Champing at the bit (metaphorically)

There is a plethora of subjects I could blog about this week, but which one to begin with?

Ethics approval

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I finally got my Ethics approval. It was an anxious wait, as I wasn’t sure I would get approval, and this was coupled with a delay in receiving an answer from the ethics committee. All’s well that ends well though, and it feels good to be proactive again.

I have sent my survey to everyone I know who has an involvement with musical theatre (my proposed subject of study for the Summer development project), and they have promised me they will pass it on to their contacts. The replies are slowly trickling in and I hope to have the required quota by the weekend. An initial reading of the survey results suggests that I may need to refocus my online resource towards musical theatre teachers instead of students.

SMEs

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In a stroke of luck, I managed to interview two SMEs in one day this week. I had confirmed a meeting with a senior examiner for one of the Irish music exam boards, and at the last minute received word that a second teacher was examining in the building that same day, and was happy for me to interview her that day also. So I’m busy typing up my transcripts and making sense of the data. Although I was quite confident that the results would vindicate my theory that a need exists for a resource on musical theatre, it feels good to be vindicated through the feedback from both the SMEs answers and the survey results.

Getting ethics approval and being able to actively achieve something this week has really energised me. Amassing all the different data needed for my proposal, (thankfully given an extended deadline), is quite a scrappy business. Now, in one stroke, I have all the data I need and must get down to the serious business of writing up the proposal. Looking back over my report for module EL6041, I can see that although the report was detailed and accurate, my writing style wasn’t quite good enough. In fact, I don’t think I fully grasped what academic writing was until the end of year one. If I intend to use my report for EL6041 as one of my artefacts for my ePortfolio, I will definitely need to do some serious redrafting.

ePortfolio

What artefacts should I use? At the moment I consider my instructional design assignments to be my strong suit. My preference would be to include:

  • My draft report for module EL6041- Instructional Design
  • My learning object for module EL6072 – Interactive Courseware Workshop
  • My proposal and storyboards for module EL6072 – Interactive Courseware Workshop
  • My research report for TW5221 – Technical Communication 2 – Theory

That I really enjoy the whole creative process involved with instructional design has been a revelation to me, especially as my initial decision to study for this MA revolved around its technical communication modules. However, right now it is difficult to choose between instructional design and research. I absolutely loved last semester’s mini dissertation. Of course, that’s not what I said at the time, when I couldn’t stop researching articles and kept second guessing myself as to what the focus of my report should be. The whole digging up information aspect to research really appealed to me.

Harry Potter and reflection?

Yes, I did write that! A work colleague recommended I search for writings by Dr. Jenny Moon, associate professor at Bournemouth University. Moon describes reflection in learning as cognitive housekeeping, which I think is a marvellous way to think about how we process our learning. But where does Harry Potter feature in all this? In her guidance notes for students, 2001, Moon quotes from J.K. Rowling’s scene where Harry Potter is standing over the pensieve with Dumbledore in ‘The Goblet of Fire’, as an excellent example of reflective thinking.

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“At these times” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into a basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form” (Rowling 2000).

Moon is absolutely right. Sometimes, when encountering something for the first time, it can be difficult to decipher. However, if you let it ‘marinate’ for a while, you can begin to analyse and then synthesise your ideas.

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