game changer

Last Monday, I received an email from my university stating that they would soon end operations. Simply put, the university is closing at the end of Spring 2020 semester (in early May). As a student who began the doctoral program in the summer session of 2019, it was disheartening and frustrating. Maddening, really.  

How does a school with a 115 year history suddenly decide to close? Like most of the currently enrolled students, I chose this university based on its history and its reputation. How could this happen? Why were we not told before the Spring 2020 tuition check was cashed? The answer: declining enrollment and rising operational costs.

On a personal level, I am faced with finding another doctoral program that supports my given focus...and one that will accept all of my program credits. The upside: several colleges have stepped forward to accept transfers with full credit. So, I am now in the process of selecting another school. 


theory and practice

Currently reading countless scholarly articles, peer-reviewed journals, and books. Many of them discuss the nuances between theory and practice.

My thinking: the distinction between theory and practice is a wonderfully descriptive metaphor for life.

"Measure twice—cut once" works in theory, but...

...in theory, everything works. In practice, things fall apart. And, then it becomes a cycle. Practice sometimes fails. When it does, we theorize.

Measure three times. 

Cut twice. 

Return to Home Depot.

We ask questions to understand outcomes and clarify. Sometimes, those questions are framed in the simplest terms. 

Standing in the lumber aisle at Home Depot, with the question "What went wrong?" begging for an answer. Eventually, if we ask enough questions, or the right questions, we arrive an new theories...that are put back into practice.



mood

Last week's assignment required a detailed literature synthesis around a specific topic. The literature research performed for this assignment required that the issues surrounding the topic be examined fully. Simply stated, the literature was to be located, executed, and reduced to an easy-to-follow format for the reader.

In three pages of double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt text, I detailed the topic, crystallized the inherent problems on the topic, and proceeded to summarize several key arguments found in the peer-reviewed journal articles I collected. A few days later, I received the following from feedback from my professor:

Your have selected to study an issue of great importance, an issue that will get more complex with time. What's your hypothesis (thesis statement) regarding this topic?

The answer is: I do not quite know. I mean...I have a pretty good idea. But, I am having a difficult time putting it into words.  

This week's assignment requires that I go deeper with the articles. And, that has me feeling some kind of way... 

Research 12-18 articles from peer-reviewed journals. Synthesize the data, main arguments, claims, and conclusions for each one.  Place the information into a matrix (spreadsheet).  

I have found 16 articles. As of Wednesday, I have read and highlighted half of them, comprising approximately 100 pages of PDF text. The complete matrix is due Saturday (January 25th). Looks like I have some reading, annotating, and contemplating to do.

I'll be right here if you need me.

*photo sources: unknown




data

Data mining. Data harvesting. Data profiling. 

This, coupled with student privacy in a digital world, is the focus of my research. 

If you would like to read more about the ways social media impacts education, start here. If you are using Google Suite for Education, check out this research article [PDF] from 2016.

I am not opposed to digital learning, but I am concerned about the data that is collected. Who controls that data? Who makes decisions based on that data? And where is the line between enhancing collaboration (enhancing the user experience) and improving student learning? What is the real cost of all the data we surrender in the name of instructional technology?

The answers to these questions are not limited to one company. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and a host of other companies are all competing for a share of the education market. Corporate strategy in the education sector is nothing new (see below), but the speed and scale of the market has shifted...and the outcomes of these strategies run far deeper.

*image:18pt Century Schoolbook typeface | mirror image for legibility

Another immensely popular face for A.T.F. [American Type Founders] and [Morris Fuller] Benton, Century Schoolbook was either licensed or copied by all the makers of mechanical composition machines, including Linotype, Intertype, Monotype, and Ludlow. Linotype also commissioned Rudolph Ruzicka to design Primer, which was intended to compete directly with Century Schoolbook for the textbook market. -Wikipedia