About Me

Alexandra_Makos 2013_PurpleShirtI promise to unlock the curiosity, passion, creativity and innovation in your mind. In a world with boundless opportunities and potential, I strategically seek and mobilize opportunities that pique my interest and leverage my dynamic skill set. My unique ability is being able to identify situations that require flexible and innovative solutions that leverage my previous experience. I have excellent communication skills and I easily adapt to situations that make me an invaluable asset and role model to those that I collaborate with.

I am a doctoral candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. My research interests are: social interaction in online learning environments, social media tools, intelligent recommendation systems, the design of online learning environments, and educational mobile application design. I have been an active member of the PeppeR Project Research Team for three years.  I am currently working on the development of social media tools that help students interact with notes created in an online discussion. One of the tools that I have conducted extensive research on is the “Like” button (a replica of Facebook’s), to understand how people generate trust and form relationships with their peers in an online course. In online learning environments, I have found that interactions need to be scaffolded with different tools. The tools I am designing are integrated into PeppeR, a proprietary online learning environment developed by Jim Hewitt, my supervisor, at OISE as a part of his SSHRC funded research. PeppeR is central to my research on the personalization of student learning in online learning environments through the use of interactive tools. My research has found that generating trust is difficult in text-based learning environments compared to face-to-face interactions because of a lack of visual cues.

The goal of my research is to explore students’ socioemotional experiences and their use of the social aspects of online learning environments – including private messaging systems, a Like button, student profiles, a community wall and lounge areas – to understand how they engage in impromptu social interactions and how these interactions affect their learning experiences. I ask: How do students describe their social experiences in courses that are designed to engage them in online discussions? Specifically, I will address: 1) What is the nature of sustained social activity for cultivating and nurturing productive online discussions in CSCL environments? a) How do students experience the social features of online environments? b) How do the social affordances of online environments affect student perceptions of learning? 2) What impact does this have on the quality of online student discussions?

In addition to my research, I have sought out additional opportunities in research project management. I have coordinated multiple research grants submitted to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for faculty members at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.  I have worked closely with faculty in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning department and the Applied Psychology and Human Development department in online course development and design. Additionally, I have lead and supported several faculty and student professional development courses instructing on the use of PeppeR. I continue to seek out opportunities while completing my doctoral research to explore the relationship between research, teaching and administration in preparation for a career in online learning.