LINK Research Lab Welcome to Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab Thu, 25 Jun 2020 17:06:41 +0000 en hourly 1 84995988 UTA LINK Research Lab Expected to Close Due to Lack of Funding Thu, 25 Jun 2020 17:06:41 +0000 Continued]]> UTA’s LINK Research Lab, which specializes in online learning, is expected to close due to loss of institutional funding.

Lab staff have known about the loss of funding after a step-down plan was implemented to phase it out a few years ago and were officially notified they could seek other employment on April 21, learning innovation researcher Matt Crosslin said.

“The timing is particularly challenging,” executive director George Siemens said. “This is the period where every major university across the country and really around the world is moving curriculum online.”

The LINK Research Lab was created in 2013 to promote and amplify UTA’s research into digital learning and knowledge processes. Siemens said he moved from Canada to help set it up.

Following the mission of “what it means to be human in a digital age,” the lab researched technology’s impact on the labor market and online education, Siemens said.

LINK has received research grants from organizations like the National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Initially set up to help serve the university mission, Siemens said they received institutional funding as well.

The lab’s institutional funding became slowly staged out a few years ago when they received notification that LINK would have to become self-funded. A step-down budget was then put in place.

As classes have moved online, Crosslin and associate director Justin Dellinger have been helping teach a majority of workshops on digital teaching and learning.

Crosslin has a background in instructional design and has worked in online learning for a while. LINK was a way for him to analyze what works and what doesn’t work in online education, he said.

As more universities start to examine online learning, director Lisa Berry said in many ways LINK was ahead in researching online learning compared to other universities.

Berry said she really enjoyed the people she’s gotten to work with over the years. Whenever people would leave, she said it would be sad because they were like family.

“We would go to ball games together and have Christmas parties at people’s houses,” Berry said.

One aspect she said she will miss the most is working with graduate students.

Siemens said with the growth of online learning, they had held out hope that institutional funding would be renewed. He said renewal is dependent on what the future administration will want to see, though usually when funding is gone, it’s gone.

Moving forward, LINK resources will most likely move to the College of Science, Siemens said. He is the only lab staff that will remain at UTA, working within the Psychology Department.

“I think it’s a significant loss to the university,” Siemens said. “Hopefully some dean or some faculty member that has resources will recognize the value of that expertise and find a way to allocate resources to keep [LINK staff] on.”

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NLU = NLP + AI? Imagining the Future of Language and Culture Computing for Education Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:43:03 +0000 Continued]]> The 2010s have been labeled the “decade of NLP” — important progress was made in computational approaches to language data and tasks such as thematic analysis, text classification, and clustering, as well as machine translation. But what does the next decade hold for researchers and practitioners with qualitative or “thick” data—and does it look more like Natural Language Understanding than Natural Language Processing?

In this workshop, led by Pete Smith, Henry Anderson, Elizabeth Powers, and Justin T. Dellinger, the opening presentation will provide definitions and examples of NLP for educators, review emerging definitions of NLU, and prepare the participants to utilize one major NLU tool with educational text data (in the context of discussing deeper understanding of text and what this may entail). Current, ongoing debates on the national stage about the future of AI will also inform our views of the future. A short bibliography of follow-up readings will also be provided.

Please see the event page to RSVP.

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Dr. Quan Nguyen to Speak on Temporal Learning Analytics Thu, 09 Jan 2020 16:54:18 +0000 Continued]]> Please join us for a presentation by Dr. Quan Nguyen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Educational Data Science at the University of Michigan School of Information, on January 17 in the LINK Research Lab (12:30-1:30pm). Dr. Nguyen will speak on using temporal analytics to detect inconsistencies between learning design and student engagement. Lunch will be provided!

More information and RSVP available at

Hope to see you there!

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Resources From Recent Professional Development Sessions Now Online Wed, 09 Oct 2019 16:23:46 +0000 Continued]]> Session attendees working on humanizing their online courses at the LINK Lab

For those that attended the recent professional development sessions in the LINK Lab, we now have archives and materials posted online. So whether you were there and wanted to get some of the sessions links, or you couldn’t make the session and would like to watch the session archives, we have all of that up now. See the following links for video and/or :

“Using Video to Humanize the Online Learning Experience” archive (led by Dr. Whitney Kilgore on September 30, 2019)

“How to Create Online Learning Experiences session 2: Effective Practices” (led by Dr. Matt Crosslin on September 25, 2019)

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Join Us for Two Upcoming Professional Development Sessions on Improving Online Learning Experiences Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:01:31 +0000 Continued]]> The Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence and the LINK Research Lab will be co-hosting two professional development sessions that all online instructors won’t want to miss. The first one is How to Create Online Learning Experiences Session 2: Effective Practices by Dr. Matt Crosslin at 12:00 pm on September 25, 2019. This session will look at how you can improve your course by focusing on effective practices while minimizing ineffective practices. The second session is Using Video to Humanize the Online Learning Experience by Dr. Whitney Kilgore at 12:00 pm on September 30, 2019. This session will focus on three keys that can help instructors who are using video to humanize their online learning spaces. Lunch is provided at both sessions, so be sure to RSVP at the links provided. While both of these sessions are a continuation of previous sessions, they will be structured so that people who did not attend the previous sessions can still join and learn. Both events will be held in the LINK Research Lab (246 Nedderman Hall) at the University of Texas at Arlington, but they will also be live streamed via Zoom for those that can’t make it to the LINK Lab. Please join us at both events.

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Advanced Online Course Design: Creating Non-Linear Content Structure with Gaming Tools Wed, 10 Jul 2019 20:47:57 +0000 Continued]]> Have you ever looked at the various groups of learners in your course and wished that you could find a way to offer different content or activities for different learner contexts? Or maybe you have come up with ideas for “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type games for your learners, but just weren’t sure how to implement your idea? Or maybe you would like to offer different assignment options in an “assignment bank” format, but were unsure how to offer this to learners without confusing them over the options? In this session, Dr. Matt Crosslin will look at tools such as Twine, chatbots, and Canvas MasteryPaths that allow users to quickly build non-linear pathways that can present different options to different learners depending on what variables they choose. We will also examine the various design theories from the realm of gaming theory that will help you conceptualize your ideas.

This professional development session, sponsored by the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence and the LINK Research Lab, will be held on July 17, from 12:00 until 1:00 pm, in the LINK Research Lab (246 Nedderman Hall). Lunch will be provided. Due to space limitations, please RSVP. After reaching capacity, we will notify and add registrants to a waiting list.

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Dr. Matt Crosslin to Speak on “Starting a Conversation on How to Create Online Learning Experiences” Thu, 23 May 2019 18:16:47 +0000 Continued]]> Come join us on June 19, from 12:00 until 1:00 pm in the LINK Research Lab (246 Nedderman Hall) for a professional development session by Dr. Matt Crosslin on “Starting a Conversation on How to Create Online Learning Experiences.” With the current transition to Canvas at UTA, now is an excellent time to examine your online or blended courses – or to jump in if you have never taught online. This session will be the first of many to examine emerging and existing issues in online learning. The process of designing online or blended online/face-to-face courses often focuses on the methodology of taking certain steps to produce a product (the course). However – what if you looked at learning as an experience for student success more than a place run by a person constrained by specific designs? This session will begin to look at a free online resource published by Mavs Open Press called Creating Online Learning Experiences ( This Open Educational Resource aims to be a handbook that explores many of the issues and concepts related to putting courses online for new and experienced instructors. This first session will examine how new theories and ideas that shape online learning are changing and challenging traditional notions of “distance education.” But don’t come expecting a one way lecture – we want you to bring your ideas for discussion. Future sessions will springboard off of ideas explored in this first session. Please see this link to RSVP to attend this event co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence and the LINK Research Lab at UT Arlington.

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Archives from “Designing the Learner Experience” by Dr. Whitney Kilgore Now Available Mon, 29 Apr 2019 19:01:58 +0000 Continued]]> For those that were not able to make last week’s presentation by Dr. Whitney Kilgore on “Designing the Learner Experience: 7 Keys to Unlock the Human Element in Online Courses,” or for those that would like to re-visit the session, we have it archived online now. Please see this link for the archived recording, session slides, and important links from the discussion.

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Dr. Whitney Kilgore to Speak on “Designing the Learner Experience” Mon, 08 Apr 2019 19:24:41 +0000 Continued]]> Come join us on April 22, from 12:00 until 1:00 pm in the LINK Research Lab (246 Nedderman Hall) for a special presentation by Dr. Whitey Kilgore on “Designing the Learner Experience: 7 Keys to Unlock the Human Element in Online Courses.” Students have more options than ever before when choosing an online program and are becoming more savvy shoppers. Differentiating a program from others in the market will increasingly rely upon the design of the student experience. If you are looking for ways to increase student satisfaction and engagement in your course or program then a focus on the human element is essential. In this presentation, Dr. Kilgore outlines findings from her research on humanizing online teaching and learning, and shares the quick easy wins to create a more connected learning experience for students. Please see this link to RSVP to attend this event co-sponsored by the LINK Research Lab and the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence at UT Arlington.

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Chatbots, Game Theory, and AI: Adapting Learning for Humans, or Innovating Humans Out of the Picture? Wed, 27 Mar 2019 15:25:07 +0000 Continued]]> If you are attending OLC Innovate next week in Denver, Colorado or virtually online, be sure to come listen to Dr. Matt Crosslin’s presentation on Thursday morning at 8:45 AM on the current work at the LINK Research Lab on making chatbots and AI more student-centered: “How can teachers utilize chatbots and artificial intelligence in ways that won’t remove humans out of the education picture? Using tools like Twine and Recast.AI chatobts, this session will focus on how to build adaptive content that allows learners to create their own heutagogical educational pathways based on individual needs.” Dr. Crosslin is planning on using chatbots and Twine to turn this into an interactive, non-linear presentation. Will it work? We shall see…

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