Okay! Readiness start! I woke up this morning to find out that my committee had asked me to write my exam about one of my comics. (Have I mentioned that I love my committee?) It's wonderful when people give you that extra kick-in-the-butt that gets you to do the work you know you should do but haven't made yourself do yet.

So here's the deal. I'll be working on this for the next two weeks. My goal is to blog about it at least once per day, even if that post is a "mnrughalaaaanfh didn't get ANYTHING done can't THINK" one. I will be using my blog to document my process. I can't ask for help (this is an individual exam) and y'all shouldn't give me any intellectual help (don't suggest answers to the questions, or point me to readings, and so on) but emotional support ("GO MEL!" and/or "GO TO SLEEP, MEL!") is quite welcome.

My two biggest bits of pre-exam advice from classmates last week have been Mary's reminder that on Day 6, if I'm still reading and going "THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO READ! DESPAIR! DESPAIR!" I need to pull myself out and start writing (and to call her if I need cookies to be incentivized to do that) and James's repeated and emphatic statements that the Readiness you write is never going to be perfect, because you wrote it solo in two weeks atop your normal life. Thanks, folks.

Short versions of the 3 questions I'm tackling (my rewordings -- I'll post the original questions soonish) are below.

  • Literature review: what are the theories that inform the concept of RTR? (What characterizes it as a learning environment, who are the types of learner-characters/communities within it, and what's being shared/access/revealed inside, with, and within its boundaries?)
  • Methods: what are the methods one might use to study learning with RTR, and what will be studied (what environment, which learners, practices, processes, types of knowledge, timeframe, etc)? What are the strengths and limitations of this setup, including potential ethical considerations?
  • Opportunities: what are the affordances of RTR in the context of college level engineering education -- how might it transform things?

I've got a bunch of initial thoughts rattling around in my mind about this, but I'll have to wait until after class (which starts in 4 minutes) to get those braindumps out. I've got a few questions for my committee already, which I'll send to Robin in a moment:

  1. May I use/cite non-scholarly sources in my responses? For instance, a blog post, or a book that isn't academic. I would plan on distinguishing levels of source formality from each other (noting when something's peer-reviewed, etc) and also distinguishing things that are theoretically or anecdotally based versus empirical studies, because I realize they're very different things -- but it would be nice to have the option of using them.
  2. Building on the above: am I allowed to conduct little bits of analysis on "data" I encounter in order to draw conclusions? I realize this isn't asking me to conduct a research project, but sometimes it might be nice to show a quick example of a potential pattern. For instance, if I see that of 50 papers I found on a topic, 20 were written in 1996, and only 2 after 1998. Or if I find evidence that pattern-matches a theoretical framework in blog posts by a few different people, using them as examples to ground some of my more theory-heavy explanations.
  3. At what point am I allowed to ask for external feedback on my written work? Is that on October 29th after I hand the written paper in, or after November 9th when I defend? (In other words, can I ask for feedback while I'm preparing my oral defense?)

I am excited. This is going to be fun.