Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OpenPhD - shifting focus

The zoetrope. Media on Wikimedia Commons
Recently I posted What am I doing? where I questioned my direction, and focus on open education, copyright and institutional change. I want to instead focus on what it means to network learning, both formally and informally.

I've since reflected on my PhD now too. The only reason I have for submitting to this process is because I'm required to by my employer. I respect the benefit it can have on learning and research skills, and willingly go where my own research skills and learning may be improved, but have not been convinced that formal enrollment is any better than informally conducting a PhD.

Originally, I wanted to simply diarise my work with UCNISS, as they consider the open and networked teaching, research and learning practices I propose. Quickly I could see that significant barriers existed across the whole university, and so to progress work in UCNISS, I needed to shift focus to whole-of-university change. But this work would take far too long, and involve too many considerations for one thesis. Instead, I want to refine my understanding and awareness of the practice of networked learning as it is practiced everywhere and anywhere. This will enable me to stay closer to the writers, theorists and contemporary practitioners I respect, and look further afield than the University of Canberra for examples and considerations.

So the topic of my PhD is focused on networked learning, what it is, how it is practiced.
Additional to this change in study focus, I want to follow something like a creative PhD. In a recent seminar on why do a PhD, what is known as a Creative PhD was described by one of the participants as a body of creative work (in my case installations, mixed with traditionally crafted paintings, based on particular social theories) complimented by a "mini thesis" of 20 thousand words. Unfortunately I could find no information on the FAD website relating to this. http://www.canberra.edu.au/faculties/arts-design/research/ so am seeking more information on what a Creative PhD is.

I have also started a PhD page on Wikiversity in the hope of attracting a number of people who share an interest in informally pursuing a PhD through open and networked means. As I come to terms more with what the requirements are for a PhD, I and others will add information there as well as on the Wikipedia entry for PhD. Once I have a more solid grasp on what is required, I will more carefully map out my course of study, and subsequent research projects.

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