UTK STEM Education Seminar

This past week, I was invited to speak as part of the STEM education seminar sponsored by the Theory and Practice in Teacher Preparation (TPTE) Department STEM team. I am part of the STEM Education team in the department and this semester a group of colleagues are organizing this seminar with presentations for faculty and graduate students every two weeks. I have really enjoyed all of the presentations this semester. Our STEM Education team is doing really amazing work and I love learning about it.

For my presentation, I was a bit nervous because I was not sure how my work would relate to STEM education. I know educational technology is consider part of STEM education. However, I think of my work as more than just educational technology. I actually see Learning, Design, and Technology as the umbrella term under which educational technology, instructional design, instructional technology, learning engineering, and others similar terms come together. Perhaps one of my main concerns is that under the term STEM, learning design is primarily associated with the “technology” term which I really see as just one aspects of the far more complex ecosystems of the learning, design, and technology field.

The presentation focused on how it is okay to have many areas of research interest. We are often encouraged to stay very narrowly focused on a topic. But, what if you are curious about other topics and want to explore them? So, basically, I used myself as an example of an eclectic research agenda. My research has evolved so much and in part it due to my curiosity to explore other topics. This has also been true in my life, curiosity to try new things or study programs outside my focus has helped me evolve and grow. Here is the link to the slides, in case you are curious.

Recent Research on Online Social Communities

Earlier this year, I made a radical decision to cut off all social media from my life. I am grateful for the detox. I eventually returned to Twitter and LinkedIn, quietly, over the summer but now I am bit more active (let’s see how long that last). But I am not going to lie, one of the most difficult parts of that decision was leaving the groups and social communities to which I belonged that kept me informed or in which I could ask questions. These groups and social communities have also served as inspiration for my research on networked learning and informal learning in online social communities. So having said all of that, I want to share some of my most recent publications on online social communities in this post.


Romero-Hall, E.J. (2022). Supporting Instructional Design Graduate Education through Networked Learning and Institutional Social Media. In Stefaniak, J. & Reese, R. (Eds.), The Instructional Designer’s Training Guide: Authentic Practices and Considerations for Mentoring ID and Ed Tech Professionals. Routledge.

This chapter is really a self reflection on the work that independent study students, interns, and I did while working at The University of Tampa connecting the current students, alumni, and public to IDT program using institutional social media accounts. But in all honestly, those practices were highly influences by the practices of other IDT programs who run their own institutional social media and research on networked learning. Here is a short blurb from the abstract: “In this paper, it is argued that social media represents a convivial technology in which individuals are engaging in networked learning. A review of the literature yielded examples of how institutional social media is been used in teaching and learning specifically in instructional design and technology programs. Insights from a case study about an instructional design and technology program that has been actively using different institutional social media to enhance the networked learning experience of the graduate students (and other stakeholders) in the program is shared as a way to connect research with practice.”

Gomez-Vasquez, L., Romero-Hall, E., Jaramillo Cherrez, N., Ghani, S., Rodriguez, A. & Ripine, C. (2022). Keeping Citizens Informed and Engaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using #YoMeInformoPMA: A Case from Latin America. Health Communicationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2035509

This paper is dedicated to my motherland, Panama! When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I was on sabbatical in Panama. The days after a pandemic was declared were crazy. I have written a bit about it in this blog post. To keep myself informed of what was happening in Panama in response to the pandemic the Panamanian Health Ministry recommended that everyone use the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA (which literally translated to: “I stay informed Panama”) in social media. As a researcher, it immediately triggered my desire to know: “What are people learning, discussing, and sharing using this hashtag?”. So I quickly emailed my collaborator Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez so that we could start tracking tweets with this hashtag. Huge thanks to Lina for leading the write up of this paper and co-authors for assisting with the analysis. Here is a short blurb from our abstract: “Using quantitative content, social network, and thematic analysis, this study examined 2,500 tweets from April to August 2020 that included the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA. Panama’s Public Health Ministry created the #YoMeInformoPMA hashtag to keep citizens informed and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research on social media use and implementation in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform and engage the public, is limited. Therefore, the aim of this investigation was to analyze strategies, themes, multimedia formats, key actors, and overall communications patterns of a Latin American health community hashtag. Our results determined that actors using the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA mainly used an interactive strategy, a message that aims to promote casual conversations, advice, and problem-solving.

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Undergraduate students in online social communities: An exploratory investigation of deliberate informal learning practices. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3). https://dx.doi.org/10.51869/103/erh

We often do not realize that there are many instances of informal learning practices: implicit learning, reactive learning, and deliberate learning. In this paper, I focus on “deliberate learning refers to informal learning that occurs when an individual takes time to think about how and where to gather information.” This paper further analyses data that was collected as part of an internal grant sponsored by the University of Tampa on the use and participation of undergraduate students in social media (with a specific focus on teaching and learning). Here is a blurb from the abstract: “A total of 573 undergraduate students consented to participate in this investigation about deliberate informal learning practices using social media. Data analysis consisted of parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures. An analysis of the rankings provided by undergraduate students for the different deliberate informal learning activities performed in their most used social media (MUSM) showed that listening to podcasts related to their area of study, following/connecting with professional organizations, and connecting with leaders in their field of study were ranked higher than the other activities. The results also showed evidence of statistically significant differences in the ranking provided to the informal learning activities performed by undergraduate students in their least used social media (LUSM). Listening to podcasts related to their area of study, viewing videos that can assist with coursework, and following/connecting with professional organizations were ranked higher than the other deliberate informal learning activities.” This journal article is open access.

Guest Edited Special Issue

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Informal Learning in Online Social Communities. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3), https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_10_3

First, huge thanks to all the amazing authors who submitted their work to this special issue and worked with me to make this a reality. Second, you should take the time to read these journal articles because each of them will enhance your teaching or advance your know of the learning design field. Last, this special issue includes an award winning article (AECT Culture, Learning, and Technology Division, McJulien Scholar Best Paper Award) published by Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Daniel G. Krutka, & Shannon M. Oltmann titled “Gab, Parler, and (Mis)educational Technologies: Reconsidering Informal Learning on Social Media Platforms“.

Spider web
A spider web

A sabbatical during COVID-19

Where do I start?

I guess I can start by writing that a few months into my sabbatical the world turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, I was able to use my time to complete the tasks that I had outlined for my sabbatical period. April and May did require a significant adjustment since we had to manuoiver a new work schedule without child care. Maneuvering this new schedule required being realistic about what I could accomplish and saying “no” to some invitations for new collaborations.

The first two months of my sabbatical were as planned. I worked on writing two chapters for the book “Research Methods in Learning Design and Technology.” Book chapter authors submitted their completed and revised book chapters to me by the end of January and I worked on doing final reviews of each book chapter. I initially had planned to submit the book to the publisher by mid-March, but I switched the format of the last chapter, and this required giving extra time to my co-authors to complete their writing. This meant that I had to delay the submission of the book documents to the publisher until mid-April. Thankfully, by the time the world turned upside down in mid-March, all my co-authors and book chapter authors had turned in all required documents to me.

One of the elements of my sabbatical that was partially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was work-related travel. I was scheduled to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Convention in San Francisco in mid-April and the conference was canceled. I am glad it was canceled, I am also glad it was not held virtually. April was a month of re-adjustement, tension, and stress for many. I was also scheduled to travel to Florence, Italy to present at the DEPIT Annual Meeting at the University of Florence. This event was re-scheduled for an online format.

I had some personal travel plans changed because of travel restrictions. I was scheduled to spend all of March and a portion of April in Panama City, Panama, where I was going to work while spending time close to my family. So, I traveled to Panama at the end of February and was monitoring all the news related to COVID-19. Due to the way the virus was spreading, my family and I decided it was best for us to travel back to the United States, so we changed our flights to travel back on March 22 (which is the day Panama was scheduled to close their international airport). On the evening of March 20, I received an email from COPA airlines letting me know that our flights had been cancelled. I was shocked and extremely disappointed. However, we all stayed calm and determined that we would just ride the storm in Panama. That same evening, as a last attempt, we figured we would see if there were any flights on March 21 to Tampa with a different airline. Thankfully, we did manage to fly back to Tampa on March 21. My dad was in Panama with me and we were also able to find a flight for him to fly back to Toronto (within one hour difference of our flight), which gave peace of mind. I would not have left Panama without my dad.

The weeks after returning from Panama, were weeks of adjustments as mentioned at the beginning of this post. In addition to all the tasks for the book, I was also scheduled to write a manuscript (with a deadline) that I had not even started. It took discipline to stay focus. I admit that there were many emotions related to what was happening in the world with the pandemic, leaving Panama, and experiencing the “new normal.” I felt like I had to work hard on my “emotional intelligence” to get the paper written and deliver all the book materials to the publisher.

I am thankful for the sabbatical term. In addition to the tasks mentioned in this post, I also used the time to work in revisions to several manuscripts and continue mentoring my undergraduate student (we presented at a conference in February and are currently working on a few writing tasks). Of course, I spend time with my family (even more than planned due to the lack of childcare).

Since my sabbatical ended, I am back to serving as the Graduate Coordinator of the Instructional Design and Technology program and I taught a six-week summer intensive course on Learner Motivation in June. I definitely missed my students and the joy of our convos.


Latest Publication: ” Undisclosed Stories of Instructional Design Female Scholars in Academia”

Our article titled “Undisclosed Stories of Instructional Design Female Scholars in Academia” published in the Women’s Studies International Forum is now available online (co-authors: Tuğçe Aldemir, Jozenia Colorado-Resa, Camille Dickson-Deane, Ginger Watson, and Ayesha Sadaf).

Abstract: In this critical autoethnography, we come together as female instructional design (ID) faculty and graduate students. We use self-reflection to explore, through our writing, the experiences of our lives as female scholars. This includes gender-related challenges, concerns, and experiences that shape our lives as researchers, instructors, and practitioners. The theoretical frameworks that guide this critical autoethnography are radical and intersectional feminism. Radical feminists practice consciousness-raising in which women come together to share their personal experiences with each other. Intersectional feminists acknowledge that the various aspects of humanity, such as class, race, sexual orientation, and gender do not exists separately from each other. Our stories provide a view into the gender inequalities experienced by women, from various cultural backgrounds, ranks, and roles, while maneuvering the socio-cultural norms ingrained in higher education institutions. Our intention is that these stories generate understanding of these issues and inform ways that higher education may be more inclusive and supportive of female academics in the future.

This personalized URL provides 50 days’ free access to the article (until November 17, 2018). You are welcome to read or download. No sign up, registration, or fees are required: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Xoml-6kqPaWN 

Latest publication: “Examining Distance Learners in #Hybrid #Synchronous #Instruction: Successes and Challenges” #OpenAccess

Our latest publication titled “Examining Distance Learners in Hybrid Synchronous Instruction: Successes and Challenges” in now available #openaccess as part of the latest issues of Online Learning Journal (Special Issues of the AERA SIG Online Teaching and Learning):

Romero-Hall, E. & Vicentini, C. (2017). Examining distance learners in hybrid synchronous instruction: Successes and challenges. Online Learning, 21(4). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v21i4.1258.

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

CFP: TechTrends #AECTRTD Special Issue [Proposals due: September 15]

TechTrends Special Issue
Research and Theory Division (RTD)

The Research and Theory Division of AECT is sponsoring a special issue of TechTrends related to current innovative research methodology in the instructional design and technology field. We welcome proposals in which researchers are rigorously using innovative methods of data collection and analysis as part of an investigation that helps further advance knowledge on the field.

Special Issue Co ‐ Editors

Enilda Romero-Hall, Ph.D.
University of Tampa

E-ling Hsiao, Ph.D.
Valdosta State University

Fei Gao, Ph.D.
Bowling Green State University

Submissions should align with the RTD mission to promote the development and advancement of theory; promotes, presents, and disseminates research and scholarship that encompasses multiple perspectives; advocates the study of social and cultural issues in the field; supports, fosters, and mentors emerging scholars. The division provides a professional community for AECT members with an interest in research and theory. The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible innovative methods of data collection and analysis:

  • Educational data mining
  • Learning analytics
  • Social network analysis
  • Advanced statistical modeling
  • Network anthropology
  • Eye tracking
  • EEG
  • fMRI
  • Other physiological measures
  • Integrative approaches to ‘mixing’ qualitative research
  • Netnography
  • Person-centered analyses
  • Interactional ethnography
  • Rhizoanalysis
  • Photovoice
  • Art-based data analyses
  • Appreciative inquiry
  • Concept mapping research
  • Visual analysis
  • And other innovative research methodologies

Expected publication date: September 2018

Submission Information

Articles should follow the writing style guidelines for Tech Trends. Submissions should be 4000-­‐5000 words in length (10 ­‐15 pages) and abstracts should not exceed 150 words. Use APA formatting throughout.

Please upload a PDF file with your name, institution, and email address as well as a brief overview (approx. 500 words) of the proposed article using the following link: http://tiny.cc/TechTrendsRTDSpecialIssue for initial review. If accepted for review, you will be directed to a Tech Trends portal for this special issue where you will submit your full article per the schedule below.

We kindly ask authors to also serve as reviewers for the submissions. Reviewers will also be requested from the overall AECT RTD membership. Thank you.

Important Dates

  • August 7, 2017 ‐ Call for Proposals posted
  • September 15, 2017 ‐ Proposals due: http://tiny.cc/RTDSpecialIssue_Dropbox
  • October 16, 2017 ‐ Notify accepted proposals
  • January 29, 2018 – Full submissions due AND start peer review process
  • March 16, 2018 – Reviews due
  • April 27, 2018 – Notify authors of review decisions
  • June 1, 2018 – Final and reviewed papers due