Caroline Haythornthwaite

Syracuse University, School of Information Studies
email: chaythor@ syr.edu       twitter: @hthwaite

From August 2016-2021, I was a Professor in the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University For 2017-2019 I was also Director of the Masters in Library and Information Science. I am now a Professor Emerita at Syracuse University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am currently working on projects related to my research as outlined below.

From 2010-2016, I was Professor and Director at the School of Library, Archival and Information Science, The iSchool at The University of British Columbia, now the School of Information. I joined UBC after 14 years at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), now the School of Information Sciences, 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. See also the Social Media Lab site at Ryerson University.

Of the work I have been most involved in, the first wave of research looked at how instructors use social media in their teaching:

Gruzd, A., Haythornthwaite, C., Paulin, D., Gilbert, S., & Esteve del Valle, M. (2018). Uses and gratifications factors for social media use in teaching: Instructors’ perspectives. New Media and Society, 20(2): 475-494.

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.

The second wave explores ‘learning in the wild’, i.e., how learning unfolds in open online initiatives such as Reddit, Twitter, and more.

Gruzd, A., Kumar, P., Abul-Fottouh, D. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2020). Coding and Classifying Knowledge Exchange on Social Media: a Comparative Analysis of the #Twitterstorians and AskHistorians Communities. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (2020). https://doi-org.libezproxy2.syr.edu/10.1007/s10606-020-09376-y. Also presented for ECSCW conference. Siegen, Germany, 13-17 June 2020. https://dl.eusset.eu/handle/20.500.12015/3418

Haythornthwaite, C., Kumar, P., Gruzd, A., Gilbert, S., Esteve del Valle, M., & Paulin, D. (2018). Learning in the wild: Coding for learning and practice on Reddit. Learning, Media and Technology43(3), 219–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2018.1498356

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

Gilbert, S. (2018). Motivations for participating in online initiatives: Exploring motivations across initiative types. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia. Available  at https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/24/items/1.0372890

Third wave, doctoral student Subhasree Sengupta exploring online sites for learning computer programming.

Sengupta, S. & Haythornthwaite, C. (Jan., 2020). Learning with comments: An analysis of comments and community on Stack Overflow. 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Maui, HI [full paper]

Some overview pieces that bring research strands together

Haythornthwaite, C. & Gruzd, A. (May, 2020). Learning in the wild: Exploring the practice of learning in open, online forums. Networked Learning Conference, May 18-20, 2020, Kolding, Denmark. [https://www.networkedlearning.aau.dk/nlc2020/] Presented online by Haythornthwaite.

Haythornthwaite, C. (2019). Learning, connectivity and networks. Information and Learning Sciences, 120(1/2), 19-38. (free online access up to 50 colleagues: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/eprint/S9QfBEpPQvFahUv5YN4E/full).

Some Past Fabulous Visits! Alas not much travel right now!

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.

For more see my publications page.