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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 :

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

Research with people (quotes from UNESCO’s new social contract for education report)

The quote below is from the report written by the International Commission on the Futures of Education established by UNESCO (p. 123-124), and speaks to co-creation and partnerships.

Practitioner research, action research, historical archival research, case study research, ethnography, etc. are among the many methods that have proven fruitful for use by those within the field. In this way, education must be understood not merely as a field for the application of external experimentation and study, but as a field of inquiry and analysis itself.

The affirmation of schools as places where knowledge is produced and of teachers as knowers, depends deeply on how universities, organizations and researchers interact and collaborate with those embedded in education and draw on their rich insights, reflections and experiences. Universities play pivotal roles in promoting educational research, both for their expertise in advancing disciplinary knowledge and transcending different disciplines. Teachers will always be among the central authors of knowledge on their profession, as it results from shared reflection on that experience and, in this, they should be supported in publishing their research and reflections. Students are also important sources of knowledge and understanding about their own educational experiences, aspirations, achievements, and reflections.

Universities and researchers can extend support by being always in dialogue (emphasis mine) with schools, teachers and students. Participatory evaluation, collaborative research, youth-led research, and practitioner inquiry are among the many methodological traditions that can be drawn on to further systematize the learning between those researching within and externally to education. Educational research will be a key tool to project and monitor the transformations necessary to engage with a new social contract for education.

Page 125 speaks further to this.

Research partnerships that are interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral and cross-cultural, that span academic, civil society and educational milieus, and that foster shared communication and mutual learning, offer tremendous potential to advance the priorities and proposals put forward in this Report.

Not all research partnerships are fair and equitable, and partners with greater resources or institutional power can exert undue influence on the course and outcomes of a partnership even if inadvertently. Epistemic humility is needed to challenge assumptions in and around education, many of which are deeply embedded in our conception of the nature of human beings, of society, and of the more-than-human world. Our operating paradigm will need to shift away from simplistic categorizations of knowledge relationships such as ‘North/South’ or ‘Western/non-Western,’ towards complex and relational ecologies of knowledge.

And page 127

Successful knowledge production for the futures of education will need to become consciously inclusive, socially and culturally diverse, inter-disciplinary and inter-professional, and able to foster communication, collaboration, ownership and mutual learning.

Page 130

Universities, research institutions and their partners are called on to put a special focus on research and innovation to support the renewal of education as a common good and the co-construction of a new social contract for education. They can become most effective, however, when they position themselves in relationship and in dialogue with those already working, thinking, reflecting in education – with teachers, students, schools, families, communities. As mentioned in earlier chapters, this will require a renewal of the public mission of universities towards the generation of an open and accessible knowledge commons, and the education of new generations of researchers and professionals who are committed to the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of themselves and humanity.

British Columbia’s digital learning strategy draft

In Oct 2021 the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training in BC convened a digital learning advisory committee. I am part of the committee, along with very many thoughtful colleagues from across the sector (see list starting in page 45 in the pdf below). The goal of the committee was to “produce recommendations for post-secondary institutions, the post-secondary system more broadly, and the Provincial Government regarding policies, practices, and initiatives that will enable digital learning models to support increased equity, access, and success in post-secondary education.”

The committee has now developed a draft digital learning strategy for our province. The ministry has asked that we share this copy with colleagues and networks for feedback and questions, and so I am posting it here. You can download a pdf of the draft policy here (update: new draft as of Jul 15, 2022). Please send input directly to the ministry at

Diverse and inclusive stock photos for your next presentation, learning design, etc

The images you choose to include in your presentations, curricula, learning designs, etc, etc, matter. The following websites provide a wide range of stock photos to enable you/us to present a more inclusive, diverse, and intersectional picture of life in its complexity and nuance. If you’re aware of other relevant resource, please feel free to add them in the comments below. – The Gender Spectrum Collection: Stock Photos Beyond the Binary – Beautiful photos of Black and Brown people – A disability-led stock image and interview series celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color – a collection of stock photography featuring plus-size office workers – a stock image library showing ‘positive and realistic’ images of older people to challenge negative and stereotypical views of later life

Impact Fellowship roles in the (US) Department of Education

The Federation of American Scientists’ Day One Talent Hub is actively recruiting for several new Impact Fellowship roles in the Department of Education:

The problem with flexible learning: neoliberalism, freedom, and learner subjectivities

Someone asked me for a copy of a recently published paper, and I was reminded that I haven’t yet made the author’s copy available. I try to make all of my papers available on my publications page, by either linking to the open access versions or providing a link to a pre-print version – and if anyone emails me, I send them a copy of the published version, though there are often little differences between the author’s preprint and the published version.

In short, this paper fits within my research on flexible learning. Flexible learning is often positioned as a tool to enable freedom, as imagined through narratives of learners being able to study at “anytime” and from “anywhere.” In this paper, we explore and critique the notion of freedom in the context of flexible learning.

Houlden, S., & Veletsianos, G. (2021). The Problem with Flexible Learning: Neoliberalism, Freedom, and Learner Subjectivities. Learning, Media, & Technology, 46(2), 144-155. or author’s pre-print copy.


Through analysis of the relationship between neoliberalism, learner subjectivity, and flexible education, this paper examines the freedom said to be enabled by flexible education. It asks: What is the nature of such freedom, who does it make free, and in what ways? While flexible education is often framed to be liberatory in nature, especially when understood through the freedom to learn and study as one chooses or is able, the institutional assumptions around how one accommodates this education, the economic or logistic reasons one may be compelled to learn in such ways, and the consequent effects on subjectivity of learning in this way are rarely considered together. By laying bare the relationship between neoliberal forms of freedom (as the freedom to choose and the freedom to take responsibility for oneself), and the affordances of flexible education, this paper illuminates the productive nature of flexible education as a tool of governmentality that serves to regulate subjectivity and in fact delimit certain freedoms. Finally, this paper argues that in order for flexible education to better serve learners, normative forms of freedom must be questioned and historicized to support this work.

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
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.

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