Owner: Terry Anderson
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The Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research (CIDER) is a research initiative of the Centre for Distance Education, Canada's largest graduate and professional distance education programming provider, at Athabasca University, Canada's Open University.
CIDER sponsors a variety of professional development activities designed to increase the quantity and quality of distance education research. CIDER's professional development scope is broad, ranging from learning and teaching application, issues of finance and access, the strategic use of technology in distance education settings, and other factors that influence distance education in Canada.
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The complexity of digital and online education is becoming increasingly evident in the context of research into networked learning/participation. Interdisciplinary research is often proposed as a way to address complex scientific problems and enable researchers to bring novel perspectives into a field other than their own. The degree to which research on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is interdisciplinary is unknown. We apply descriptive and inferential statistics to bibliometric data to investigate interdisciplinarity in MOOC research. Results show that MOOC research published in 2013-2015 was (a) mostly conducted by researchers affiliated with Education and Computer Science disciplines, (b) far from monolithic, (c) had a greater representation of authors from Computer Science than in the past, and (d) showed a trend toward being more interdisciplinary than MOOC research published in 2008-2012. Our results also suggest that empirical research on xMOOCs may be more interdisciplinary than research on cMOOCs. Greater interdisciplinarity in xMOOC research could reflect the burgeoning interest in the field, the general familiarity with the xMOOC pedagogical model, and the hype experienced by xMOOCs. Greater interdisciplinarity in the field may also provide researchers with rich opportunities to improve our understanding and practice of digital and online learning.
This paper reports on a literature review of the concept of “Digital Natives” and related terms. More specifically, it reports on the idea of a homogeneous generation of prolific and skilled users of digital technology born between 1980 and 1994. In all, 127 articles published between 1991 and 2014 were reviewed. On the basis of the findings, there appears to be no commonly-accepted definition of a “Digital Native”. The concept varies among individuals, societies, regions and nations, and also over time. Moreover, there are a number of variables other than age that may help us understand the nature of students’ use of digital technologies. The so-called “Digital Native” literature demonstrates that despite students’ high digital confidence and digital skills, their digital competence may be much lower than those of their “digital teachers”. Given the confusion surrounding “Digital Native” and its affiliates, we propose to unify them under the concept “digital learners”.
Distributed Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are based on the premise that online learning occurs through a network of interconnected learners. The teachers’ role in distributed courses extends to forming such a network by facilitating communication that connects learners and their separate personal learning environments scattered around the Internet. The study reported in this paper examined who fulfilled such an influential role in a particular distributed MOOC – a connectivist course (cMOOC) offered in 2011. Social network analysis was conducted over a socio-technical network of the Twitter-based course interactions, comprising both human course participants and hashtags; where the latter represented technological affordances for scaling course communication. The results of the week-by-week analysis of the network of interactions suggest that the teaching function becomes distributed among influential actors in the network. As the course progressed, both human and technological actors comprising the network subsumed the teaching functions, and exerted influence over the network formation. Regardless, the official course facilitators preserved a high level of influence over the flow of information in the investigated cMOOC.
In an era of knowledge abundance, scholars have the capacity to distribute and share ideas and artifacts via digital networks, yet networked scholarship often remains unrecognized within institutional spheres of influence. Using ethnographic methods including participant observation, interviews, and document analysis, this study investigates networks as sites of scholarship. Its purpose is to situate networked practices within Boyer’s (1990) four components of scholarship – discovery, integration, application, and teaching – and to explore them as a techno-cultural system of scholarship suited to an era of knowledge abundance. Not only does the paper find that networked engagement both aligns with and exceeds Boyer’s model for scholarship, it suggests that networked scholarship may enact Boyer’s initial aim of broadening scholarship itself through fostering extensive cross-disciplinary, public ties and rewarding connection, collaboration, and curation between individuals rather than roles or institutions.
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