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This online course focused on reading, deconstructing, analyzing, reviewing and revising research proposals and dissertations.
Since I know there is no 'getting it right', this is my effort to define the nuance and contours of my learning in the Research Colloquium course. There are three layers to my research and scholarly experiences that I'll present as evidence of understanding of concepts, theories and issues in the Cognition and Learning field of study. These layers will influence and impact the next steps in my scholarly writing, reading, and conceptual frameworks. I gained an understanding of the variety and variations between and within dissertation documents as a representation of expertise in a field of study.
“There is no such thing as ‘getting it right’ — only ‘getting it’ differently contoured and nuanced”
(Richardson, 2000 p. 930-931 as quoted by Guiney Yollop, 2008, p. 67)
First, the reader is as important as the writing. After reading over fifteen doctoral dissertations and scouring research proposals, I've determined that reading, writing, and representation can be what I want it to be, as long as I provide justification and relate an effective story. This does not mean, as a writer, that I don't have a responsibility to my audience as I create a text that "refuses to be read in simplistic, linear, incontrovertible terms" (Korteweg, 2014, p. 659). This comprehensive portfolio, while written specifically for an audience that includes my research committee, may reach beyond academic readers since it is openly shared in this web format. The reader is a primary concern as I make word choices, explore concepts, define terminology, and structure the pages, paths, tags, annotations, notes, and media that are afforded by the Scalar software. While this labyrinthian portfolio may appear to have a linear path that may feel familiar to a reader, there are rhizomes underlying the unicursal pathway, with diversions to "enliven the content, and in turn waken the techno-circuits of information to the play of reading across, down, into, and backwards" (Dixon, 2014). I incorporate, as suggested by Graff and Birkenstein (2018), a familiar structure, a suggested direction through the document, a bilingual vocabulary that is both academic and vernacular, and a meta-text woven throughout.
Connected to this layer focusing on the reader, is the notion of an alternative representation for my academic writing. While the intention and vision of an alternative representation for my dissertation has been present in my thinking since the beginning of the PhD journey, it was during the Research Colloquium course that I made a firm and conscious decision. I intend to "be a force of change in transforming the representations and dissemination of educational knowledge" (Korteweg, 2014, p. 655) as I create this comprehensive portfolio in an alternative representation (Alt-Diss) of my scholarly and academic work, using an openly accessible, digital file format, as seen here in this Scalar production. During the Research Colloquium course, I diligently researched how the Alt-Diss format fits into my ontological, epistemological, ideological, and research frameworks. Rereading Guba and Lincoln (2005) crystallized the need to "experiment with narratives that expand the range of understanding, voice, and storied variations in human experience" while reflexively interrogating and deconstructing "forms of tyranny embedded in representational practices" (p. 211), since this rings true to my beliefs and practices. I continue to explore crystallization as a research methodology since it:
While this work began in earnest during the Research Colloquium course (DeWaard, 2019, Nov 14), I continue to research and write about this #AltDiss format in the Non Linear Pathway section of this comprehensive portfolio, as this writing is a precursor to justifications, and discussions about validity and reliability.
"combines multiple forms of analysis and multiple genres of representation into a coherent text or series of related texts, building a rich and openly partial account of a phenomenon that problematizes its own construction, highlights researchers’ vulnerabilities and positionality, makes claims about socially constructed meanings, and reveals the indeterminacy of knowledge claims even as it makes them" (Ellingson, 2009, p. 4).
Secondly, I needed to rethink my conceptual framework for the research proposal that was a required assignment for this course. Grant and Osanloo (2014) helped clarify how my theoretical frameworks inform and shape the conceptual frameworks for my research. In DS1, I focused my efforts on phenomenology, and used this framework in my scholarly writing for grant applications, as seen in the Academic Growth Through Scholarly Tasks section of this document. When writing the draft and a skeleton of my research proposal, I continued to read and research in an effort to fully understand the unique difference between ethnography, digital ethnography, phenomenology, and phenomenography research methodologies. This work will continue as I prepare for the upcoming comprehensive portfolio, and the subsequent research proposal, and for the defence of this comprehensive portfolio.
The third contour in the Research Colloquium course explores the notion of feedback. The course had a sequence of feedback cycles built into the structure and development of the research proposal. While the course requirement was contained within the learning management system, available to only my classmates and instructor, I made a conscious choice to slip into the open, web ecosphere to seek feedback from classmates, trusted collaborators and critical friends. Using Hypothes.is as a feedback tool, I was able to get and give comments to feedback posted by others, something I continue to do with this comprehensive portfolio. I reflected on this feedback not only in terms of my PhD research work, but also in my light of my teaching practice In this way, I stepped further into visible web spaces as a researcher and scholar, re-positioning myself from periphery to active-member (Brockmann, 2011) in open educational ecospheres where scholars and researchers in the field of open education write, research, and reflect in both formal and informal discourses. This openly visible presence as an academic is further explored in the Scholarly Tasks section of this portfolio.
As a result of the Research Colloquium course, I have a draft of a research proposal that I can further revise and refine in preparation for PhD research. I have gained a greater understanding of the interwoven nature of reading and writing, particularly in an Alt-Diss format. I will further explore issues of self / identity, perspective, issues of attention, sequence, time / timeline, and context (Keats, 2009). The complexity and diversity of text formats will impact interpretation, meaning making, and understanding (Keats, 2009) within this comprehensive portfolio. In future dissertation documents, the representation of visual (alpha-numeric text, image, icon, video), auditory (voice, music), and media elements (word clouds, data visualizations, memes, sketch-notes, graphic maps), will impact the reading, writing, and feedback processes. In this Alt-Diss format, I am responding to the call to push into new ways of “challenging hegemonic conceptions regarding legitimate modes of scholarly inquiry, analysis and representation” (Literat et al., 2018, p. 566).
This is the introduction to the literature review
- Leading SGD - Education 2030 established teacher education as one of the priorities in the sustainable development goals;
- UNESCO continues to examine policies and practices for media and information literacies (Singh et al., 2016), digital citizenship (Law et al., 2018), open educational government (Huss & Keudel, 2020), and open educational resources (UNESCO, 2019a);
- the U.S. Department of Educational Technology (2016) released the document Advancing Educational Technology in Teacher Preparation: Policy Brief (Stokes-Beverley & Simoy, 2016);
- a position paper from the European Literacy Policy Network indicated that “many teachers lack competence, confidence and knowledge of effective strategies to harness the potential of diverse technologies to enhance digital literacy teaching and learning, and to foster young people’s resilience to the risks associated with digital technology” (Lemos & Nascimbeni, 2016, p. 3); and
- a Canadian government report, Democracy Under Threat outlined the need to address education of digital literacies (Zimmer, 2018).
While these identified needs have a sense of urgency, in the midst of the global health crises, these are not new issues. Along with a public outcry for media literacies in the face of fake news (Singh et al., 2016) and increasing demands for technologically and digitally literate populations, there is a push to change teacher education generally and the teaching practices of those who teach in teacher educator programs more specifically (Foulger et al. 2017). A thread connects these issues to the revitalization of teacher education programs in order to “prepare teachers who will teach in transformative ways and leverage technology as a problem-solving tool” (Schmidt-Crawford et al., 2018, p. 132). It is time to examine what is happening in the field of preservice teacher education programs, specifically in relation to media and digital literacy (MDL) instruction, open education, and teacher educators' technological competencies.
This literature review presents the purpose and the research questions driving this investigation. A glossary of terms is shared to fully understand the concepts explored in the literature. A taxonomy of literacies, helping to position MDL within the plethora of definitional combinations available in the field of literacy education, is examined. An open education framework for this research is also presented. My positionality as a teacher and scholar in the field of teacher education is considered. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks grounding the teaching and research of MDL in teacher education from an open educational lens are examined in the Research Frameworks section of this literature review. An Alternative Dissertation (AltDiss) framework is the final section of the literature review. The literature review concludes with research implications, next steps and a brief summary.
The Center of the Labyrinth
This section lays out the path toward this point in time and the comprehensive portfolio.
I can now sit for a moment, in the center of the Joint PhD program, metaphorically at the center of the labyrinth. As Haraway (1988) suggests, I am ruled by partial sight, awaiting the unexpected openings made possible by my situated knowledge. I have explored the path taken to arrive here. I can look forward to the steps yet to be taken. As I sit here, I reflect on the transformative 'technological embodiment' and 'creative material engagement' (Idhe & Malafouris, 2019) that has shaped my becoming as a researcher, an academic, and a PhD candidate. Ihde and Malafouris posit that "the difference that makes the difference is the recursive effect that the things we make and our skills in making seem to have on human becoming". By doing research, by writing, by enacting academic enquiry, I am shaped by the making and doing, by the creating and thinking, and by the practice and experience. In turn, the academic and scholarly landscape is shaped by my making. This intertwining of the cognitive and material cultures in my academic and scholarly work are inextricably intertwined with interactions and relationships, both human and technical (Ihde & Malafouris, 2019). I offer this moment of reflection in action (Schon, 1992), this transformative becoming, as verification of my extended theoretical, conceptual, and methodological analysis within the field of Cognition and Learning. My arrival and recentering, here at the center of the labyrinth, is an “opportunity to commit to the new phase, the return commences it” (Senn, 2002).
"We seek those ruled by partial sight and limited voice-not partiality for its own sake but, rather, for the sake of the connections and unexpected openings situated knowledges make possible. Situated knowledges are about communities, not about isolated individuals" (Haraway, 1988, p. 590).
First, I present a literature review for the proposed research. While this is not the research proposal that will be submitted to my committee for formal approval, it will frame my inquiries in current research in the field of study. Secondly, I reveal theoretical and conceptual frameworks by exploring ontology, epistemology, methodology, methods, validity, and authenticity. The final section of this centering process is where I share the alternate dissertation (Alt-Diss) format used here in this comprehensive portfolio and proposed for use in the dissertation.
This explores how labyrinths connect to philosophy and theory on Cognition and Learning
Just as Jones (2013) describes her PhD journey using a labyrinth metaphor, this labyrinth story is one of transformation and becoming wiser about academic and scholarly work. The labyrinth path is bound by the expectations established by the Joint PhD program and the sequential course process of moving toward a central point in the program, the comprehensive portfolio defence. The Joint PhD program, just as the labyrinth process described by Ullyatt (2011), is designed to "actualize the new sense of self, to produce a profound transformational experience or, at least, a new awareness of oneself" (p. 118). This comprehensive portfolio will reflect on this transformational work in order to substantiate my qualifications for PhD research candidacy in the field of Cognition and Learning.
"Sacrificed, transformed, and wisened, the researcher emerges from the immersive experience as an empowering force for others’ research journeys" (Jones, 2013, p. 66).
Labyrinths are liminal spaces (Ullyatt, 2011). Liminality implies movement, a shifting from one place to another. Liminality is rooted to the term 'limen' which references a threshold, doorway, lintel, or frame, and infers a movement through a boundary or entrance (Ullyat, 2011). This indicates a boundary line, an entrance/exit, a choice and decision to enter or step inside, and a movement inward or outward. Labyrinths are two dimensional, built on the ground without physical boundaries to contain or restrain, so a walker makes choices to stay on the path. This comprehensive portfolio and the defence of this portfolio is a threshold and boundary in the PhD program. This portfolio assemblage contains evidence of movement from and toward knowledge, understanding, and experience. I will explore transitions in thinking about ontologies, theories, research methodologies and "lines of flight" (Ovens, Strom, & Garbett, 2016) as I walk through the courses in the program and craft academic and scholarly works. This work is framed by the notion of semiotics.
This comprehensive portfolio is a text, produced and interpreted within a 'semiosic universe' where metaphor, symbol, and code will impact meaning making and understanding (Eco, 1984). This comprehensive portfolio explores how I make sense of the signs, symbols, and codes within the Cognition and Learning field of study. I explore the semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics within areas of interest to this quest toward a PhD.
"If texts can be produced and interpreted ... it is because the universe of semiosis can be postulated in the format of a labyrinth. The regulative hypothesis of a semiosic universe structured as a labyrinth governs the approach to other classical issues such as metaphor, symbol, and code" (Eco, 1984, p. 2).
These areas of interest include:
- the study of literacy - it's many definitions, forms, and trends as reflected in the field of education;
- the study of media and digital literacies as applied to, and studied within, the field of education;
- the study of teacher education, particularly from a teacher educator's positionality, examining practices and trends in digitally enabled teaching and learning; and
- the study of open education - the definitions and conceptions of the term 'open' in the field of education, specifically teacher education, and its impact on teaching practices, pedagogies, and resources.
Saldaña (2016) suggests "private and personal written musings before, during, and about the entire enterprise are a question-raising, puzzle-piecing, connection-making, strategy-building, problem-solving, answer-generating, rising-above-the-data heuristic" (p. 44). The Labyrinth Construction section does just that, as I next explore how this comprehensive portfolio is constructed as a result of my journey into the labyrinth. Here I stand, in the center of the labyrinth, reflecting backward over the process thus far, and looking forward to the path yet untravelled.
This is an explanation about this labyrinth construction
Ullyatt (2011) describes the design and construction of a labyrinth in temporal and contextual space. The labyrinth has an imprint on the land where it resides and a structured time when it is used by a labyrinth walker. There is a paradox of permanence and ephemerality in structuring the boundaries of a labyrinth in both time and space (Ullyatt 2011), meaning that both the physical construct and metaphoric reflectivity may be fleeting but will leave an etch on the landscape and psyche. Such is the composition of this comprehensive portfolio – it is bound by temporal and contextual construction within time and space. This labyrinthian comprehensive portfolio constructs a symbolic path walked with intention and reflection. Yet, I also recognize the heteroglossia (diverse voices within this creative construction), polyphony (unison of multiple elements including media constructions), and dialogism (dialogue required for change to occur) (Hoechsmann, 2019) that are embedded into this comprehensive portfolio construction. Bahktin's (1981) notion of "unfinalisability" reminds me that this PhD labyrinth path is an opportunity to continue developing and learning.
"Much like an early choose-your-own adventure book or an interactive narrative in which the reader follows diverging plotlines, the web affords a multi-dimensional, rhizomatic experience. Agents on the web follow their curiosity in a never-ending labyrinth of information, communication, and entertainment" (Kennedy, 2016, p. 1).
The construction of the comprehensive portfolio is a demonstration of scholarly knowledge within the field of study as outlined in the context of course work, scholarly tasks, and explorations into dissertation topics. The focus is on modelling depth of knowledge, methodological understanding and the critique of research literature. As suggested by Boote & Beile (2006) the goals of a doctoral program are four-fold: to "understand the research and scholarship in the field; develop intellectual independence; develop information literacy; and systematically and continually reappraise ideas and practices" (p. 32). Understanding is further defined as ownership and being able to justify and defend the inclusion of research and choices (Boote & Beile, 2006). It is by constructing and writing this comprehensive portfolio that I will come to know myself reflexively as academic and scholar, while recognizing that this text is far from being the whole story. This portfolio will stand as an imperfect and incomplete construction of my experiences, knowledge, competencies, and connections (Richardson, 2001).
The lintel stands as the entrance to any construction – the doorway or window through which to enter. The lintel of this comprehensive portfolio is framed by two sections: the Introduction, and the Labyrinth. By reading these sections first, you the reader may better understand the steps into the portfolio design and the actions I outline within sections of the portfolio. The boundaries and borders of this labyrinthian, comprehensive portfolio are found in the sections outlined by the Step By Step sections, including the academic growth gained through course work and the scholarly tasks. From the centre of the labyrinth I share the plan for future research which includes a literature review, the research frameworks in preparation for the research proposal, and my exploration for alternative dissertation (Alt-Diss) formats. This outlines my PhD labyrinth construction.
Definition of terms and concepts
Here are the individual terms and concepts used throughout this comprehensive portfolio, inserted as notes and linked within pages and content.
- Alternative Dissertation format - Alt Diss
- cognitive load
- digital ethnography
- FoE - Faculty of Education
- liminal / liminality
- open education (OE)
- open educational pedagogy (OEP)
- open educational practices (OEPr)
- open educational resources (OER)
- unicursal / multicursal
Alternate Dissertation Format
To honour the topic of media and digital literacies, while authentically sharing and revealing the OEPr under investigation, the results of my research, as modelled in this comprehensive portfolio, will be presented in an openly accessible, alternative, digital format, while using and applying a variety of media and digital strategies and techniques. This “open-ended, problematic, critical, polyphonic” text (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 1124) will break open the boundaries imposed by traditional alpha/numeric representations. This reflects the non-linear, hyper-textually linked, dialogic, conceptually and topically interconnected and networked nature of my subject matter, and the nature of this qualitative research.
"What is the reading of a text, in fact, except the recording of certain thematic recurrences, certain inconsistencies of forms and meanings?" (Calvino, 1981).
Idhe and Malafouris (2019) posit the notion of Homo faber, suggesting that humanity is evolutionarily constituted and shaped by the technologies we use. In today's world new materialities and digital ecospheres encompass all aspects of living and learning, thus we are constructed by the tools that we've constructed and by which we engage in relationships and construct our learning (Idhe & Malafouris, 2019). This echoes McLuhan's position that the medium is the message. This comprehensive portfolio, and the future dissertation process and product, will “look beyond the obvious and seek the non-obvious changes or effects that are enabled, enhanced, accelerated or extended by the new thing” (Federman, 2004) and will ”suit the style as much as possible to the matter” (McLuhan & McLuhan, 1992, xi). In this way, my dissertation will critically analyze the privilege of representation, voice, and academy.
Deciding to shift my research process and product into a fully interactive and digital environment fits with the ontological and epistemological frameworks within which I study. Pockley, the creator of the first electronic dissertation in 1995, describes texts as “mutable streams of thought, open to annotation, revision, re-presentation and part of the very fabric of their community of interest” (Jacobs, 2008, p. 245). By preparing and presenting my comprehensive portfolio, and future research, in an alternative dissertation (Alt-Diss) format, I contribute to the breaking open of “calcified conventions” sustaining the linear privilege of print text (Covey, 2013) that is traditionally found in electronic dissertation and theses formats relying on static PDF documents. With my experiences in producing and sharing media texts, I recognize the “cultural agoraphobia, the cognitive bias that leads us to underestimate the potential of openness” and will push open the structure, media, notions of authorship, and methods of assessment in the process and products of my research and dissertation (Covey, 2013, p. 550).
I will design paths through the research information, as any research author would, but the reader will control the serendipitous navigation through the content. Reader control in determining the research reading experience, through strategic use of hyperlinks, embedded media, graphic organizers, taxonomic features, and visualization options and affordances in the Scalar software, will reflect the media filled, rich, thick descriptions, and the open nature of this dissertation. For ease of access, the references will be included as a full curated reference list but also as an indexed, alphabetic offering. Software such as Scalar will be utilized to present the research results within a fluid, editable, elastic format that is “open to annotation and responsive to change” (Jacobs, 2008). One example of a dissertation presented using Scalar (Dixon, 2014 - Endless Questions) is linked here to provide an opportunity to understand the digital mechanisms available in taxonomic visualizations.
Since my research and dissertation is not without its political dimensions, and to meet institutional requirements for a ‘frozen in time’ document as a representation of my research capabilities (Barrett, 2014; Jacobs, 2008), a hyper-textually linked linear PDF version will be also produced. Dissemination of research results will be pursued through traditional, peer reviewed Canadian and international journals, (e.g. the Canadian Journal of Education, Open Praxis), conference presentations, (e.g. OTESSA, OER21, OEGlobal) and through open social media and web publications (blog posts, FoE newsletters). In this way, I heed Denzin's (2017) call to "unsettle traditional concepts of what counts as research, as evidence, as legitimate inquiry" (p. 8) reflecting postmodernist compositions such as Italo Calvino's novel A Winter's Night A Traveler.