Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

PhD studies update: draft proposal submitted . . .

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: , ,

Yes, methinks ’tis time for some fun tomorrow!
(Oh wait . . . -32 celcius tonight and chilly tomorrow; it’s just not fair! I have one friend in Kenya and one in the Canary Islands. It sucks to be me.)

I’ve just submitted the first draft of my proposal for peer review. And, I’ve downloaded a couple others to read and offer friendly critiques.

And, we have just been notified of our official thesis supervisors. Good news. Great supervisor.

Now the work to pass the confirmation (candidacy) panel is approaching. The game is afoot.

Ahhh . . . now, this is the PhD student life!

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: ,

Got up early this morning, dropped hubby at work and went to my favourite coffee shop. Task one: review course materials for masters course I will be teaching this April on Human Factors in Educational Technology. I jotted down all kinds of ideas for online presentations, resources and discussions. I’m really hoping to make it interactive and useful for the students.

Now, onto re-reading my proposal so far. I’m a little over in word-count, so I’ll have to pair it down somewhat.

Then, back home to prepare a minestrone soup in the slow cooker for supper tonight.

Although it is cold today, it is bright and sunny. A very nice day to work at the coffee shop.

To celebrate or to hybernate, that is the question

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies

Writing the first draft of the proposal has felt like a very slow process. Each section, paragraph, and some sentences have felt like quicksand. But through raw perseverance, I waded through. Finally, today, I reached the timeline section. I found a nice little Excel template online that allowed me to quickly create a nice timeline to map out my thesis. And, poof! I’m so close to getting the draft done and submitted. I felt like celebrating. Unfortunately, the temperature has sunk into the -20s, with an expected low of approximately – 30 according to Environment Canada. So, here I am sitting in my office watching a television show about raccoons (The Nature of Things).  Just when I’m feeling spry, good old-man Winter has me captive.

Anyhoo, I thought I’d upload my timelines:

I’m kinda wondering if I should plan some holiday and break time. But, perhaps I should schedule it for a warmer time of year–or better–perhaps I should get a plane ticket for a warmer clime. Oh . . . Big Bang Theory is on. Gotta run.

Agonizing over researchable questions and justification of methodology

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies

It feels as if I have been doing a lot of nothing lately. But, in retrospect ideas have been percolating in my head. If only the ideas would bubble faster than the drip of my old coffee pot.

I have spent several days now considering, reconsidering, writing and rewriting three basic questions upon which my PhD thesis will form. I have come to a point where I am relatively happy with the questions—not doubting for an instant that I will continue tweaking them.

So, onto a justification for using a qualitative approach, specifically a phenomenographic approach. I just wrote two sentences in the last 1/2 hour. I am relatively happy with these sentences. Alas, I had to laugh when I heard myself mutter, “Gosh. That was hard.”

Back to the salt mine . . .

Thesis proposal progress

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and not enough writing. That said, I have my introduction, theoretical framework, purpose & context, and research questions (which need more thought) pretty much written. But, every time I look at it, I do a ton of editing. It is a very iterative process.

I’ve just done a skeletal outline of the research plan. Tomorrow, I plan to sketch out the methodology and justify it. Then, onto the procedures, population, instruments, data collection, and analysis sections. Once I get through all that, I will have a much better basis upon which to think out the timeline.

And, of course, I’m wondering how my classmates are doing. Everyone is so invisible right now. Helloooooooo out there!

#phdchat – 1st time

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: , ,

Today I participated in my first #phdchat in Twitter. To be honest, it felt a bit chaotic. But, I had the sense that there were more participants than normal. It’s a strange way to communicate. At 140 characters an utterance, one must consider how to best use those characters.

Nevertheless, the #phdchat group provides leads to some very good resources.

How to find this group:

Information about this group:

The phdchat daily:

And the phdchat wiki:

When: Wednesdays at 12:30 pm (MST/Edmonton time)

Hanging around Vancouver

mkoole, · Categories: Uncategorized
Me standing by a blue car

In Vancouver, summer of 2010

Mendeley – Phenomenal tool for keeping track of references

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: , , ,

A friend, Jeffrey, Tweeted about Mendeley. So, I watched the video while getting ready to start working through my proposal today.

Phenomenal. I’ve been trying to keep my library synchronized across computers. I’ve been using Windows Desktop Search to locate them on my hard drive while writing. But, I fear it slows my system. I have been carefully organizing all my PDFs and notes into topic folders. But, the problem is that they belong in multiple folders. To solve that problem, I have been using tags in RefWorks. (And, of course, I have been keeping paper copies filed by author’s last name in a filing cabinet in my office.) As a result, I have been constantly cross-searching different systems. This has been working, but I think Mendeley might make things even more efficient.

Although Mendeley indicates that you can Import and Export with other referencing software, it does not mention Refworks. Good news: I was able to export a .txt file from Refworks and upload it into my Mendeley interface. Then, I was able to synchronize it online.

The synchronization feature is brilliant because it means that I can install the Mendeley interface on my travel computer or any other computer and synchronize the references with those computers. No more carting around USB drives and carefully dating the most recent list.

My only problem now, is to upload the articles. I have been careful to upload the URLs for journal articles, but I want easy access to my library from anywhere in the world. I can match the PDFs with the citations on my less productive hours. Mendeley is not intended as a publishing tool, but a resource-networking tool. I will investigate this further as I wish to respect copyright legislation.

Note that Mendeley also allows you to search through others’ reference lists, connect with other researchers, etc. Hence, it also serves as a social networking tool.

I have yet to explore it further.

Back to writing!

Online presentation: The Web of Identity: Identity Formation in Online Learning

mkoole, · Categories: Events · Tags:

When: March 2nd, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM Mountain Time (Canada)
Where: Online via Elluminate
More information:

As learners interact in online networks of learning, how do they come to know one another? Building on the work of Goffman (1959) and Foucault (1988), the Web of Identity (WoI) model shows how online learners may use dramaturgical strategies to create and negotiate their personal identities in a continuous flux of presentation and interpretation. Philosophically, the model is highly social constructionist and places a great emphasis on relational dialogue. For practitioners, the implications include finding ways to aid learners to improve their use and translation of WoI strategies. Such skill, theoretically, should help them to enact their unique personalities, lessen their sense of fragmentation, increase their sense of belonging, and gauge authenticity of others. The researchers, Marguerite Koole and Dr. Gale Parchoma, will then discuss some preliminary research projects on identity in networked learning and future research in the field.

Local times for this presentation may be found by clicking on the World Clock link below.

The link to this presentation will be posted closer to the session start date.

Combining the old with the new

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: , ,

Yes, I still like paper. I like books. I like writing notes by hand. And, I like drawing diagrams of ideas to see how they articulate. But, I need to keep backups and mobile copies. One solution that I have found is LiveScribe.

I’m sure there are (or will be) different brands and vendors, but this nifty gadget is very user-friendly. Without much more than a 10 minute tutorial, I could use this device. The recordings are phenomenal, but I recommend using the earphones (integrated audio and mic) when in convention halls. Otherwise, it will pick up the movements of the pen on the paper. You can download the audio and your hand-written notes. You can convert the output in to different formats. You can even add a tool that will OCR your handwriting. And, when you playback lectures, you will see your handwriting revealed in time with the audio.

I’m starting to use this device when I make notes from books or simply jotting down my thoughts and doodles.