Friday, January 13, 2017

EDDE 806 Post VIII - Do Vulcans have emotional presence in the CoI?

Young Spock at school
And we're off!

The semester has begun, and this time I am "official" in EDDE 806, which means this is my last credit-bearing semester (after that I guess I will be an academic vagabond looking for completion of my own research).

Last night none of our cohort presented (although that would have been an achievement if someone brave enough wanted to do it!).  Instead, a more seasoned EdD student, Lynne Rabak (Cohort 6?) presented on what she is working on as part of her dissertation proposal. The title of Lynne's presentation was "Cognitive and emotional presence: learning effects," and she is looking (or proposing to look) at the interaction and interplay between cognitive presence and emotional presence.

I have to say that I am skeptical of the foundation of the research because I don't fully buy into emotional presence.  I think that affect is an aspect that goes into learning, but I don't know if it warrants its own presence.  From my own readings on emotional presence (albeit limited readings) I don't know why it would warrant its own presence and I am not sure how much of an impact it really has in learning (in a generalizable way; not that I am aiming for generalization in my own dissertation proposal).  Perhaps it's my inner Vulcan not putting as much stock in emotions in the learning process.

Plutchik was mentioned as an influential researcher and thinker in the field of emotion in the learning, so I've added a mental post-it to look into this researcher sometime in the not so distant future (after I am a little further in my own dissertation work).

Clevelland-Innes and Campbell's work is cited as well. One of the things that jumped out at me was a quote from these two scholars: "emotion must be considered, if not a central factor, at least a ubiquitous, influential part of learning - online and otherwise...In common practice, emotions are examined, seemingly visceral and unconsciously. This is not appropriate in reflective pedagogy designed to bring cognition to consciousness" (2012, p. 285).  I don't disagree (it makes sense, actually), but at what part do we consider emotion?  Do we consider it part of the social? As in, emotion generated because of our interactions with others?  Emotion as part of the cognitive? As in, my frustration at my slow progress in Calculus II in college?  Emotion as part of Actor Network Theory?

What this small trip down the rabbit hole brought to the forefront for me was the limits of Venn Diagrams, and 2D representations of complex processes. The Original CoI Model "works" as a Venn Diagram because each Presence is given equal weight and equal interaction with the other presences.  As soon as you start adding presences you have to think of the interrelationships and the interactions between the different elements; and more importantly for our purposes: how do you demonstrate this on paper, to a committee of experts who are vetting you to be a scholar peer (i.e. graduate with your EdD or PhD)? So one aspect is the theory, the other is the explanation of such theory.

Interestingly enough Norine (who I don't think I've met before) mentioned some research done previously, which she was a part of,  with an n of approximately 1200 students (over a period of three years).  The results of this (unpublished) research seemed to indicate that Cognitive Presence and Emotional Presence could stand on their own, whereas Social Presence and Teaching Presence could not.  Social Presence was hypothesized to be a subset of the other three.  Emotional and Cognitive Presences seemed to be about the same level of significance whereas Teaching Presence smaller seemed to be smaller.  This ties in neatly with the limits of 2D diagrams to explain complex processes.  This was quite an interesting discussion (and it would have been nice to have seen the findings of this study published somewhere).  Tonight's session, and Lynne's topic, definitely got me thinking (despite not quite buying fully into Emotional Presence).


Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's resolution...

Happy new year to all!

I thought I would start my new year with a little (PhD) humor...

While I don't think I'll be graduating by the end of 2017 (wouldn't that be nice?) I would like to make considerable headway with my dissertation.  This coming term (in 8 days, in-fact!) my spring semester (or as they call it in Canada "winter term") will begin.  This coming winter term I am doing my final (final! and I mean it!) course/seminar/structured thinking time for my doctoral work.  EDDE 806.  The overview of the course is a little outdated (although I won't ding the web folks for that because I find some outdated verbiage on my work's website too!  Sometime's it's like a game a whack-a-mole).

In any case, EDDE 806 is described as:

This Doctoral seminar course is designed to provide informal support and opportunities for presentation and peer review of activities associated with completion of the doctoral dissertation.  Completion of the course is required prior to graduation for all doctoral students. Students may register in the course only after passing the candidacy exam. The course is seminar based and will consist of registered students who are actively working on their dissertation.  Other EdD students may participate in the course as guests on a voluntary basis and are encouraged to do so. The format is real time web conferencing seminars held every two weeks during the fall and winter terms. Besides student presentations, faculty and guest presentations will be scheduled. The seminar is designed to allow participation and build networks among all EdD cohorts and graduates.
I have not yet passed my candidacy exam (which at Athabasca means passing your dissertation proposal defense), but due to recent regulation changes I am able to be in the seminar even if I am not done with that part.  

Hence my goal, to be achieved by December 30th 2017 is this: Complete my dissertation proposal to a degree that is passable and successfully defend it.  

Ideally I'd like to have this thing wrapped up by September so I can begin working on data collection and analysis, but I don't know how feasible that is given that I am scheduled to teach 2 courses in the summer (June-August) and the spring semester is looking busy with collaborations.  Still, I expect to be making some meaningful headway with this project during the spring and the summer.  Having organized my collected readings today I can say that I have 205 academic articles download and ready to read (excluding duplicates), some dozen or so blogs and news stories (background info), and 5 books on research methods and ethics. I think the articles will lead me to more articles that I will need to look up.  So... 205 articles - does that sound doable between now and July? ;-)

In addition to EDDE 806, I am also auditing MDDE 701.  That course  is more about quantitative research. While I don't really expect my dissertation to go the quantitative route, I am keeping the mixed methods approach open, and quantitative knowledge is good to have anyway. 

When I started this degree I was hoping for a 4 year end-to-end, but increasingly it's looking like it's going to take me 5 years. That said, I'd prefer to take a little longer but take the time to smell the metaphorical roses on the way and take part in interesting collaborations.

So, what are your learning or academic goals for 2017?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Crazy semester, crazy year, coming to an end...

So, vacation has begun! I've gotten out my movies, video games, and comic books that I want to read, play, or view in the next 20 days until school starts again!  Before that though, I wanted to have a quick look back, a year end review if you will, at this past academic year.  Wow... Now that was a crazy year!  Yes, there was a lot going on in the global and political arenas, but (just to be a tad bit selfish), let's put those aside for now and focus on me (hahaha...typical millennial, it's all about me, me, me... :p )

The year kicked off with EDDE 804, technically speaking my last course in the doctoral program I am in - but not really.  The course was a course in leadership in distance education (which reminded me a lot of my MBA days actually in terms of some of the discussions we had), and it was facilitated by Marti Cleveland-Innes (of CoI fame).  The course was interesting, challenging, and it definitely moved the doctoral ball forward. It actually got me thinking more about the connections between my (future) EdD (once I earn it) and my MBA, and academia in general. It also got me thinking more about the challenges of leadership (and management) of complex organizations.  It's easy to say "I'd do a better job" when confronted with problems of monumental proportion and complexity, but it's not all that easy (not, not a jab at the political arena, but it can apply there too).

Over the summer I took the option of brushing up on my qualitative research skills.  While I've been reading much on this topic for the past (more?) years, I thought it would be good to have a place where I could think out loud, get some peer review, and get some advice from someone who has a little more of a view of what AU expects of doc students in their dissertation.  It was a good opportunity to be in the same class as fellow students from Cohort 6, and a good opportunity to work on parts of my dissertation proposal.  Although, to be honest, I feel a bit like a slacker. I was aiming to do my literature review over the summer as well...but that didn't happen.

Fall came, and it brought with it EDDE 805. This is where the rubber meets the road, where dissertation proposal are initially formulated and feedback is given.  An old saying from our EdD orientation is something that came to mind: "we'll suffer together" (one of my cohortmates said this, but I don't remember who).   On the one hand, this seminar wasn't particularly hard.  But, on the other hand, it was quite hard.  It is where the rubber met the road in terms of us beginning the transitioning from students in a doctoral program to being doctoral candidates (after we defend our proposal). Decisions needed to be locked in, as far as what we might be doing, so we could move forward.  Sometimes that putting a stake in the sand is the hardest part of the process.

The year wasn't all about classes, however.  There were lots of  local, regional, and international events that I took part in.  Locally we presented with colleagues such as Alan, Carol, and Linda, regionally I co-organized our 3rd Instructional Design Symposium with my colleague Kevin, and nationally and internationally I worked with some really awesome colleagues like Maha, Aras, Sarah, Keith, Rebecca, Len, Autumm (and many more!) on papers, conference presentations, virtually connecting. Heck, I was even an on-site buddy for the first time! That was exciting to meet Brian, Stephen, and Amy in person (and get a better understanding of how hard on-site vconnecting buddying is).

So, despite how crazy the world in general is, I can always count on my academic buddies, at work, at vconnecting, in my cohort, to infuse a dose of sanity.  So...

Thank you for a great academic 2016. See you all in 2017 :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Conflict of interest?

I was thinking about this the other day...  I was reading the requirements for setting up review committees for my dissertation proposal and for my ultimate dissertation defense. One of the forms that people on committees need to fill out is a statement on conflict of interest.  This isn't unusual since I see it on the peer review side of things, be it in peer review journals, or (more recently) being on a conference program committee.

Normally I wouldn't have spend more time thinking about this, but I've been more active on social media as compared to some of my cohortmates.  Over the years I've met academics in my area on twitter, on google+, and even though I make it a point not to 'friend' people on facebook unless they are actually my friend (or family), I've added some academics on there who seem to be more active on facebook than other social media platforms.  And, of course, when I see something of interests on there I try to engage with them.  The same holds true for vConnecting.  I like going onto vConnecting because it's a way to see people I normally tweet to, but it's an opportunity to meet new folks and engage with them.  So, I started pondering this point.  If people get to know me better through social media before I reach the point of forming a committee, does this make my potential committee member pool smaller due to potential conflicts of interest?


Monday, December 19, 2016

The vConnecting about Cupcakes and Pokemon!

Another docublog from virtually connecting from a few weeks ago, at OpenEd Berlin with Alec Couros.  This one has the innovation of being the first "pop up" virtually connecting session.  Enjoy!