Starting a PhD

Photo 1-03-2016, 5 21 45 PM

This is me, today, Tuesday the 1st of March 2016. This is the day that I officially start my PhD studies (is it studies or research?) with the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.

Surprisingly enough, the exact topic is a work in progress but broadly I will be looking into Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (TELT) Practices  in Higher Education, the factors that influence it and ways to better support it. My supervisor is Peter Goodyear and my associate supervisor is Lina Markauskaite, both decent seeming people that have done a lot of respected work in this and related areas.

So why am I doing it?

This is the make-or-break question I suspect. The thing that will ultimately determine whether or not I finish. Happily I think my reasons are solid.

I want to know more about this field and I want to be better at my job as a learning technologist. (I used to mock the pretension of that title but it’s grown on me). I don’t necessarily aspire to a job in academia but I do think that this will help me professionally whichever path I do end up taking.

I see the questions that I have around this field as a puzzle and one which deserves to be solved. I think that technology can be better employed in adult education to create deeper and more meaningful learning experiences for students and it disappoints me that I don’t see this happening more regularly. I’d like to better understand what factors shape TELT practices in higher education and see what can be done to better support it.

I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given in being taken on as a student. I haven’t followed the more conventional academic path to get here in terms of research based study and there is certainly some catching up to do but this just makes me more determined to succeed.

The word “scholar” was mentioned a few times last week when I attended the HDR (Higher Degree by Research) induction session and while for some reason it evokes images of 12th Century monks painstakingly writing on parchment by candlelight in a dim cell, it feels special to be a (tiny) part of this history.

I should probably go read something now. (Though surely I’ve earned a break – see, proud scholar already)