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 . . .