Alec Couros

University of Regina

As the current guest editor of this journal, I am delighted to announce the second issue of our two-part series that focuses on Technology & Social Media in education. This issue features nine full articles and a book review, and our authors represent Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In this editorial, I briefly outline the contents of these articles; essays that I hope readers find insightful, informative, and pleasing to read. For background information on this journal, its launch, or to access previous articles in this series, please see the previous editorial or the first issue in this series.

The first article is titled “Systemic Changes in Education” by George Siemens and Kathleen Matheos. In this well-researched piece, the authors explore the historical roots of university systems while providing insight into the future of teaching, learning, and scholarship. Siemens and Matheos posit a future for universities fraught with challenges, not the least due to new freedoms and affordances brought forth by emerging technologies for social connectivity and creative expression.

The second article, “The Net Generation's Informal and Educational Use of Technologies” by Swapna Kumar, extends one of the themes of the previous article as the author reports the results of a study focused on undergraduates' use of social, mobile and multimedia technologies. The paper provides insight to the current use of technology in university courses and calls for further research into technology-embedded practice.

Digital Scholarship Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work” is our third article and it is authored by Nick Pearce, Martin Weller, Eileen Scanlon and Sam Kinsley. The article fits well with the themes found in both Kumar's and Siemens' work, and extends the use of technology in universities more explicitly to the major aspects of academic work. More specifically, the authors frame the piece through Boyer's dimensions of scholarship (i.e.,discovery, integration, application, teaching) and argue for future research regarding the impacts of digital and open scholarship.

The fourth article is titled “Small Steps Across the Chasm: Ideas for for Embedding a Culture of Open Education in the University Sector” and is authored by Lisa Harris, Lorraine Warren, Jean Leah, and Melanie Ashleigh. This piece compares to Kumar's article in that it challenges the notion of the “digital native” student and the widening gap between university instructor and student. The authors use two case studies to support their argument, and then provide recommendations for the systemic integration of social technologies in university teaching and learning.

The fifth article is “Facebook as as Source of Informal Teacher Professional Development” by Camille Rutherford. The author reports the findings of a study focused on the informal, professional learning of teachers facilitated through a Facebook group. The author provides a framework for informal learning drawn from the literature and uses this to draw observations from the group. Findings of the study could be used to inform further research into other informal learning environments used for teacher professional development.

Cheri Toledo and Sharon Peters bring us the sixth article titled “Educators’ Perceptions of Uses, Constraints, and Successful Practices of Backchanneling.” In this piece, the authors describe and discuss the relatively new phenomenon of web-based backchanneling, defined as "instant messaging synchronously occurring between individuals and in groups using online tools during a live event." Backchanneling has fostered a great deal of discussion in educational technology communities, and this article fills an important gap in the literature.

George Veletsianos provides the seventh article of this issue, “A Small-Scale Adventure Learning Activity and its Implications for Higher Education Practice and Research.” The author carefully describes an Adventure Learning Project (complete with multimedia examples), provides a structured analysis of the learning experience and discusses the possible implications for practice. Veletsianos uses this rich example and analysis to relay the benefits of participatory, authentic, and social practice in higher education classrooms.

Electronic Documentation of Learning: Alternate Reflective Discussion Formats” is our eighth article and is authored by Ann Sherman and Angela Rokne. Like the Veletsianos piece, this is an article focused on alternative pedagogies used with undergraduate students, facilitated with the use of emerging technologies. In this article, the authors describe students' electronic documentation of learning through a Drupal-based, journaling system. As with many technology projects in classrooms, the results are not all rosy. However, with some adjustments, the results of the project are reported to have exceeded expectations. The authors leave readers with insight into the power of narratives and group bonding, mediated through appropriate technologies.

The last full article in this issue is written by Sean Wiebe and Sandy McAuley and is titled “Harnessing New Technologies to Teach Academic Writing to the Net Generation.” The article is unique in that it uses the dialogue of two colleagues to report the implementation of an innovative, first-year university writing course. The authors report the successes and challenges of this implementation, especially as they seek to use and understand the impact of new technologies on their own pedagogical practices.

This issue ends with a review of DIY U, a book by Anya Kamenetz. The review authors, Jon Becker, Meredith Stewart, and Jason Green provide an overview of the book along with a fair critique. The book has recently received much informal review in educational technology circles, and I believe the timeliness of this review will benefit those looking for a formal treatment of the topic.

In closing, I would like to thank all of those who contributed to the success of this issue. First, thanks to the Editors and Editorial Board for giving me the opportunity to publish these past two issues. Second, thank you to all of the authors who provided the results of their hard work and entrusted a new, open online journal for their publications. Thanks to Dave Cormier for his excellent, 24/7 technical support and guidance. Thanks to Stacey Shand for her copy editing work. Thanks so much to all of the reviewers who provided so much of their time, and supported our authors with thoughtful, creative feedback.

And of course, thanks to all of our readers. Since launching, we have had tens of thousands of hits, and expect many more to come. We hope that you will continue to contribute, read, and if you like what you see here, please share the links with your colleagues.

All the best,