A Dissertation can’t be an Eight Hour a Day Job

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Before I began my PhD journey, I had a to do list of unrelated things I wanted to complete either before I graduated or shortly thereafter. Looking back on that list as I enter my third year in the program, I realize that I was able to accomplish only one goal: keep teaching. The other goals were pushed aside by real and self-imposed deadlines … and life.

Teaching, particularly a very interactive online course, takes up a large amount of time, both in prep work (on average it takes me about one hour to script, shoot, and edit one minute of video) and during the semester (student meetings, synchronous classes, and marking). Continue reading

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Toward a New Work-Life Balance

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In August I packed everything up and drove across the country to begin my PhD journey.  Starting a life 4000 km from everything I know was fun and challenging. But one of the biggest challenges was finding a new life balance for family, friends, career, health.

Family

I’ve often wondered how, not that many generations ago, people could uproot themselves and stay connected with loved ones only by Canada Post. Thankfully my phone has a good long-distance plan and keeps me in touch. I would feel so isolated without weekly chats to share and stay up to date. Continue reading

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Solomon Four-Group Design

I was in the midst of reading Creswell’s chapter 10 (experimental designs) when I noticed that he does not describe the Solomon four-group design. In my library of 17 research textbooks, only two describe this between-groups design. Additionally, information on the Internet is sparse, and it does not have a Wikipedia page.

The Solomon four-group design can be used to mitigate threats to external validity, particularly the affects pretesting has on the overall study. This may also lessen the Hawthrone effect, where participants are motivated to improve because they are part of a study. Continue reading

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Fantastic Resource of the Week

In one of the first classes attended we briefly talked about the impact factor that some journals have. Commonly known as IF, the impact factor is calculated based on the average number of journal articles that have been cited in other scholarly work in the last several years. After a quick Google search, I discovered that the IF is calculated by one of the world’s largest publishers: Thomson Reuters.

It was my lucky day when I discovered SJR SCIImago Journal and Country Rank (http://www.scimagojr.com/index.php). I felt like a kid in a sandbox as I began playing with the various search functions. Continue reading

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Controlling your Digital Tattoo

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The term “digital footprint” is misleading. A footprint in the sand is washed away by the waves. It isn’t that simple or quick in the digital world. The term “digital tattoo” is more apt because a tattoo cannot be easily and completely removed without leaving signs it was once there.

While we cannot control what other say about us on the Internet, we can control how we represent ourselves. I use several social networks, and all of them are geared towards a slightly different audience. I am highly aware that no matter what my privacy settings are, and that as soon as I put anything on the Internet, I am no longer in control of how it will be used, copied, and distributed. There is no magical erase once something is posted. It’s there forever.

The following are my personal guidelines for using Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Facebook. Continue reading

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Six Lessons I Learnt from my Master’s Degree

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Two years ago I enthusiastically prepared to  plunge into earning a master of education. The commitment was all encompassing as  a part-time student with a full time job. and I knew I’d face time management challenges … surely that was going to be my only problem.

As I reflect back on the last two years, I see the great strides I’ve made in approach to life and my tenacity to complete a graduate degree in the same amount of time as full-time students. Today, I arrived in Victoria, BC to realize a dream that slowly emerged while working on my master’s degree … embark on a Ph.D. in education.

I’m know that the valuable lessons I learnt along the way will help me wade through the Ph.D. challenges that I’ll face over the next few years. Continue reading

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What is Curriculum?

I’ve taken a number of course in my bachelors and masters programs that focus on designing curriculum, but what struck me is the inconsistency definition of curriculum. I’ve heard some college educators define curriculum as their lesson plans. One of my university professors described curriculum as the process of putting together learning outcomes, which is supported by lecture material, readings, and assignments.

These definitions are correct, but they do not capture the essence of what I believe curriculum is, which is the input (process), output (interactions with students) and the objectives (learner success). Continue reading

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Sequencing Curriculum

There are several different approaches one can take to sequencing learning, such as subject expert, general to specific, simple to complex, book, known to unknown, and problem to solution. This post will provide a brief overview of these six sequences

Subject Experts Sequence– Among other qualifications, educators are hired because they are subject matter experts in their field. Whether the subject is history or physics, the subject matter expert has intimate knowledge of the field and thus should instinctively know what should be taught first to provide a foundation for the further learning. The problem that I’ve seen some subject matter experts face is that they know too much and believe everything is important and nearly everything is foundational. Consulting with a curriculum designing can often help the subject matter expert identify levels of learning material. Continue reading

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Welcoming the First Six Months of 2013

I dislike the hype surrounding resolutions, and fortune telling that occurs this time of year. As a result I tend to stay away from both news and social networks and focus on my six month personal plans.

Six months may seem like a very short amount of time, but if a project cannot be completed in that amount of time, six month is surely enough time to accomplish much towards the project’s completion. Continue reading

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Writing Accountability

November was a very productive month as I move closer to completing my masters of education thesis. On Twitter I discovered a group of academic writers using the hashtag #AcwriMo (short for academic writing month). As I began following the hashtag I read posts about people’s writing accomplishments, which started to influence how many words I was writing. Could I keep up with everyone? Was sharing accomplishments really that helpful?

On November 6 I discovered that not only did people tweet their writing accomplishments, but there was also a Google Doc where the writers state their monthly writing goals and the log how many words they have written each day. Continue reading

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