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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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Statistics for May

As of about 4:00pm today (31 May) there has been a total of 1966 hits on this blog. At the end of April the count was 1824, which represents an increase of 142.

This past month there were 105 unique visitors to this blog, that is 86 first time visitors and 19 returning visitors for an average of 3 per day.

It appears that my most popular day or spike in traffic was 17 May.

Some of the popular pages from this past month included:

The majority of the visitors came from the United States, with other visitors from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

That's all for this month...

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

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Finding An Academic Position

So, one of the sessions that I attended today was entitled "Your Academic Job: Strategies for Graduate Students" and was delivered by Diana L. Gustafson of the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University.
Here are some of my notes from the session:

  • deciding on the academy: what does the average day look like?
    • typical official Canadian breakdown - 40% teaching / 40% research / 20% service
    • realistically teaching takes up 80% of your day
    • but research productivity is biggest factor in promotion and tenure decisions
  • where to find a good Canadian job
    • Canadian Association of University Teachers - http://www.caut.com
    • Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, University Affairs - http://www.aucc.ca
    • individual university department websites
    • professional associations, such as CSSE website
    • personal contacts
  • creating an application package
    • the cover letter
    • the curriculum vitae
    • letters of recommendation
    • transcripts
    • writing samples
    • teaching philosophy
    • research agenda
    • teaching syllabus
    • teaching evaluation
  • regardless of what the the job ad says, include more items to provide a richer picture of yourself
  • personalize your cover letter based upon the job ad
  • use the actual language of the job ad
  • Resource - Writing a Curriculum Vitae, University Career Services, University of Virginia (http://www.career.virigina.edu)
  • writing samples -> book reviews and short journal research notes
  • make your application stand out
    • know what they are looking for
    • use the job ad
    • be familiar with the university
    • know the department goals
    • be aware of recent issues
    • know the faculty composition
    • understand where this job fits
  • waiting time activities
    • research the university
    • learn about the faculty
    • read faculty publications
    • practice interview skills
    • prepare research and teaching talks
    • be ready for a call
    • keep a spreadsheet of activities
    • keep looking
Tags: CSSE, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

First Impression of CSSE

Okay, I'm at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education conference in Toronto, Ontario- after having just wrapped up four weeks in Newfoundland working on my dissertation data colletion. Only another four or five final interviews and another two weeks of journal entries, along with some observations of recorded synchronous and asynchronous classes.

This is my first Canadian conference, or more accurately my first conference organized by a Canadian organization since I attended the Canadian Association of Distance Education in St. John's, Newfoundland back in the Spring of 2003- before I began my doctoral studies. It has been interesting, as I was barely in the door and in line to pick up my badge and program when one of the students who's paper I discussed at AERA (see Discussing AERA) walked up to me and said hello.

Less than a half hour later I ran into a few faculty members that I knew and chatted with them for a while - talking mostly about a research project they have underway and the possibility of me applying for a soft money position on that grant.

I left the building I was in after speaking with them for a little less than a half hour and went to the building where a session about online learning was being held. I was early, so I stoppped for a coffee and ran into another faculty member that I knew and she introduced me to her two grad students who were planning on taking in my session tomorrow morning.

As I was leaving the coffee shop about a half hour later, heading off to that session and I ran into a fellow doctoral student I know who I had last seen at AERA. He was heading to the same session (as did one of the graduate students I had met a few minutes earlier).

I'm not sure if this is indicative of the educational academic community in Canada being that small a place or if this was all just one big coincidence - one after another.

Tags: CSSE, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Isn't This The Truth!

I had never seen this before, but a friend of mine alerted me to iton his blog (see Moore & Garrison - Sartre and IT). While the paper that he is describing (and it is worth the click to actually go and see The Contribution of Metaphysics to Instructional Technology: An Existentialist Perspective Based on Sartre's Being and Nothingness by David M. Moore and James W. Garrison) provide the authors views on the state of instructional technology in 1988, I (and I would suggest others like Cuban and Oppenheimer) would argue that not much has changed.

I mean pick your field... Instructional Technology, Gaming in Education, Virtual Schooling - take your pick of my favourites and personal areas of interest.

Can it really still be that bleak?

Tags: AECT, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Thursday, May 25, 2006

AECT Presentation Quality

Okay, I've been sitting on this for a while because I have been trying to get my head around it. As I mentioned in my little rant last week (see Why AECT? Why?), I think that the concept of having members go in and rank how likely they are to attend a session and to give the presenter direct feedback prior to the conference so that they can ensure that they address why you showed up into the room (let's see if it actually makes any difference), but what else can be done.

I believe it was Trey, over at the Teachable Moment that started this with his entry on How do we improve AECT Conference session quality? Then Nate, of Cognitive Dissonance fame, got involved with a post of the same name - see How do we improve AECT Conference session quality? Finally, Mark (a member of the Electronic Services Committee) got involved with Improving AECT conference Session Quality.

In thinking about this, my attention turns to one of my own presentations that I am involved in - these new Blogtracks (I'm actually involved in two, but the one that Nate is leading that is roughly around the idea he expresses in his entry Why Web? hasn't got off the ground yet). For those of you who aren't familiar with the idea yet, basically you get a group of people together and for the month leading up to the conference, they blog about their topic, at the conference they blog about sessions that they attend that relate to their topic, and at the end of the conference they get together in an actual session and talk about what they have learned and the big ideas from their blogging over the previous months. To see what one looks like that has started, check out our feed at Emerging Trends in Online Learning Research.

I like this idea because it allows conference goers to interact with conference presenters over an extended period of time. I mean let's face it, if the real value of the conference presentation was the content of the actual presentation, we'd all be better off reading the better crafted proceedings paper. The real value of the conference presentation, for both the presenter and the member of the audience, is the interaction that takes place. Granted, it is easier to have a conversation when both you and the other person/people is/are physically present, this could easily be the next best thing (and I would argue has been the sole reason why academic blogs have become more and more common).

So, if this opportunity for an extended conversation - even if that conversation is mediated by technology (in this case a blog) - is the real value of the conference presentation, then I think that my colleague Rick West asks the right question: Ideas for a successful BlogTracks? (Note: This is a question that one of my other colleagues, Ernise Singleton, has taken a first stab at with What does it mean to be “blog-ready”?)

So, let's assume that the extended conversation with the opportunity for a face to face session at the conclusion to tie things up is the way to go, how do we get the most out of it? More specifically, I would ask the following specific questions:
  1. How far out do you begin the conversation?
  2. How does one start such a conversation (i.e., what is the most effective way?)?
  3. How formal/informal should the conversation be?
  4. How often should people participate in the conversaton (both the presenter and the audience)?
  5. Should that participate increase as time gets closer to the actual conference (again both the presenter and the audience)?
  6. Should the presenter try to continue the electronic conversation during the actual conference?
  7. How do you logistically provide opportunities for the audience to participate in the electronic conversation during the actual conference?
  8. What format should the final face to face session utilize?

Any thoughts...

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Research One for Nate

Nate posted an entry called Education Research over on his blog Cognitive Dissonance and it got me thinking (which I suppose is Nate's goal in all of this). Not only did it get me thinking, but it also got me connecting things in my own mind - many of which were thoughts inspired by other blog entries.

For example, profgrrrrl brings up the concern in Things that puzzle me, #429 (from her blog which has the best title ever - Playing School, Irreverently) about the need to submit four copies of a manuscript when the submission is electronic. I too faced this in the past twelve months when on two instances I had to submit via snail mail an electronic copy of a manuscript and four copies were requested. I wasn't sure exactly what to do, so I burned the electronic copy to a CD Rom and then sent four paper copies as well. Why I couldn't just e-mail it or have them make their own copies, I'm not sure - but as a doc student these are questions I'll leave to someone with tenure. But then again, I guess this is more along the lines of the discussions that we have about publication today and in the future - see Picking Up on an Old Idea.

Anyway, I'm still at my dissertation research site for one more week (having been here for the past three). Given that I have been involved with this group of students for the past five months, with student at this school for the past year and a half, and with students who take courses from this virtual school for the past five years, I'm not sure how to respond to Nate's concerns. I know that one of my own advisors is big on the notion of developmental or design-based research, because it is done in progressive cycles that allow for improvements within that which is being studied - this way those being researched get the benefits too, not just the researcher. But that doesn't really address Nate's concern about funding in this climate of experimental design, does it?

Tags: graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More AECT Woes

Three posts in two days, must be another record for me. Anyway...

I got a message from one of committee members today that read:

Hi Gamers,

I had mentioned at one of our meetings about an upcoming article on gaming in education by Michele Dickey. Well, it is out and here is the citation:

Dickey, M. D. (2006). Game design narrative for learning: Appropriatingadventure game design narrative and techniques for the design of interactivelearning environments. Educational Technology Research & Development, 54(3),245-263.

This article complements well her previous article:

Dickey, M. D. (2005). Engaging by design: How engagement strategies inpopular computer and video games can inform instructional design.Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(2), 67-83.
This was fine enough, as we had this little reading group in my department this past year which included students from other COE departments and other parts of the university, but that is neither here nor there.

I'm a member of AECT, but I don't subscribe to ETR&D (or e-turd as another member of my committee refers to it as). Given that this individual had received his paper copy, I figured that I would be able to login to the AECT website and access a copy of the paper there. Not quite...

The website lists the current issue of the journal (i.e., what you get when you click on "Current edition online") as Volume 53 Number 2 - 2005 (even though the comment next to the link states "(downloadable pdf files: Volume 53, Number 3)"). The funny thing is that even in the online archives, Volume 53, Number 3 and Number 4 are listed. What is even funnier is that the faculty member above has received his paper copy of this issue, but it has yet to be posted online.

So, what gives? Is the website, even the member protected material, that dated that paper copies arrive before the site can be updated?

Tags: AECT, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why AECT? Why?

Two in one day, I know, impressive or sad that I wasn't able to get this upset about this before I posted the other one.

Anyway, I went into the AECT Dallas convention update that Trey Martindale put up on his blog, Teachable Moment, and noticed the item abut being able to provide feedback to presenters. As someone with three proposals accepted, I thought that this was a great idea to see what people were interested in from my sessions and what feedback they had.

So, I looked at Trey's post and it said 10 days left and that was on 04 May. I went to AECT and the system said 15 May. However, since it is 17 May I figured that I'd be able to finally go in and take a look.

When I logged into the system, I could still comment on presentations, but I couldn't figure out (and I spent a good half hour looking around in every nook and cranny I could find) how to access the feedback that I had received.

This was another example of what Rick was talking about in his post entitled On web redesign and the death of professionalism. Unfortunately in its communication to members and, in particular, on its website (which is the main source of information that the public would have for all things AECT) AECT is lacking and typically quite dated. People push themselves to get proposals in on time, only to have AECT extend the deadline the dat of or the day after (see Nate's lament at Thanks for Nuthin’!). Now we have this feedback system, which -don't get me wrong - is a great step, but again poorly managed thus far.

I do note that further down in Trey's post, there is a line or two about information being e-mailed out to presenters to obtain the feedback. However, given that this is an active, online system it can't have been that difficult to set it up in a way that would allow me to get feedback as soon as the system was closed and even while people were still leaving feedback in the first place. Granted, this disclaimer still doesn't absolve them for not having the system closed down already and started the process of getting the information to presenters.

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

Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? For that matter, why do I have five different blogs? I mean, as a doctoral student I'm all too familiar with the entries that have been posted at the Chronicle and the commentaries that have accompanied those entries about blogging in the academy (see Back to blogging for my most recent entry on the subject) and why it is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, I have almost made it a monthly feature where I go and find a bunch of entries about blogging in the academy (the most recent of those was posted only two days ago, see Blogging and Higher Education). And let's face it, this is time I could use to work on catching up on my transcriptions, writing various parts of my dissertation, finishing up any number of partially completed manuscripts that I have on the go, even spending time with the people I care about - but yet I still have five blogs and try to write in all of them on a regular or semi-regular basis. So, why?

Is it just for the fun of it - as evidenced by entries such as This May Be Why I Hate to Transcribe For My Dissertation, or My Blog Owns Me? Is it because I want to reflect on things and get other's advice - as evidenced by entries such as Discussing AERA, To Conference Or Not To Conference, and My First Campus Visit? Is it because I want to publicly challenge others to agree or disagree with me on mindless or meaningless issues - as evidenced by And Then There Were Eight, Settling A Debate, and Lord Stanley's Cup? Is it because I simply want to have a public diary to talk about things that I do - as evidenced by Now That's Something, San Francisco, and The Beach? Is it because I want to work out ideas that are still less than formed and get others feedback on those ideas - as evidenced by Being Successful, Do Digital Natives Exist?, and Virtual Schooling "Not Just" for Homeschoolers? Or is itnone of those things?

A couple of entries from my Bloglines account have caught my attention over the past few months. These have included On The Value of Reflection by Smelly Knowledge and Why do you blog? by Cool Cat Teacher Blog - that have got me thinking about this notion of why I blog.

Personally I find it a good outlet to get ideas, thoughts, frustrations, and just fun stuff out there. Is that really a good enough reason to do this?

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

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blogging and Higher Education

Some more entries about blogging in higher education...

Let's see what the next few weeks will include (probably less as I decrease my bloglines subscriptions - see an up-coming post in my personal blog - Rock Ruminations).

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

Friday, May 12, 2006

Educational Gaming Entries

I guess this is best described as this month's post on gaming...

Until next month I suppose...

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This May Be Why I Hate to Transcribe For My Dissertation

You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.
And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Thanks to (a)musings of a grad student for this one.

Tags: graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education