Trying to sort out my research…


Last week I went through the comprehensive exam/research proposal defence process, a milestone in the PhD process.  My comprehensive exam papers were fully passed, and while my research proposal was accepted in principle, my supervisors (and I) are worried about some of the logistics involved.  I’ve spent the past week trying to decide where I go from here, not simply in terms of my research, but in a bigger sense of if completing a PhD is what’s best for me and my family right now.  After a fair bit of reflection (i.e. knitting and watching the complete set of House DVDs), I know that I am going to continue on this PhD journey.  Now comes the question of where I go with my research.  That’s where you come in.  I really could use any feedback, thoughts, questions, criticisms, and so forth.  The full proposal document can be found here, what follows is the (very rough) tl;dr version. Continue reading

I’m disgusted to be Canadian.

Now that Adam has lived in Canada for four years, he’s eligible for Canadian citizenship.  It’s a no-brainer, right?  Get a Canadian passport and we don’t have to faff about with the visa waiver stuff when going to the US, and he still has his UK passport for easy entry into the EU.  Yet when I started reading through his material for the Canadian citizenship test, I ran into something that floored me.  The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom (one of the primary documents of the Canadian constitution), reads: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God…” Continue reading

Learning to learn in a MOOC

I’m currently trying to put together my research proposal for my PhD project.  It’s frustrating, because I know what I want to do, but I’m struggling to articulate it.  I’m hoping posting it here, in casual and non-academic speak, will help me think my way through it.  And as many heads are better than one (especially my overworked blonde one!), I’d really appreciate any feedback anyone has! Continue reading

It’s bigger on the inside


The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.
Tardis: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

I have a confession to make.  I don’t like the rhizome.  At least not as a metaphor for learning.  I’ve tried to like it.  I appreciate the idea of something that grows in many directions, extending shoots and feelers wherever it likes.  But there are parts of the metaphor I question: If a rhizome extends laterally, what does that say about deep learning?  What priviliges some shoots to thrive and others to fail?  And what drives the rhizome to stretch in the various directions it does? Continue reading


Sometimes, for a blissful, brief moment, I manage to forget how much stupidity there is in the world.  Last night I got a stellar reminder.  Bill Nye (the hero of every scientifically minded school child of the 90s) debated Ken Ham (of ‘Creation Museum’ infamy).  There was a fair bit of commentary before the debate from the scientific and skeptic community, questioning Nye’s judgement in even agreeing to the debate, in part because the funds raised are supporting the creationists.  But the bigger problem, nicely articulated on the Dawkins Foundation website is that there really is nothing to debate – creationism is a sad remnant of mythology while evolution is fact based science – and holding such a debate gives creationism a type of credibility that it simply doesn’t deserve. Continue reading

Are books making us stupid?


I love books.  I love the weight of a book in my hand, the sound of pages turning, the indescribable scent of ink on paper.  Libraries and book stores inspire in me a feeling of awe: something about the feeling of being surrounded by so many thoughts, so many possibilities, so many paths I could follow. Walking into the Bodleian Library at Oxford for the first time I think I finally understood the feeling religious people have in churches.  To me books are works of art twice over.  The thoughts of the writer woven in words, creating a fabric that tells of time and place as well as ideas.  The skill of the typographer, shaping the fabric into a garment whose casual simplicity belies it’s hidden complexity.  Set down forever, enduring, unchanging.  I pick up a book and enter a world that others have entered before me, and while my path through that world is inevitably unique there is a type of comfort in knowing that others have passed by the same landmarks on their own journey. Continue reading

I like Michael Gove even less now

Gove gave a speech about education technology to the BETT conference this week.  I don’t know why I read it, nothing he could say would have been enlightening.  Or even rational.  Of course he gets MOOCs wrong.  Except for one quote:

“No government, for example, could ever have imagined the impact that Sebastian Thrun is having on 21st century education.”

I’m assuming by ‘impact’ he meant ‘damage’.  Cause not even Gove could be that stupid.  Could he?

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

So today I’m embarking on my first cMOOC.  Probably a good idea for someone who researchs MOOCs to actually take a few…
The course is on Rhizomatic Learning .  When I told my husband I was taking a course on rhizomatic learning he, understandably, asked me what it was.  I didn’t really have an answer.  So objective #1 for me in this course: figure out what rhizomatic learning is.  And learn to spell it without having to check each time. Continue reading