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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Blog statistics for April 2005

As it is 10:00am on 30 April 2005, its time for the monthly statistics again. This month, April 2005, there were 95 visits to this blog.

Since the counter was added 24 March 2005 to now, there have been 184 visits to Breaking into the Academy.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Must be the end of the semester

Well, I notice that it has been a few days since I have posted to this blog. I also note that most of the blogs that I follow (Johannes, Nate, Heather 1 and Heather 2, Bethany, etc.) have also been a while since there last entries (with the exception of Heather's re-design).

It must be that time of year, depending on which university you're at it is probably somewhere in the last three weeks of the semester. I know here are UGA, we have only a week and a half left before exams start. Papers to write and students' work to mark, not to mention research projects that are continuing, paper and conference proposal deadlines fast approaching. I can see why there is a lag in the blog traffic of these higher education folks.

Hope you will bear with us all during these last few weeks before we can get back on a more regular schedule.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getting giddy at AERA

Today was the second day in a row that I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet those academics and researchers that have been considering virtual high schools. The chance to discuss the projects that I have been and am currently involved in with these individuals, to bounce my ideas off of these individuals, and to have these individuals actually acknowledge the value of these projects and ideas.

As a Canadian, I have found these oppportunities akin to being a ten year old hockey player, who on his way to the dressing room, has the great Wayne Gretzky walks up to him and says "Great game kid!"

While I realize that I'm a second year doctoral student, months from being the infamous "all but dissertation" and only a couple of years from being a faculty colleague to many of these individuals, there's still something new and exhilarating about it all the same. Maybe I'm just a big kid at heart... :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

AERA and interviewing

Well, went to a session this morning at the annual meeting of AERA on Interviewing. Some good tips, many things that were common sense, and some unexpected ones. The remainder of this entry is a rough fleshing out of my notes. It will be written as if I am providing the advice, which I'm not. These are the basic comments of the eight participants.

The first, and one of the most obvious things, is to be strategic. Focus upon applying for jobs that you really fit and the ones that you sort of fit or you think you can make yourself fit, skip those and don't bother to apply. You'll be wasting your time and their's. When making your application it is a good idea these days to include a statement outlining your current and future research agenda and a statement that expresses your teaching philosophy (regardless if it is asked for or not).

To put yourself in a better position to have your application get you an interview include having good evidence of productivity. Take every opportunity that is offered to you to present your research and/or to publish your research. While publishing opportunities may be scare for many graduate students, there are usually ample opportunities to present your research at professional and academic conferences. This is important because it indicates to those looking at your application that you have the necessary skills and have begin a good work ethic, as opposed to someone who will need intensive training after they are hired. In addition to evidence of productivity, make sure that you have good references. This is key, when selecting your references it is acceptable to ask them what type of reference that they feel that they would be able to provide you. Ask them what things that they feel comfortable highlighting and if there were any areas that they felt that they wouldn't be able to provide you with a strong recommendation.

When you prepare for the interview, make sure to study the context or setting. Read the faculty profiles, not just those that will be interviewing you, but everyone's profile. Take the time to read some papers authored by faculty at that college or university. In doing this research, make sure that you get a good sense of the research interests and background of each faculty member. This will allow you to discuss possible research collaborations or to ask questions about their research and/or writing in a specific way. In relation to that, during the interview process make sure that you ask questions. You will be given ample opportunity during the interview to ask your own questions, not taking advantage of these opportunities is often seen as a lack of interest on your part.

One of the final portions of the session, which I found quite interesting personally, was the way that each of the panelist stressed the concept of building your professional network. While I knew that this was an important task to undertake, I didn't realize how the interview process could be used for this. For example, in your preparation for the interview you would have probably identified individuals that you would like to work with/under or collaborate with. Just because you do not get the position, doesn't mean that these collaborations can't skill occur. In addition to trying to be successful in getting a job offer after your interview process, try to create professional relationships that you will be able to use regardless if you are successful in getting the position or not.

That's roughly where my notes run out. Hope this is useful to some out there and if there are other tips for interviewing, I'd be happy to hear them (particularly as I hope to be engaging in an interview over the next few months).

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Status of blogs

Reminiscent of Monty Python, now for something totally different... What is the status of blogs within academy? There have been a number of posts about the status of blogs in general. David Miller writes about the Academic Status of Blog Posts. Heather Tillberg has also raised the issue (see Writing, Blogging, Publishing…If we fail to do that, do the ideas perish?). So has Johannes Strobel (see Writing and Blogging).

One of the proposals that has been tossed around is the use of blogs as a way to enhance the discussion that occurs at the conferences that we attend (see Blow up the conference paradigm!, cogdogblog: I’m Bored As Hell And I;m Not Gonna ……. zzzzz, The Overlay). While this would be a good use of blogs, I wonder how much some of the bigger names in the field would use them? I mean one of the nice things about AECT is the fact that all the big names in our field are there and you can simply walk up to them, introduce yourself and strike up a short conversation. I wonder how many of these people that I would want to seek out would actually blog at a conference and get involved in the types of discussions that I have been able to engage in with many of the people who's blogs are listed above.

So I ask again, what is the status of blogs in the academy? How are they seen? How should they be seen?

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Blog statistics for March 2005

Just a short entry... Since I added the counter on 24 March to the end of the month, there were 89 visits to Breaking into the Academy.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gaming in education

I notice that Bethany Smith has posted an entry about video games and education (see - Video Gaming and Education). This is a topic that has interested me for some time. As an instructor for a course entitled an introduction to technology for pre-service teachers, I regularly have students create Powerpoint Games in my course. I have also been involved in a couple of development projects where I have witnessed K-12 students create their own games using the Powerpoint template (a grade five Mathematics class and a virtual high school Advanced Placement History class).

The process has fascinated me. How students will become so interested in something that is essentially an electronic board game. While I understand the theoretical ideas behind why students enjoy games (see Lloyd Rieber's ETR&D article on The Value of Serious Play). However, this makes more sense for video games than it does for something like Powerpoint Games.

The problem that I see with much of this is that there is little research testing these theories. There seem to be more written each month, but much of it is based upon journalistics style reporting, as opposed to sound research design (see The Chronicle of Higher Education or Gee's chapter in Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling).

So, what is it about gaming that gets kids going? And how can we go about designing research that gets at what is going on here so that we can figure out ways to do more of it?

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