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Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research - CIDER

CIDER Sessions


The CIDER Sessions Series includes monthly sessions running from September 2016 to June 2017. These sessions feature presentations by leading researchers in distance, distributed, and online learning.

OPEN CALL: Do you have research to share with our CIDER audience? To suggest a session or nominate a speaker, contact the Sessions host and manager. Download our full call.

See below for our full 2016-17 Season as it develops.


Technical note


Note that Adobe Connect uses Flash. If you have not used Adobe Connect with your computer, you can take a moment now to pre-visit our presentation room to make sure all necessary software is downloaded ahead of time.

Please log onto the CIDER sessions - - as a "guest". You will then be prompted for your name, and you could add your location or institution as well, if you wish.


CIDER Session Season


Please note that our recordings (to November 2015) are being transferred to a new system and currently not available. They will return as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.



May 11, 2016
State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada
Michael Barbour, Isabelle Farrington College of Education, Sacred Heart University, Connecticut
Randy LaBonte, Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn), British Columbia

Current research in K-12 online learning in Canada has focused on defining distance learning and its current strengths and weaknesses. Yet the proliferation of technologies and digital learning spaces has led to the emergence of new instructional strategies and digital learning practices for teachers in many K-12 classrooms, both online and onsite. Traditional school-based classrooms are incorporating technology-supported open learning options, creating "blended learning" opportunities where at least part of instruction occurs in a classroom, part online at a distance, both combined with some element of choice in learning for students. For these emerging practices little is known empirically, only anecdotally, as research into these practices has been limited or nonexistent, particularly in Canada.

As you will hear in the authors' discussion of the 2015 State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada report, many provinces and territories in Canada have some reference to distance education in their Education Act or Schools Act; the reference is typically used to describe distance education or to enable the Ministry of Education to create, approve or regulate K-12 distance education. However, few provinces and territories have any regulations describing online or blended learning. Two exceptions may be Nova Scotia and British Columbia. In Nova Scotia distance education is described in the collective agreement signed between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. British Columbia has the highest level of regulation for K–12 online learning, featuring a structured system that allows students to freely choose any online course or program, and a funding model where dollars follow student choice. BC also has defined and published standards and a focus on quality for their online learning programs.

This presentation will describe and discuss this current state of e-learning in Canada and the need for further research and study in the emerging field of K-12 online and blended learning.




April 13, 2016
From Data Science to Learning Analytics: The Evolution of the E-Listening Research Project
Alyssa Wise, Simon Fraser University

The E-Listening Project began as an effort to use data traces of student activity in online discussions to better understand their learning behaviors and interactions. Several years of basic research yielded many fruitful results including a reconceptualization of the notion of listening for online spaces, an explanation of a theoretical taxonomy for considering different kinds of listening in online discussion, and documentation of empirical findings about both the specific patterns of listening in which students engage and their perceptions of these activities. This early work also placed the project in an ideal position to move from an explanatory mode to an interventionist one, just as the field of learning analytics began to pick up steam. Recent project efforts have thus resulted in tools directly designed for student use, both embedded learning analytics in the form of a novel graphical discussion interface and extracted learning analytics provided periodically as part of a reflective cycle.

This presentation will overview the early findings from the project, discuss the challenges faced in moving from a basic research to a learning intervention mode, and present the E-Listening Analytics that were eventually developed with initial pilot implementation results.

Related projects with similar tools:




February 10, 2016
Learning Analytics
George Siemens, Athabasca University, University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. George Siemens is well-known for his research in learning analytics, connectivism, MOOCs and more. In this session, Dr. Siemens will discuss some of these areas and his recent work on learning technologies as a source of empowerment for learners to create a human and creative-oriented future.




January 13, 2016
The GRASS Project
Measuring 21st Century learning: Innovative pedagogy and assessment with technology

Vladan Devedzic, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Jelena Jovanovic, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Niall Seery, University of Limerick, Ireland
Adrian O’Connor, University of Limerick, Ireland
Stefan Hrastinski, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Grading Soft Skills (GRASS) is a 3-year research project financially supported by the EU, focusing on representing soft skills of learners of various ages and at different levels of education in a quantitative, measurable way, so that these skills can become the subject of formal validation and recognition. This session will include an overview of the GRASS project, along with case studies of developing and measuring soft skills, presented by an international panel of project members.




December 9, 2015
Graduate Student Panel 2015
Sophia Palahicky
Gord Preston
Heather Scarlett-Ferguson

Following on last year's inaugural Graduate Student Panel, this year's panel will feature the work of three students in Athabasca's EdD program as we look to the future of DE research.

Sophia Palahicky: A model for a successful Indigenous online high school: Perspectives of teachers, staff, students, and parents

Gord Preston: Management of distance education consortia: How alignment with the external environment values contributes, or not, to the persistence of consortia

Heather Scarlett-Ferguson: Professional development education use by pharmacists: Exploring organizational context in knowledge translation to practice




November 4, 2015
Blended and Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT): Promoting teaching for 21st Century learning
Connie Blomgren, Athabasca University, Alberta
Laurel Beaton, Alberta Distance Learning Centre, Alberta
Marti Cleveland-Innes, Athabasca University, Alberta

BOLT - Blended and Online Teaching and Learning - is a new series of modules designed for K-12 educators teaching in the digital age. As online and blended learning evolves, practitioners are seeking to enhance their teaching practices; BOLT modules are intended to address such professional needs.

In this presentation, the developers of BOLT will outline the program and discuss its relationship to the Community of Inquiry model in the K-12 environment.




October 7, 2015
Learning to Learn Online: A MOOC with a difference for novice online learners
Nathaniel Ostashewski, Athabasca University, Alberta
JoAnne Murphy, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
Marti Cleveland-Innes, Athabasca University, Alberta

This presentation will outline the design and delivery of a MOOC with a difference. The LTLO course embraces a "learn by doing" philosophy providing participants a variety of fun and effective learning activities. The course is a mixture of directed, self-paced and community of inquiry (COI) learning environments. Components of typical online courses will be discussed and applied throughout. Roving facilitators encourage MOOCers to participate in discussions, share knowledge and experiences, and to network beyond the duration of the course.

Audience members in this presentation will see first-hand the environment of this MOOC for novice online learners. They will also have the opportunity to discuss and critique the MOOC design and delivery process and outcomes. Finally, they will hear the results of this "facilitated" MOOC, involving 1525 participants.




September 16, 2015
Why Open Educational Resources?
Rory McGreal, Athabasca University, Alberta

Open Educational Resources (OER) are important for the expansion of online learning. Open licensing of learning components is a precondition for supporting anytime, anywhere learning, whether the lessons are arranged as text, multimedia, videos, applications, games or in other electronic formats. The obstacles presented by proprietary materials impede ubiquitous sharing of knowledge with the use of technological protection measures such as DRM (digital rights management), prohibitive licensing, and restrictions on format shifting, localization, content sharing and other activities considered essential for learning.

Dr. McGreal is the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning/ICDE Chair in OER, Director of a technical education institute (TEKRI), and professor at Athabasca University. He is also co-Editor of IRRODL (International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning).



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