What am I doing? Isn’t my life already full? Where on earth will I find the time needed for this? Will my family forget about me completely? Will my kids forget that they have a mummy? Will I feel guilty all the time? How will I manage? How will we manage?
All I see is this massive mountain in front of me. Will I ever get there? I am afraid of heights… my inner passion and determination have always been my drive to move forwards, despite the difficulties. I picked myself up again and again, but will I be able to do this? There is a shadow hanging over me… an unfinished PhD and 80,000 words under my bed. Long and painful story. Let’s move on!
Yes, a few days ago, I finally received confirmation that I can start this PhD project.
I have been flirting with the idea for some years now while doing my second Masters qualification in Blended and Online Education at Edinburgh Napier University. Ok, I better say now what it will be about. Well, the plan is to investigate open learning in the context of Academic Development and identify how we can enhance the learner experience, increase motivation and successful completion. I have been a learner myself on the CMC11 and the MOOCMOOC, both MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and I ran my own little pilot as an open course organiser about 2 years ago. The experience I gained and the lessons learned from being a MOOC learner and an open course organiser enabled me to experience learning from different perspectives. I soon realised the potential but also came face-to-face with the problems and while, I am sure I won’t be able to solve them all, I would like to hope that I will be able to make a small contribution in the area of open learning.
Not sure how much or how little I could say here and if it is appropriate to make my proposal available. I guess, this is something I need to discuss with my supervisor.
Already thinking about the thesis. Too early? Thinking about creating a template, so that I am organised from the beginning. Also I must do something about a referencing system. Not used Endnote but people keep mentioning it. Must check! 80,000 words, words that I will put together bit by bit, day by day, night by night… OMG – this sounds a lot and is a lot! 200 a day? 80,000 divided by 200 equals 400 days. I am borrowing this approach from one of my previous lives when I used to be a translator for publishing houses. Setting a realistic some goal that is achievable, gives us satisfacion and the will to do a bit more. This is exactly what happens when I was translating books, some of them quite massive! Three pages a day and when I felt that I still had some energy in my batteries, I kept going. When I was tired and my brain stopped working I stopped and returned fresh the following day while I was still pleased that I had reached my daily target. So, if I follow this simplistic strategy now doing a PhD, it will only take me 400 days to write it. I did my calculations you see. But is is not about the writing is it? It is about the discoveries I will be making along the Way, I hope. The unwriting and rewriting, the messiness, the chaos, making sense of my own ideas and these of others. The experimentation! The fun part? But also literature, some probably extremely complicated and complex etc. etc.
The questions that zoom around in my head at the moment are: Can I do this? Can I do this well and create something new and of value? There is only one way to find out!
I would like to start blogging about this PhD project. But I have no idea if I really will be able to reflect regularly… I think blogging will help me capture some of my reflections and share them with others. Hopefully, this way, I won’t feel that lonely and lost in my research. Hopefully, somebody will read what I write and comment. Hopefully, I will find other researchers to connect with. To connect thinking and ideas. Hopefully, I will still love open learning when I finish this project… hopefully.