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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.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Continuing the Conversation

Okay, a few hours ago I posted a message to my research blog (i.e., Virtual High School Meanderings) entitled What is being accomplished?, where I asked the question of myself:

"What am I accomplishing for myself by maintaining this blog?"
And the question of my readership:

"What am I accomplishing for you by maintaining this blog?"
All of this blogging soul searching was prompted by a message that Nate posted over at Cognitive Dissonance (see Happy New Year). The basic idea of Nate's entry was to give a year in review of sorts. This got me to thinking about the fact that up until today I was the sole or main contributor to five (or six if you count the one I use for my teaching) different blogs - thankfully I have stepped back from one (i.e., The Program and we'll see what happens in my absence - I'm hoping they thrive - but that's another story).

The basic idea of my own post was to reflect on what I have gain and what others have gained by my maintaining a blog on virtual schooling. I can ask the same questions of this blog (not really of my other two: as one is an organization one which I just post announcements and the other is just a fun personal one).

With this blog, my stated goal was to discuss things surrounding:

"As a third year doctoral student, in addition to comprehensive examinations, prospectus and dissertation, my thoughts have started to turn towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This blog will chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job."
And I've done a lot of that... I've talked a lot about the future and direction of AECT (one of the professional associations in my field). I've talked about my comprehensive exams, prospectus, and starting now on dissertation. I've yet to talk about, but have alluded to the job hunt. I've chatted about other topics from my field, such as gaming in education, that have peaked my interest or that I'm toying with (but not being a main research focus). So, I've basically done what my stated goal was. But what have I accomplished for myself and for you by maintaining this blog?

In a response to the entry that I posted at Virtual High School Meanderings, Nate commented:

"You're contributing to the conversation.

My sense is that we haven't begun to scratch the surface yet."
But at this stage in the game is that really enough? As I outlined in my entry What is being accomplished?, this blog (like my other one) is largely me posting ideas about things. While I will admit that I have done a better job with this blog of having conversations, largely through commenting on the ideas of others and using the trackback features, but we have had conversations. But at the end of the day, what have we accomplished.

Let's take AECT for example. Based on what I can remember looking at the titled, I have posted twelve of sixty-three entries on AECT. Many of these have been parts of conversations that I have had with people from Cognitive Dissonance, Disruptive Technocrat, Midquel..., Cultivating Minds, The Overlay - Plug In, Link Up, Turn On, Scott Adams, and others. Yet, other than being a group of contrarians (to borrow a title from the conservative group in Social Studies Education), what have we accomplished? Another conference came and went and many of the things that we were talking about, that we are still talking about were not addressed or even part of the conversation (outside of our little circle of contrarians).

While I realize that we are the group of "early adopters", if you use Rogers' model from Diffusions of Innovation, but I don't see any of the other groups Rogers describes joining the conversation yet. So, if the conversation is largely among the group of early adopters, aren't we just preaching to the converted? And if we are, then is contributing to the conversation enough of a reason to continue stepping up to the pulpit each week?

Tags: AECT, blog, blogging, blogs, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education


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