Submission of Thesis

I have not posted in a while as I have been busy finishing up my thesis. I have just submitted so will catch up with some blog posts over the next few days as it has been a busy few weeks. Below is the abstract for my thesis. If you are interested in reading the thesis (undergoing review now) then email me and I will gladly send you a copy.

Thesis Abstract: Supporting Seamless Learning: Students’ Use of Multiple Devices in Open and Distance Learning Universities

The widespread access to mobile and personal technologies, together with internet services, has created the potential for the continuity of learning experiences across different technologies, contexts and settings. These digital technologies include both fixed (desktops and laptops) and handheld technologies (tablets and smartphones). The use of emerging technologies in education is associated with emerging educational practices. Educators need to be aware of not only what their students learn, but how and why as well. However, there is a lack of awareness of how students use their different devices for learning and how Open and Distance Learning (ODL) universities can effectively support them to do so. The purpose of this exploratory study is to understand the learning habits and behaviours of students using different devices for learning. This is to determine how students move between technologies, locations and learning activities and the types of support they require. The research uses the concept of seamless learning as a theoretical framework, where students can continue their learning experiences across different contexts. A case study approach was followed. Two ODL universities were explored, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain and the University of South Africa in South Africa. A mixed methods design was used with a sequential explanatory strategy. Quantitative data (online surveys) was first collected from undergraduate students in each case to identify the significant variables and relationships. This data was analysed using descriptive, correlation and regression analyses. This was followed by the collection of qualitative data (semi-structured interviews) to build on the quantitative data and to explain the relationships. This data was analysed using a grounded theory approach. The results indicate the students are using multiple devices in multiple locations to perform different learning activities. Although students make use of technologies in different ways (according to their needs), some patterns emerged. Access to devices is no longer an issue as the majority of students have access to three or four digital devices for learning. Students use their devices in a variety of public and private locations, yet home is still the preferred location for study. The more portable a device, the more places it is used.  Fixed devices are seen as central devices for study purposes and used for almost all learning activities. However, handheld devices are seen as supplementary devices and are used for fewer, more specific, learning activities. The results also indicate that students use their devices together to be more efficient and productive. The use of devices together can be classified as sequential (moving from one device to another) or simultaneous (using two or more devices at the same time). The movement between devices is facilitated by cloud services that enable automatic synchronisation. However, internet access is still an issue for some students. The use of multiple devices, together with the associated software and services, are affecting study habits. Conversely, most educators do not take students’ use of multiple devices into account in the design, facilitation or support of learning experiences. Students using multiple devices require both academic and technological support to succeed. The findings have been synthesised to propose a framework for student use of multi-devices for learning to assist educators to design better learning experiences or offer improved support to students. The main influencers of how frequently a device is used for learning are: i) the learning activity or goal; ii) the location or environment; and iii) the devices the student accesses and uses for learning. However, the frequency is also influenced, to a lesser extent, by the time available, the perceived importance of the device to academic success, the level of digital expertise and the device affordances. The majority of students are able to move between devices and contexts and continue their learning experiences seamlessly. However, this does mean there is a minority of students who cannot yet learn seamlessly. These students may require additional levels of support. These findings indicate that ODL universities need to refine their learning design and support services to better meet the needs of students using multiple devices.


Upcoming MOOCs of Interest (Sep-Nov)

The following upcoming MOOCs may be of interest:

An Introduction to Gamification through Case Studies (Miriadax) offered by the UOC by Daniel Riera and Joan Arnedo. Topics include games and elements, design of games, gamification in health and education.
Starts 12 September (5 weeks). Language: Spanish.

Introduction to Open Education (edX) by David Wiley and George Siemens. Topics include open educational resources (OER), open pedagogy and practice, open knowledge and open research.
Starts 1 October (6 weeks). Language: English.

Digitizing Higher Education (edX) by George Siemens, Kelvin Bentley, Shirley Alexander. Topics include prominent digital technologies impacting higher education,new models of teaching and learning enabled by digital technologies, making sense of organizational and learning data, creating a digital strategy for your university,monitoring and tracking your progress toward digitization.
Starts 30 October (6 weeks). Language: English.

The Digitalisation of Universities: UFN Meeting Part 2

This is the second post about the meeting of the Universities of the Future Network (UFN) held at FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany, 11-13 July 2017. The theme for the meeting was “The Digitalization of the Universities of the Future”. The meeting consisted of 6 key themes that were discussed and debated (see part 1 here). This post looks at the last three themes. The facilitators of each theme were asked to discuss the key trends and issues as well as provide suggestions for policy and strategy development.

Theme 4: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) have the potential to decrease the development costs of tuition, both for universities and for students in the form of, for example, open textbooks. However, OERs are not widely used and progress towards large-scale adoption is slow. OERs were preceded by the concept of Learning Objects which were a focus for researchers from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. This represented a great demand for the then emerging online learning that required online (and reusable) learning resources. However, reusability represents a paradox, as the pedagogical value of a learning object (highly contextualised in the original setting) diminishes as the potential for reusability (ability to be used in numerous settings) increases, and vice-versa. This potential for reuse also varies according to the academic level (primary, secondary/technical and tertiary). Universities have been the main developers of OER, with little production at other levels. From the mid-2000s, the term Open Educational Resources (OER) gained more traction. Openness became valued as resources could be made freely available on the internet with as few restrictions as possible on the use of resources. The adoption of licenses such as Creative Commons that protect intellectual copyright and allow for easy reuse has enabled dissemination. The aim of OER is to share knowledge and equalise access to knowledge worldwide. One of the challenges within the area of OER is the main focus on producing or developing content (content being seen as knowledge) and less of a focus on how content is used for learning. Key issues for promoters of OER in developed and developing countries include raising awareness and promotion, building communities and networking, sustainability and capacity development.

OERs exist within a wider open movement that includes open access, open source software, open badges and MOOCs. OERs seem to have been left behind in the preoccupation with the development of MOOCs in the early 2010s, however the early hype of the MOOC phenomenon has since waned. One of the challenges for OER production is that the production of learning materials (open or not) is generally not recognised nor rewarded in universities, with research more valued for promotion and career advancement. Another challenge is that there is often a disconnect between universities publically supporting OER initiatives, while discourses and practices within institutions do not change.

Channels and strategies for change

  • Recognition for teaching activities in addition to research activities
  • Recognition of the development of OERs for career promotion
  • Awards for innovative OER production to promote quality and sharing
  • Adoption of Creative Commons licenses
  • Promotion of peer-review for OERs, similar to peer-review mechanisms for research

Theme 5: University Business Models and Value Propositions

One of the functions of universities is to develop students to be able to access employment opportunities and build social capital (thus improving quality of life). There is thus economic value to a university degree as graduates earn more and have access to certain employment opportunities. Universities equip students with advanced skills (teaching) and further human knowledge and understanding of the world (research). However, universities face pressure to stay competitive and relevant when education costs exceed inflation and revenues are decreasing. Social mobility and emerging technologies are other challenges for education. Therefore universities need to consider the value proposition they offer to students.

There are different forms of colleges and universities who target different groups, have different research and teaching orientations and cost/revenue models. This ranges from elite universities that are highly selective and research intensive, to community colleges that are open to local communities and learning focused. Universities may also be privately or publically funded. Different types of universities will require different value propositions. However, business models need to focus more than on financial operations. One approach is the Value Proposition Canvas that focuses universities to focus on students (the customers) and thereafter on strategies and revenue models. This canvas enables universities to analyse student needs, taking into account pains (obstacles, risks, negative outcomes) and gains (positive outcomes). Using a value proposition framework, universities need to consider:

  • The services which the value proposition of a degree is built around (the bundle of services that addresses the needs of targeted student profiles)
  • The ‘pain relievers’ outlining how universities alleviate student burdens in a changing society (pains to reduce or eliminate before, during and after degree completion)
  • The ‘gains creators’ outlining how universities generate positive outcomes and benefits from the services they provide to students

The value proposition needs to link to the overall business model: key activities, resources and partners; customer relationships and channels for different segments; and a sound cost structure and revenue model. Rather than focus on a traditional model of expecting students to enrol because a degree is necessary in the labour market, universities should focus on what students need to thrive in a fast paced and changing labour market. The focus of each institution’s value proposition will depend on the type of university and where it wants to be in the future, but universities need to evolve to meet a clearly defined value proposition within the constraints of business models, resources and capabilities.

Theme 6: Virtual Networks: Research and Partnerships

Operating in a growing global marked has a crucial impact on shaping the missions, strategic planning and operational practices of universities. The global market and digital technologies have led to both increased competition as well as collaborative ventures. Virtual networks between universities are increasing. There are several themes affecting research and partnership in a digital age:

  • University rankings: different league tables influence research planning and undertakings.
  • World class universities: the globalisation of higher education has led to universities that incorporate high levels of international students and professors
  • International funders: UNESCO, the World Bank, OECD, the European Union and other networks fund international and local research, where researchers are encouraged to work with institutions in different countries
  • Government funding: National or regional governments provide funds that encourage collaborations at a national or regional level
  • Research Centres: Outside of universities, researchers can operate with international or national research centres
  • Research Dissemination: The open access movement encourages the widespread dissemination of scholarly research

Research is not the only form of partnership between institutions, although it is more common than teaching activities. However many universities collaborate to provide joint-degrees or participate in international MOOC platforms. Other institutions work together to facilitate global campuses in different countries.

Policy Channels and Strategies for Change

  • Policies are needed at international, national and institutional levels that facilitate virtual networks and collaboration in research and teaching activities
  • While most higher education systems operate at a national level, universities need to enhance cooperation internationally
  • Universities need to encourage research undertaken across disciplines and across institutions (enabled by virtual networks)
  • University leaders need to carefully evaluate which international and virtual networks to participate in
  • Universities need to prepare for growing numbers of international students and global campuses, as well as facilitating the movement of students between universities


The Digitalisation of Universities: UFN Meeting Part 1

FernUni Hagen

I participated in the second meeting of the Universities of the Future Network (UFN) held at FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany, 11-13 July 2017. The theme for the meeting was “The Digitalization of the Universities of the Future”. The meeting consisted of 6 key themes that were discussed and debated. This post will look at the first three themes, while a second post will look at the last three themes. The facilitators of each theme were asked to discuss the key trends and issues as well as provide suggestions for policy and strategy development.

Theme 1: Towards a Policy of Access: Digitalisation for All

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education focuses on expanding access to post-secondary and university education and lifelong learning, on the basis of inclusive and equitable practices. Thus, there is a need to balance equitable access on a national and global scale and the improvement of access, scale and the quality of teaching and learning in a digital age.

Looking back, access to print materials with the invention of the printing press meant the book provided a means of education that had mainly been done by oral lecture before. Now the internet and other digital technologies provide a similar means to change education provision. Some of the associated changes are open educational practices, reform of accreditation and quality assurance and the development of teacher professional competencies. While digital education can expand access, developing countries still battle with high illiteracy rates, low participation rates in higher education and massive capacity development needs.

Policies are needed to respond to national economic needs and social development goals. Digital education requires resources to be sustainable.

Policy Channels and Strategies for Change

  • Institutional strategies to support systems and practices (widen participation to those who were traditionally excluded, access to technology and connectivity, support mechanisms for different students, relevant financial and human resources for digital education, recognition of prior learning)
  • Open education policies for the transformation of teaching and learning (vision of open education to inform and support open educational practices)
  • Redefining the changing roles of institutions (competencies for digital education, sustainable business models, industry partnerships, accreditation and quality assurance)
  • Creation and optimisation of open educational content and skills (development and production of OER, development of lifelong learning skills and digital literacy skills)


Theme 2: Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities

The use of technology in teaching and learning varies depending on the methods of education provision: Fully online, Blended or Face-to-face. In reality, however, this distinction is blurred as most education provision is blended. Another development linked to digital teaching and learning is the open education movement. This includes Open Educational Resources (OER) such as open textbooks and MOOCs.  There are several challenges and opportunities for digital teaching and learning:

Challenges for digital teaching and learning:

  • Technical infrastructure development and maintenance
  • Costs in the development and use of digital processes and procedures
  • Digital literacy skills of teachers and students
  • Lack of incentives (rewards and recognition) for innovative teaching methods
  • Changing roles of educators and support staff and other stakeholders

Opportunities for digital teaching and learning:

  • Reaching new target groups
  • Promotion of student flexibility and mobility
  • Improvements in teaching and learning quality
  • Potential cost-savings for institutions and students
  • Increasing collaboration between institutions
  • Facilitate the co-creation of knowledge

Policy Channels and Strategies for Change

  • Strategy and change processes
  • Prioritisation of digital literacy skills
  • Expanding infrastructures for digital teaching and learning practices
  • Funding for developing and distributing digital learning resources
  • Frameworks for digital teaching (teaching load, data protection and copyright issues)
  • Investing in support structures
  • Collaborative projects

Theme 3: Redefining Knowledge in a Digital Age: Internet and Social Media

The internet and social media have had a massive effect on knowledge creation and dissemination in the digital age. Key drivers in the changes of knowledge production and recognition are:

  • Decentralisation and disintermediation:  The internet has diversified means of knowledge production and information dissemination and universities are no longer regarded as the main providers of expertise.
  • Massiveness and growing demand: Universities are facing unprecedented demand for higher education. Learning is also offered in flexible ways.
  • New forms of knowledge production: knowledge production is more distributed and collaborative. There is also unprecedented growth in information online. The rise of artificial intelligence systems will open a new frontier for knowledge production and application.
  • New forms of knowledge recognition: In addition to traditional forms of recognition (diplomas and certificates), new forms of recognition include digital badges and portfolios. Alternative forms of assessing the impacts of academic research have also emerged.

Policy Channels and Strategies for Change

  • Discovery: Building original and significant research, generating new and relevant knowledge (strategies: open data policies, building Artificial Intelligence infrastructure, digital literacy policies and data management plans)
  • Integration: Build connections across disciplines, integrate new discoveries and promote use of knowledge across disciplines and communities (strategies: connection between disciplines, promote digital scholarship, technology integration models, implement new computational approaches to explore large data sets)
  • Application: Knowledge needs to offer different forms of helping society and professions to address problems and the dissemination of results to different stakeholders (strategies: build new tools to assess and validate knowledge in formal and informal settings, explore mixed reality technologies, such as augmented or virtual reality, development of Open Education Resources (OERs))
  • Teaching and learning: optimising connections between learning and practices and enriching pedagogical approaches through research and dissemination of good practices.  (strategies: developing less formal learning cultures and community support, development of alternative credentialing mechanisms and university ranking systems, design of new assessment systems)


eLearning and ODL Journal Rankings 2016

The ISI Web of Science JCR (by Thomson Reuters) and SCImago (by SCOPUS) journal rankings for 2016 have recently been released. I have gone through the Education categories and listed the journals that are relevant for research in e-learning and open and distance learning. The list is organised by quartile and each journal shows the impact factor or journal ranking and whether it is an open access journal.

2016 Journal Citation Rankings (Category: Education and Educational Research)

  • Q1: Internet and Higher Education – 4.24
  • Q1: Computers and Education – 3.82
  • Q1: International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning – 3.47
  • Q1: British Journal of Educational Technology – 2.41
  • Q1: IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies – 2.27
  • Q1: Learning, Media and Technology – 2.04
  • Q1: International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning – 1.73 (Open Access)
  • Q1: Interactive Learning Environments – 1.67
  • Q1: Distance Education – 1.59
  • Q2: Educational Technology and Society – 1.58 (Open Access)
  • Q2: Journal of Computing in Higher Education – 1.44
  • Q2: Journal of Computer Assisted Learning – 1.25
  • Q3: Technology Pedagogy and Education – 1.07
  • Q3: Australasian Journal of Educational Technology – 0.85 (Open Access)
  • Q3: Educational Technology Research and Development – 0.73
  • Q3: Journal of Educational Computing Research – 0.68

2016 SCImago Journal Rank (Category: Education)

Quartile 1

  • Internet and Higher Education – 2.83
  • Computers and Education – 2.61
  • Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL) – 1.65
  • International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning – 1.47
  • Journal of Research on Technology in Education – 1.44
  • Learning, Media and Technology – 1.39
  • British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) – 1.33
  • Educational Technology Research and Development (ETRD) – 1.31
  • Educational Technology and Society (ETS) – 1.10
  • Journal of Computing in Higher Education – 1.10
  • International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) – 1.03
  • Distance Education – 1.00
  • IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies – 0.93
  • Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) – 0.85
  • Interactive Learning Environments – 0.85
  • Technology, Pedagogy and Education – 0.84
  • Research in Learning Technology – 0.84
  • International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning – 0.80

Quartile 2

  • Technology, Knowledge and Learning – 0.64
  • International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation – 0.64
  • Journal of Educational Computing Research – 0.61
  • American Journal of Distance Education – 0.52
  • Education and Information Technologies – 0.49
  • International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education – 0.43
  • Electronic Journal of e-Learning – 0.42
  • Open Learning – 0.38
  • Digital Education Review – 0.36
  • E-Learning and Digital Media – 0.34
  • Journal of Interactive Online Learning – 0.33
  • International Journal of Information and Learning Technology – 0.32

Quartile 3

  • International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning – 0.30
  • Knowledge Management and E-Learning – 0.30
  • Journal of Educators Online – 0.29
  • Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (now = Online Learning) – – 0.26
  • International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning – 0.23
  • Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education – 0.22
  • International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments – 0.22
  • International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning – 0.22
  • Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology – 0.22
  • International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education –  0.19
  • Journal of Information Technology Education:Research – 0.19

Quartile 4

  • Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society (JeLKS) – 0.18
  • Ubiquitous Learning – 0.17
  • International Journal of Learning Technology – 0.16
  • International Journal of Distance Education Technologies – 0.16
  • International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies – 0.15
  • International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development – 0.13
  • International Journal of Technologies in Learning – 0.13
  • Interactive Technology and Smart Education – 0.13
  • Journal of Technology Education – 0.12
  • Computers in Education Journal – 0.11

Supervising Online Doctoral Students

I participated in an ICDE Global Doctoral Consortium (GDC) webinar yesterday. The focus of the webinar was student and supervisor perspectives of online supervision. It was presented by Dr Marguerite Koole and Dr Gale Parchoma from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). The first part about student perspectives was similar to a presentation I attended by Dr Koole last year, so I will only provide my notes about the supervisor perspective.

Online Doctoral Supervision Commitment

  • Doctoral supervision is long-term, significant time commitment.
  • It is a high-stakes undertaking for both the student and the supervisor.
  • Working together online is complex.
  • A supervisor is expected to provide at minimum 900 hours of support (which in practice can be double that time).
  • The relationship continues beyond the degree as the supervisor can provide scholarly and professional support for a career in academics or a professional career.

Supervisory Challenges

  • Different work locations and flexible hours: Managing different time zones and competing responsibilities. This leads to working at strange hours or over weekends.
  • Interdisciplinary supervision: Disciplinary differences between supervisor and student. Some supervisors do not accept students from different backgrounds, while those that do, may not have strategies to overcome discipline differences.
  • Theoretical & methodological diversity: Differences in preferred theoretical frameworks and research methodologies. Some supervisors insist on matching interests in methodologies/frameworks or adapt to student preferences, which requires additional time.

Dealing with Student and Supervisor Differences

  • It can be challenging to help students overcome “knowledge gaps” and to take on “new world views”.
  • If the difference is significant, either students can be passed on to other supervisors who can better support them or  the supervisor has to help them focus and rethink.
  • Experienced supervisors use “structured brainstorming” to find a middle ground that helps “land research questions” and “find a place in a critique” of previous research to make an original contribution.
  • Supervisors help students to understand “the role of theory” in grappling with research problems.

Development of the Relationship

  • There is always a complex series of negotiations for both the supervisor and the student.
  • Trust is formed over time through transparency and openness to diversity.
  • Usually issues are overcome or either party can request a change.




UOC Research Showcase 2017

On 31 May 2017, the UOC held its Research Showcase for 2017 at CosmoCaixa in Barcelona. The aims of the research showcase are to foster collaboration among the University’s researchers and educators and to improve the visibility of the University’s research and research projects.

21 research and innovation projects were selected to be showcased. These were grouped into three different streams:

  • Living and learning with technologies
  • Our society in a smart world
  • Research unboxed: Health, Culture, Tourism

I attended the living and learning with technologies session. Here is a short summary of my notes of each of the 7 presentations in this stream:

Emotions in Context: Estimating how People Feel

This research focuses on looking at how machines can process and understand visual images to be able to estimate emotional states. This can be applied in situations with empathetic machines such as personal robots, self-driving vehicles, gaming and medical areas). The research created an algorithm to analyse faces and estimate 6 basic emotions and 26 secondary emotions. The algorithm does not only look at the facial characteristics, but also looks at the circumstances or surroundings in the image to help estimate emotions. In order to train the system, crowdsourcing was used to build up a database of 18 000 images that people annotated with the emotions. This database has been used to train the machine to estimate emotions. (This presentation won the best presentation in our stream).

The Intelligent Industrial Internet

In an increasing digitised society, this research looks at industries (such as manufacturing) that use machines and components that were designed before the advent of the internet (e.g. in the 1960s or 1970s) that cannot take advantage of possibilities related to the Internet of Things. An open source component device was designed and developed that can fit onto components of existing machines to make them have an element of “smart deviceness”. The device can be solar-powered or even powered with a lemon “battery”.

The Use of Feedback to Improve Learning in Online Environments

In universities, lecturers often complain that students do not incorporate their comments or feedback to improve their writing, while students frequently complain that the feedback that they receive is too general or not helpful. How can these issues be resolved as lecturer feedback can play an important role in the development of the student? This research looks at the use of feedback as a support tool to improve student writing. Feedback can be considered as a circular process where the feedback is generated by the lecturer or even the student (with different characteristics), this feedback is processed (comprehended and used), and then the feedback is implemented (changes are made), which then gets sent for review again, starting the cycle again. The research has found that the type of feedback and when it is given matters. Feedback should promote discussion, it should consist of questions and suggestions that promote critical analysis and that the feedback should be provided during the writing process (and not at the end).

Returning to Studies After Taking a Break

This research looks to address the problem of dropout at UOC, which is a major concern. After the completion of the 1st semester at UOC, almost 30% of students take a semester break. Of those students that take a break in the 2nd semester, only 20% enrol in the 3rd semester again (although some do enrol at a later period). This research looks at being able to predict student dropout so that student dropout can be prevented. It takes a holistic approach to encourage student continuance. The research looked at the dimensions that affected dropout such as student issues (motivation, learning experience), external issues (work or family) and how these dimensions can be factored in to encourage students to continue.

The Use of Learning Analytics to Inform Decision Making in Higher Education

Similar to the previous presentation this presentation focused on the use of data to reduce student dropout. This research focused on the design and development of a teaching dashboard that helps lecturers make informed decisions to help monitor students and avoid dropout. The dashboard consists of different sections. One section checks updates are done at different times of the course (instructor emails sent out, calendars updated etc). Other sections of the dashboard focus on assessments (tracking of submissions of assignments, a plagiarism map that looks at similarities between the written assignments of students, and an overview of marks for different assignments), interactions (students connecting to the VLE, number of messages read and number of messages posted). It also has an abandonment tracking section where it looks for issues where students are no longer connecting to the VLE, or where students are still connecting to the VLE, but have not yet submitted their assignments.

Lifelong Learning Ecologies

This research looks at the context of learning changing as it becomes a lifelong and lifewide necessity. It focuses on the development of learning ecologies that incorporate physical and virtual aspects. A learning ecologies framework sees learning occuring across a dimension of formality (informal, non-formal and formal) and a dimension of space (Face2Face, Blended, Online). The research will focus on the identification of learning opportunities and improving learner self-awareness.

The Use of Short Novels to Spark Learning

This research looks at the use of novelettes to encourage learning, instead of the use of textbooks as learning materials. The aim is to take advantage of the power of stories to facilitate learning In a Criminology course, 2 short novels were used to facilitate learning about youth crime and immigration issues. The novelettes incorporated teaching aspects such as highlighted concepts that were linked to further descriptions. The novelettes were found to be able to transport students into the worlds described (sustaining their engagement and interest).