Weaving Conversations

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Archive for the ‘My KL’ Category

Reflections on a KA

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on February 1, 2007

I logged in today to the Connectivism Conference that I’ve been looking forward to and one of the first posts was a question from someone asking for information about an online PhD program in online learning. As I wrote a response about my experience with Fielding I began to reflect on how far I’ve progressed in the last year. At this time last year I had left my position as Vice President at a small college in New Hampshire, I had begun working for a startup developing software for higher ed, and was about to board a flight to Atlanta, GA to participate in my Fielding orientation (called OPS). I thought I had my plan all worked out, and realized the flaws in my plan within days. OPS asked me to think hard about who I was, what I wanted and how I would organize my learning and how I would assess myself and what I would need to do to meet my goals. For the first time in my educational life as a student I was not told what to do or how to get from point A to point B. Now… this may be the way it works at other doctoral programs as well, so all I can speak to is my experience… It has been a rocky year. I was confident I could make good progress (and I have). I was hopeful I could make a contribution to the institution and my fellow students (I think I have) and I thought I’d be working on my comps right now (which I’m not!). As I think why not… it’s really because owning my own work and asking myself to think and behave like a scholar practioner has been more effort than I thought! And… of course… the research using Grounded Theory is so new and to some extent so controversial that it takes a good amount of effort to translate that research into the work I do as an education professional in higher education.

This blog probably represents the type of transition I’ve felt… making my thinking public, asking and hoping for true collaboration, and taking risks with not knowing… not being articulate… not being even particularly thoughtful… all are opportunities for growth and learning.

All in all, a great experience and a great ride. So… my goal still is to finish by July 2008. Let’s see… that means meeting with my dissertation committee in July 2007 at national session… yikes… I better get back to work!

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Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on January 27, 2007

This educause publication… Web 2.0: A New Wave for Innovation for Teaching and Learning… has been recently touted by a couple of faculty at my school as the “be all and end all” for learning about the subject. It is an informative article, but to really see these innovations in action look at the classroom work of Clarence Fisher and Darren Kuropatwa. I hope the materials from the PLE conference where they presented will come available more publicly soon! The webcast itself was great (but what the heck is up with no internet access for the presenters??) and I wish I could have been there to hear the students themselves speak. Oh well!

The responsibilities of doctoral programs in this area seem large to me, and they are basically not being addressed in modern ways. The debate over LMS is getting old. The debate over copyright (which raised itself yesterday at the PLE) is old too! I know things move slowly in academe… but are we the dinosaurs staring at that meteor that’s getting ready to hit the planet? Obsolete… to extinct? Hmmm…

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I must be missing something…

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 4, 2006

…as I move through the various materials on Web 2.0 (I’m going to find a better term for that too!) in the classroom. So much related to K-12. That’s wonderful!

But, where are the adult educators? Where are the graduate programs? Where is the research into adult learners and application of Web 2.0 at the graduate level. My guess is… from my own experience… that there isn’t much there. I’m focused on it for my doctoral work, and I guess I’m just surprised not to find very much in the blogosphere… must be buried in academic journals (tongue planted firmly in cheek). I wonder if academic freedom is being redefined… only if you’re in my classroom will I share my thoughts with you. I have to be careful here as, after 20 years as a higher ed administrator I have a somewhat cynical view of “academic technology”.

When I’ve discussed this with a couple of colleagues they’ve commented that there are a lot of online learning programs for adults… what’s my problem? Aargh… that’s not the point, obviously. I’ll keep working on this and blogging my results…

Back to work.

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Why the title?

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on August 27, 2006

Tonight I was awakened by the cat at about 1:45AM. I realized my 22 year old son had not called me to report that he had arrive safely at his destination. I also panicked because I thought I might have missed an important work deadline… too much going on… too many entries on the calendar and to do list… everything blending together so that the really critical stuff didn’t pop out.

I got up to run upstairs to my study and check the grant application to find out that I have three weeks before it’s due…. not day after tomorrow! Phew! Then… checked the voice mail I had missed because I was having fun spending time with my son, whom I don’t get to see very often… and because I was preparing for and hosting a Skypecast for school (see post below on that!). Then… I decided to start working on this blog and continuing the research that is behind my interest in this blog. Well… I found myself in conversation with so many people throughout the night… not because we were talking but because I was hearing and exploring their ideas. These conversations are mostly with myself… right now… but oh the conversations that are taking place in my head. I wish I could simply record them all. Maybe the dissertation would spill out!

The last time I was engaged in such academic intensity (despite 20 years working in Higher Education) was 24 years ago when I was working on my Masters degree. I was dreaming chi-squares, struggling with analytic techniques, and working hard to “educate” an arm chair Marxist about true activism (after 7 years as a political and labor organizer… with disdain for armchair theorists). Now… I find myself thinking in real terms about systems, analysis, hegemony (and having rich discourse with my son — a brilliant political scientist and writer!) I can participate in conversations because my mind is open… like a sponge… and I thought I was too old for that. And, I am so grateful to have technology to support this. In prior grad school (at the then New School for Social Research) I used index cards stuck in my ubiquitous DATE BOOK to remember, recall, organize the ideas that I thought would make up my thesis. Now… I can put things in this blog and privately in my wiki and in End Note and in other ways that allow me to integrate my ideas and find them again! I think I’m finally getting it.

I have a feeling this blog… which for some reason helped me sort through the things I knew were there and hadn’t figure out how to make useful to myself… may become my “source blog”. It feels like it is growing organically and may just be the site of my personal learning explosion. We’ll see!

Now… to stay on track (the structuralist in me) and find a way to systemize my thinking into something that will be useful (perhaps even valuable) to someones other than myself!

So… I’m weaving through, among, around, together conversations throughout my life.

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