Monday, December 7, 2015

What's the usual half-life of an intellectual interest?


Now that school is over, and grading is almost over for the course I am teaching this semester, I finally have an opportunity to go through and continue my quest to read existing MOOC literature.  I had started this past September reading a collection of articles in an IGI publication titled Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses which I got electronically for a limited time in order to do a book review.  Needless to say that between work, school, and personal priorities this book review (and reading of articles) went in the back, back, back burner.  I also noticed that colleagues Markus Deimann and Sebastien Vogt published a special issue on MOOCs in Europe on IRRODL recently.  It would not be an understatement to say that I could probably take a year off from my EdD program just to read all the MOOC related research that has been published (and retrieved) in the past two years.  I'd say it's been gathering dust, but it's all in two drawers, so it's pretty dust-proof ;-)

That said, even my friends and colleagues have noticed that I don't utter the venerable acromyn as much any longer - despite its promenance on this blog.  So, as I was thining about xMOOCs, cMOOCs, pMOOCs, rMOOCs, and all the other wonderful acronyms, I am wondering what the average half-life of a research interest (or curiosity) is.  I've been thinking about MOOCs since 2011, when I started with LAK11, CCK11, and MobiMOOC. I've worked on a number of fruitiful collaborations with a variety of groups on the subject. I've even been deemed as the MOOC expert on campus (as much as I don't like the title of expert). That said, I've noticed that my interest in coursera, edx, canvas network, and other MOOC providers has really wained.   Maybe it's because I am spending much more time on my PhD.  Or, maybe I've just burned the fuse on the subject of MOOCs and there is a need for academic renewal.  I am not sure.

So, the question is this:  How often do academics change their research interests?  Obviously the answer is probably not something that can be generalizable, however there should be trends that can help shed some light on this.  Do people in the academe pick a topic and stay with it for considerable periods of time, or do most of us act like bees, going from flower to flower based on an ever-changing set of interests?  While I am not aiming for a tenure track position (there are way too few of those around to even bother), I do wonder, if the opportunity ever arises, if a record of going from topic to topic (with no long term commitment to any specific topic) is something that can hurt those prospects for employment in a tenured position.

Thoughts?
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