Learning through Liminality #rhizo15

learning-and-painLeave it to Maha Bali @Bali_Maha to not only get me to read one of her blog posts, Learning as a Gift to Yourself & Others (I struggle reading anything longer than a Tweet these days), but to make me want to reply to her.

She took Dave Cormier’s @davecormier introductory #rhizo15 post, Learning Subjectives – designing for when you don’t know where you’re going:

Build learning subjectives: How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?

and answered it.

Her learning subjectives … 

 

Do Connected Courses Connect?

connectIt has been a long time since I posted here. A really long time.

Ok, to be fair, most of the Tweets I do every day (yes, every day) are archived here; they just do not appear on the home page. Nevertheless, I have not developed or shared or expressed any of my thinking here in some time, oddly enough since I completed my doctoral work.

Yes, I am busy. Who is not? I feel pulled in more directions than I can count due to my full-time work as a project manager in healthcare, an adjunct professor teaching graduate research, and hobby engaging in research on how people develop their identity and self-expression through troublesome thresholds concept experiences, especially related to social media and online networks.

Do I have time to blog? Enough to say that could not be better stated in 140 characters? Only time will tell, but with so many interesting people here who are already sharing, supporting, and engaging in research in this area, it is time for me to more explicitly engage in this community and see what I can learn along the way that will improve my teaching, research, work, and overall satisfaction thinking about and implementing stronger connections and networks.

Why not explore all of this with others who are looking at ways of connecting open resources through the Connected Courses community and Fall 2014 experience? This experience has been described as:

Connected Courses is a collaborative community of faculty in higher education developing networked, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.

So, here we go!

 

Successful Viva = PhD

As I mentioned in my Tweet on March 25, 2013, I successfully passed my Viva Voce exam at Lancaster University and was awarded my PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning (Educational Research) forthwith. In the British system, passing a viva forthwith means I passed without corrections and was thus awarded the degree.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva Tweet

As a result, my doctoral thesis, entitled Navigating Liminality: The Experience of Troublesome Periods and Distance During Doctoral Study, is being printed and bound at the university.

I especially want to thank my supervisor, Professor Malcolm Tight,  (standing next to me in the image below), and my examiners Professor Paul Trowler (in the left on the picture) and Dr. Margaret Kiley (who attended remotely from Australia). Alice Jesmont (also in the picture below) has been invaluable in her assistance while I attended Lancaster University, along with Dr. Gale Parchoma, who started off as part of my supervisory team before moving on to the University of Calgary.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva

I am now working at publishing some of the results of my work, so hope to have lots more to share. Thanks goes to all who have supported, guided, and helped me along the way, about which I will also speak more in the near future.

 

Here comes the Analysis!

I have neglected my blog for a bit recently, though the (good?) reason is because I have worked so intensely on my thesis! While I continue to tweak and clarify and refine my first chapters, something that I fully expected to still be doing, I am nearing ready to send the first round of my analysis for review (with the target of Wednesday, 12 September). While I do not envision being finished with it by then, I expect to have enough of substance to get some real feedback on it. I find that having a concrete goal and date is helpful with this experience in endurance!!

Between now and then will find me finish making all the corrections and edits that have previously been identified, continue to refine my literature, and adjust internal issues of consistency and repetition. Phew!

 

Video of My Research Seminar

I am happy to share the video of my recent Research Seminar presentation, where I discussed my doctoral thesis research in progress.

If you ever want to get feedback and suggestions about your own research I cannot recommend this sort of opportunity highly enough. In many ways, this came at just the right time, as it forced me to try to make sense of all my work in a way that is understandable by a larger audience (outside of my supervisors and immediate colleagues). Wonderful opportunity, especially while writing up, to help clarify the thoughts as this was the first time I have publicly discussed my work from beginning to end.

Besides looking like Mr. Potato Head in the video (which I fully expected), I am happy with the results.

 

Doctoral Research in 100 Words

Are you doing doctoral research and want a valuable experience that is far harder (and even more rewarding) than it seems? Summarize your research in 100 words. I had this as a voluntary assignment, and cannot believe how many weeks of angst thinking about it with 3 straight hours working on it that it took. While I still have a lot of work to do (like analyze my data and actually start to write!), here is my first round:

Working Title:
Navigating Liminality: The Experience of Distance in Doctoral Education

100 Word Abstract:
This research explores the experiences of doctoral students who study at a distance and whose postgraduate activities involve passing through liminal or troublesome periods in understanding concepts or processes. These thresholds commonly involve ontological or epistemological shifts, resulting in transformed ways of seeing one’s self and/or one’s research. The challenges posed through using technology in such doctoral supervision are often not acknowledged. Twenty-one interdisciplinary doctoral researchers from around the world were interviewed, with narrative inquiry as informed by grounded and actor-network approaches being used for the analysis. This research seeks to provide insights for tutors who engage in remote supervision.

Insights, encouragement, and gentle recommendations will be appreciated.

 

Doctoral Thesis Data Collection, Status #2: Emotions

I want to share an update on my doctoral thesis data collection, as a lot has happened since the last one I did a little over a week ago. I have now completed 13 interviews in total (60-90 minutes each), and am hoping to finish the remaining interviews in another week. While I initially planned to have 15-20 people in total (which should be enough for some sense of data saturation, given the qualitative design I am using), it now seems I may be nearer the latter when I finish.

While I am not beginning any systematic processing of this data yet (transcription, anyone?  😉  !!), there is one thing that I have learned in this process that I want to share for the benefit of anybody else planning a similar research endeavor. Data collection in the form of long, in-depth interviews takes a lot of energy. Moreover, I am finding that it takes almost everything out of me. Let me explain.

My research asks about barriers and liminal (in-between) periods that happen during doctoral study, resulting in some form of an aha! or new sense of one’s identity. This often involves the telling of difficult stories, ones that are personal and oftentimes riveting in nature. Being privelged with listening to these stories is a rich experience, one that requires my full attention in way unlike many of the other tasks I have encountered in research (or practice, for that matter). I feel emotionally humbled when I finish with each one, and find that I struggle to do my ordinary work or other commitments in life during this period.

I am thankful for this opportunity to engage in this study, as it is a deeply moving experience. I think I have a lot more to process in its effect in me, much less as part of my research.