Narrative Inquiry Paper Revision – Module 2

I am nearly finished revising my narrative inquiry paper for my Module 2 class, which is due tonight. The more I am processing and reprocessing the Analysis and Presentation section of the paper, the more I am beginning to appreciate narrative inquiry.

Learning to use it here for the first time (or rather, this is the first time I have used it, after having learned about it over the years), I realize how much more I want to explore some of its possibilities.

Has anybody out there used narrative inquiry and want to share what the found useful about it, especially regarding how they navigated the various methodological issues?


Learning Journal Postings for PhD, #2

learning-journalI started considering some of the things I learned in yesterday’s posting, and want to continue this work a little more today, this time considering our guiding question, “What really matters in my professional practice?” from a different perspective. I want to consider a bit about what I learned that has changed the way I approach my practice, mindful that my practice involves educational research, adult learning, and project management.

Word and Meaning (Transcription)

I recorded and transcribed my interviews. What I learned in the process is that what people say and what they mean may at times be different. Related, of course, but often what we begin to say and where we ultimately end up may in fact be different. To record and work only with the literal means that the result may appear clunky, awkward, and at times confusing. This then requires some interpretation, or polishing, not so much to push my own desire, but armed with strategies for trustworthiness and those methods that seek to support believability will enhance the findings and make them not only useful, but an interesting read as well.

New Methods to Stretch the Boundaries

Why always do the same forms of research? Comfort and continual improvement for sure, but that fire that excites me as I seek to study similar issues from different perspectives means that I have to stretch and use methods that are new to me. Using other methods to expand my research horizons, I find that I can gather, understand, and expand upon my findings in ways that help me enlarge my worldview. I see some issues in a more complicated and comprehensive way, so that those things I initially saw as monolithic, I now see more in the light of their own complexities. I definately want to expand on my toolkit of methods. If some aspects of life were sufficiently understandable, we would no longer need to research them!  

Reliance on Community (CoP)

I have learned that I am not struggling alone on my doctoral studies, as there are others out there engaged in the same process who are often quite helpful in offering feedback and encouragement. Likewise, there are those who seem interested in my research who are also very supportive of my work. The more I share what I am doing with my online community, and the more I offer feedback and suggestions to other colleagues who share and engage in their own work, the more my own online community of practice around some of these research issues is formed and strengthened.


The more I share my research, perspectives, and struggles with colleagues, the more I get great suggestions and useful insights. Nothing surprising here, but the difference that I am learning is that I do not have to pretend I understand it all, give the impression that I have a handle on my work, or wait to post until everything is clearly formed and finished. Since I am enjoying the process itself, I find that sharing that along the way is most valuable. Being transparent with my own research and meaning-making process often provides as much learning as the formal research itself.

With all this, I am interested to read what my small learning set (a subset of my cohort) has to offer when they comment on these concepts when I share them within our university Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Now that I think of it, the learning that occurs within there, just as the learning that occurs within the Foundations workshop VLE, ultimately finds its way into everything else I do.

Interesting how my life and my research are somewhat connected.


Learning Journal Postings for PhD

reflection.jpgWhile I am busily revising my paper to meet my deadline on Wednesday, there is another assignment that begins on Thursday, one that has been an undercurrent through my work over the past 2 months — my Learning Journal. We were invited to begin consiering the question “What really matters in my professional practice?” by spending 5-10 minutes a day writing about it.

I journaled and reflected on this question with everything I write here on my blog, my public journal I share with a few colleagues and friends who are king enough to stop by and offering some thoughts from time to time.

So, after working through this paper, and thinking about our readings, I will try to draw some of these things together hereas the first step in pulling together some of what I will discuss with my cohort colleagues:

  • the excerpts we read of Donald Schon’s work were not terribly helpful for me–it seems that either people refer to Schon in ways he did not discuss, or I really need to read him more thoroughly and closely.
  • Wenger’s work with communities of practice seem to be a theoretical framework that can be applicable in a wide variety of works. I wonder, though, how organizations really use these without being manipulative (to get more work from people without more expenditures). I suppose I am wondering how these can be used and cultivated within organizations, since I have not really seen many that are organic, rather than organizationally-sponsored.
  • Laurel Richardson’s work really surprised me with how rich it is. It seems that some of my colleagues also found it and Ellis / Bochner’s work valuable, while others did not seem to be able to make heads or tails out of it. I am finding that my thesis (the UK term for dissertation) seems headed down that direction . . .
  • I am beginning to find more value in sharing and collaborating online than I ever have before. It seems my slowly-growing informal network of doctoral support is becoming increasingly valuable to me. As our current module is entitled The Development of Professional Practice, this seems ironically (and completely unexpectedly) fitting.

I am going to review some of our readings, and comment on this a bit more throughout this week.


Foundations of CoP, Week 2

This week in CPsquare’s Foundations of Communities of Practice (CoP) workshop, Etienne Wenger will be facilitating our work around various domain issues, as we break down into smaller communities within the context of our larger community that comprises the workshop.We have already had a whirlwind week with hundreds of community postings. So many of our workshop participants seem so much mre outgoing and extroverted than I am, and while this may not be the case (just like many of our perceptions do not hold the entire story), I do feel a bit overwhelmed with so much activity.

cpsquare-with-bylineThis workshop is compised of a fascinating group of people, many of whom I hope to learn more about over the remaining 6 weeks, and I am very glad we will narrow things down a bit to begin working on whatever tasks we devise. With so many interesting backgrounds and such passion among the participants, I am now more intrigued about where we are going than when I started.

I wonder how many of them will ultimately plan to attend the Networked Learning Conference 2010, as a number of them already seem to be closer to Europe and Denmark than I am?


Networked Learning Conference 2010 ~ Preconference Online Hot Seats

Anybody out there planning to attend the Networked Learning Conference in May of 2010 in Aalborg, Denmark? If so, you may find the Hot Seats that just began an interesting way to engage in discussion and get the juices flowing prior to the conference. The first one, facilitated by Caroline Haythornthwaite on Learning Networks, is about to begin.

networked learning conference

BTW, the call for papers is available here. Yes, I am planning to submit!


Upon Receiving Peer Review

lonely-2In the same way that it can be a humbling experience to offer peer review, it can be downright distressing to receive it!

I have noticed 2 tendencies, now that I received my Lancaster paper back for its first revision. The first is–the reviewers missed my point; how can they say that?! The second is–ok, perhaps they did identify some areas for improvement, let me edit everything to meet their expectations. Both tendencies seem problematic to me.

It is easier to be defensive and push back than to acknowledge that perhaps they did notice some things I said or did that I did not realize. It is often so beneficial to get the feedback from others who have not lived and breathed the research in the same way. This is very challenging, for in some ways pointing out that the emperor has no clothes (or that they clash, are threadbare, are not stylish, or don’t fit) demonstrates we (me?) am not as clear and to the point as I like to think I (we) am.

Once getting over the “Oh, god!” from above, I have noticed that my second tendency is to want to make changes to everything to fit the review. That is also very problematic, as I have suffered and worked extra hard before because there have been hostile reviewers have been difficult for no reason, while others have come from a different paradigm, wanted to be difficult, demonstrate a power imbalance, remake me in their image, not know enough about the topic or method to be credible, or even say something needs work for its own sake. There is some of the feedback that I do think may be a bit off, so when the revision gets submitted next week, we also need to track how we responded to and addressed each piece of feedback.

Fix what needs to be fixed, and explain why some things are better left alone.

As I will continue to process this, one thing is for sure–I have a lot of work to do this weekend (it is due next week!).


Understanding My PhD Journey, Round 1

I wrote about an interesting concept that is developing in my Foundations of CoP workshop, where it seems a number of us are working on PhD studies. I wanted to share my thoughts here about my own program at Lancaster, both because our current task (aside from revising my paper, where I get my feedback back tomorrow) is to consider what we are learning through our research practice and where we are right now. With this in mind, I am sharing an element of something I wrote in the workshop, where I started to muse on about my doctoral journey.

I looked long and hard at distance PhD programs, and found that none of the ones in the US met my needs (both of interest and of finance). I think of myself as somewhat transdisciplinary, and the idea of going a mile deep in such a narrow area (as if knowledge can be compartmentalized) is a foreign concept for me. Thus, I needed a program that would allow a bit of flexibility. Ok, more than a bit of flexibility–I needed a program where I can create and develop as I go along, one that will meet my somewhat complex and postmodern needs.

In some ways the Lancaster program has somewhat of an American model, in that there are courses and shared learning during part of it, and then the independent component during the rest. As I learned, much of the rest of the world does not have the formalized coursework that is rather standard in nearly all US programs. However, I find that my program is very open to interpretation when we are asked to “apply what we are learning to our practice”–I take great liberty with how I understand and make sense of my own practice–and thus far have felt very supported in my program without feeling constrained at all. I do feel comfortable with my degree program situated within an Educational Research department.

For my own community of practice support, I have found that much of my network, which is Twitter and blog focused, is either on the PhD route or has recently completed it. However, it does not have the CoP framework around it . . .