Into the Labyrinth : A PhD Comprehensive Portfolio

My Media Making Story

But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. ~ Henry David Thoreau

     Here I lay out the stepping stones that have brought me to the labyrinth. Lo, I have become a 'tool' through which others may learn. My journey to self-actualization includes steps taken to openly share my experiences and create multimodal reflections as part of my learning journey. This story showcases some of the tools through which my academic and scholarly 'self' has been crafted.
     This portfolio lays a foundation for the path and direction of my PhD journey, just as a labyrinth frames the path of a walker. I echo the sentiments of Freire in that "I have a responsibility to provide whatever light I can on the subject and share my ideas with people" (Bell, Gaventa, & Peters, 1990, p. 105). In the past ten years, and in completing a Masters in Educational Technology at the University of British Columbia, I have created media in multiple locations, with a multitude of tools, for a plurality of purposes. This is an introduction to previous media-making stories which are a prequel to this PhD story which demonstrate a commitment to actively work, struggle, learn, and share my self-actualizing journey toward the PhD program.

My Renovations [see this work at My Renovations]
This media-making story is a capstone project presented as a digital portfolio for the Masters of Educational Technology (MET) program at the University of British Columbia. This project outlined three years of learning and scholarship using the metaphor of renovations. This metaphor focused my research abilities, academic thinking, and digital competencies. Looking back, I now see this story as a starting point for subsequent academic inquiries since I gained confidence in my ability to think and write as a scholar. This PhD comprehensive portfolio's theme and metaphor are influenced by the MET portfolio and continues my renovations in academic and scholarly work.

My Year of the MOOC
Once I completed the MET program, I serendipitously explored opportunities to continue learning and media-making while connecting to people and ideas in digital spaces. I became enamoured by massive open online courses (MOOCs) that were open to all. They offered opportunities for deeply intellectual and exploratory activities. Predominantly in 2015 but continuing into 2017, I joined and participated in a range of MOOC courses on topics that captured my interest. Here are my MOOC media-making stories and how they impact my current PhD work.This introduced me to critical and radical pedagogies, authors and thinkers in digital spaces. It was here that I began blogging to share my writing and media productions. This was foundational to my practice as an academic blogger and is a primary influence for the Step By Step blog site I maintain as I go through the PhD program. It was here that I recognized the importance of applying a critical pedagogy framework.This MOOC was offered by the Mobile Technology Network within the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). As a long standing member of this organization, the topic of personalizing learning experiences mirrored my own personal learning journey. It was here that I explored new media applications such as interactive maps, Twitter and Twitter chats, interactive images, and curation tools to collect media and digital information sources. These technological explorations continue to influence how I manage and share PhD resources and openly communicate with others in the PhD program.In this small open online course (SOOC) experience I encountered the importance of making media with purpose and passion, while ensuring equitable access and honouring the needs of all who may engage with digital and media technologies. Here, a relational ethic of care was exemplified in the open, accessible actions of others through modelling, dialogue, practice, and confirmation (Noddings, 1988). Universal design principles were explored with intention. This experience led me to take on a leadership role with the Inclusive Learning Network (ILN) within ISTE, which I continue to maintain. My initiatives include the annual book study hosted online and organized through social media, and personally connects to participants in a variety of media-making ways. It was in this MOOC that I realized the importance of my own voice as an academic and scholar. What I was writing and saying in digital media-making spaces was recognized by others as having merit. As a result of this MOOC I published two chapters in the peer reviewed text Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning. These HumanMOOC experiences deepened my relationship with other academics in the online learning and open educational spaces with many connections maintained and influencing me as I began the PhD program.This was an experience unlike any other MOOC thus far. In my post-Rhizo15 reflection blog post I state "I’m comparing my online experiences with Rhizo 15 where there was no content, no objectives, no exemplars and no assessment. There’s much to be learned about learning in open, digital, fluid, community spaces". This experience continues to influence the way I design and deliver online and face-to-face courses. As a result of this Rhizo15 experience, I have deep connections to a global network of academics and scholars who research and write about open, online, digital, media, literacies, citizenship, educational topics. It was through this MOOC that I became involved in Virtually Connecting and have a role as co-director in this quasi-organized network of media-making scholars and activists. Many are actively supporting my work in this PhD journey, as seen in this Draft Research Proposal blog post.It was through my Connected Learning (CLMOOC) experiences that awareness and agency grew. By making choices about communication, composition, and connections that "mapped through shared passion, inquiry, and purpose", I experienced the "radical possibilities of deep professional learning through transformative connection making" (West-Puckett et al, 2018, p. 225). This has influenced how I approach my PhD learning with an ever-present need to build connections within the program and outward into global scholarship endeavours. 

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