Landing : Athabascau University

Joining Centre for Distance Education

By George Siemens August 20, 2012 - 3:42pm Comments (11)

I started classroom teaching in the late 1990's at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We were the first department in Canada to go exclusively laptop. All of our classrooms were equipped with LCD projectors, wired connections at each seat, etc. We were using The Learning Manager at the time (pre-WebCT). What was fascinating, for me at least, was that only half of the education equation changed with the addition of laptops. Learners were suddenly free to explore, peer-to-peer chat, download inappropriate things, and other fun stuff. Instructors, on the other hand, kept doing what they did before, with the primary exception being the use of powerpoint instead of overhead slides. This experience significantly changed my view of the transformative potential of technology and the ways in which increased learner control over content and interactions changes the learning experience. 

In mid-2006, I left Red River College to take on a research/administrative role at University of Manitoba (Assoc. Director, Research and Development, Technology Learning Centre). This was a great position for me as it gave me a systems-wide overview of how different faculties were using and deploying technology for teaching and learning. I still miss the opportunity to have coffee with chemistry profs in the morning, lunch with psychologists, and afternoon coffee with dentists/nurses, etc. 

I joined Athabasca University's Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) in 2009 . I have, over the past three years, had the pleasure of working with Jon Dron and Terry Anderson on the Landing and to work with others (such as Dragan Gasevic) on learning analytics and related projects. During my time in TEKRI (associate director) I've had the privilege to organize conferences (Big Data, Learning Analytics, Social Media), initiate SoLAR with colleagues, work on SSHRC grants (with UPEI), three Gates Foundation grants, two Alberta grants, and so on. It's been a terrific experience.

Earlier this year, I posted that I'd applied for, had been shortlisted, and was ultimately not selected for at CRC at Royal Roads University. At that time, AU didn't have open academic positions (I did take on an adjunct prof role in the School for Computing Information Services and am continuing to work on a post-baccalaureate in data analytics). Well, as is often the case, one missed opportunity leads to an even greater one. A few months ago, AU's Centre for Distance Education announced a competition for a new faculty post. I applied and am thrilled to announce that I'm joining this great group as a core faculty member in CDE as of Sept 1, 2012. 

I will continue my role within TEKRI, but will spend more time teaching and advising students. My courses in fall include:

Learning analytics and knowledge

Introduction to Distance Education

Openness in Education