November 1, 2007

Technology Covered in Study Groups

We've had two study groups which were quite successful in the last month, both focused on technology available to aid our research and projects.

The first was on EndNote, a software package used to maintain a local database of references which then can be used during writing papers and preparing bibliographies. I showed that package as an introduction to bibliography-producing software, foreshadowing a presentation by our librarian that week on RefWorks, the University-owned, web-based alternative.

The second session was one lead by ITSS on blogs and wikis. We talked about not only the tools but considerations regarding choice of the most appropriate tool and how to use it well. Most of the focus remained on learning to use the tool as such. Figuring out pedagogy seems to take a back seat until the user can figure out exactly how to operate the tool, even at a basic level. At this point in our careers, many students have not used any of these tools at all and have rarely, if ever, seen them in use. It will take some practice and experience before they can envision a use for a tool.

September 27, 2007

Study group September 27, 2007

We met! We being 4 people, which is a decent number for a start, and it allows everyone to have a big stake in the conversation.

Points of discussion:

- Discussion assignment descriptions do not fit our process very well. We all tend to not only summarize the reading but also jump right into application ramifications in the first post, rather than wait until the third post of the week. Some students have difficulty summarizing the reading after the first person has done so. I've run into this myself when teaching online; students question the value of writing mostly the same thing that the first student wrote. The assumption is that the first person got "the answer" and there is nothing more to say. They don't consider that the first author's interpretation may actually have been inadequate or that they may find something unique to write from their point of view. How do we get around this?

- Some of the students who met are going well beyond the requirements of the assignment while still feeling that their contribution is not sufficient.

- Students are starting to work on topic selection for the two three-credit courses and finding a partner for some of the assignments. This is promising, especially since some presentations need to be done in a couple of weeks!

September 18, 2007

Study groups September 20, 2007

This week, we are setting up study groups! Agenda is TBD, based on what attendees need at the moment.

Rod already hosted one informal meeting at the Burrito Union to which about 1/3 of the cohort came. That one was largely to try to get our heads around the course requirements and navigation schema for this fall's classes in Moodle.

Thursday, we start up two meetings (one morning and one night) to focus longer term on how to read and how to write at a doctoral level. A lot of us have been out of school for a long time. Even those fresh out of a master's program may need to adjust to the amount of reading and scope of writing at the next rung of the ladder.

I hope that we can set aside weekly or semi-monthly sessions to work on two prime academic skills together and get enough people in each time slot to sustain the effort. We'll see - and I'll try to remember to post at least meeting dates in this blog - if not specifics on what we covered.

August 7, 2007

Advising redux

Last December, I wrote about my struggles with getting time with my advisor. Having switched colleges, I'm happy to report that the situation has taken a complete 180!

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December 12, 2006


The first thing we think about when we start to design a program is the class format. That's not surprising, since it is the most obvious aspect of education in modern America - the school with its distinct arrangement of classrooms and ways to manage class activity. Just about any kid in this country, if asked to "play school" will immediately focus on recreating in play her version of a teacher and students in such an arrangement.

Fortunately, this most obvious aspect of my studies is going quite well ...

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