Keynote speakers   chi sim

Title: Student engagement and Web 2.0: What’s the connection?

Dr Norm Vaughan
Mount Royal University

An educator and researcher with interests in blended learning, faculty development and K–12 schooling, Dr Norm Vaughan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, Faculty of Teaching and Learning at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. He co-authored the book Blended Learning in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 2008) and has published a series of articles on blended learning and faculty development. Norm is the co-founder of the Blended Online Design Network (BOLD), a member of the Community of Inquiry Research Group, the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning and he is on the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Excellence in e-Learning, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, the Journal of Distance Education, the Journal on Centres for Teaching and Learning, the Learning Communities Journal and the Journal of Information Fluency. Further information about Norm can be found on his personal website.


Over the past decade, there has been an increased focus on the topic of student engagement in light of rising tuition costs and concerns about student success and retention rates. During this time there has also been an increased student use of Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis and virtual worlds but there has been a lack of corresponding research about how these tools are impacting their learning and engagement. This keynote session will explore the relationship between student engagement, inquiry-based learning and Web 2.0 tools.

In North America, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has demonstrated that engagement, persistence, grades and student satisfaction go hand in hand. This framework consists of the following five benchmarks:

  1. active and collaborative learning
  2. student interactions with faculty members
  3. level of academic challenge
  4. enriching educational experiences
  5. supportive campus environment.

Can Web 2.0 tools be used to design learning activities that foster student engagement and success through an inquiry-based approach to learning? This session will attempt to answer this question by presenting a series of case studies that will help you identify strategies and tools that are appropriate for engaging students in your own teaching and learning context.

Title: Digital technology and designing for a pedagogy of student engagement

Prof. John G Hedberg
Macquarie University

Prof. John Hedberg holds the Millennium Innovations Chair of ICT and Education in the School of Education at Macquarie University, Australia. He has taught postgraduate courses on cognitive strategies, interface design for learning, and implementation and evaluation of technology-based learning. He has also taught strategic planning for technology implementation in schools and has written on policy aspects of new technologies in education. He has been keynote speaker at numerous conferences on educational technologies in Canada, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Europe, and many states in Australia.

Prof. Hedberg recently completed several research projects about the use of ICTs in learning. These have included: the use of mobile phones as social software tools in orienteering tasks in biology and geography, using cognitive tools to develop mathematics problem solving repertoire; Internet literacy, and the production of multi-modal artefacts in history and science. With the Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre and his graduate students he is exploring digital representation and early mathematics learning with robots; in particular he is interested in 2D and 3D representations and how younger learners generate mental models of the differences between these.

Prof. Hedberg currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Research in Learning Technologies (formerly ALT-J), Distance Education and Educational Media International. He served as the President of the International Council for Educational Media, a UNESCO affiliate, between 2006 and 2008 and continues to serve on the Executive of the Council.


Educators from all levels of the educational enterprise — early childhood to higher education — are faced with some interesting challenges when choosing technologies and learning activities that generate an active engagement of learners in their learning. Modern digital technologies support many cherished educational goals. With Web 2.0, we have tools that encourage collaboration and participation in creating an artefact, and increasingly we have the tools to produce a digital video sequence that explains a procedure or presents a perspective on a real-world problem. Modern tools enable the student to change the form of representation, but unless the learning task chosen by the teacher results in a learning activity that engages the learner, then meaningful learning is not likely to occur. Often digital technologies are inherently engaging but if the challenge in achieving an outcome is not desired, supported by prior learning or careful scaffolding, then the result will be limited if achieved at all. This presentation will explore some tools and learning challenges that have been designed in collaboration with learners demonstrating their ideas about a learning task challenge. These digital tools include: virtual worlds, mobile learning contexts that include real world challenges and data collection, augmented reality that overlays real-world issues with data from online databases, and changing the learning strategies to be fun and challenging in designing game-based learning.

Title: Engaging students with mobile learning

Prof. Mohamed Ally
Athabasca University

Prof. Ally is Professor in Distance Education and Chair of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, Canada. He is also a Researcher in the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University. He obtained his PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada. His current areas of research include mobile learning, e-learning, distance education, and the use of information and communication technology in training and education. Prof. Ally is Past-President of the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations (IFTDO) and is one of the Founding Directors of the International Association of Mobile Learning (IamLearn). He was also on the board of the Canadian Society for Training and Development. Prof. Ally chaired the Fifth World Conference on Mobile Learning and co-chaired the First International Conference on Mobile Libraries. He recently edited four books on the use of mobile technology in education, training and libraries. His book Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training  won the prestigious Charles A Wedemeyer Award for significant contribution to distance education. Two of his research papers won the best research paper award at national and international conferences. Prof. Ally has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books and encyclopedias, and served on many journal boards and conference committees. He has presented keynote speeches, workshops, papers and seminars in many countries.


The current and upcoming generations of learners are comfortable using mobile technology, and the technology is becoming second nature and an extension of these learners. Learners are using mobile technology to socialize, to access information, to complete financial transactions, to shop, for entertainment, etc. The question educators have to ask is ‘How can education be changed to integrate mobile technology so that students can be engaged and learn from anywhere and at anytime?’ Learning materials must be designed properly to engage students using mobile technology. Teachers must take advantage of the capabilities of mobile technology to build interactivity into learning to achieve high-level learning outcomes. Students should be encouraged to use their existing expertise in social media to build learning communities where they can learn from each other and share information. Students have mobile technology in their hands and pockets, so they should be empowered to use the technology. The use of mobile learning in education will reach out to students to meet their needs, which could result in lower dropout rates and the achievement of high-level learning outcomes. As we move into the 21st century the technology will become ubiquitous, with students learning from anywhere and at anytime. Education institutions must prepare for ubiquitous learning to deliver education to upcoming generations. With proper planning and change-management strategies, the transition to mobile learning and ubiquitous learning will be successful. However, there must be a sense of urgency to make this transition before we lose the motivation of students.

Title: Open and informal: Learning from social media

Prof. Josie Taylor
The Open University

Prof. Josie Taylor, Director of the Institute of Educational Technology of The Open University, UK has a track record of more than 20 years’ experience in research, development and evaluation of interactive media and innovative pedagogies. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance, Drama and Psychology (University College, Worcester) and a DPhil in Cognitive Sciences (University of Sussex). Her research focuses on understanding the ways in which people learn from complex media (traditional and digital) and how best to design those media to support learning. This spans system design, interface design, interaction design, user requirements, and evaluation, and entails understanding user psychology, the nature of learning and the contexts of learning.


The Open University has been developing various open channels and Web 2.0 social networking applications which allow us to provide learning opportunities not only for our students, but for anyone, anywhere. What do people learn from these channels? In this presentation I will talk generally about the OU’s approach to open educational resources, and will analyse in more detail a specific social networking application entitled iSpot (, which is part of our Biodiversity Observatory project.

Title: Social media and student engagement

Prof. Rey Junco
Lock Haven University

Rey Junco is a social media scholar who investigates the impact of social technologies on college students. Rey’s primary research interest is using quantitative methods to analyse the effects of social media on student psychosocial development, engagement and learning. His research has also focused on informing best practices in using social technologies to enhance learning outcomes. For instance, Rey’s research has shown that technology, specifically social media like Facebook and Twitter, can be used in ways that improve engagement and academic performance. Rey has recently published papers on: the relationship between Facebook use, student engagement and learning; the academic effects of multitasking; the digital divide in cell phone ownership and use; using social media to promote civil discourse on college campuses; and how Twitter can be used for academic purposes in order to increase student engagement and improve grades. Rey is currently a Professor in the Department of Academic Development and Counseling and the Director of Disability Services at Lock Haven University where he teaches first-year seminar courses for undergraduates and graduate courses on social media in higher education. He is also a Lab Mentor at the Harvard Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Lab.  Further information about Rey can be found on his personal website.


The construct of student engagement is empirically linked to the desired outcomes of a college education. As such, educators are interested in how they can increase student engagement in both academic and co-curricular activities. While student engagement has been studied for over three decades, only recently have researchers started to connect online behaviours with engagement in the real world. The most recent research has focused on how social media like Facebook and Twitter can impact student engagement and how these tools can be integrated in order to improve student outcomes. For instance, Junco found that when students use Facebook in natural ways, they will use it in ways that are both positively and negatively related to their engagement (2012a) as well as their grades (2012b); however, if social media are integrated into courses and students are encouraged to use them in educationally relevant ways, then engagement and learning are improved (Junco et al. 2011). This talk will focus on these issues and will present the latest research on how social media are related to student engagement.

Title: The OER university: Global innovation for sustainable education futures

Dr Wayne Mackintosh
The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation

Dr Wayne Mackintosh is the founding director of the OER Foundation. He is coordinating the establishment of the OER university, an international innovation partnership which aims to provide free learning opportunities for all students worldwide with pathways for OER learners to achieve credible credentials. He is also director of the International Centre for Open Education at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation. Dr Mackintosh is an elected member and inaugural Chair of the WikiEducator Community Council.

Wayne has extensive international experience in educational technology, learning design and the theory and practice of open and distance learning (ODL). Previously, he was Education Specialist, eLearning and ICT policy at the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Wayne has participated in a range of international consultancies and projects including work for COL, the International Monetary Fund, UNESCO and the World Bank. He also serves as a member of the Editorial Board of Open Learning and publishes regularly in the field of flexible and distance learning. Wayne is a member of the Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons New Zealand and the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. Wayne’s formal biography can be found at


An open and digital Internet provides unprecedented opportunities for universities to provide more affordable access to post-secondary education for all students worldwide.

The OER university (OERu) is an international innovation partnership between accredited educational institutions which will provide free learning opportunities to all learners worldwide with pathways to gain academic credit from formal education institutions.

The OERu network is based on the community service and outreach missions of tertiary education providers to develop a parallel learning universe. The founding anchor partners from four continents are nurturing the development of a sustainable OER ecosystem which aims to serve both formal and informal learners by creating more flexible and affordable pathways to meet diverse student needs.

Wayne Mackintosh, one of the thought leaders collaborating on the design and implementation of the OERu, will share the history, current developments and future plans of this innovative international collaboration. The OERu provides an exemplar for low risk, low cost but high impact strategy innovation for the mainstream adoption of open education approaches in higher education.

OER is the means by which education at all levels can be more accessible, more affordable and more efficient. Working together we can return to the core values of the academy, namely to share knowledge freely.