… what I would have said… #altc

My warmest congratulations to Josie Fraser for her Lifetime ALT award and all finalists and winners, individuals and teams. I hope there will be opportunities in the future to connect our efforts.

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My warmest congratulations to all.

I feel honoured and humbled to receive this recognition for my contribution to digital and open professional development and would like to thank ALT, especially Dr Maren Deepwell and the judging panel, Fiona Harvey, Josie Fraser, Lynne Downey, Darren Moon, Lorna Campbell and Daniel Scott… also the sponsors of this award Bloom CoSector (University of London) for seeing value in my work. This recognition really means a lot to me.

Picasso said “Everything you can imagine is real”.

Over the years, I have enjoyed imagining and experimenting with creative pedagogical ideas and shared these with many others to learn, develop and stretch our minds and practices across boundaries and break free from silos (Bonnie).

I would like to thank many many individuals for their support and collaboration. Today especially…

Neil Withnell and Prof. Norman Jackson for their trust and commitment.

Alex Spiers for always making co-facilitation such a fun experience, for his openness and directness.

Prof. Sally Brown as well Dr Stephen Powell, Dr Peter Gossman for their support.

My GO-GN research family for their support during my doctoral journey.

Dr Cristina Costa, for her friendship and inspiration as well as

Ody, Nassi and Adam my three boys ;).

Something I have learnt and would like to share with you.

We can only change ourselves and the world around us when we have a wide open mind, embrace diversity, care for each other and never stop learning.

My PhD viva is this Friday… I hope I will survive it…

Thank you all.

Chrissi
ps. On my way to Edinburgh early this morning.
pps. Thank you Matt Cornock for sharing the storify which gave me a rich flavour of the whole conference.
ppps. A post published by ALT on the 15 September. Congratulations to all finalists and winners.
pppps. A related post published on the 22 September in ManMetlife.

 

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Big Friday… almost there now… #go_gn

This Friday is big Friday for me, a day that marks the final examination of my PhD studies which I started on the 14th of January 2013. Four and a half years ago or 1699 days, or 4 years 7 months and 26 days including the 8th of September 2017 (I used TimeandDate to calculate this for me).

Throughout the summer I have worked systematically to prepare for Big Friday. I have captured this preparation here on my blog through a series of posts but also through visual messages on Instagram hoping that some of this will be useful for others. 

In the final 10 days, Adam volunteered to grill me on a wide range of questions that I have prepared. I know some of you will say, but it won’t be a grilling… Every evening for the last 7 days, in our living room, I sit in my comfy armchair (I know I won’t have one on the day…), my thesis in front of me, a few empty pieces of paper, a pen and some notes I have prepared to take with me into the viva. These notes, over the days, have been refined. Practising has enabled me to find out what would be useful and what wouldn’t. The grillings were really helpful and I am grateful to Adam for helping me with these. 

In the last few days, I also had a final conversation with Sandra, my director of studies and Keith my supervisor. Both conversations were really useful. I was reminded of the process, what would happen on the day and help me feel a little bit more confident.  With Sandra, we also did a mini mock viva, which went well. 

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I have also re-read the thesis over the weekend and Monday. I did this slowly and systematically. I decided that not reading the thesis in a linear way would be more useful. So I started with chapter 1 (introduction), then moved to chapter 8 (conclusions), then chapter 4 (background info about the collective case study), chapter 5 (findings), chapter 7. (Framework), chapter 2 (literature review) and finally chapter 6 (discussion). This was a useful order for me.

Tonight is the last grilling. Then I need to relax and get ready for the day.

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Tonight! Will also taking my favourite olive shower gel with me…

I have my outfit sorted… shoes will depend on the weather. Also, I have looked into what I should eat so that my brain works properly. I have started this process over the summer when I was away so hopefully my body and mind will be on my side on Big Friday.

A big thank you to everybody who helped me on this turbulent and equally fascinating journey over the last 1696 days… it is not over yet… 

10 am this Friday, Edinburgh Napier University

I hope I will survive it!

In 14 days it will be all over #phdviva #go_gn

Time has started flying… literally. I am now more nervous than ever. I have  been preparing for the viva since one month after submission of the thesis on the 5th of May… for almost 3 months…

The thesis was a companion this summer again and traveled with me to Greece, on a boat in the Aegean.

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the endless blue of the Aegean…

I engaged with it almost on a daily basis… my boys started showing an increased interest in my work, beyond the “mummy when will you finish that PhD?” Recently we even watched together one of Tara’s videos (thank you dear Penny for sharing, what would I do without my #go+gn family?)… and Nassi (15) afterwards checked some things Tara mentioned in my thesis… have I done it properly Nassi?

I have used a range of techniques to prepare for the viva and have progressively focused on what I have actually done, what I have found and what this could mean. The thesis has been annotated and I have sticky notes (some say these will not be useful and that the thesis should remain clean!). The preparation has led me to read a range of advice, sometimes contracting each other. Not sure yet what will work for me during the viva. I guess, I will find out.

What I really need is to be focused and actively listen to what I am asked and articulate a response that reflects my work, makes sense and shows to the examiner that I know my work and what my original contribution is.

The visualisations I have linked to my research design, the outcome space and the framework I developed will be useful stepping stones during the viva and I plan to print them. In the last few days, I have also created a page that included key visualisations, tables etc. with their page numbers which I might want to refer to. I suspect less will be more and I need to be clear and precise throughout and transparent. I am pleased that I have also kept a reflective diary during the study and mainly during the analysis stage but also used this blog (some of these posts are private) to reflect on the process and my dilemmas. I was never sure how much I should blog about it…

In under 14 days it will be all over…

I can’t say I enjoyed this… #go_gn

… It was hard. 

I felt that my preparation wasn’t good enough and despite reading loads of questions and articulating possible answers, I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to. I wasn’t happy with how I did.

 It was super hard.

Was it so hard because I knew the mock examiners? Well, we work together closely…

During the mock viva, I didn’t have time to write anything down or search through my notes. The sticky notes on the thesis were also problematic… maybe I had too many…

  • The visualisations of the research design,
  • the outcome space and 
  • the framework 

were useful.

I should have added the page number to the above pages I had printed separately so that I can take the examiners to the exact pages in the thesis quickly. I have done this now. 

I felt that one additional diagram (not in the thesis) I had prepared around the literature review was useful but I will need to add the gaps I had identified to each section for a quick reference.

Also, I felt that having my findings, mainly the categories of description and their variations in front of me (not just the outcome space), would be useful as well as my summary sheet with my responses to the research questions (the table I had created). 

I am grateful to my colleagues who organised this mock viva. They both said it was like a typical viva. I felt dreadful until it was over… They told me that I sounded at times defensive (I even said “I have evidence of this”) kept talking after I had answered the question launching into other areas… also that I wasn’t enthusiastic enough… It was an uncomfortable experience… but an extremely useful one…

Less is more, I was told.. 

I need to get better at this viva thing!

First, I will need a few days to recover. Then I will continue my preparation. I can’t wait to jump in the deep blue sea!!! I need to fill my batteries with fresh energy to get through this…

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Almost none of this worked… overengineering is problematic!

The countdown to the viva has started… 46 days left #go_gn

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Chrissi a computer programmer in the Navy

Yes, I got a proper tape measure (actually 2 from the Poundshop, yes, for £1 both of them and I am not throwing away the 47-150cm bit but will make a lanyard out of it). Last time I bought one I was waiting to finish my service in the Navy. I had 150 days left then. Now I have 46 until the viva. So I cut the tape to 46cm… this is my starting point… and I will cut 1 cm each day… yes, not inches… every day I will cut 1 cm until the big day when there will be no tape left. There is a strange satisfaction in doing this and seeing the time pass in front of your eyes. 

My viva date was confirmed todayIt is the 8th of September 2017 and I am pleased that I didn’t wait to start preparing for it until I knew the date. Pleased I had my own internal deadlines. The main preparation I wanted to do is done.

I have…

  • re-read the thesis carefully and critically.
  • created one page hand written summaries for each chapter.
  • made annotations throughout the thesis, initially I thought I should keep the clean look.
  • added sticky notes to help me locate things quickly… hopefully.
  • I have found a few errors… things that I should have seen… frustrating!

AND, as a result of the above, I did definitely overcome the fear of reading the thesis, which is a good thing.

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In a PowerPoint, I captured the following

  • a presentation of the study
  • questions and answers linked to the whole thesis and individual chapters
  • questions which I have found with the help of colleagues and friends and the web, of course
  • typed up the page summaries for each chapter
  • copy of all visualisations used in the thesis and two more that will help me explain the framework and my theoretical framework, I hope…

My plan is to print this powerpoint presentation and use as a mobile revision tool in the next 45 days… The whole thesis is coming with me to Greece again this year. It wouldn’t be the same without it… but hopefully next summer I will be PhD study free… 

Colleagues have offered to do a mock viva this Friday. I am very nervous.

I will also ask my boys to keep asking me viva questions on the beach. Soon they will stop asking me “Mummy, when will you get that PhD”… if I pass… 

What else do I need to get ready? 

Thank you all.

Where is the next one? #go_gn

I have now overcome the fear to find the next typo or mistake. I am at 25 and am more relaxed reading the thesis. I can now see how distancing self from it for a little while has been positive, as I have started seeing all the things I couldn’t see before. When you are working for so long on such an extensive piece of work,  you are immersed into it and I think also blinded in a way. I definitely was. You somehow stop seeing your own mistakes. I did. It is really strange and unbelievable at times especially when you spot something that is really obvious. 

Anyway,  I am progressing my revision systematically and have now an extensive set of questions and answers. Some might say that I am doing this too forensically, far too detailed. I plan to take the thesis with me to Greece in the summer. Some say, don’t. Somehow I feel better having the physically copy with me… it is not that heavy… well it is but it would go into our hand luggage. I am just hoping that I won’t forget everything and have worked really hard to bring this to completion. Wouldn’t want the viva not to go well… 

Beyond the questions I curated from various sources and thanks to all my colleagues who have also helped with links and files, see previous post, I have now started adding questions that are specific to my work and capture these on a different colour background so that I can see them easily. There are not that many yet.

So far, I have re-read Chapter 1 (Introduction) 8 (Conclusion), 4 (Constructing the collective case study) and 5 (Phenomenographic findings). Yes, in this order. I wanted to refresh my memory what I was planning to do, what I did do in the end and how I got there. Next will be Chapter 6 (Discussion) and 7 (Framework).

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Will they help during the viva?

Mini sticky notes have started finding their way into the thesis so that I can locate things easier during the viva. I have located the research design figures, the categories of description table, the outcome space and the framework too. These are useful visualisations that bring the whole study together. I plan to also print them out on separate sheets and take them with me for easy reference.

By the end of July, I hope to have re-read all chapters and made 1-page summaries of each and articulated specific questions linked to these. 

Thank you everybody who has supported me so far in this process and offered advice. Very much appreciated. 

My viva preparation continues…

… waiting to hear #go_gn

I submitted my thesis on the 5th of May. It is now mid June. I hope to hear soon from the university about the examiners. Getting more nervous as time passes and I haven’t heard anything yet. However, the silence has not stopped me preparing for the viva day. On the contrary, I continue preparing systematically.

My strategy so far has been to collect all questions colleagues kindly shared with me (by Mary, Lisa and Jenny) so far, others I have found online, into a presentation. I won’t use it during the viva but it does help me to keep everything in one place and create some flashcards too that will be useful when practising with family, friends and colleagues. I still have some work until then.

The presentation has three parts and 83 slides at the moment:

  1. Overview of the study
  2. Viva questions arranged in generic questions, questions linked to the literature, methodology, findings and future facing ones.
  3. Unusual questions

Each question slide has the question at the top and my attempt to respond to this and where needed linked it back to specific pages in the thesis. I suspect this will be useful. I started with the ones that were easier… but then went back into the thesis and also started re-reading specific literature to refresh my memory.

Also, I have started discussing some of my responses with colleagues (Stephen and Kath so far) and have now an extensive set of questions and answers and I go back to the questions and answers and review them. Some of my initial responses were very generic. I need to be specific and link back to the study.

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My next step is to read the thesis again very carefully and identify any additional questions I could be asked and add these to the presentation. This is the time for the first sticky notes to be added and check for further typos and little things I need to change.

BTW my list of edits is now at 13… I am making the corrections in the digital version of the thesis as I find the errors and am keeping all changes in a file which I plan to share at the end of the viva.

Your tips and suggestions are very welcome.