Thursday, February 10, 2011

On doing an OpenPhd

Yesterday, I was re-reading a 14 month old post about executing on an Open PhD written by a friend of mine, Dan Pontefract. It was good to read the comments so many months later and think about what was being said. I really appreciated the comments from practicing academics, in particular Richard Smith. I have the greatest respect for Richard due to his focus on supervising people through to completion in their graduate studies. I even know of him assisting people from other institutions in their completion. People who know my work know that I spent some time studying and facilitating workshops on completion and supervision when out at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The point is that completion rates aren't as good as they should be and Richard is a champion in assisting people to completion. When Richard wrote of the carrot that was going to get you through to completion I thought deeper about my field of study and if my self created carrot would get me to completion, regardless if the study was Open or otherwise. Anyhow, It's all good. As I continue to pursue the idea of an Open and Networked PhD (ONPhD) the re-reading of Dan's post (and its comments) really got me thinking about my Open PhD. The questions it prompted are very necessary and fundamental for me at this beginning stage of the ONPhD;
  1. A PhD is about mastery and do I want to further master something I am already a master?
  2. I'd rather master something new (and therefore, fun), as I would otherwise become bored (see item 1). Should my Open PhD build on what I already know or should I develop a completely new area of knowing?
  3. Currently, I am pursuing an Open PhD because I want to increase my reputation in my chosen profession, does this make sense? Is this the best (and only) way to increase my reputation?
  4. This pursuit is also about creating a virtual research lab to deepen my understanding (I'm predominantly a kinesthetic learner) of online self direct life long learning, and sharing what I learn/do along the way. Is wrapping it in the concept of a PhD really necessary? Isn't a PhD mostly about research, being a recognized expert, becoming a university professor, getting interviewed on CBC?
  5. Is an ON PhD, as currently being discussed, really that different than a traditional PhD? Isn't the disruption just a way to get out of paying fees and being aligned / restrained by the academy?
I have complete faith I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my pursuit. I am committed to furthering my learning / education / knowledge beyond that of a Masters level. I know much of my studies will be in the realm of pedagogy, technology and life long learning cause that is what I do for a living. But does that mean it is a good idea for me to pursue an ON PhD in pedagogy, technology and life long learning? This reflection is an important step in this pursuit - more to come on this topic... and thanks to Richard for prompting this reflection.