Caroline Haythornthwaite

Syracuse University, School of Information Studies

S07_7893email: chaythor @ syr . edu       twitter: @hthwaite
Note that my ubc email is no longer valid.

In August 2016, I started as Professor in the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University For 2017-2019 I was also Director of the Masters in Library and Information Science.
Previously, I was Professor and Director at SLAIS, The iSchool at The University of British Columbia (2010-2015; on leave 2015-16). I joined UBC after 14 years at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and an earlier career as a programmer and systems analyst.

This wordpress site describes my research activities. My research focuses on how the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs) support work, learning and social interaction. I approach this primarily from a social network analysis perspective, addressing e-learning, learning analytics, social media, computer-mediated communication, and online crowds and communities. See also my areas of research and my publications pages. Current work explores the way open, online sites provide a forum for learning, and what kind of interactions support knowledge exchange and creation, and community support.


Association for Information Science and Technology, Research Award in Information Science

In 2017, I was very pleased to receive this research award from ASIST which is given to an individual for significant impact in the field of information science and for a program of research.

Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age

This SSHRC funded project with PI Anatoliy Gruzd started while I was at UBC to look at how we learn in the social media age, and what analytics are useful for examining such learning. Of the work I have been most involved in, the first wave of research looked at how instructors are using social media in their teaching:

  • Haythornthwaite, C., Gruzd, A., Paulin, D., Gilbert, S. & Esteve del Valle, M. (Dec. 18, 2015). Social media use in teaching: Results from a questionnaire on use in higher education. Social Media in Higher Education conference, Sheffield, UK.
  • Gruzd, A., Haythornthwaite, C., Paulin, D., Gilbert, S., & Esteve del Valle, M. (online 2016). Uses and gratifications factors for social media use in teaching: Instructors’ perspectives. New Media and Society. http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/08/08/1461444816662933.abstract.
  • Esteve del Valle, M., Gruzd, A., Haythornthwaite, C., Gilbert, S. & Paulin, D. (Jan., 2017). Social media in educational practice: Faculty present and future use of social media in teaching. Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Big Island, HI. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society.

And the second wave involved exploration of ‘learning in the wild’, and how learning unfolds in open online initiatives such as Reddit.

  • Kumar, P., Gruzd, A., Haythornthwaite, C., Gilbert, S., Esteve del Valle, M. & Paulin, D. (January 2018). Learning in the wild: Coding Reddit for learning and practice.  51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Big Island, HI.

Doctoral research by Sarah Gilbert has been a mainstay of this work, examining a Twitter learning community #hcsmca, and Reddit’s AskHistorians subreddit.

Other contributions from this research include methodology and policy papers.

  • Gruzd, A., Paulin, D. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2016). Analyzing social media and learning through content and social network analysis: A faceted methodological approach. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(3), 46-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.18608/jla.2016.33.4
  • Haythornthwaite, C. (March 2017). An information policy perspective on learning analytics. 2017 Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK’17) Conference, Vancouver BC: ACM.

For more, see the Social Media Lab site at Ryerson University.

  • Also … Congratulations to Sarah Gilbert and Drew Paulin, doctoral students with the Social Media Lab, for the ASIST Social Informatics SIG best student paper award, received November 2016 for:  Gilbert, S., & Paulin, D. (2015). Tweet to learn: Expertise and centrality in conference Twitter networks. In Proceedings of the 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.  http://conferences.computer.org/hicss/2015/papers/7367b920.pdf 

Other Recent Activity

  • Social Media and Society conference, 2017
    • Poster on information and emotion in twitter in response to disasters: Crisis on Twitter: Information & Emotion
    • Panel on Women in Social Media: Haythornthwaite, C., Teasley, S., Stromer-Galley, J., Erickson, I., Hemphill, L. & Wise, A.F. (July 2017). Women in Social Media: Safe and Unsafe Spaces.
  • Networked Learning Conference 2016 – May 2016
    • Presentation on New Metaphors for Networked Learning.
      As networked learning leaves designed spaces and becomes diffused and re-infused through open, online information sharing and knowledge construction, what metaphors will frame our next steps, our next inquiries? In keeping with the conference theme of ‘Looking Back – Moving Forward’, this presentation engages with where we are in the sea of change, and how our current understanding of networks, learning and knowledge will take us forward into new areas of inquiry. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOvaSpvs8ig; Slides (pdf): https://haythorn.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/haythornthwaite_nlc2016-pptx.pdf
    • Those interested in this presentation may also be interested in the ‘Rethinking learning spaces’ paper listed below.
  • Sage Handbook of E-Learning Research, 2nd edition, 2016
  • Crowdsourcing the curriculum, 2016
    • Paulin, D. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2016). Crowdsourcing the curriculum: Redefining e-learning practices through peer-generated approaches. The Information Society, 32(2), 130–142. doi:10.1080/01972243.2016.1130501.
    • In the special issue on Connecting Fields: Information, Learning Sciences and Education, editors: June Ahn & Ingrid Erickson.
  • Rethinking learning spaces, 2015
    • Haythornthwaite, C. (2015). Rethinking learning spaces: Networks, structures and possibilities for learning in the 21st century. Communication, Research and Practice, 1(4), 292-306. DOI: 10.1080/22041451.2015.1105773.
      • The paper is based on my keynote given at the Australia New Zealand Communication Association, July 2015. [Available to up to 50 colleagues (who can’t otherwise get to it via their university subscriptions) through this  eprint link http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/89tmpiPVfWDPTecqQ6H4/ful]
  • Spotlight talk at Ontario Library Association, 2016
    • Fabulous ‘write-up’ of my talk on Redefining Learning for a Networked World, at Ontario Library Association conference, by graphic facilitator and artist Liisa Sorsa.


Some Fabulous Visits!

Division of Information and Technology Studies, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong

  • 20160312_101229Thanks to Dr. Xiao Hu and Director Dr. Sam Chu as exemplary organizers and hosts of my visit as Faculty Visitor. I enjoyed my consultations with faculty and students, and presentations on Social Networks and Networked Learning Communities, and E-Learning and New Learning Cultures (March 11-25, 2016).
  • Visited again in March 2019 as part of duties as a program external reviewer, and again enjoyed getting to know faculty and students at HKU

e-Learn Centre at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

  • sagrada familia 2 Week long visit, included discussion and seminar on Lifelong Learning Ecologies (Nov, 9-13, 2015), organized by Albert Sangrà Morer, UOC and UNESCO Chair of Education and Technology for Social Change.
  • Papers on learning ecologies from presentations at this event are forthcoming, edited by Professor Morer. My presentation was titled “Learning ecologies: The individual and the use of networks” and the paper is titled “What can social networks tell us about learning ecologies?
  • Video of the presentation is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK3ZcNtf6Jc


Two talks  in New Zealand July 2015, back again in 2018

  • Keynote at the ANZCA (Australia New Zealand Communication Association) Learning Networks: Rethinking Spaces, Structures and Possibilities for Learning in the 21st Century,  held in Queenstown, NZ in the Remarkables mountain range
    The paper listed above in Communication, Research and Practice is based on this presentation.DSC03877
  • Public Lecture for the Ako Aotearoa, the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary e-Learning Reference Group (TeLRG) in Wellington, NZ: Social Network Structures for Networked Learning Communities.
  • Visiting Faculty, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
    • Visit organized by Dr. Brenda Chawner included consultations with faculty, students, and administrators, and presentations on ‘learning in the wild’; plus 2 days at the Business Information Systems Department, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand organized by Dr Antonio Díaz Andrade.


  •  Flexibility and the Teacher-Learner-Institution Triad
    • Blog … The term flexible learning is bandied about a lot these days, but what does it really mean? Does it signify a brave new transformation in approach and practice for teaching, learning and education, and if so, what kind of transformation is it? It is all new, or does it—or can it—inherit and gain from the state-of-the-art of the former flexible option of online or e-learning? … continue reading on the UBC Digital Learning blog.
  • Best Social Informatics paper of 2013 awarded in 2014 to Nama Budhathoki and myself by ASIST SIG-SI. See also Nama’s mapping work in Nepal with his Kathmandu Living Labs.
    • Budhathoki, N. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2013). Motivation for open collaboration: Crowd and community models and the case of OpenStreetMap. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(5), 548 – 575.


For more see my publications page.