Call for Papers: Networked Learning Conference 2012

Happy to see that the call for papers for the 8th International Networked Learning Conference 2012 was just announced. I attended this conference in 2010 in Denmark, and hope to be able to attend this again from 2-4 April 2012 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. If this will be anything like the last conference, it will be a tremendous experience.

While I do not usually promote conferences before I have anything accepted for them, I am doing so here because this is such a wonderful conference that I think may benefit more than that specific group that tends to already know about it. I think it needs a wider audience (i.e., from the US, Canada, and Australia), and hope this little post can help that along.

Did I mention that two scholars whose work has greatly influenced my own research will be speaking — Etienne Wenger and Tara Fenwick!

Actor-Network Theory and Thesis (Work in Progress) Discussion

I shared how this week I am discussing my work in the CPsquare Research and Dissertation Series, where I am talking about my doctoral thesis trajectory and work to date. To this end, I will discuss what I hope to do with Actor-Network Theory and the study of doctoral studies during a synchronous session tomorrow, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 at 4:00 EST, in the CPsquare environment.

Want a taste of what I am going to discuss? Here are my slides . . . and here is the visual for what I am proposing to study in my doctoral thesis:

Discussing the A-Ha! in CPsquare

Our conversation has started in the CPsquare community, where I am sharing my current doctoral studies and approaching thesis. One of the community facilitators mentioned the a-ha moment, and this reminded me how increasingly central this is to my work. Don’t you wish we could bottle and share it?

I came to my current academic program with an interest in exploring transformative learning experiences in distance learning, and while I have studied these experiences from a number of perspectives, including from the perspective of doctoral learners, it is this a-ha experience, sometimes called a conceptual threshold, threshold concept, or light bulb moment, that most interests me.

  • What factors lead some people to have this a-ha, and not others?
  • Is there any content or ideas that tend to have this effect on people?
  • What does this experience feel like?
  • What support helps sustain people through this?
  • What ethical issues arise, especially when this experience may be encouraged by a faculty member or researcher?

These are some of those questions that inspire me, as they all lead to the pinnacle, IMHO, of the central questions in education — What did you learn and what will you do with it?

CPsquare Research and Dissertations Series

I was pleasantly surprised to be invited by John Smith at CPsquare (The Community of Practice on Communities of Practice) to discuss my work in the Research and Dissertations Series next week. The title of my session is “Jeffrey Keefer: work in progress – Educational Research + (Virtual) Identity in Postmodernity.”  The subtitle for this sessions states:

We have a time-honored tradition of sharing mid-trajectory work, and Jeffrey Keefer’s Doctoral research to date follows it. He has said, “If we all waited for the ideal time, nothing would ever happen.” The synchronous session will be on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 20:00 GMT (4 pm New York time). Jeffrey will post some bits here before that.

While this session is intended for members of CPsquare, I will share some bits and pieces of what I share there here as well, especially what I hope to discuss and what questions about it I have. For anybody planning or able to attend, here is the internal CPsquare url.

Weaving a PhD via #PhDchat

My life revolves around my doctoral studies at this point (at least outside of my full-time job, of course!), as I am busily working on my doctoral thesis proposal that is due at the end of the month. While I have heard it said, and even experienced it at times, that there are few things as lonely and isolating as doing a PhD, I think that having a community of practice (here’s to you, Etienne!) for support and with which to share and grow and weave thoughts, is worth its weight in qualitative methods texts.

With this said, I find that the #PhDchat that exists on Twitter is fantastic in its communal support of struggling doctoral students, sharing of resources, answering of questions, and suggesting of apps and software. With this said, just knowing that there are others out there who are reading along while facing their own struggles and liminal experiences is beneficial–I am not working alone in a vacuum but weaving my experiences with others along shared, but different, paths.

Some of my colleagues in this synchronous chat that exists in an ongoing asynchronous manner as well have started to discuss ways of studying, or at least beginning to explore this experience. Martin Eve @martin_eve discussed the early history of the #phdchat experience in his fine post On #PhDchat: Call for Collaboration/History, Overview, Themes and Response, and Andy Coverdale @AndyCoverdale talked about considerations related to ways of understanding Twitter networks, among other things, in On #phdchat – some initial thoughts. I have previously spoken about this experience in my earlier post PhD Chat as #phdchat and Liz Thackray @lizith with her Networking post soon thereafter. While this post here is partly in response to calls for people to discuss their experiences here (such as from part of an exchange I had with Jennifer Jones @jennifermjones) among others, I am going to take a slightly different perspective on this experience.

For those who know me, it may not come as a surprise that I am not terribly interested in understanding how the #phdchat network works, who responds to whom, who retweets what and when they do it. Yes, they are all valuable questions and may very well lead to some interesting research (anybody thinking about Internet Research 12 or 2012’s Networked Learning Conference that was just announced in this regard, please let me know!), though the questions I tend to ask are more around the area of meaning and how this experience helps to form identity:

  • How does your experience of participating in #phdchat help or hinder your doctoral studies?
  • What is your experience of community in #phdchat?
  • What have you learned through active or passive involvement in #phdchat?

Ahh, so many interesting ideas come about when we involve ourselves in something really engaging. I wonder how my (current or future) colleagues involved in this see themselves as part of something larger than themselves? How do you weave your PhD?

PhD Chat as #phdchat

I often find it easier to study the experience and process of doctoral studies (from both student and faculty perspectives) than to speak with people about my own doctoral work. One reason for this is that I often feel I am working alone, without a community of people who are doing similar or related work.

With this background shared, I am thrilled with the recent synchronous (on Wednesdays at 2:30 EST / 7:30 GMT) and ongoing asynchronous (it is Twitter, after all) phd-related chats using the tag #phdchat that have recently started to attract more attention. Do I hear interdisciplinary community of practice, anyone?

Support. Sharing. Ideas. Potential collaboration. New applications. Calls for papers. Conferences. Community. I suppose many people may be involved in this loose collaboration for many reasons (thank you @NSRiazat for getting this started), though I now feel I have more colleagues (and know more about some of these colleagues who I knew before) as a result of this experience. No, I have no idea where it will lead, how it will develop, and who else may or may not become involved for whatever period of time. This is somehow fitting that while so much of my research is from a distance, my community should be like that as well.

Nice to know that I am not alone on this road and others on this path are only a Tweet away.

I am a Mentor in the Foundations of CoP Course

I am very happy to share that I am one of the 4 mentors in the Fall 2010 Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop that is sponsored by CPsquare. In this capacity, I will work with workshop leaders Etienne Wenger, John Smith, and Bronwyn Stuckey and fellow mentors Joost Robben, Monique Léger, and Paul Lowe.

I have worked with all of these colleagues before, though never in the capacity of a mentor. While I will have a lot to share and explore in my own work, I will keep this brief as I have not yet posted my own introduction to the workshop. Ahh, the busy life of one who is interested in so many things related to teaching and learning from a distance!