Pursuing my PhD

As well as starting my own Minecraft server and posting to this webpage every week, the time has come for me to start my own academic journey in pursuit of my PhD. Having spent some time…22 years…as a primary school teacher it has been a long time since I have actually studied and I thought that I would like to capture the journey in a series of waffles – oops I mean blog posts.

If you have decided to accompany me on my journey then welcome! I’m not promising anything since I am not clear where the end point is at the moment, only that I have been provided with the funding and that means that I have officially started. I’m not an expert and so please do not expect a list of ‘how to survive’ pointers. Think of these waffles more as a learn from my mistakes. If you see me going the wrong way then please drop me a comment and correct my course. I’m relying on you guys here – so don’t pull punches, just let me go…I mean know!

So where am I starting – well I thought the best idea would be start to think and explore ideas which interest me. I’ve managed to narrow these down to three distinct areas; Student Engagement, Asynchronous Learning, and Virtual Worlds. Next, I have started to read, and read…. and even more reading. Each and every article/chapter I read I appear to identify a different direction for exploration, so at the moment, I am probably more confused that when I started. I’ve started to keep a list on a page on this list of everything I have read so far and, after a discussion with a colleague, I have decided to keep a record of not only what I have read but also the importance of that reading. In order to achieve this, I am going to record – What I have read, What I understood from the reading, and finally how does it impact on my thoughts, ideas. Hopefully by completing this I will be able to start and focus my thoughts about what I actually want to focus on. I have also been lucky enough to be provided with some examples of PhD proposals from colleagues which I am planning on using as a starting point – e.g. the headings and sub-headings – for my own.

I’m sure it probably not a good idea to post everything I have learnt or understood from my readings, so I thought a more succinct way would be to provide an update or summary about what I achieved from both a task and learning perspective. Ready for the first one? – well here goes!

  • Pedagogy and Virtual Worlds – I’ve been surprised by the number of educational theories that I know and use within my own every day teaching also apply to the virtual worlds. However, I have also encountered two new pedagogies which I was unaware of before, Communal Constructivism and Presence Pedagogy. Both have advantages with the latter having similar elements of my own personal ethos of teaching and learning. This has caused me to consider the questions about how pedagogy is supported by the use of a virtual environment or the actual impact of using the virtual world on learning

  • Asynchronous learning and Virtual Worlds – There appears to be a connection between the use of benefits of asynchronous learning and the use the virtual world as a learning environment. This links to the possible exploration of the use of virtual world for learning and the impact this might have on student engagement. Although initially my thoughts were centred on student engagement, I have recently started to explore the possibility of the use of virtual worlds as a collaborative/communication environment for other communities of practice. This would have the advantage of allowing a range of distant learners to engage with the world. Of course this could be replicated with groups of students and would link to develop a more cross institution and discipline learning environment.