One of many posts on my Readiness Assessment. As a reminder of the ground rules, this is a solo assessment, so while I’m allowed to think out loud on my blog, I can’t ask for or get (intellectual) help. Cookies and emotional support are, however, welcome.

One of the hilarious things about liveblogging my RAT is that I get to capture all the twisty little passageways and backtracks I'm going down, and everyone else gets to see the utter mess that is my usual process. (I hadn't realized that so many of my PhD classmates were watching this play out on Facebook. Hi, folks!)

I wonder what the heck Matt must be thinking -- he's one of my committee members and also follows me on Twitter, so he's getting little auto-tweet notifications from my blog's push-to-twitter feature every time I post. (Actually, Matt's probably thinking about his own work, because I know he's always hosed, but... if he does see this flood, I'm curious.)

Anyhow. You know how I was going to write about open review? I started getting through that paper, and then realized -- wait, this goes into the larger piece on validity and rigor that I wanted to write up later. Read it later, when you're writing that section! Poof, that got chucked into another bucket. And then I re-read my questions and realized that I had no idea what one of them was talking about when it used the word "affordances."

Pause. Step back, breathe. Where am I on my three questions?

  • Literature review: what learning theories could best inform the kinds of learning happening in my comic strip and the key assumptions within the RTR model as a learning environment? Have not quite tackled this yet, but I feel like I'll be able to -- I've got enough threads to follow around and this is familiar-ish ground for me, having written a whole term paper ranging across similar territory. The more I work on the other questions first, the stronger this will end up being in a few days when I tackle it in earnest.
  • Methods: What research methods would be most appropriate for investigating the sort of learning exhibited in my comic strip? Most of the stuff I've written and read so far falls in here, methinks. I want to get the Epistemology, Narrative, and Grounded Theory sections banged out (that's 3 writing sprints I know I need to do), and then I think I'll have the meat and bones of this one, and clear blank spaces (if any), and a base to stand on for the rest. I might move those tasks to tomorrow, make them the only things I do tomorrow, because tomorrow is my crazy classes day, so I need things I can move forward with in little spurts, semi-mechanically (not that I won't be thinking, but it needs to be thinking I know how to do, so I can do it in stolen moments between class and lab and rehearsal).
  • Unexpected opportunities: what are the affordances of RTR in the context of college-level engineering education? What are the action possibilities and how might this influence or transform current practices in engineering education? What the hell are affordances? I only know the word in a shallow sense from my user interface design class in undergrad; it's an attribute that lets you verb a noun, a feature that lets you do stuff with a thing. But this question (the question writeup goes on) seems to reference a deeper meaning of the word that I'm not familiar with -- my shallow HCI-esque understanding comes from materials that drew on writing by James Gibson, and I need to find Gibson's stuff and read his ideas, chase that trail back.

And that's why I'm going to the library to grab books on affordances now. I suspect that once I read about what they are, I'll be able to have a picture of my strategy for that last question too -- but the blind spot makes me uncomfortable right now that I realize I hav eit.

So my current mission is to understand affordances. And if I can't figure it out by the end of the evening, I'm going to shift my third question to the Applications option.

The other thing I'd like to have before I go to sleep (and this will be my Write-On-Paper[0] evening ending, or at least that's what I'm going to say now) is an outline of the sections I think will be in this paper. I've mentioned a bunch in these blog posts, but I want to put them all in one place, mark what's done and what isn't, sort of like a to-do list. This will be a reorganized version of my earlier thoughts on literature to look at.

Then I'll have a skeleton. And might start the actual document on an etherpad somewhere or something, or a git repo, or... something, but that's getting ahead of myself. Or... something. (Okay, clearly cognitive fatigue is setting in. Off to the library.)

[0] I've gotten in the habit of always doing my last thing before bed as an offline thing, as a way to transition my body away from the daylight-esque monitor glow and towards nighttime and sleep. Otherwise I never sleep.