You know how long distance runners talk about getting into rhythm and finding their stride? Well, that’s basically what year 2 at Docwarts felt like. Year one, all my professional and prior academic experience notwithstanding, I very much felt the noob. I had to contend with a whole new lexicon, think in a whole new way – bet I created a bunch of new neural pathways in my brain! 😉 – even come to terms with the assessment that my writing was “colloquial”. This last was a tough one considering I began my career as a journalist and have always prided myself on my writing skills. That is, until I realized that I simply wasn’t using the lingua franca of academia. Use praxis instead of practical, or epistemology instead of knowledge, and your writing is pedestrian no longer. It’s all in the packaging as any marketing worth his/her salt will tell you 😉
In year two on the other hand, the critical elements of being a PhD student and research scholar began to emerge from the murky haze. For instance, where before I had a conceptual idea of what a literature review meant, now I grok it. So much so that some faculty even invited me to present my process in their classes (check out the 4 Cs of Lit Review for an overview of my process). I made a conscious effort to develop and use the lexicon of my doctoral concentration and to become familiar with the seminal contributors in the field, which went a long way in making me feel more settled in the program. This is also the year I submitted my first paper for publication (a group project, but memorable nonetheless), and was elected Vice-president of the Doctoral Student Association.
However, coursework and reading and assignments can only take you so far. What really boosted my confidence and skills was/is the opportunity to work as a research assistant. This was one of the reasons I decided to be a full-time student, and I have been blessed in being able to work with a faculty member who is a fantastic mentor. The highlight event of this experience is the opportunity to collaborate with him on a research project as co-author with both of us taking turns at being first author on the papers we publish (I get to start).
So, yes, padwan is making progress, but there is still one significant hurdle to jump before I can don the mantle of Jedi: Identifying a thesis topic. I wasn’t exactly sure just how I was going to connect my passion and interest in digital media technologies and their effect/affect on education to my program concentration (International Education and Entrepreneurship), but I needed to get a handle on this since my goal is to take the qualifying exams end of 2013. And then, in one of those serendipitously random sequence of events where the stars align, epiphany! A big shout out to @aeratcliffe for letting me “borrow” from his topic, and @jennar for allowing me to use her as a bouncing board.
All in all, it has been an exciting and progressive year. I went from “How am I going to get through this” to “Oh, this is a blast!”. As Maria so eloquently sang it in the Sound of Music, “I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides which you see, I have confidence in me!” That’s the credo for Year 3 😉