Friday, 29 November 2013

Still alive (and sane)

Not sure how I did it, but I miraculously survived the semester. I survived 16.5h of teaching a week and an insane amount of marking, a course development project, and 3 assignment deadlines (>12.5k words in total). It was very hard going, but I think it helped me to 'level up' in terms of productivity. Certainly I had to exercise very strong self-discipline because missing one deadline was potentially disastrous for everything else. I'm a born procrastinator so it's a particular achievement not to have missed any (important) deadlines. It looks like my workload next semester could be similar or worse, but at least without the assignment deadlines. 

It does make me worry that without externally imposed deadlines, I may not be very productive with regard to my PhD. Many of my assignments helped me to get my reading and thinking done, for which I'm quite grateful. With this latest batch of essays, my ideas have achieved a new clarity, though I wouldn't dare say they've finished 'baking' (when do they ever?)

I'm on a lot firmer ground with regard to methodology now. If nothing else, I think the methodology modules have been very good for me. Methodology is interesting and important to me, and I want my study to be solid in that aspect. I also think I've now got a deeper understanding of assessment issues and digital literacies (which was my last paper). With practice theory, I've also found I think the 'missing link' between assessment practices and literacy practices. It was very fuzzy and unconvincing before. When I jumped on practice theory (Schatzki, Reckwitz and later Shove, Pantzar & Watson), I thought that it was a better fit for talking about assessment practices though maybe not so for literacy practices, since that already has a strong tradition going. Lo and behold, I see Reckwitz popping up in Lankshear & Knobel's New Literacies (though new to this 3rd edition I think). Which just goes to show my knowledge of the lit isn't what it should be yet, though I am making new connections as I progress. 

As much as I'd learnt from writing my assignments, finishing my coursework does allow me to read more specifically for my PhD rather than to fulfil assignment requirements. With my last 2 5k word papers, I learnt how to use Citavi. It is exactly what I wanted Mendeley et al. to be, in that it not only manages my references, but also helps me to organise, make sense of and synthesise literature. I could have done with Citavi with previous lit heavy papers, like the Qual one on Rasch.

Now that I have some free time, I have some things to accomplish before the new semester starts:
  1. Catch up on reading, not only the lit that's directly related to my PhD, but also the peripheral stuff that could help with my writing and career. Practice theory is at the top of my lit list.
  2. Focus on getting access to a school. This is actually quite urgent but I've put it on the backburner this semester and am trying hard not to panic now.
  3. Develop my own ePortfolio as a means of reflecting on my progress (which this blog is also meant to do). I think it would help me personally as well as model ePortfolio keeping to my Reflection & ePortfolio students in the new semester.
I'm going to try to blog more frequently, if only to update on my progress.