Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A good PhD day

Yesterday I visited The Centre for Online Health at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. It is through COH that I have my PhD enrollment. It is not easy being a distance student and my visit yesterday really brought home the value of face-to-face interaction and how difficult it is being a distance student. It is not so much the supervision that I find difficult by distance-I speak to my supervisor by email and that works relatively well as long as I am motivated to write the email. What I really miss is the fellowship with fellow students and like-minded scholars. My visit re-energized and re-motivated me, just like that plant being watered after months of drought. This is something we really must remember when we are planning distance programs. How do we provide that re-energisation to students who cannot have face-to-face meetings with teachers, and more importantly, fellow students?

As for my PhD, I am having issues with recruiting participants and getting them to participate in the e-mentoring system but do not want to write about it at the moment because I must do some thinking and make some decisions about where to go from here. I wish I had known about Gilly Salmon's e-moderator theory before I started my e-mentoring project. Never mind! It's all about the journey I am told!!!

6 comments:

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Glad you are having a good time catching up with everyone and making the most of it. I have written a post on my blog about this post http://mymidiblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/learning-communities-online.html. The discussion about how to facilitate learning communities online at a distance continues. It is a continuing challenge, one which we will continue to debate and discuss. I do hope that in the end we manage to find some ways in which we can support students to develop that sense of a shared learning community and achieve that sense of motivation through online communities (groups, networks whatever we care to call them).

Sarah Stewart said...

I wonder if there are differences between courses that are highly directed like our under-graduate midwifery compared to courses where students are self-directed like postgraduate courses? The undergraduate students have the subject matter to 'tie' them together-does that make a difference?

Carolyn McIntosh said...

You're not supposed to answer a question with two questions!!!
In answer I think learning communities are equally important to both but perhaps in differing ways.
I might be wrong but I think in undergraduate courses students can help to support each other, when one student helps another the learning of both is facilitated. For postgraduate students, amongst other things, I think that communities of practice help to reduce the effects of isolation and provide opportunities to identify the applicability of new concepts to the midwives practice.

Sarah Stewart said...

So, now I'm a bit confused - can you define what you mean by communities of practice?

Carolyn McIntosh said...

I believe communities of practice exist, when people who have some shared knowledge, come together, with the intention of sharing and learning. In that context both undergraduate and postgraduate students would be engaging in the shared learning opportunities presented by a learning community. So perhaps there is no difference really.

I think midwives in practice often have diverse groups to which they belong, formally or informally. Knowledge gathered in one group is able to be shared across other groups providing opportunities to contextualize information to the midwives own practice situation. When midwives engage in a postgraduate learning community it is one more avenue for this to happen. I suppose that is where I see the difference between undergraduate and postgraduate communities of practice, i.e. midwives may have greater diversity of communities of practice to which they belong and so have more opportunities to contextualize information in different ways.

Does this make any sense?

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Carolyn