Saturday, February 20, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post III - Presented by Musical Interlude!

Some nice artwork, no doubt by @merryspaniel :-)
Time just seems to fly by this semester.  I don't know if it's because I am busy, or if (as the old saying goes) time flies when you're having fun!

This past week we skipped the usual introductions and check-ins in 806, affectionately known by some as the therapy portion to the live session.  I actually didn't mind it considering that this is the 3rd session and I've started to recognize some familiar names in the chatbox of Adobe Connect.  Some introductions and check-ins are fine, however sometimes they span 45 minutes and it makes the presentation portion seem longer.  I think the balance point is this:  If you have one presentation then you do check-ins, if you have multiple you skip them.

This past week we had two presentations.  One by Mary McNabb (not sure which cohort), and one by Joanne Buckland (also not sure which cohort).  In addition we had a research interlude presented by cohort 6 members Lisa and Peggy Lynn (The graphics on those slides are awesome... as always Lisa does an awesome job with the visuals!).

The presentation by Mary dealt with her research on the Landing.  The Landing is Athabasca University's social network, which runs on the elgg platform, and - according to Mary - it's a response to the isolation felt by undergraduate students in their unpaced (aka self-paced?) online courses.  For those that don't know, AU's undergraduate programs (as far as I know) are all learner-paced.  The learners sign up for a course, they receive all of their materials, and they work with tutors if they have questions.  This is unlike my own undergraduate experience (and I suspect the experience that learners have in most US schools), so it's quite interesting.  As an undergraduate (and a graduate for that matter) student you sometimes need that support network provided by your fellow learners.  The landing was a space to provide that.

So, with that brief explanation of the landing, Mary's project is to study how useful it is for learners and teachers to be able to 'discuss' about the course and its materials on the landing.  From what I gathered, "discuss" here is used broadly, not just in discussion forums, but really engaging with others in a variety of tools that the landing offers.   To do this Mary triangulated (will triangulate?) her results through the CoI framework (the teaching presence part), the CoP framework, and Booth & Hulten's (2003) Taxonomy of discussion indicators.  I'll have to keep this in mind as I am thinking about my own dissertation - achieving rigor through looking at the intersection of various frameworks.  I've known about CoP, and used it, since I was an MBA student - when I took a course on knowledge management.  Booth & Hulten's framework is new to me, so I'll need to look into that.

The other presentation was Joanne's, who also talked about her own dissertation research.    Her research was (is?) a pilot study on the exploration of first semester medical students' help-seeking strategies using an online learning strategy resource. One of the initial problems that she faced was the NSD phenomenon (no significant difference). She wanted to study how students fared with an online learning strategies as compared to the same course (or workshop?) done face to face (which has been the default up to then).  She couldn't do that because of the NSD. This reminded me a little or Rory McGreal's presentation during 801, when we were up in Edmonton for the orientation. He was really emphatic that when we started to think about dissertation that we shouldn't do anything comparing the effectiveness of an online intervention vs a face to face intervention.  NSD had tackled it already, there were many studies available already, and what they showed was...NSD.  It's too bad that university admins think that there is a significant difference in learning outcomes between different media...

Finally, between presentations there was an interesting interlude presented by cohort 6 members.  They are both participating in a 28-to-make MOOC, which seems similar to DS106.  One of the elements that they presented was being the devil's advocate. Take a position other than your own and try to take down/defeat your position.  This way you are making sure you're not setting up a straw-man argument in your dissertation, and you are potentially getting in the heads of your examines who will (undoubtedly) try to poke holes in your argument to make sure that you are able to defend your dissertation.

I think that something similar to DS106, with a small daily challenge, might be an interesting thing to bring into the EdD program.  Imagine starting something when you're up in Edmonton for your orientation, with small daily challenges, that you can build into a portfolio.  These can be audio, video, text, animation, whatever.  They could include research, art, and elements of 'therapy' into it (the "am I on the right path" type of questions).  Just like DS106 you don't need to complete every single daily challenge, but it would be interesting to complete at least 10 in each course you undertake - and another 10 each summer when you're not taking courses - to keep your head in the game.  Part of this can be an intellectual challenge, and part of it can just be relaxing and experimental.  Either way, you are keeping track of your progression from a new student in the EdD program to (eventually) an EdD graduate.  This can also help (potentially) to bring cohorts together.

What do you think?
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