Beginning or Middle?

I’m at the beginning of a new course, as I move toward the middle of my course requirements for this PhD. I’ve completed two courses, and have two more to complete after this one is done. So I’m sort of in the middle of this mess, but only at the beginning of it all.

I’ve begun the Self Directed Learning course 6511, created collaboratively with my supervisor. We’ve set the readings and course tasks, with structured due dates for the three assignments that will encompass my work over the next four months. I took that syllabus plan and set up a calendar with notifications. I’ve structured my days to take 2-3 hours to read, write, and think about the topics from the readings. While I will try to stick to the ‘assigned’ readings, I’m sure I will digress and drift into other areas as I work through this course. After all, it’s a self-directed exploration.

The ultimate goal for this course, for me, is to explore more deeply into research methodologies that could be applied to my dissertation work. I’m selecting to focus on phenomenology since this linked from Chrissy Nerantzi’s PhD dissertation. I had initially looked at autoethnography and digital ethnography, but with some shifts in my research plan coming from the SSHRC and OGS applications last fall, I’m looking at phenomenogrphy as an option. I’ve selected several articles in this area. I’m hoping to find time for some reading on research methodologies in order to build more skills and abilities for my research work, such as Johnny Saldana’s book on coding techniques.

I’ll be reading some Derrida, Illich and Friere to build some foundational conceptualizations about thinking. This may expand into other works, but I’ll have to manage this carefully. There is lots that I could and should read as I move toward my comprehensive portfolio and dissertation preparations, but there are many that will not be relevant or related to the work I hope to accomplish.

I’ll also be reading about digital literacies, media literacies, and how these two are linked or explored in the field of teacher education. With works written by Gee, Hoechsmann, Jenkins, and Rowsell, I’ll have lots to compare, contrast, and build understanding.

Finally, this course will give me some experience writing an annotated bibliography, a book review, and another literature review, all of which will become inclusions in my comprehensive portfolio, as well as a means to build skills in each of these forms of academic writing. I’ve begun collecting examples of each, with several literature reviews shared and explored as part of the 6411 course work as a measure of work already accomplished. I’ll apply the Boote and Biele (2005) framework to the literature review I’ll conduct for this course.

For now, with a birds eye view of the work I need to accomplish, and having collected most of the readings, I’ll begin moving through this work one step at a time, one reading at a time, one blog post at a time, and one reflective thinking moment at a time. I’ll come up and review on occasion, but from here in, it’s head down, focus on each step, and move forward toward the end of this course, knowing that it’s bringing me closer to the work I need to accomplish as part of this PhD journey.


Belt, E. (2018). Book review of best practices for teaching with emerging technologies. Open Praxis, 10(3), 305-306. Retrieved from

Boote, D. & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.