Technology-Enhanced Learning Research & Scholarship


From its inception, CNDLS took the model of a teaching center incorporating technological innovations into the core of our work on teaching and learning. In this sense, we have always been exploring research questions about how we can best harness technology for the benefit of teaching and learning. One our our earliest research projects in this area was the Visible Knowledge Project (VKP), a five-year project, conducted from 2004-2009, on the scholarship of teaching and learning involving 70 faculty on 22 university and college campuses. Former CNDLS Executive Director, Randy Bass, served as Director and Principal Investigator of the VKP, which explored the impact of technology on learning, primarily in the humanities. Through this project, CNDLS was able to explore pedagogical innovations--on Georgetown’s campus and beyond--from a research-oriented perspective, asking how new media environments, and, specifically, digital learning environments could transform the way students engage with learning.

More recently, in the spring of 2013, CNDLS launched the Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL)—a three-year, $8 million investment in faculty grants, digital infrastructure improvements, and a partnership with edX—which has provided funding and support to Georgetown University faculty in order to bring technology-focused teaching and learning projects to life. This initiative, one component of the capital campaign For Generations to Come, serves as an incubator for boundary-pushing experiments in teaching and learning, facilitating the widespread adoption of promising tools and approaches both on-campus and globally online. Over the last three years, ITEL has supported several educational research projects in Learning Design research. These were implemented in collaboration with the ITEL Principal Investigator (PI) and CNDLS faculty and staff.

Through ITEL, a number of innovative research projects have emerged across disciplines, with CNDLS staff working in tandem with faculty members across multiple schools and departments to capture data from ITEL projects and draw meaningful conclusions that can contribute to the larger field of TEL research. Some of these projects include the following:

Technology-enhanced strategies for foreign language acquisition

Several ITEL projects have involved the use of technology in foreign language learning--for example, implementing teletandem, or video-based collaborative learning exchange in language classrooms--and our own CNDLS staff has been actively contributing to research in this field. The following recent publications reflect some of the outcomes of these research projects:

  • Professor Ronald P Leow (Spanish and Portuguese), recently published the book, Explicit learning in the L2 classroom: A student-centered approach (Routledge, 2015), in which he offers a unique five-prong (theoretical, empirical, methodological, pedagogical, and model building) approach to the issue of explicit learning in the L2 classroom from a student-centered perspective. To achieve this five-prong objective, the book reports the theoretical underpinnings, empirical studies, and the research designs employed in current research to investigate the constructs of attention and awareness in SLA with the objectives to (1) propose a model of the L2 learning process in SLA that accounts for the cognitive processes employed during this process and (2) provide pedagogical and curricular implications for the L2 classroom.

    Leow, R. P. (2015). Explicit learning in the L2 classroom: A student-centered approach. New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Susan Pennestri recently co-authored a chapter in A Psycholinguistics Approach to Technology and Language Learning titled “Clicking in the second language (L2) classroom: The effectiveness of type and timing of clicker-based feedback in Spanish L2 development,” in which she investigates the pedagogical utility of learner response systems, or ‘clickers’, as a novel means of providing feedback to learners in second language (L2) classroom settings. This chapter explores the effectiveness of clicker-based feedback on learning the preterite/imperfect aspectual distinction in Spanish by beginning L2 learners. Learners’ immediate development in interpretation, production, and generalization abilities is statistically analyzed, and theoretical and pedagogical implications for psycholinguistic L2 research and instruction are considered.

    Serafini, E., & Pennestri, S. (2015). Clicking in the Second Language (L2) Classroom: The Effectiveness of Type and Timing of Clicker-based Feedback in Spanish L2 Development (chapter 12). In Leow, R., Cerezo, L., & Baralt, M. (Eds.). A Psycholinguistic Approach to Technology and Language Learning.] Boston, MA: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Georgetown faculty members

    Cerezo, L. & Caras, A. (forthcoming). Effectiveness of guided induction versus deductive instruction on the development of complex Spanish “Gustar” structures: An analysis of learning outcomes and processes. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Technology-enhanced instructional strategies

Much of our own research on TEL involves exploring how technology can enhance instructional strategies across disciplines. In addition to foreign language instruction, we have also examined the application of new technologies in the McDonough School of Business and the Medical School, as well as in classes in the sciences and humanities. Some recent publications include the following:

  • In her ITEL project, Professor Betsy Sigman (McDonough School of Business) found that giving students a hands-on opportunity to access and analyze data from logs, machines, and social media seemed to increase their understanding of many components of big-data-related knowledge, such as streaming data, data visualization, and text analytic. Sigman’s students used Splunk to capture and index Twitter feeds and other data, and Tableau to create visualizations to rapidly track and analyze trends in order to make better business and organizational decisions.

    In collaboration with CNDLS staff members, Sigman published an article about this project, titled “Visualization of Twitter Data in the Classroom” in Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education (forthcoming). This paper takes the form of a teaching brief by discussing the most recent iteration of a big data module designed for an undergraduate business database course, comprised of three step-wise labs that give students the hands-on practice that they need to harness and analyze big data. Through these labs students learn to access and visualize live streams of social media data using Splunk, a toolkit for collecting, storing, and analyzing data.

    Sigman, B., Garr, W., Pongsajapan, R., Selvanadin, M., Bolling, K., and M. McWilliams. (forthcoming). Visualization of Twitter Data in the Classroom. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education.

  • Several CNDLS staff members, including Dan Davis, John Hanacek, Susan Pennestri, and Yianna Vovides, worked with Dr. Adam Myers and Dr. Susan Mulroney to write a research paper on their ITEL project "Using Online Materials to Enhance Physiology Teaching," which was presented at the 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies in Barcelona, Spain in July 2015. The paper, titled “Capturing, Tracing, and Visualizing the Spread of Technology-Enhanced Instructional Strategies,” was published in the Conference Proceedings, EDULEARN15 Proceedings.

    Davis, D., Hanacek, J., Myers, A., Mulroney, S., Pennestri, S., & Vovides, Y. (2015, July). Capturing, tracing, and visualizing the spread of technology-enhanced instructional strategies. In EDULEARN 15 Proceedings: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies (1020-1028). Barcelona, Spain: IATED Academy.

  • CDNLS staff have also been involved in exploring new uses of technology in the medical school environment. One such project investigated the use of web-based simulations for enhancing doctor-patient communication skills following a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent groups design. This project involved the design and development of the simulations in such a way as to enable the lead PI to gather student responses and usage data in addition to pre- and post-test knowledge test scores. The following are some publications that have come out of this research:

    Vovides, Y., Chale, S.B., Gadhula, R., Kebaetse, M. B., Nigussie, N. A., Suleman, F., Tibyampansha, D., Ibrahim, G. R., Ntabaye, M., Frehywot, S., and Nkomazana, O. (2014). A Systems Approach to Implementation of eLearning in Medical Education: Five MEPI Schools’ Journeys. Academic Medicine. August 2014 - Volume 89 - Issue 8 - p S102-S106 doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000349

    Seble Frehywot,, Yianna Vovides, Zohray Talib, Nadia Mikhail, Heather Ross, Hannah Wohltjen, Selam Bedada, Kristine Korhumel, Abdel Karim Koumare and James Scott. (2013). E-learning in medical education in resource constrained low- and middle-income countries. Human Resources for Health 2013 11:4 DOI: 10.1186/1478-4491-11-4

    Whitney, J., Mulroney, S., Barbee, P., & Myers, A. (2013). Use of lecture capture technology in a medical school environment. The Advisor Online, 33.1.