Doctoral studies workshop



Before the beginning of the Networked Learning conference, I attended a Doctoral studies workshop. It consisted of two parts: a series of short presentations by the students on their research interests and where they were with their work, followed by one-to-one mentoring sessions. I really enjoyed the workshop and it was very interesting to hear the rich and varied range of topics being explored. I found the one-to-one sessions very stimulating and hope that the students found it useful too. Here are some notes on the presentations that I listened to.

Brenda Kaulebeck – Concept of connections in online learning environment

  • Concept of networked individualism.
  • Move from individual, independent autonomous learning to social and networked learning.
  • Tensions between community and individual learning.
  • Focus on scholarship. Digital scholarship (Weller, 2012)
  • Focus on what the designers are thinking about and relationship to connectivism, community etc.
  • Knowles, fielding.
  • Short term dialogues over a few days and then longer engagement in e-communities.
  • Participated in a MOOC last semester, didn’t see it as social, much more as individual. Read Barry Wellman – about developing a Personal Network, rather than being part of a community.
  • Concept: Self-directed (Knowles, Tough and Shapiro), collaborative (Wenger) and personal network. Similar to Dron and Anderson’s work on groups, networks and collectives.
  • Granovetter 1973 strong and weak ties.  Chris Jone’s Networked learning – a relational approach (2008). What does the tie itself mean in reality

Marquerite Koole – a social constructionist approach to phenomenographic analysis of identity positioning in networked learning

  • Identify positioning thresholds – comes from Meyer and Lands work, notion of threshold crossings, preliminal and liminal experiences, subliminal and post-liminal.  What makes you stop and think about who you are, this is relational in terms of how we are in relation to others.
  • Vygotsky cycle, Gothman, etc. Some of the old literature revisited.
  • People introduce themselves initially by location and institutions and what they know (that becomes who they are).
  • Research questions what kind of troublesome experiences leads doctoral students to trigger changes in their identity and various. Looking for variation of experiences. Categories of experiences. Using discourse analysis and semi-structured interviews.
  • Threshold crossings: stages of liminality.
  • Potter 1996 Gee 2012 were used as the basis of coding.

Jane Costello

  • What are the different ways of experiencing online learning community sustainment in HE?
  • What are the participants’ perceptions of guest lecturers’ impact on – sustainment of online learning communities, group activity, enhancements of learning experience, social presence, active engagement, reflectivity in learning
  • How are these perceptions experienced?
  • What are guest lectures’ roles in learner engagement in online learning communities in HE?
  • Asking questions of students, instructor and guest.
  • Analysis Akerlind (2008) four stages: contrast, generalization, separation and fusion.
  • Got about 18/19 students, 5 guests and 2 instructors. Another case this spring which will be fully online. Doing three cases.

Michelle Harrison – Evaluating learning activities

  • ID team (6-8) developing distance delivery moving to an online paced-cohort model. Have been able to add a lot more collaborative activities.
  • Develop some guiding principles to improve practice and promote and share/dialogue about our designs.
  • Pilot a learner feedback questionnaire tool and reflect on how this data can be used refined and then incorporated into an evaluative process.
  • Action research approach – participants ID, students and faculty.
  • Research framework – design (perceptions of design), analysis (looking at our learning designs) and evaluation (getting feedback).
  • Design – practices and process; Analysis – current activities, Evaluation – activities.
  • Data collection: ID/faculty – workshops, wikis, survey and faculty input to student survey, Students – pilot survey, 189 delivered, 14 courses, 52 responses, Likert and open-ended questions.
  • Asked students questions about their experiences of independent activities and interactive activities. Didn’t think interactive activities were a good use of their time, although they did like it.
  • Model for change: process, outcomes and practice = praxis
  • Practice-oriented inquiry – Yanchar and Gabbitas, 2010
  • Building activity templates, embed learner surveys into courses, focus on sharing within the course development teams.
  • What level is the design at?  It’s at course level.
  • What is the relationship between how the course is designed and the teacher teaching? A course can be well designed but badly delivered.
  • As designers we need to be more explicit in terms of what we want them to do with our designs!

Jeffery Keefer – Navigating liminality  – experience of being a doctoral student

  • Turners’ work on liminality.
  • Experiences of doctoral students who study at a distance. Specifically those who have problems along the way, liminal periods.
  • Students undergoing change periods. Kiley 2009 Learning journey as multi-dimensional, involving ontological, epistemological, emotional and professional development along with cognitive shifts in understanding. Wisker et al. 2010 Learning journey/rite of passage
  • Purpose to look at experience of doctoral students.
  • Using narrative inquiry – want to understand the story that people are sharing. Constructing identity through storytelling Clandinin and Connelly 2000 Riessman 2008. Storytelling through conversation and dialogue.
  • Found participants through social media.
  • ANT lens
  • Fenwick 2010, Fenwick and Edwards 2010 Fox 2005 Oliver 2011.
  • Preliminary findings
  • Feelings of isolation led to challenges articulating and processing liminal experiences.
  • Liminal experiences were so strong they were relived during an interview.
  • Distance is contested and problematised.

Maria Cutajar – Networked learning experience of students in transition to HE – what how and why?

  • Professional practice and thesis project relationship
  • Cohort of ca 70 students (2011-2013), 8 week networked learning course – Basic Computing Principles targeting first year students.
  • Aims: investigating their experience of networked learning
  • Advance NL as a learning approach into the pre-university educational sector.
  • What different NL experiences do they have and make?
  • How do they perceive others as contributors of their learning in NL?
  • Experiences: disconnected, strategic experience, and connected experience.

Moira Hunter – Researchscapes in virtual worlds: unpacking researchers’ conceptualization of spatial semiotics

  • Focus on Virtual Worlds and what are they and 3D technologies – Like Secondlife and OpenSim. Not interested in what has been done in the past on identity, design, learning spaces. Interested in the researchers’ path and progress within their own research. From first perception and understanding of this space and how that changes as they work through their research process.
  • Talking about a space that is highly visual. Researcher comes to it with their own understanding and interpretation of the space.
  • Perspectives of research process. See a building in different ways depending on how we come to it. Meaning making of spaces.
  • Terms are not clear – Virtual Worlds, spaces, etc. Do not consider a moodle space as a VW.  Some look at the VW as a container. Whereas actually might it be more appropriate to adopt a more open perspective as others factors will impact on what happens within the space, your socio-cultural background will have an influence.
  • Expansive learning theory, spatial semiotics and phenomenography.
  • What criteria are considered in selecting the space of inquiry by the researchers?
  • How are these selected boundaries transformed if at all in the process of the studies?
  • How, if at all, has the shifting of boundaries enhance the research outcomes?