George Veletsianos, PhD

A place to log ideas and thoughts

George Veletsianos, PhD

New book: Learning Online and The Student Experience (now available for free)

Short version: My new book Learning Online: The Student Experience has been published ahead of schedule by Johns Hopkins University Press. The Press has made the book available online for free as part of its efforts to support COVID-19 responses. Download it here or support the press by purchasing a copy here. Disclaimer: I receive a % of the sales in royalties, but I’ll be donating them to a non-profit in my community.

Long version:The book was scheduled to be published in April/May. In the meantime, COVID-19 happened, and in early March I reached out to Johns Hopkins University Press to ask whether they would be willing to make it – or at least a portion of it – available online for free. My reasoning was that it could be of immediate benefit to faculty, administrators, and higher education leaders aiming to transition their courses from in-person to alternative formats. The press expedited the final steps of the process and I just learned that it is now available for free here. I hope you find it useful, both in these turbulent times that we find ourselves in and in future online learning efforts!

Johns Hopkins University Press must have been thinking about this much earlier than I was, as they have made thousands of their books and papers available for free in the meantime. You can support the press by purchasing a copy of my book here or by purchasing a copy of any of the books that they publish. As standard book authoring goes, I receive a percentage of book sales in royalties. I will be donating those to a non-profit in my community.

I hope people read and enjoy the book, and I will gladly talk to anyone about it. Whether you’re teaching a class on the topic or are a higher education leader trying to make decisions about online learning at your institution, I’m happy to talk with you.

Tiny Tips #3: COVID-19 and Online Learning

This post isn’t about tensions, working long hours to serve our students and our communities, or how-tos. Rather, it’s about how one of the things that COVID-19 reveals is how collaboration and goodwill may help Higher Education respond and react.

A common element in both yesterday’s post and in today’s article that Shandell Houlden and I published with The Conversation, is the simple fact that coming together, helping each other, and collaborating is tremendously beneficial. Addressing COVID-19 and its impacts requires us – universities, individuals, systems – to work together. And we’d be better for it. In this post, I wanted to share some large-scale collaborative efforts that have popped up in the last week or so in Higher Education.

Tiny Tips #2: COVID-19 and Online Learning

Today’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, Coronavirus and the Great Online-Learning Experiment, argues that researchers should use the natural experiment afforded to them by COVID-19 to examine comparative outcomes between online and in-person courses.

This is bad advice, for the following reasons:

  • A large body of literature has already examined outcome differences between in-person and online courses, and the findings have typically been “no significant differences.” In the cases that researchers found differences, those are typically the result of factors other than the mode of teaching (e.g., extra time to study, better design in one of the two modes, etc). I cover this in the very first chapter in my book Learning Online: The Student Experience which arrives next month.
  • The online classes produced under emergency situations aren’t going to be comparative to the in-person courses. I wish I was optimistic enough to imagine a course designed under stressful conditions within the span of a week to be be as good as the courses which one had months – even years – to create and iterate.

There’s nothing “natural” about the state that we are in. This is not a “natural” experiment of the kind of research that we need. The kind of research that we need asks:

  • What made some faculty, students, and institutions successful in achieving the outcomes they defined?
  • What institutional supports proved to be helpful to students and faculty in times of crises, and in what ways?
  • What roles did instructional designers play in this transition, and what made some more successful than others?
  • What vulnerabilities did this shock reveal and how may we address them?
  • What are the positive and negative externalities of using emergency online teaching/learning?
  • In what ways is this crisis being exploited, to what means, and by whom?

The kind of research that we need also inquires into the stories of people (students, faculty, administrators) to reveal our humanity: How did we come together during this time of crisis? How did we support and care and love one another to do what we could for education at a time of urgent and pressing need?

Tiny Tips #1: COVID-19 and Online Learning

The kind of online learning that many of us aspire to requires careful thought and planning. But what do you do when you don’t have time to carefully orchestrate a well-crafted online learning experience, such as when COVID-19 requires you to abruptly abandon your in-person teaching and switch to an online solution?

Here’s a few tiny tips:

  1. Recognize that you are now in a new environment. You’ll find yourself wanting to replicate your face-to-face course. That’s a losing battle. You have neither the time, and if you’ve never taught online, neither the expertise to do that. And that’s OK. Let me reassure you once again. It’s OK that you aren’t an online learning expert. It’s OK that your new course isn’t dealing with the intricacies of everything that you planned but are now unable to do.
  2. Reach out to colleagues on your campus who have either taught online or whose job is to help others teach online. You probably have an office on campus that’s called The Center for Teaching and Learning or The Center for Teaching Excellence or something similar. There’s people with expertise there, and they can help. But do keep in mind that those colleagues also probably already overwhelmed, so be patient.
  3. Reach out to colleagues online. Over the last 3 days I saw many more threads that I can count on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and individual blogs. There are some great ideas/tips/approaches being shared there, including this post by Tannis Morgan on teaching with one of the most basic tools that we all use on a day-to-day basis – email.

For some of us, online and digital learning is our bread and butter, the world we live in and the world we are experts in. Doctors, and nurses, and epidemiologists respond to COVID-19 in the ways that they were trained to keep the rest of us healthy. At times like these, we can lend a helping hand to each other in the ways that we are familiar with.

(but, beware of vendors that appear our of nowhere promising to put your courses online or offering free software to help you through the crisis, and heed Ayebi-Arthur’s recommendation, who in writing about educational technology responses to the 2011 earthquake in New Zealand, notes that such free gifts “set in motion long-term expectations that need to be managed.”)

CFP: Learning Analytics – Pathways to Impact

Call for proposals for a Special Issue to be published by the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology on the topic of Learning Analytics: Pathways to Impact.

Guest Editors

  • A.Prof Linda Corrin, Swinburne University of Technology,
  • Prof. Dragan Gasevic, Monash University,
  • Dr. Maren Scheffel, Open University of the Netherlands,

Focus of the special issue

The field of learning analytics has evolved over the past decade to provide new ways to view, understand and enhance learning activities and environments in tertiary education. It brings together research and practice traditions from multiple disciplines to provide an evidence base to inform student support and effective design for learning. This has resulted in a plethora of ideas and research exploring how data can be analysed and utilised to not only inform educators in the classroom, but also to drive online learning systems that offer personalised learning experiences and/or feedback for students. However, a core challenge that continues to face the learning analytics community is how the impact of these innovations can be demonstrated. As more and more institutions implement strategies to take advantage of learning analytics as part of core business, it is important that such impact can be evaluated and scaled to ensure effectiveness and sustainability.

This special issue provides an opportunity to explore the pathways to impact of learning analytics-based interventions and implementations in the tertiary education environment.

Topics for this special issue may include, but are not limited to:

  • Approaches to scaling adoption and impact of learning analytics
  • Strategies for measuring the impact of learning analytics
  • Evaluation frameworks for learning analytics implementation
  • The intersection between learning analytics and learning design
  • Theoretical lens that help to determine how data can be used as indicators of learning
  • Validity and reliability of indicators and data analysis models in learning analytics
  • Factors that mediate the impact of learning analytics (e.g. ethics)
  • Approaches that promote the interpretability of analytics outputs for stakeholders
  • Policy and strategy frameworks for implementation of learning analytics
  • Leadership models for planning and implementation of learning analytics
  • Approaches that promote stakeholder involvement in adoption of learning analytics
  • Participatory design and co-creation of learning analytics
  • Case studies of learning analytics implementation and impact

Manuscript Submission Instructions

Manuscripts addressing the special issue’s focus should be submitted through the AJET online manuscript submission system. Please review the Author Guidelines and Submission Preparation Checklist carefully, and prepare your manuscript accordingly. Information about the peer review process and criteria is also available for your perusal.

NOTE: When submitting your manuscript, please include a note in the field called ‘Comments for the Editor’ indicating that you wish it to be considered for the “Learning Analytics” special issue. Please direct questions about manuscript submissions to Linda Corrin at: 

Deadlines for authors

  • Strict submission deadline: 1st July 2020
  • Decision on manuscripts: 15th September 2020
  • Revised/final manuscripts: 15th October 2020
  • Expected Publication: December 2020

Speculative futures: Social media surveillance at higher education institutions

In continuing to explore speculative futures (see Gig Profs) it seems important to note that what I am posting are by no means predictions of the futures. Rather, they’re extensions of events, news, practices, and technologies that comes across my desk. To this end, I’ll include some footnotes at the end of each artifact to highlight the connections between artifact and events/news/etc. I hope to use these futures not only to highlight dystopian and utopian futures, but to explore ways for universities to aim towards better, richer, and more equitable futures.

Here’s today’s artifact. It’s a fictitious email sent from a risk and brand management company providing services to a university.

Future email describing negative sentiment toward institution and stating which individuals are related to it


  1. See 3/4 down the page of this news item showing a similar email from a media relations team pertaining to a SOGI event at UBC.
  2. is a software that purports to screen for “toxic workplace behaviour.” Here’s an example of an individual whose background check included a report from this (heads up: extensive swearing).
  3. After analyzing university social media guidelines, Lough & Samek (2014) write: “Across the guidelines, framing of social media use by academic staff (even for personal use) as representative of the university assumes academic staff should have an undying loyalty to their institution. The guidelines are read as obvious attempts to control rather than merely guide, and speak to the nature of institutional over-reach in the related names of reputation (brand), responsibility (authoritarianism), safety (paternalistically understood and enforced), and the free marketplace of [the right] ideas.” — Lough, T., & Samek, T. (2014). Canadian university social software guidelines and academic freedom: An alarming labour trend. The Digital Future of Education, 21, 45-56.

A new graduate certificate program in Science and Policy of Climate Change at Royal Roads

Royal Roads University is launching an online graduate certificate program in Science and Policy of Climate Change. The online certificate will enable students to identify climate solutions and take action to address the climate crisis. This is in partnership with ECO-Canada a non-profit organization that provides strategic human resource solutions for the environmental sector. More details are here.

CFP: Partnerships for scaled online learning and the unbundling of the traditional university

Call for proposals for a Special Issue to be published by the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

Partnerships for scaled online learning and the unbundling of the traditional university

Guest Editors

  • Dr. Henk Huijser, Queensland University of Technology,  
  • Dr. Rachel Fitzgerald, Queensland University of Technology,  
  • Professor Gilly Salmon, Online Education Services, UK & Swinburne University of Technology,

Focus of the special issue

Support services and technology platforms have long been delivered in a range of partnerships with external providers. However, partnerships as part of core business have much wider implications for educational technology policy and practice. While digital learning environments make partnerships easy to envisage and execute, partnerships in this area are often complex and at least partially driven by financial motives and marketization (Swinnerton et al., 2018). We believe there are genuine opportunities to open education to international audiences, fulfill the social purpose of higher education and afford opportunities to include non-traditional learners. However, there are concerns about the impact that such partnerships have on educational quality, academic freedom, university reputation and shared governance (Sundt, 2019). For example, online learning in these models may favour individualist over social constructivist approaches to learning, under the banner of personalisation. We acknowledge that developing unbundled models creates challenges regarding curriculum and learning design, however we also believe there are also opportunities for creative and transformational thinking as we move towards a digitally integrated future (Salmon, 2019).

We welcome contributions from early adopters to discuss effective practice and challenges faced. We are particularly interested in the impact of partnerships with private providers on technology enhanced learning and how that should inform both university and government policy.


We invite authors to submit studies, reviews and conceptual articles on topics including, but not exclusive to:

  • Unbundling of the traditional university
  • Reputation maintaining, enhancing and building in entirely global environments
  • The third partners – involving stakeholders such as employers in the mix
  • University arrangements with private companies and their impact on online teaching and learning
  • Models of partnership
  • Social progress and inclusion of non-traditional learners
  • The role and impact of micro-credentialing on partnerships
  • Achieving personalized, active and student-centred digital learning
  • Agile, scalable learning design­­­­
  • The role of technology in online partnerships
  • Flexible delivery models – modes and structures
  • Exploring online and global curriculum
  • The role of academic interventions, tutoring, and support services in partnerships

Manuscript Submission Instructions 

  • Manuscripts addressing the special issue’s focus should be submitted through the AJET online manuscript submission system.
  • When submitting your manuscript, please include a note in the field called ‘Comments’ that you wish it to be considered for the ‘Partnerships for scaled online learning and the unbundling of the traditional university’ Special Issue of AJET.
  • Please review the Author Guidelines and Submission Preparation Checklist carefully, and prepare your manuscript accordingly.
  • Information about the peer review process and criteria is also available for your perusal.

Deadlines for authors 

  • Submission deadline: 2nd March 2020
  • Expected decision on manuscripts: 1st May 2020
  • Revised/final manuscripts due: 5th June 2020
  • Expected Publication of Special Issue: late 2020

Further questions 

Please direct questions about manuscript submissions to Henk Huijser or Rachel Fitzgerald


Hill, P. (2018, April 2). Online Program Management: Spring 2018 view of the market landscape [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Salmon, G. (2019, Feb 1). From partnership to fusion: Future educational landscapes. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Sundt, M. (2019). Professors, ask hard questions of your online providers. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Swinnerton, B., Ivancheva, M., Coop, T., Perrotta, C., Morris, N., Swartz, R., … Walji, S. (2018) The unbundled university: Researching emerging models in an unequal landscape. Preliminary findings from fieldwork in South Africa. In M. Bajić, N. Dohn, M. de Laat, P. Jandrić, & T. Ryberg, T. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Networked Learning 2018 (pp. 218-226). Zagreb, Croatia, 14-16 May 2018.

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