Friday, August 21, 2009

Between semester thoughts

Well it has been a week since the courses ended for the first semester. Some marks and feedback have been received and so far so good, which is a relief. It is reassuring to know one has not missed the boat in terms of the introductory level courses and now I have some level of confidence that I will be able to succeed in the rest of the course work.

Two of the books for my fall course have arrived. I started reading one and found it rather confusing. Each different perspective is only glazed over so it is difficult to get a thorough understanding of the material. That particular book then shows a series of studies and offers critiques from the different perspectives. That will hopefully make the concepts clearer in practice. The other book seems to offer a more in depth discussion of various philosophies so that should be very beneficial.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First term almost over

It is the end of my first semester as a doctoral student. One course is completely finished and the feedback on the paper was very helpful and prepares me somewhat for future courses. This is the last week of the second course and I have handed in my second paper and am pretty much wrapped up the Pathfinder. Just today I was showing someone at work my pathfinder and the wiki we did on-site in Calgary. That, in addition to the work on the paper and the blog made me realize how much we actually did in the space of a month!

My focus now is on getting ready for the doctoral seminar course. I have ordered four of the books (well three plus the APA guide!) and hope to get reading over the next few weeks. I find I need time to let ideas sink in before writing or talking about them. In addition to doing some reading, I do hope to continue to use both my Pathfinder and my blog throughout the rest of the program.

And finally, as I was leaving the office today I ran into a colleague of mine who is just in the finishing stages of the Ed D. He is hoping to defend in November and was offering all kinds of tips. The most valuable thing was to know that he did it, or is almost done it! That is encouraging when only at the starting blocks.


Friday, August 7, 2009

The value of formative feedback

It is a rainy evening so what a great opportunity to stay in and just relax! Well, I shouldn't say relax because within the next week I have a paper and a pathfinder due!

This past week I shared my pathfinder with a peer and with the instructor and did the same with a draft of the paper for the educational technology course. This is such a good practice! First of all it gave me an 'artificial' deadline and this forced me to get thinking about the projects. That extra week gives time to refine and produce a better thought out product in each case. Secondly, while the items were being reviewed, it gave me time away from both projects so my mind could clear and when I looked at them again I was seeing them with fresh eyes. A third benefit of the peer review process is being able to look at someone else's work and provide feedback to them. I do this all the time for students but rarely for peers. This helps to develop our own ability to read critically, not with a view to diminishing any efforts of our peers but to helping them improve based on how it reads/looks from a different perspective.

So while it is good to work on items individually and have them 'peer reviewed', it is also good to actually work in a group to produce a work like we did in class this summer with our wikis. When I started my MBA in 1997 I initially hated the concept of group work. One of the best experiences of my life was a business plan produced for a local company. I was the oldest so I was named the 'leader' of the team. The other three members were a young lady in her 20's, a 20 something Physical Education graduate and a student from overseas. I have to admit I did not think we would gel just because we were all so different but, man, we rocked as a team. Our skills were very was very personable and did all the interviews and discussions, one was more laid back but always provided insight and quiet observations, one was a whiz with numbers and budgets, and the other loved doing all the detail work of editing. That was one of the most positive and fun projects in that whole program. So my point? It is good to work alone sometimes and it is good to work in a group. But even when you work alone, you need formative input on your work.

A former teacher of mine put it well when he said that there will always be different levels of performance and areas of strength but an evaluation should not just be a one-time summative one,, there should be opportunities to improve along the way. Therein lies the benefit of peer review and group work for me.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Last two weeks of summer course

It is the last two weeks of the semester and I am finding it difficult to get the last two items done. I think it may be a combination of being back at work and trying to study in addition to the pull of summer festivities. I am actually finding it hard to write my blended learning paper. The ideas just do not seem to be flowing.