harassment and abuse online is scant. In this study, we interviewed 14 women scholars who experienced online harassment in order to understand how they coped with this phenomenon. We found that scholars engaged in reactive, anticipatory, preventive, and proactive coping strategies. In particular, scholars engaged in strategies aimed at self-protection and resistance, while often responding to harassment by acceptance and self-blame. These findings have important implications for practice and research, including practical recommendations for personal, institutional, and platform responses to harassment, as well as scholarly recommendations for future research into scholars’ experiences of harassment.

Hodson, J., Gosse, C., Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S. (2018). I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends: The Ecological Model and Support for Women Scholars Experiencing Online Harassment. First Monday, 23(8). doi: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i8.9136

Abstract: This article contributes to understanding the phenomenon of online abuse and harassment toward women scholars. We draw on data collected from 14 interviews with women scholars from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and report on the types of supports they sought during and after their experience with online abuse and harassment. We found that women scholars rely on three levels of support: the first level includes personal and social support (such as encouragement from friends and family and outsourcing comment reading to others); the second includes organizational (such as university or institutional policy), technological (such as reporting tools on Twitter or Facebook), and sectoral (such as law enforcement) support; and, the third includes larger cultural and social attitudes and discourses (such as attitudes around gendered harassment and perceptions of the online/offline divide). While participants relied on social and personal support most frequently, they commonly reported relying on multiple supports across all three levels. We use an ecological model as our framework to demonstrate how different types of support are interconnected, and recommend that support for targets of online abuse must integrate aspects of all three levels.

Three new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair postings

Won’t you be my colleague? Royal Roads University has posted three new Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs. Please consider applying or sharing them with interested colleagues:

Indigenous Justice
Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation and the Future of Business
Digital Communication in the Public Interest


ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2018

Last week, EDUCAUSE released its 2018 study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology. I served as a subject-matter expert on this project and I’m excited to see the report appear in public. The EDUCAUSE team did a fantastic job on this. The sections entitled Experiences with Instructors and Technology and A Day in the Online Life of a Student are really interesting, the former for its highlighting that banning technology in the classroom is an equity issue and the latter for providing a glimpse into students’ self-reported online activities.

The key findings are provided below, drawn directly from the report:

  • Practically all college and university students have access to the most important technologies for their academic success. US students reported near-universal access to a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, with no systematic differences in access based on ethnicity, gender, age, and socioeconomic status. However, students reported low levels of access to newer, more expensive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets and 3D printers.
  • While laptops, hybrids, desktops, and smartphones continue to be rated as very to extremely important to student success, the importance of these devices differs considerably by student demographics. Generally, women, students of color, students with disabilities, first-generation students, students who are independent (with or without dependents of their own), and students who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds see their devices as significantly more important to their success than do their counterparts. White students are significantly less likely than non-white students to think desktops, tablets, and smartphones are important to their success.
  • Students’ overall technology experiences continue to be correlated with their evaluation of campus Wi-Fi reliability and ease of login.Students’ evaluation of campus Wi-Fi in various locations has remained largely flat in recent years, but significant gaps remain in terms of the quality of connectivity in dormitories/student housing and outdoor spaces, as well as ease of network login.
  • LMS use remains prevalent across higher education institutions, with continued high rates of use and student satisfaction. Three-quarters of all students reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their institution’s LMS, and more than three-quarters of students reported their LMS was used for most or all of their courses. This likely reflects satisfaction primarily with the functional aspects of their institution’s LMS.
  • A majority of students continue to express preferences for learning environments that fall somewhere on the “blended” continuum (from mostly face-to-face to mostly online). While a plurality (38%) of students prefer fully face-to-face classroom environments, students who have taken some fully online courses are significantly more likely to prefer blended environments and less likely to prefer purely face-to-face courses.
  • Although a majority of students said their instructors use technology to enhance their pedagogy, improve communication, and carry out course tasks, there are limitations when it comes to personal device use. Instructors encourage students to use their laptops more than smartphones, but nearly a third of students are not encouraged to use their own devices as learning tools in class, suggesting that many students take courses in which faculty discourage or ban the in-class use of students’ technology.
  • Nearly three-quarters of students (72%) who live off campus reported their internet connections at their home/off-campus residence are either good or excellent, and only 2% reported having no internet access at home. Students who live off campus have a stronger preference for online and blended courses than do their on-campus counterparts. This preference may reflect how online learning can benefit those who need to juggle work schedules and family responsibilities.
  • The typical student is fairly serious about doing the work of being a student, spending 1 to 4 hours per day online doing homework and conducting research. Contrary to popular belief, students do not appear to spend most of their time using social media, watching TV, or playing video games. Indeed, the typical student spends 1 to 2 hours on social media and another 1 to 2 hours streaming video; more than half of students reported that they do not play video games.
  • A plurality of students who self-identify as having a physical and/or learning disability requiring accessible or adaptive technologies for their coursework rated their institution’s awareness of their needs as poor. According to students, larger and DR public institutions tend to have poorer awareness of disabled students’ needs than do smaller and AA institutions. In addition to institutional limitations, students’ fears of being stigmatized or penalized for disclosing their disabilities and engaging disability services to receive the aid they need may be contributing to low rates of awareness.
  • Students continue to view student success tools as at least moderately useful. Students view success tools that help with transactional tasks related to the work of being students (e.g., conducting business, tracking credits, planning degrees, conducting degree audits) as slightly more useful than those that help them academically (e.g., early-alert systems, academic resources, course recommendations, improvement of academic performance).
Joseph D. Galanek, Dana C. Gierdowski, and D. Christopher Brooks. ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2018. Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, October 2018.

How People Learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures

The newest edition of How People Learn has been released. Much research has gone into this new edition and I’m looking forward to reading it and sharing it with my students (and, ahem, some of those who approach me with edtech products). Chapter 8 in particular focuses on digital technology, but the whole book is worth our attention.


You can download a pdf or read it online for free here.

Open Access Educational Technology books

I want to tell you about a new site that Royce Kimmons is launching: http://edtechbooks.org

This aims to become go-to location for open texts related to educational technology, instructional design, learning design and technology, and related fields. If you’d like to add a book to this collection, bring it to the attention of Royce!


The seduction of the digital

Josh Kim wrote a very kind post today over at Inside Higher Ed, highlighting what he sees as three indictments of the role of technology in higher education. There’s good food for thought there, and I’d like to focus on Josh’s third indictment which states that digital technologies distract.

The crux of the matter (for me) is here: “Nor are students the only people on campuses likely to use technologies in a way that inhibits, rather than promotes, learning.”

This point gets lost in the broader conversation around technology distracting from learning. The broader conversation focuses on learners being distracted by… all sorts of things… laptops, social media algorithmically perfected to demand never-ending attention, and so on.

Yet, we talk little about the seductive appeal of technology that positions it as an easy solution to all sort of problems. That seductive property is what is distracting faculty, administrators, instructional designers, and other higher education professionals, not the technology itself, not technology as an object. Problem-solving – dare I say innovation – can exist without the latest gizmo or platform, and I’ve said that so many times, and heard it so many times, that I feel like we should be past this point. We *need* to be past this point. But, in a practice characterized by historical amnesia as Martin Weller aptly reminds us, we need reminders.

Four years ago I gave a talk at the University of Edinburgh. It was a wonderful event, with many amazing people, but I’ll always remember one comment that Jen Ross made. I’m paraphrasing, but she essentially said: We can be frustrated that we have to remind people of the history of the field, of the role that technology plays in education, of its potential and shortcomings. Or, we can be excited that more and more people are joining the field, and more and more people need to learn that “technology” isn’t the one and easy solution.

She was, and is, right. The needle is slow to move, but, at this moment, I choose to be excited.


Our (mostly) changing social media practices

I was tagged in doing the black-and-white photo-a-day-for-a-week Internet meme this week. I don’t usually participate in these things (I know, I know… life of the party right here), but this one was interesting because of the current research that we are doing on understanding how and why faculty social media practices change or don’t change over time. Back in 2009, 2010, 2012 even, a few colleagues used to take a photo a day, and share those photos online, usually in flickr groups. Some still do that, but a lot has changed since then. Over the last week of taking and sharing these photos on Twitter, some of my thoughts included the following:

  • Nowadays, my Twitter feed is scrubbed biweekly. These photos will eventually get deleted (to the extent that photos posted online do, I supposed)
  • I paused each and every time I thought about tagging someone. I am more and more cognizant of what we’re asking each other to do online these days.
  • I don’t have a flickr account any more.
  • The online conversations I used to have circa 2008 are much different than the conversations I am having in 2018. The volume is much less and the topics are more constricted. The tone has changed too, and not for the better. Perhaps that’s a reflection of my social media circles. Perhaps it’s a reflection of broader shifts.

10 interesting papers in the proceedings of the Artificial Intelligence in Education 2018 conference #aied18

The 2018 Artificial Intelligence in Education conference starts today. Its full proceedings are freely available online until July 21st, and I scrolled through them to identify papers/posters/reports that seemed potentially relevant to my work. These are of interest to me because some use methods that seem worthwhile, others offer insightful results, and yet others seem to make unsubstantiated claims.  As an aside, I especially like the fact that AIED offers space for PhD students to discuss their proposed research.

Here’s the papers that I identified to read:

Leveraging Educational Technology to Improve the Quality of Civil Discourse

Towards Combined Network and Text Analytics of Student Discourse in Online Discussions

An Instructional Factors Analysis of an Online Logical Fallacy Tutoring System

Adapting Learning Activities Selection in an Intelligent Tutoring System to Affect

Preliminary Evaluations of a Dialogue-Based Digital Tutor

ITADS: A Real-World Intelligent Tutor to Train Troubleshooting Skills

Early Identification of At-Risk Students Using Iterative Logistic Regression

Smart Learning Partner: An Interactive Robot for Education

Do Preschoolers ‘Game the System’? A Case Study of Children’s Intelligent (Mis)Use of a Teachable Agent Based Play-&-Learn Game in Mathematics

A Data-Driven Method for Helping Teachers Improve Feedback in Computer Programming Automated Tutors



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