Friday, September 9, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI - A new semester

And so, this week, another school season kicks off!  This week  we had both the kick-off for EDDE 805 (dissertation seminar I) and EDDE 806 (dissertation seminar II). I decided that last to start attending EDDE 806 regularly (or as regularly as I can) so that my final class-based semester (next spring) can be focused more on getting my dissertation proposal done.

In this first session of EDDE 806 we mostly had a bit of a check-in (which is sort of what we did in 805 as well). There seemed to be some interesting strands that came came out of 806 last night.  First, Peggy Lynn (Cohort 6) is working on a project to translate the term OER (Open Eaducational Resources) into a variety of languages for a variety of reasons, but one of them is to make it easier to label, and search for, OERs that are in languages other than English.  If you want to help out please check out this page.  I did actually try to coin a term in Greek a number of years ago.  A few colleagues and I worked on a MOOC paper that we published in EuroDL and the nice thing about EuroDL is that they accept abstracts in languages other than English as well.  So, I worked on the Greek abstract and tried to come up with an acronym and translation for MOOC. The translation I came up with was Ανοιχτά Μαζικά Διαδικτυακά Μαθήματα  and the acronym I was going for was (ΜαΔιΜα) which, to a Greek would remind them of the homophone "μάδημα" which translates to 'plucking' (I did say I was going for the absurd, right?)  In any case, my acronym didn't stick (How did Cormier do it?!) and the term used now in Greece is Ανοιχτά Μαθήματα which translates to Open Courses.  Maybe my claim to fame will be the OER translation LOL.

Another interesting strand is the strand of scope for the dissertation.  Craig (also from Cohort 6) mentioned that he has a topic that he was passionate about, but it seemed a little too idealistic to implement - at least within the confines of a dissertation.  Pragmatism is something that has come up many times, and I think someone last semester in 806 encouraged us to be ruthlessly pragmatic.  Advice which I am taking to heart.

Finally,  there was the case of Viviane (Cohort 6) who is working on an OER-related project for K-12.  She discovered recently that someone at the open university of Portugal is also dissertating on a very similar topic.  I guess we've got a case of Tesla and Marconi :-).  Viviane mentioned that she is avoiding to look at this person's work for fear of being influenced.  For what it's worth I am not in that camp.  If someone were working on the same (or very similar) project as me (and I knew about it) I would definitely have a look at their work. I would have my own plan (ahead of time) even if it's a broad sketch of a plan, and I would deconstruct the other person's plan with a designer's eye.  If there were things I liked I would take (and give credit) and if there were critiques, I would mention that in my dissertation. Working in a vacuum doesn't seem productive to me, but we all have our own tactics to 'get through this' dissertation experience :-).  I think both approaches have merit, but my approach is definitely filtered through my preference of working with others.

This story, from Viviane, also got me thinking.  I know that historically dissertations are single-author.  However, what if they weren't?   For example, let's say I am working on an idea and someone else from Cohort 7 (my cohort) or someone from Cohort 6, or heck someone from the Open University of Greece, were interested in working on the same thing?  Would there be a possibility of working collaboratively on a team dissertation?  We could work together to setup the literature review, discuss the problem (from multiple facets if we are in different countries!) and we could all collect data at our respective locations.  Each member would collect and crunch their own data, and then we could compare our findings.  Hence, instead of me working alone, with one group of people  at my university (UMB) to collect data, we could collect cross-sections of data from the US, Canada, Greece (etc., depending on how many people on the dissertation) and we could jointly publish.

The tricky part I think would be the defense. Would you do this defense separately?  Or would you do it together?  If I were on an examination committee I would do it separately in order to make sure that it's not a frankenpaper (you do part 1, I do part 2, then we stick together, but we are unaware of each other's parts) and that the individual candidate can stand on their own. However, the research part and the monograph would be done collaboratively.  Does this make sense?  What do you think of this option?
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