Jeffrey’s Twitter Updates for 2011-12-31

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Out with the Old, or How did we do in 2011?

As we near the end of 2011, I have to wonder about how the year went. No, I do not mean in the news or the international stage or the weather, but rather where am I now? How did I do? How am I doing now? Perhaps looking back to debrief will help me look forward . . . 

I am glad to say I am still employed, as that helps to keep most other things moving along. For those who may not know, I work professionally as a project manager in clinical education for a large home care nursing non-profit organization in New York City. I also teach as an adjunct instructor at Pace University and New York University, though as I am working on my doctoral thesis (aka doctoral dissertation in the US), I have significantly reduced the number of classes I am able to teach (presently teaching only a class on Teaching and Learning at Pace in the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program). I hope to teach more once I have those 3 letters behind my name, which brings me to my highlight of 2011 — my doctoral studies.

I am now engaged in my doctoral thesis in educational research, specifically in a program in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning, at Lancaster University in the UK. I am researching liminal experiences that occur during doctoral studies related to learning leaps or aha! moments. I have completed my data collection and, now that the transcription was just finished, am doing a final review of the transcripts by re-listening to the interviews while checking the texts before I return to the interviewees for their review.

I travelled to the UK twice in 2011, both times for academic meetings, with only one conference, the British Education Research Association, where I presented my work in 2011. I did take a quick trip to Dublin while on that side of the pond to visit a close friend from college, though otherwise no other travel to speak of.

I spent time with Spencer and Posey (in my arms in this picture), as well as with Michael and his increasingly fascinating work with his books and Christmas ornaments. Some time in the country exploring druidry, reading fantasy and science fiction, trying to make sense of actor-network theory, learning through the #change11 MOOC, and making wine (a hobby I am expanding in 2012, but more about that later).

I am thankful for all these things, and hope to continue all these things into the New Year, with one or two additions. Perhaps I will discuss my resolutions in a follow-up tomorrow . . .

Jeffrey’s Twitter Updates for 2011-12-30

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Jeffrey’s Twitter Updates for 2011-12-29

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Threshold Concepts Conference 2012 Paper Accepted

I am happy to share that a paper I co-authored for the 4th Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference was just accepted for presentation during the conference in Dublin, Ireland. My co-author, again Gale Parchoma, and I have it tentatively titled The Experience of Interdisciplinarity in Doctoral Research: Threshold Journeys.

This will be an especially exciting conference, as many of the researchers working in the area of Threshold Concepts will be in attendance AND many of their works have been very important in my own doctoral thesis research.

Anybody else planning to attend this?

Jeffrey’s Twitter Updates for 2011-12-28

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Holidays, Time Off, Fairness, Studies, and Self-Confidence

Have you ever noticed how stressful the winter holidays can be, what with family obligations, spending money, getting off schedule, meeting the expectations of others, and on and on? What about when we see other people who seem to buy or give nicer or more thoughtful gifts, get more time off than we do, or greater bonuses? Don’t even get us started on how even more doctoral student colleagues earn themselves time off with great strides in writing and research and progress!¬†

Ever make you think that life is not fair, or everybody has it better, or just somehow I am doing the wrong thing? The holidays can certainly bring these emotions and more up in us, and I think it is worth reflecting on.

Well, I started to think about some of these things when I returned from a long holiday weekend (I took a vacation day Friday and Monday was a holiday). The city seems so empty, did everybody really go off to Paris or the South of France, as I imagine happens when somehow the crowds I am used to are not around and I have to go back to work?

Mind you, I like my work and studies and such, though somehow everything seems more difficult when we are alone, and not of our own making.

How about how quiet online communities, such as #phdchat, seem to be¬†during the winter holidays (including Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s, and such), nothing like time to catch up while having nobody to reply back!

Of course, this is simply not true. There are so many people around all the time, in-person as well as online, that it is an exaggeration to claim that nobody is around or I am all alone. Take the winter holidays; even when we seem to have it worse than others, there are always people who have it worse off than we do. Sure, some people may have organizations that give them the entire week off, or supervisors who invite their students for holiday gatherings, though I suppose all that comes at a price, often one that is easy to miss when we feel in a rut. Misery indeed loves company, and the holidays seem to breed both.

After all, even vacation taken now may mean less for the spring or summer!

Even with our endless media telling us what gifts to give or receive, I have still never seen anybody give or receive a Lexus, regardless of the size of the ribbon and how perfect everybody and everything in the ads appear. Hey, Madison Avenue, that is not my life, and quite honestly that is OK.

Can any ad or product or statement or statistic ever fully capture our lives? If no, why do they affect us at times?

Thinking of my research, how often am I convinced that every other doctoral student moves faster through their dissertations or theses than I do, or that¬†everybody¬†else somehow gets better funding packages or has more¬†travel budgets or extra help with supervision? It is so easy to miss that we each move at our own pace, each have different skills, resources, access, and developing understanding of our work. Some people move faster and make better progress, and some don’t.

As a matter of fact, some give or receive better gifts, while other receive less. Or none. Some people have a bonus week off, and some cannot find any work at all. Some make speedy research progress, and some cannot get into a program or afford to stay once they start or have supervisors interested in their work. 

While this may seem a rambling post that has perculatd¬†for the past week, suffice it to say it is really rather focused. Life is not fair, and while we each have our own challenges, we also each have our own benefits. I suppose it is valuable for us to focus more on the latter than the former. It somehow is easier to see what we want and don’t have than what we have that others may not. In other words, we are all different, and in this great diversity life seems to be this¬†exciting¬†experience. We have what we have, and what we do with it is up to us. There will always be people who have more, and there will always be people who have less–financial, educational, social, healthful, etc.

Happy Holidays all, and don’t let Santa, whoever or whatever that may be¬†to you, make you believe that everything else is better; nothing can be further from the truth.