An introduction to our December, 2009 issue of in education, a peer-reviewed, open access journal. This is also Part I of a two-part series focusing on Social Media & Technology.
Welcome to the first issue of in education, an open access journal published by the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. Although this is the premiere issue of in education, the Journal's previous incarnations have proven a long history of exploring educational issues and concerns. Yet, this issue marks a significant change in the format, scope, and possibility of the journal to engage in/with thoughtful and innovative discussion about education. As an open access publication, the journal is available online, free of charge, and is liberal in offering all content under a Creative Commons license. The overall goal of moving to this open format is to provide greater access to scholarly work in education, whilst maintaining the integrity of academic peer-review.
My role as guest editor of this special issue was really two-fold: to develop a viable, open journal system, and to produce an issue related to my area of study, technology and social media. For this first task, I was very lucky to have been supported by the hard work and expertise of Dave Cormier. While there are good open source journal systems available, we wanted to have strict control of our publishing environment and thus chose Drupal as our underlying content management system. Over several months of discussion and development, our system was able to reproduce the technical aspects of the academic peer-review process while ensuring document security for the purpose of blind-review. And, in the spirit of open source development, a clone of the Drupal system that we are using will be available for download for other individuals or academic institutions wishing to develop an open access journal.
The development of the second task is also worth sharing. As a scholar of educational technology, I have been an avid participant in social networking environments since about 2004, near the beginning of the Web 2.0 surge. Having developed a robust social network, it made sense to post a call for papers on my professional blog for this special issue. This post was then shared through my Twitter network, and eventually saw great circulation via other social networks (e.g., Facebook). Although the timeline was tight, we soon received over fifty abstract proposals. After thorough peer-review by as many dedicated reviewers and subsequent editing by the authors, the final result was five accepted papers. And, as there has been a high level of interest in this topic, we plan to offer a second "technology & social media" themed issue that will be available in Spring of 2010.
I am pleased to describe the contents of this issue. The authors have worked hard to produce these essays, and I am excited that these individuals have become an important part of our Journal's history.
The first two articles guide us through specific research in higher education, and focus on power, authority, and ultimately, pedagogical implications of decisions regarding technology implementation. Jon Mott & David Wiley, two outstanding scholars from Brigham Young University, share their ground-breaking piece that problematizes the current use and dependency of course management systems (CMS) by educational institutions. As a solution, they present a solid case for the development of the Open Learning Network (OLN), a hybrid of the existing CMS and the emerging, but lesser-known, Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Engaging in a very similar theme, we are pleased to have Ellen Hoffman join us from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Hoffman provides a solid review of contemporary literature, backed with a case study, to present the tension between highly authorative, centralized technology departments versus the emergence of decentralized configurations driven by independent faculty.
The next two research based articles focus on teaching with technology. In the first of these, we have Eric Brunsell from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh paired with Christopher Camino from Mesa Verde High School in California. Their inquiry-based article explores the effects of blogging in a Biology classroom, and more particularly, how the classroom blog affected student self-direction and achievement. Along a similar theme, Karen Dunlap, Tracey Mac Gowan and Keith Restine, all from Texas Women's University, share an important practice-based essay. Their study tracks the use of several social tools in a graduate level, course management course. The paper reports the perceived effects on both the enrolled students, and the instructor.
The final article comes from three scholars based at Simon Fraser University, Margaret Jackson, Wanda Cassidy, and Karen Brown. They share a timely and important study focused on the issue of cyberbullying among students in grades six through nine. Their eye-opening essay ties the phenomenon of cyberbullying to relational aggression, and in doing so, they are able to provide some important solutions to dealing with this wide-spread problem amongst our children. This piece fits well in the volume as it addresses some of the negative and inevitable outcomes of technologies amplifying existing human tendencies.
The final piece in this issue is a book review from Kimberley Brown, a middle years teacher from Regina, Saskatchewan. Brown has offered us a strong and detailed review of Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities, a recent book by Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, and John D. Smith. The book is recommended to anyone involved in the development and stewardship of (online) communities.
It has been has a privilege to edit this volume, and I do want to thank all of our authors and reviewers for the time they have put in to make this endeavour successful. Additionally, I want to thank Dr. Patrick Lewis and Dr. James McNinch for allowing me this opportunity, for providing me with necessary support, and for trusting me to bring some very abstract ideas to fruition.
We hope that you enjoy this issue, and we welcome you back in the Spring as we publish Part II of this Technology & Social Media special issue.