Hot Seat #2 ~ Nets, Sets, and Groups ~ Begins Today

Today begins the second of the Hot Seat discussions in preparation for the Networked Learning 2012 Conference. This time, Terry Anderson and Jon Dron are planning to speak about Nets, Sets, and Groups — a model in one of their articles that they will build on and expand upon through a week of asynchronous discussion (after a recorded synchronous session today).

While this week’s online discussion happens the week of American Thanksgiving, it will be well-worth spending some time with. I think Terry and Jon have their hand on the pulse of how networked learning is changing and developing the approach to distributed and distance in higher education, and that is certainly something we all need to know more about.

Hope to see some of my #change11 and #phdchat colleagues there!



Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms & #change11

I just came across this thought-provoking video Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms, and thought others who may have missed it may find the visualization of the TED talk engaging. It does certainly resonate with the collective learning work of Allison Littlejohn in this week’s #change11 MOOC course!

To Pilot, or Not to Pilot; THAT is the question + 52 Answers

As I am preparing to begin my search for participants for my doctoral thesis research, I received a suggestion last week to consider a pilot. Not sure why I had not thought about this before, but that is what having active supervisors and a supportive community of doctoral colleagues is for–help point out things when we miss them ourselves. Seemed like a good idea, though I wanted to get some feedback as to the processes.

Let me be clear, it was suggested (and I agreed) to pilot my semi-structured interview questions, not my research purpose and research questions (I have research evidence from the past 2 years and some literature that suggests this is a real issue that we do not know much about). If I pilot my questions, it can help me determine if they are the right questions (they will give me answers to my research questions and link to my problem and purpose). Nothing like having the opportunity to ask the interview questions and then discuss / debrief them with some people. I think I wrote interview questions that will get me what I want to know, though piloting the interview questions may just be the best way to find out.

Yes, I do follow the suggestions and recommendations of my supervisors, but how about the larger community of doctoral learners (some of whom may even ultimately participate in my study!!) who may have some suggestions for piloting these questions? With this in mind I asked my online doctoral community, #phdchat:

I then received a number of responses, and followed up with one more direct request for thoughts and suggestions and help and support:

The result is there is general consensus that piloting my semi-structured interview questions is useful, though that is not the only thing I learned in this process. I learned that there is power in community, as my two initial posts, along with my individual responses to what others suggested, resulted in 52 responses to me from a number of my doctoral colleagues. They shared their stories, what worked, what did not, what they learned, who to read for more information, and so on. Overall, I am amazed at how generous this network of fellow doctoral colleagues, most of whom I have never met face-to-face though with whom I have established various levels of relationship with, is when there is a need and sharing with one another is just the support that is needed. Can this indeed be a component of a community of practice?

Yes, my supervisors are wonderful, though my fellow colleagues cannot be underestimated!

Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation) Research – Approved to Begin

I just received final ethical (institutional review board) approval to begin my thesis research!

After adding one sentence to address data encryption, I revised and resubmitted my Invitation to Participate  and Consent Form for my study, Navigating Liminality in Distance Education: The Experiences of Research and Professional Doctorate Learners. I am now ready to go, and expect to create a location for my research information here on my webpage, after which I will talk more specifically about what I hope to study and how I plan to do this.

If you are a doctoral student (or recently completed your doctorate), you just may be a potential participants for my research!  I may ask you to tell me about your experiences . . .

Actor-Network Theory: Next Steps

Having spoken to a number of colleagues using actor-network theory in their work, including Ailsa Haxell, Inger Mewburn, and Steve_JP, among others, I now believe I know enough about it to begin reading one of the significant texts in the theory, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, by Bruno Latour.

I have unsuccessfully tried to read this work several times in the past, though it uses a language that is somewhat different than common social science terminology and has heretofore baffled me. Speaking with colleagues, especially around our informal #phdchat, has been quite valuable in working my way through enough actor-network theory (ANT) that I proposed using this to inform my methodology in my doctoral thesis.

This text is one of the two books I am bringing with me as I head to Lancaster University this week for a residential week with some meetings with my supervisors. I expect to make enough sense of it along the way to talk a bit more about it in the near future, at least enough to articulate why I am proposing its use. While I wish John Law, one of the important voices in ANT, were still at Lancaster, he has moved on while leaving enough presence on the campus for there to still be an ANT sensibility present. Let’s see if we can continue to rally behind the banner!