Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

Rabbit eats fox: The pursuit of a post-graduate degree

mkoole, · Categories: Uncategorized

Rabbit Eats Fox

Shrub in the Lois Hole garden, Alberta Legislature

Shrub in the Lois Hole Garden, Alberta Legislature

This is a joke about the pursuit of a post-graduate degree. I cannot take credit for it, I received an old copy of it from a former boss who had originally received it by email back in 1998!

Scene: It’s a fine, beautiful day in the forest. A rabbit is sitting outside his burrow, typing away on his lap top. Along comes a fox out for a walk.

Fox: What are you working on?

Rabbit: My thesis paper to graduate from University.

Fox: Hmmm. What is it about?

Rabbit: Oh, I’m writing about how rabbits eat foxes.

Fox: [After an incredulous pause.] That’s ridiculous! Any fool knows that rabbits don’t eat foxes.

Rabbit: Come with me, and I’ll show you!

They both disappear into the rabbit’s burrow. After a few minutes, gnawing on a fox bone, the rabbit returns to his lap top and resumes typing. Soon, a wolf comes along and stops to watch the hard-working rabbit. [Tippy-tap, tippy-tap, tippy-tippy-tap.]

Wolf: What’s that you’re writing?

Rabbit: I’m doing a thesis on how rabbits eat wolves.

Wolf: You don’t expect to get such garbage published, do you?

Rabbit: No problem. Do you want to see why?

The rabbit and the wolf go into the burrow. Again, the rabbit returns by himself. This time he is patting his stomach. He goes back to his typing. [Tippy-tap, tippy-tap, tippy-tippy-tap.] Finally, a bear comes along.

Bear: What are you doing?

Rabbit: I’m doing a thesis on how rabbits eat bears.

Bear: Well, that’s absurd.

Rabbit: Come into my home, and I’ll show you.

Scene: Inside the rabbit’s burrow. In one corner, there is a pile of fox bones. In another corner is a pile of wolf bones. On the other side of the room, a huge lion is belching and picking his teeth.

The moral of the story

It doesn’t matter what you choose for a thesis topic.

It doesn’t matter what you use for your data.

It doesn’t even matter if your topic makes sense.

What matters is who you have for a thesis advisor!


Testing Pages Application and New Verbatim External Keyboard on iPhone

mkoole, · Categories: Mobile learning · Tags: , , ,

My new mobile keyboard just arrived today. It’s a Verbatim Wireless Keyboard. There was no need for software installation. I could simply turn it on and go. Now, I am able to type using a relatively normal keyboard rather than use the hunt-and-peck method.

My previous phone, with Windows Mobile paired fairly easily with a different mobile keyboard, but permitted more keyboard commands that would allow greater control over the device. It is possible that in the first 5 minutes of using this keyboard, I have not yet discovered the magic keys that allow me to navigate through the app icons.

The “Pages” application and its sibling programs (a presentation tool and spreadsheet) are impressive–considering that these tools are usable on a phone. Now, let’s see if I can add some kind of object.

That was nice, I could add a meaningless graph (it could be meaningful if I had some data to add) with the click of a button (and have figured out how to navigate via the keyboard–I still cannot use the keyboard to navigate the app icons).

Now, to add something else. I’ll add an image. I’ll be able to select from the pictures that I’ve taken at Ikea today.

All the objects are easily sized and placed into various locations with a few finger movements. Very nice.

Now, I’ll see if I can upload this to my blog via WordPress. Now, this is a little more difficult. I’ll have to email the page to myself and upload it via the desktop method. I was unable to import the Pages document that I created directly to this blog. Nor was I able to copy and paste the images and their formatting. But, when I get on my computer tomorrow, I’ll post a PDF and Word document for comparison. It is handy that Pages allow export into these formats. Here ’tis:

Nonetheless, handy tools and fun in experimentation.

Lunch – mobile stuff

mkoole, · Categories: Mobile learning, Uncategorized

20120323-144327.jpgMy intent here is not to promote Apple or any other company, but simply to express my experience.

I have been steadfast about developing mobile learning resources for the lowest common denominator. I remain adamant that this should be the case. Access and openness is fundamental.

Anyways, I have not upgraded my smart phone for quite some time–four years to be exact. I have also kept a variety of other devices around for testing.

Alas, it was time to upgrade. Sitting with our university’s assistive technologist, I noted how she used her iPhone camera to enlarge the text of meeting agendas. And, I thought, “It’s time for me to take a better look at this technology.”

So, now I am the owner of a brand, new iPhone OS4. I haven’t tested Siri, yet. But, I’m absolutely in love with the device. The software and hardware is so highly integrated. Who would have thought that the camera’s flash could be used as a flashlight (with the installation of a simple app).

So, why the sashimi picture? Well, I just installed the free WordPress app to see how well it would support mobile blogging. I just happened to notice the picture button. My only complaint is that it did not help me reduced the size. Nonetheless, up it went.

A few days ago, I was talking to my mother. She had received an old photo taken shortly after WWII. She, and a group of other kids were sitting atop a German bunker left behind after the liberation by the allies. She asked me to go look at it. Normally, I would have whined and complained about having to get up, turn on my computer, wait for it to boot, connect to the Internet, log into my email, and finally retrieve the picture. But, using my mobile phone, I simply turned it on, clicked on the email icon, scrolled down, and there it was. In less than a minute, I said, “Which one are you?”

The convenience is amazing. The connectedness, for me, is overwhelming. What am I going to do for private time? 🙂

Qualitative coding: As I memo, I think

mkoole, · Categories: Identity, PhD Studies, Research · Tags: ,
LiveScribe memo booklet

One way of taking memos; I've been using Atlas-TI's memo feature

I am in the third iteration of coding—starting a fourth tomorrow. Whenever I start a new iteration, it seems overwhelming. And, I only just start to feel comfortable after I have already coded three-quarters of the transcripts. Upon the pilot transcript and the first iteration of coding, I used memos spartanly. I didn’t want to clutter my workspace. Rather, I was interested in just getting the codes added.

However, I have slowly allowed myself more and more latitude with memos. And, upon the third time through, it has become clear that memoing helps me to work through the thought process of why I am coding each segment in the manner I have. Many times, I have selected a code, dragged it onto the segment of text. Then, while memoing, I realize that it’s not quite right. As I memo, I think.

As I memo, I also see greater links with segments that I had previously coded separately. I can see better how they interrelate and should be considered as parts of a greater whole. This might seem a bit cryptic, but it is easy to code each sentence or paragraph—relying on the visual aspects of the text as a cue for when each code begins and ends. This is not necessarily the way to code–at least not for my phenomenographic purposes. (I believe we mentioned similar concerns with coding in the article referenced below.) I am interested in the meaning aspects of the text.  As I memo, I articulate my thoughts on the segment, and find myself better able to conceptualize the connections between the segments, between the segments and the transcript within which they appear, and between the segments and the collection of transcripts in the project.

A major advantage of using memos is that it is a record of thought. And, by retracing thoughts, codes can be reviewed, kept, modified, or changed completely. When there is a large quantity of data, time will elapse between the coding of each segment. It is nearly impossible to remember how each decision was made. Having a record of thought processes it extremely important. I have even included memos indicating my own shifting from one decision to another by comments such as, “I have decided to code this segment as X. Hmmm . . . no, I think I will code it this way instead . . . because this part of the segment indicates . . .” Being able to trace my hesitance, indecision, changes of mind helps in the final evaluations/decisions.

Recommendation: use memos; use them often.


Garrison, D., Cleveland-Innes, M., Koole, M., & Kappelman, J. (2006). Revisiting methodological issues in transcript analysis: Negotiated coding and reliability. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(1), 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2005.11.001