In the article Opening the Dissertation, Covey (2013) mentions the need for mentoring candidates into becoming stewards of a discipline as part of the PhD process. This caught my attention for two reasons.
First, I’m involved in a mentoring project here in Ontario that had students in one of my courses engaging with a mentor from within the field of education. This was organized and monitored by two Ontario educators who have established unique digital spaces around the OEMConnect and Digital Human Library web locations. This had me in the role of mentor supporter, or ‘critical friend’ in the Phase Two part of this project. There is currently some writing being done, with the intention of publishing the process and insights from the first two phases of this project.
Second, I’m involved with a UNESCO project [Open Education for a Better World] where I am mentoring one individual in Mumbai, India to create an openly accessible MOOC about instructional design and open educational resources. This is a bit of a research project for this individual and we will be reporting back to the UNESCO community about this work. Again, some writing, with the intention of publication, will result from this project.
So mentoring through the PhD is something that is of interest to me. For me, this isn’t the support I would get from my colleagues in my cohort. Since we are all on different paths of learning with uniquely designed research questions, this isn’t mentoring in the truest sense of the word. Nor can this mentoring be conducted by a PhD supervisor since that role is uniquely different in terms of expectations, time commitments, or skills. Neither is this something that a dissertation committee member should do, since their roles are not necessarily conducive to what a mentor should or could provide. I also don’t see this mentoring being done by members of my PLN who may become critical friends and who can potentially provide kind and caring feedback on work that I share. This is not necessarily the same as the support the GO_GN group provides to members of this open, research community provides, although there are mentoring elements evident in what I have observed with this group.
This mentor would need to be one individual or a small group who can bring me into academia and scholarly work through a critical lens, from a position of knowledge – of being there and having done that. Someone who knows which questions to ask and when to ask them. Someone who can prompt deeper thinking or just say ‘what were you thinking’. Someone who has a sense of how to navigate academic departments with their mysterious roles and designations that remain opaquely elusive to me. Someone who has, as Covey (2013) mentions, can help me provide support as I navigate through the issues and can provide words of encouragement as I mire through the muckiness of research and writing.
This is an open call – anyone out there willing to take me on? Who will be my mentor?