Category: work Page 4 of 6

Instructional Systems Design: Syllabus

I am very excited to be teaching our introductory course this semester, entitled Instructional Systems Design. It’s a challenging course because it is introductory, but also because there’s so much I want to cover! Even though the syllabus is a reflection of what I think is important for someone entering the field, I want to highlight the main objective, which is to introduce students to the practice of instructional design and to enable them to become better learning experience designers.The syllabus is embedded below, but feel free to download it from scribd as well. If you’ve taught or taken a similar class in the past, I would love to hear your feedback!

Social media & Open Education Critiques

Critiquing eyes, by CarbonNYC (CC-license)

Critiques of the current state of education are omnipresent. In such critiques, authors often highlight the positive role that social media and open education can play. While I don’t believe that the status quo is the best environment for education and scholarship to thrive, I also don’t live in a social media utopia. Yet, the critiques of social media and open education that I read are often superficial and easily countered: face-to-face interaction is important and the “best” mode of communication, we can’t allow open participation due to federal regulation such as FERPA, etc, etc. This is frustrating. Critique and self-reflection are healthy, even for mere humans who support both the integration of social media and openness in educational settings (especially higher education). To help me (and my students) better understand the complexities, hidden agendas, implications, and rhetoric vs. reality, surrounding social media and open education, I have been collecting serious and well-articulated critiques of the two. I am posting a few of these below, but if you know of any more, please feel free to add them in the comments and I’ll update this entry!

Open Education: The need for critique (Richard Hall)

The educational significance of social media: A critical perspective (Neil Selwyn)

Citizenship, technology and learning –a review of recent literature (Neil Selwyn)

The romance of the public domain (Chander & Sunder)

What does ‘open’ really mean? (Tony Bates)

Emerging Technologies in Distance Education: Available

My edited book, Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, has just been published from Athabasca University Press, Canada’s leading publisher of Open Access, peer-reviewed, scholarly publications! Go get your free copy from the AU site above, and if you want to support the great work that Athabasca University Press is doing, then purchase the paperback volume (disclaimer: I earn a minute stream of royalty fees per copy).

A summary of the book follows:

A one-stop knowledge resource, Emerging Technologies in Distance Education showcases the international work of research scholars and innovative distance education practitioners, who use emerging interactive technologies for teaching and learning at a distance. This widely anticipated book harnesses the dispersed knowledge of international experts who highlight pedagogical, organizational, cultural, social, and economic factors that influence the adoption and integration of emerging technologies in distance education. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education provides expert advice on how educators can launch effective and engaging distance education initiatives, in response to technological advancements, changing mindsets, and economic and organizational pressures. The volume goes beyond the hype surrounding Web 2.0 technologies and highlights the important issues that researchers and educators need to consider to enhance educational practice.

Individual chapters are as follows:

PART 1: Foundations of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education
1. A definition of emerging technologies for education | George Veletsianos
2. Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies | Terry Anderson
3. Imagining multi-roles in Web 2.0 Distance Education | Elizabeth Wellburn & BJ Eib
4. Beyond distance and time constraints: applying social networking tools and Web 2.0 approaches in distanceeducation | Mark J. W. Lee & Catherine McLoughlin

PART 2: Learning Designs for Emerging Technologies
5. “Emerging”: A re-conceptualization of contemporary technology design and integration | The Learning Technologies Collaborative
6. Developing Personal Learning Networks for Open & Social Learning | Alec Couros
7. Creating a Culture of Community in the Online Classroom Using Artistic Pedagogical Technologies | Beth Perry & Margaret Edwards
8. Structured Dialogue Embedded within Emerging Technologies | Yiannis Laouris, Gayle Underwood, Romina Laouri, Aleco Christakis

PART 3: Social, Organizational, & Contextual Factors in Emerging Technologies Implementations
9. Personal Learning Environments | Trey Martindale & Michael Dowdy
10. Open source course management systems in distance education | Andrew Whitworth & Angela Benson
11. Implementing Wikis in higher education institutions: the case of the Open University of Israel | Hagit Meishar-Tal, Yoav Yair and Edna Tal-Elhasid
12. The Use of Web Analytics in the Design and Evaluation of Distance Education | P. Clint Rogers, Mary R. McEwen & SaraJoy Pond
13. New communication options: A renaissance in IP use | Richard Caladine, Trish Andrews, Belinda Tynan, Robyn Smyth, & Deborah Vale

PART 4: Learner-learner, Learner-Content, & Learner-Instructor Interaction & Communication with Emerging Technologies
14. Using Social Media to Create a Place that Supports Communication | Rita Kop
15. Technical, Pedagogical and Cultural Considerations for Language Learning in MUVEs / Charles Xiaoxue Wang, Brendan Calandra & Youngjoo Yi
16. Animated Pedagogical Agents and Immersive Worlds: Two Worlds Colliding / Bob Heller & Mike Procter

Help choose a book cover

[Update Feb 22, 2010: Thank you for the comments on the form below! I already have 70 bright ideas to improve the covers!!!]

Emerging Technologies in Distance Education is getting closer to completion. Now, we need to select a cover. Can you help?  The amazingly talented Natalie Olsen created the four cover concepts appearing below and I am having trouble selecting one! If you can help by completing the form below, we would greatly appreciate it! I’ll post the result by the end of next week (Feb 28).

The four designs are:

Cover 1: Pencils. Cover 2: Wordle.

Cover 3: Chalkboard. Cover 4: Tin Cans.

Capturing influence in informal social networks

Data on the influence and impact of interactions in informal social networks is difficult to come by. Dr. Jon Becker is trying to collect data on the influence of Dr. Alec Couros‘ work, in support of Alec’s Tenure and Promotion application. Data from this endeavor will go in Alec’s digital portfolio that supports his application. This is a great idea, not just in terms of evaluating one’s contribution to the community, but also in terms of celebrating the achievements of a dedicated, resourceful, and brilliant colleague. If you have benefited in any way by interacting with Alec – and if you have interacted with Alec, I am sure you have – say it here!

The changing nature of publishing

This is another one of those mini posts related to the changing nature of the work that academics do; specifically, publishing. I wrote this after  being directed to the Public Library of Science site from Tony Hirst‘s tweet:


If you visit the website mentioned (here) you will see that the Public Library of Science will be making available a number of metrics intenting to evaluate the reach of published articles (I played with a similar concept here). These metrics (which will accompany each article) include reader notes and comments, ratings, social bookmakrs, citations in the academic literature, and so on. Not only is this a step toward transparently assessing the value of a publication, it provides another impetus for academics to seriously consider engaging with and participating in social media spheres. In an age where ongoing debate, collaboration, interaction, participation, and engagement are daily buzz words when envisioning improved education, shouldn’t the same ideas apply to our publications? If you are interested in these issues you may like to look at this cloudwork (and especially the comments made by Giota on the credibility, resistance, legitimacy, and power structures). It’s an interesting conversation.

Your thoughts?

On the Popularity of Open Access Journals

[This posting is divided into 2 parts. This is part 2 and it provides an exercise in popularity metrics for online open access journals. The first part of this posting, providing an editable spreadsheet of online open access journals,  is available here.]

In this post I demonstrate several points that I have been playing with over the years. On the one hand, the post takes a simple concept (the popularity of academic journals) and attempts to rethink it in the context of the digital, interconnected space. On the other hand, it demonstrates the power of the “cloud” and the opportunities provided by posting information in online spaces that are accessible via standardized formats (such as XML). The posting also serves as an example of what kinds of opportunities mashups can provide to universities/education. And finally, I just wanted to learn how to remix data via online services :)


As you may have seen in my previous posting, we collected a list of all the open access online journals that we could find that are focused on publishing educational technology research. While having the list online in an open spreadsheet format allows anyone interested to update it, it also allows us to manipulate and remix the data. As a simple example, consider the issue of journal rankings. I’ve seen it debated on ITForum, on twitter, at the University of Minnesota where I did my PhD, and at the University of Manchester where I currently work. The issue is that “top tier” journals are good for tenure, but there are debates on what constitutes “top tier.” Is it readership? Rejection rates? Quality? Citations? All the above? I could link to a few different resources here, but the only one I will refer interested readers to is the European Science Foundation ERIH listings that I personally use as a guide.

My intention in this post is to rank the online open access journals according to “popularity.” As I see the rolling eyes through the tubes of the internet, let me say that popularity in this case refers to the number of sites that link to a particular page. Higher numbers denote more inbound links (= higher popularity). If you want to see the popularity metrics without reading the details of how this was done, the end result (that is generated every time you click on the link) is available on this page. At the time of writing, the least linked-to journal had 0 inbound links and the most linked-to journal had 31,534 links.

To be fair (or, “a word of caution”): The popularity index is not without it’s faults. Popularity doesn’t mean quality or even readership. The number of inbound links can be easily manipulated. The measure leaves our RSS subscriptions and number of individuals receiving TOC alerts. Also, inbound links carry equal weight regardless of where they come from. Another issue relates to journals changing URLs. For example, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication used to be hosted an Indiana University but is now part of the Wiley InterScience group (and is still open access). Also, the URL we used to link to a journal might not be the most appropriate one. To fully understand and see the problems with this method, one has to dive under the hood of the whole process, and that’s what I am doing next.

The implementation in detail

The journal URLs are posted in a google spreadsheet that allows data to exist online in a variety of formats (e.g. csv and html files). Those files can then be read into Yahoo Pipes (essentially, a drag-and-drop mashup tool). Once Yahoo pipes has a list of journal URLs, those URLs are send through the Yahoo Site Explorer API which generates “information about the pages linking to a particular page or pages within a domain.” That information includes the magic numbers used in this exercise (i.e. the number of pages linking to a particular journal via its url). Once the numbers are generated, Yahoo Pipes exports them as an RSS feed. That feed can then be imported back to a Google Spreadsheet. And that’s it. Whenever a journal url is added to the spreadsheet, the pipe generates a popularity number for it without anyone needing to do anything. A new journal appears? No problem, just add the url and its inbound links will be counted automatically. If you want the full details, feel free to grab the actual yahoo pipe that does all the work and clone it (at this point I should thank Mat Morisson and Tony Hirst, whose postings on yahoo pipes and online data manipulation helped me rethink how I was doing this). If you don’t have a yahoo account and are interested in how the implementation looks, the image at the top of this post is the actual pipe created.

A final word of caution :)

This is not a valid method to decide where to send your next paper :). Yet, as I see more and more conversations online about  open access (e.g., BJET published an editorial on the topic on Aug 12, 2009) and alternative ways to evaluate ones contribution to his/her chosen field, this simple example may ignite ideas for evaluating journal contributions (in the UK at least the issue of journal impact is currently being debated as we await the transformation of the Research Assessment Exercise). Also, the ranking is less interesting to me than the implications behind our ability to remix available data to think about journal “impact”. Finally, if you are managing an online open access journal and you feel that the URL used is not representative of where users link to, please feel free to correct the url by visiting the original listing. If we used an erroneous link, we apologize and we thank you for helping us correct it.

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