George Veletsianos, PhD

A place to log ideas and thoughts

George Veletsianos, PhD

New paper: The nature and effects of the harassment that scholars receive

My colleagues and I have a new paper available that examines various issues around scholars’ harassment. This one is led by soon-to-be-Dr. Chandell Gosse, and it is the third in a series of papers examining the topic. The first two are here. This work is based on a SSHRC Insight Development grant examining the harassment that faculty receive, which led to a current SSHRC Insight grant that my co-PI (Dr. Jaigris Hodson) and I are using to expanding our harassment-related research.

You can access the paper from the link below. If you don’t have library access, here is the author’s copy of the submitted paper.

Gosse, C., Veletsianos, G., Hodson, J., Houlden, S., Dousay, T., Lowenthal, P., Hall, N.C. (in press). The Hidden Costs of Connectivity: Nature and Effects of Scholars’ Online Harassment. Learning, Media, & Technology, xx-xx.


A growing body of research reveals that some scholars face online harassment and that such harassment leads to a wide variety of adverse impacts. Drawing on data collected from an online survey of 182 scholars, we report on the factors and triggers involved in scholars’ experiences of online harassment; the environments where said experiences take place, and; the consequences it has for personal and professional relationships. We find that online harassment is heavily entwined with the work, identity, and in some cases, the requirements of being a scholar. The online harassment scholars experience is often compounded by other factors, such as gender and physical appearance. We build on prior research in this area to further argue that universities ought to widen their scope of what constitutes workplace harassment and workplace safety to include online spaces.


There’s much in this paper that we think is valuable, but I thought the chart below is worthwhile to share. The figure shows a list of triggers that respondents said contributed to them receiving online harassment. Some of the conversation around the use of social media in education and social media for scholarship centers around the idea that being on social media may invite harassment. Such victim-blaming is not only unhelpful and demeaning, but it also misses the point that. Teaching activities can prompt harassment (e.g., via the sharing of recorded lectures in unfriendly groups), a paper that one writes, or a media appearance. 





CICan perspectives live show: hacking education in a digital world

Recently, I was a guest on a live show hosted by Colleges and Institutes Canada. This episode focused on “hacking education in a digital world.” It focused on the question: How can colleges and institutes transform learning options to provide better access to postsecondary education for all Canadians in the context of a pandemic, and how can the success of the transformation be measured? The show is archived here, and past and current episodes are available on the CICan website.

My comments focused on a few major areas

  • that the impact of the pandemic on higher education institutions, students, and faculty in Canada has been uneven
  • that what we know from online learning research has much to offer to guide remote and emergency teaching and learning
  • that flexibility and flexible learning is important
  • that collaboration amidst the pandemic has served the higher education sector well, and we should do what we can to continue engaging in sharing and collaborations
  • that our post-pandemic future can be better (read more equitable, accessible, sensitive to student and societal needs, etc) than the pre-pandemic past

Talk: Radical Flexibility as a Potential Solution to the Challenges Facing Higher Education

Photo by Adam Valstar

I gave a keynote recently for the Centre for Research in Digital Education, University of Leeds, as part of their online symposium on Digital Transformation of Higher Education. The purpose of this symposium was to explore this transformation “from the perspective of existing and on-going research in digital education, to help the higher education sector to set a direction of travel which creates positive effects on access to higher education and enhanced student learning, through long-lasting changes.” My talk focused on Radical Flexibility as a Potential Solution to the Challenges Facing Higher Education, aiming to critique normative forms of flexibility that assume that everyone benefits from it in similar ways, and propose more broad forms of flexibility that account for diverse peoples’ unique and day-to-day realities. A recording is available here – and there recordings of all the other excellent talks are archived on this page. I drew on the following work for this talk:

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R. Larsen, R., & Rogers, J. (in press). Flexibility, Time, Gender, and Online Learning Completion. Distance Education.

Houlden, S., & Veletsianos, G. (in press). The Problem with Flexible Learning: Neoliberalism, Freedom, and Learner Subjectivities. Learning, Media, & Technology.

Veletsianos, G., & Houlden, S. (2020). Radical Flexibility and Relationality as Responses to Education in Times of Crisis. Postdigital Science and Education, 2(3), 849-862.

Johnson, N., Veletsianos, G., Seaman, J. (2020). U.S. Faculty and Administrators’ Experiences and Approaches in the Early Weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Online Learning Journal, 24(2), 6-21.

Veletsianos, G. (2020). How should we respond to the life-altering crises that education is facing? Distance Education, 41(4), 1-3.

Houlden, S., & Veletsianos, G. (2019). A Posthumanist Critique of Flexible Online Learning and its “Anytime Anyplace” Claims. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(3), 1005-1018.

Talk: Striving for Balance in Online Learning

Photo by Dalton Touchberry

Recently Middlebury’s Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry, hosted me for an online faculty workshop on the topic of Striving for Balance in Online Learning as part of their ongoing Teaching Online and Hybrid Conversation Series. For many faculty, the experience of remote teaching this fall has raised questions around how to create a balanced course workload for themselves and for their students. Students, like faculty, are struggling with the challenges presented by learning in a new way (and during a pandemic), having to navigate new course structures, systems, and expectations. During this session, I offered strategies for faculty seeking new ideas for how to create balanced course workloads that consider the student experience. We started by discussing what it may mean to view our own courses or degree programs from a lens of “balance.” I argued that balance isn’t about doing less, though this process may invariably result in less of something, which *can* be a good thing. Instead, balance is about intentionality and reflection on how course design choices impact students. Next, we discussed balance

  • in using technology (e.g., low-tech, new-to-students and new-to-faculty technology)
  • in assessments (e.g., grading, ungrading)
  • in discussion board activities, writing, and commenting
  • in student reading, listening (e.g., podcasts), and watching (e.g., documentaries)
  • in individual vs. group/collaborative work
  • in synchronous and asynchronous sessions
  • in reading lists (e.g., required vs. recommended/suggested)
  • in timing (e.g., coordination with courses other than one’s own; multiple end-of-semester deadlines)

Great questions raised were the following:

  • What does balance look like for faculty; what does it look like for students; and is there any tension there?
  • What are some of the ways you heard from students about how faculty have created balance in the courses they have taken? Tips/tricks/suggestions. How is it operationalized?
  • We sometimes hear from faculty concerns about finding balance by scaling back what they normally do in a face-to-face class. What advice would you give to those faculty in light of both what you’ve heard from students, and given the current context of a global pandemic?
  • Many faculty will return to teaching primarily face-to-face as soon as possible, perhaps as early as spring or next fall. What lessons, based on your study and what we’re hearing from students now, might faculty consider carrying forward independent of future teaching modalities?

New paper: Institutional Perspectives on Faculty Development for Digital Education in Canada

We recently published a new paper examining Canadian institutions’ approaches to faculty development for online and blended learning. We analyzed open-ended comments from the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association’s annual survey of Canadian post-secondary institutions (2017-2019). We find that

  • digital education orientation or on-boarding processes for faculty vary widely
  • institutions employ an extensive array of professional development practices for digital education
  • institutions report culture change, work security, and unclear expectations as challenges in providing digital education training and support
  • institutions articulate aspirations and hopes around professional development investments in order to build digital education capacity.

We argue that

  • While diverse approaches for faculty orientation, on-boarding, and ongoing professional development for digital education demonstrate a wide
  • range of innovative opportunities, at some institutions PD for digital education is inconsistent, which can leave faculty less prepared for teaching in digital spaces.
  • Various cultural changes are needed to ensure digital education meets everyone’s expectations
    There exist various emergent needs for faculty PD

Tony Bates posted a response; as did Stephen Downes. The paper is open access: VanLeeuwen, C.A., Veletsianos, G., Belikov, O. Johnson, N. (2020).  Institutional perspectives on faculty development for digital education in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 46(2), 1-20.


Books I’m currently reading

Following up on the list of graphic novels I am planning on reading in 2021, I thought I would post what I’m currently reading. There’s no graphic novels in this post. The last graphic novel I read was Not Funny Ha-Ha by Leah Hayes. In no particular order, I’m at various stages of reading (which shouldn’t be taken to mean “endorsing”) the following:

  • The Manifesto for Teaching Online, by Siân Bayne, Peter Evans, Rory Ewins, Jeremy Knox, James Lamb, Hamish Macleod, Clara O’Shea, Jen Ross, Philippa Sheail and Christine Sinclair
  • Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, by Justin Reich
  • Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education, by David J. Staley (rereading)
  • Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events, Robert J. Shiller
  • Your Day, Your Way: The Fact and Fiction Behind Your Daily Decisions, by Tim Caulfield
  • Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody, by Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay
  • Living a Feminist Life, by Sara Ahmed (re-reading)

2021 reading list of graphic novels


Photo by Miika Laaksonen

I’ve been reading more and more graphic novels over the years, and as 2020 finally winds down, I thought I would post which ones I am tentatively planning on reading in 2021. Some of these come from Graphic Mundi, which is a new collection by Penn State University Press publishing “both fiction and nonfiction narratives on subjects such as health and human rights, politics, the environment, science, and technology.” I might not read all of these, and I’ll probably read more, but I like looking forward to the new year rather than looking back to what I read in 2020.

Below is the list of books. I generated this list by placing a hold on each book at my local library. Most of these books are not yet available, and some already have plenty of holds ahead of me, which means that I won’t be getting them early. And that becomes part of the fun of this reading plan: I don’t know what I’m getting when until I receive the email that a book (or multiple books!) are ready for pickup.

1984 : The Graphic NovelOrwell, George.
7 Good Reasons Not to Grow UpGownley, Jimmy.
Algériennes : the forgotten women of the Algerian RevolutionMeralli, Swann,
And Now I Spill the Family Secrets : An Illustrated MemoirKimball, Margaret.
Barely Functional Adult : It'll All Make Sense EventuallyNg, Meichi.
Be More Chill : The Graphic NovelVizzini, Ned.
Billie Holiday : The Graphic NovelGilbert, Ebony.
BillionairesCunningham, Darryl.
Cocaine CoastCarretero, Nacho.
COVID Chronicles : A Comics AnthologyBoileau, Kendra.
Crude : A MemoirFajardo, Pablo.
Desperate PleasuresHarkness, M. S.
Drawing Lines : An Anthology of Women CartoonistsOates, Joyce Carol.
FatHofer, Regina.
Flash Forward : An Illustrated Guide to Possible (and Not So Possible) TomorrowsEveleth, Rose.
For Justice : The Serge & Beate Klarsfeld StoryBresson, Pascal.
Freiheit! : The White Rose Graphic NovelCiponte, Andrea Grosso.
GirlsplaningKlengel, Katja.
Heaven No HellDeForge, Michael.
I Never Promised You a Rose GardenMurphy, Mannie.
I NinaChmielewski, Daniel.
I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944Tarshis, Lauren.
I'm a Wild Seed : A Graphic Memoir on Queerness and Decolonizing the WorldCruz, Sharon Lee De La.
In Love & Pajamas : A Collection of Comics about Being Yourself TogetherChetwynd, Catana.
Infinitum : An Afrofuturist TaleFielder, Tim.
Join the FutureKaplan, Zack.
Kimiko Does Cancer : A Graphic MemoirTobimatsu, Kimiko.
MaidsSkelly, Katie.
Martian Ghost CentaurHeagerty, Mat.
Measuring UpLaMotte, Lily.
Menopause : a comic treatmentCzerwiec, MK (MaryKay),
MudfishPiskor, Ed.
My Body in PiecesHebert, Marie-Noelle.
My Life in Transition : A Super Late Bloomer CollectionKaye, Julia.
Oak Flat : a fight for sacred land in the American WestRedniss, Lauren,
Okay, Universe : Chronicles of a Woman in PoliticsPlante, Valerie.
Onion SkinCamacho, Edgar.
OrwellChristin, Pierre & Sebastian Verdier.
Our Work Is Everywhere : An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans ResistanceRose, Syan.
ParenthesisDurand, Elodie.
Paul at HomeRabagliati, Michel.
Run Home If You Don't Want to Be Killed : The Detroit Uprising of 1943Williams, Rachel.
Save It for Later : Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of ProtestPowell, Nate.
Seen : Rachel CarsonWillis, Birdie.
Slaughterhouse-five : or the children's crusade : a duty-dance with deathNorth, Ryan, 1980-
SylvieKantorovitz, Sylvie.
The Black Panther Party : A Graphic Novel HistoryWalker, David F.
The Butcher of ParisPhillips, Stephanie.
The City of BelgiumEvens, Brecht.
The Great Gatsby : A Graphic Novel AdaptationFitzgerald, F. Scott.
The Incredible Nellie Bly : Journalist, Investigator, Feminist, and PhilanthropistCimino, Luciana.
The Minamata Story : An EcoTragedyWilson, Sean Michael.
The ThudRoss, Mikael.
To Know You're AliveMcFadzean, Dakota.
Tokyo Love Story : A Manga Memoir of One Woman's Personal Journey in the World's Most Exciting CityFujita, Julie Blanchin.
Travesia : A Migrant Girl's Cross-Border JourneyGerster, Michelle.
Vulnerability Is My Superpower : An Underpants and Overbites collectionDavis, Jackie.
We Hereby Refuse : Japanese American Acts of Resistance During World War IIAbe, Frank.
We Should Meet in Air : A Graphic Memoir on Reading Sylvia PlathEisenberg, Lisa Rosalie.
Whistle : A New Gotham City HeroLockhart, E.

On experiencing being a student

Today I was putting the final touches on a paper focusing on the professional development opportunities that Canadian institutions of higher education provide to faculty members, and was reminded of the central argument in my recent book: “people involved in online education…need to better understand the needs and experiences of our students… We need to understand students as people, as individuals who have agency, desires, mishaps, dreams, life-changing accidents; as individuals who face the daily minutiae of life; and as people who may even have instructive and insightful ideas about the future of education. The purpose of this book, therefore, is to examine online learning through the lens of student experience and help us narrow our distance from the online students we serve.”

There’s much to say about reading/hearing/watching about other people’s experiences of being a student. It can be powerful. But actually experiencing being a student – not “back when I was a student,” but in the present – can be instrumental in recognizing, truly recognizing, what it is like to face the decisions that faculty and institutions make for you. Decisions such as whether your course is synchronous or not; whether you need to buy expensive textbooks or not; whether you need to engage in collaborative learning activities; and so on. I was also reminded of this today because I read Martin Weller’s post where he writes the following: “there would be a lot to be gained in experiencing the online provision from a student’s perspective. I genuinely think that intrusive exam proctoring for instance would be less readily adopted if staff had to experience it.”

Inside Higher Ed’s 2019 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology notes that faculty who had various experiences with online courses reported encouraging outcomes: more than 60% of faculty who converted a face-to-face course to an online or hybrid course reported that their online courses included “decreased lecture time and increased use of active learning techniques;” more than 75% of those who have taught online courses reported that the experience “helped them develop pedagogical skills and practices that have improved their teaching…[including in helping them think] more critically about ways to engage students with content.”

This is not to say that experiencing something will necessarily enable one to experience it from the subject position of others. To put it in terms of an example: Sure, I can take a test using proctoring software, but my education doesn’t depend on it, my degree and perceived future aren’t dependent on how I do on an exam.

What’s the takeaway here? Perhaps it boils down to something simple, something about experiencing it yourself before expecting others to do so. Or perhaps something about the authenticity of professional development, and striving to make those experiences as authentic as can be. Or, perhaps, this is a critique of the endless array of educational technology products whose developers never quite experience the tech not just as a student, but as a student who is facing different realities that them. It’s probably all of this, and then some.

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