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Opening Plenary

Social Media in Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship: Six Tales of Practice

Watch the Opening Plenary here 

1 - 2:30pm - Room 146 Arts

The last ten years have seen dramatic changes in the ways millions of individuals connect, communicate, and network via technology and through social media. Social media have also penetrated the higher education sector, and it has been posited that they have influenced not only the ways students connect with each other, but also the ways scholarship is organized, delivered, enacted, and experienced. In this keynote, I will share six research-based stories describing the integration and use of social media in higher education. These stories paint an intricate picture of the use of social media in education and juxtapose three perspectives: (a) social media use guided by techno-enthusiasm and techno-determinism, (b) social media as tools to question and circumvent traditional elements of scholarly practice, and (c) social media as transformative technology.

Keynote Biography

Dr. George Veletsianos is Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Texas, Austin. Later this year, Dr. Veletsianos will be taking up an appointment as a Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University in British Columbia.  He is currently a Fulbright scholar and was recently awarded one of seven early-career fellowships by the Network of Excellence in Technology Enhanced Learning, a European Union Initiative. His research interests focus on the design and study of emerging technologies and pedagogies in online and hybrid education settings, and their relationship to student and instructor experiences and practices. Most recently his research interests center on making sense of users experiences and practices in online higher education settings. His goal is to understand how and why learners and scholars use social technologies in the ways that they do.

Dr. Veletsianos has developed online learning environments since 2004, and since that time has edited one book and single- or co-authored 36 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals and books. His edited book, entitled Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, was published by Athabasca University Press in e-book and paper format, and included contributors from eight countries. The book (left) is available for free under an open access license at

As part of a team of learning technologies designers and researchers, Dr. Veletsianos contributed to the development of the Adventure Learning approach to education, which uses technology, adventure, and inquiry-based pedagogies to create exciting online learning environments. The approach guided the design of the GoNorth! programs which were used by more than 3 million students annually over a period of four years. This work has allowed Dr. Veletsianos and his colleagues to receive two grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation in 2011 to develop technology-enhanced programs for the teaching of computer science (Project Engage!) and science education (Adventure Learning through Water and MOSS). His research and design/development work have also been funded by the European Union, the Swedish Foundation for Knowledge and Competence, the University of Minnesota, the University of Manchester (UK), and the University of Texas at Austin.