A look back to 2022 - Part III
This is part III of V of a look back at 2022. The first part discussed peer review requests in 2022, and the second part discussed professional development more broadly. As I was pondering professional development, a branch from that thread started vining out and sort of developing in my mind as related to, but distinct from, professional development. Thus, part III will be dealing with...
Charting out the next phase of academic development
As I was pondering professional development in my previous post, I started to veer into the area of academic development. I continued to write my previous post, but I decided to stop myself and separate this section out because I realized that I think of PD and AD as two different (but sometimes overlapping) entities. In my view, PD tends to relate much more closely to one's work. What you learn is usually applicable to your work environment sooner rather than later. Professional Development is also something that you might be able to do on company time (at least to some extent), with examples of this being going to a conference, attending time-bound workshops, or being given some unstructured time every month (as is the case with my IT colleagues) to explore some topic that interests you professionally.
Academic development, on the other hand, tends to be a little more of that geeky side that I mentioned in my previous post; the reason I studied Applied Linguistics even though I didn't have any concrete plans to become a language teacher (or teach in K-12 for that matter), or the reason I jumped into cMOOCs back in the day. It's also something that tends to be more of a hobby and "off the clock," so you don't do these kinds of activities during your day job. In my dissertation, I called this kind of learning kefagogy. I think one of my RhizoMOOC co-participants framed it best when they said something like: the learning experience being about what it made them think rather than getting through some content (yes, I am really paraphrasing here). Ultimately these kinds of ponderings make their way into my more academic pursuits, like teaching and writing, but they start off with mere curiosities.
I think my biggest challenge is really picking a topic (or a narrow set of topics) to explore. While I was working on my dissertation I had mentally bookmarked a lot of topics that seemed of interest: ludology, games in education, developing a TTRPG to run as a class on instructional design, stuff about lurking in educational settings, stuff about networked learning, broad topics on distance learning, I wanted to do a deeper dive into communities of practice, go back into linguistics-related topics, heck even some stuff about XR in education settings (I know there are XR geeks out there reading this!😜). My bookshelves are full (and my "to-read" folder on my desktop is bursting with academic articles📂), but I find myself in a sort of m'eh mood 🙄. It's not like these topics are not interesting, but I think they've gotten a bit dusty on the shelf while they've been waiting for me to be "done with school." This has got me pondering: Has the sheen worn off these topics for me? or do they need a bit of a dusting off?
One of my friends from my EdD program messaged me the other day and suggested seeking a research associate position (something part-time) to get those academic neurons firing again. This isn't a bad idea! For a few years now I've been thinking about asking a friend in the field of linguistics if they'd be willing to have me tag along on a research project of theirs so I can learn more and dive deeper into the linguistics side of things dealing with corpus and computational linguistics while taking a "break" from (or slowing down a bit in) distance education research. After two waves of "OMG, online learning is the new hotness but it's so good/bad that it's good/bad" these past 10 years (once with MOOCs and then again with ERT), I feel like I'm living in groundhog day. I am not sure I want to dive deeper into topics relating to distance education just yet. IDK...maybe all fields have this issue, but it's exhausting at times 😅
What are your thoughts? How do you differentiate PD and AD? What do you do with those topics that you've bookmarked that seem like cool rabbit holes, but when you return after a while you have no energy for them? 🤔
Also, as a fun and irreverent side-question: I have a tagline in this blog "Pondering what my next degree should be 😂". Pitch me your ideas! What field should I study next? What BA, MA, or PhD should I pursue? No answer too silly (or too serious)!