Thursday, June 9, 2022

Reflections and Questions Emerging from Esmonde's 2017 Presentation and Book

While preparing for Summer teaching, I have been immersed in Learning Sciences texts. Given the way I often read, which is to start with a resource (paper, chapter, website, blog, etc.) and take multiple detours and left turns as I read, while writing a few notes, highlighting sections, quoting or rephrasing them for my own writing, and digging into my past writings and readings along the way, I stumbled across Esmonde's work. Again. It was a welcome opportunity to reflect and relearn from this line of inquiry.

A few years ago, it was a privilege to attend a talk by Indigo Esmonde in our School. They are to be congratulated on the conceptualization, writing and publication of their book, Power and Privilege in the Learning Sciences: Critical and Sociocultural Theories of Learning (2017), referenced in Sawyer's (2022) Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences. Early in the talk, Esmonde shared a narrative about editing for 10 hours on their couch with a beloved pet beside them. This narrative resonated with me, as did the tension of productivity in a neoliberal academy.  In 2005, I finished writing my own book, often while nursing my second son in my lap, taking breaks to prep dinner, and while trying to keep one eye on my toddler who was free range doing who the hell knows what elsewhere in the house. Esmonde's (2016) work is a significant and important contribution to the Learning Sciences and the reader can uncover and discover a great deal about sociocultural learning and identity from each chapter. For example, as a scholar who aims to disrupt notions of normal in the classroom, I often wondered why we continue to call certain topics of inquiry “critical disability studies” instead of “critical normativity studies” or something else. Perhaps this question is naïve; however, it is a genuine question about how we interrogate notions of ability/disability over time; for example, I tend to align with those who regard and study ADHD and autism as super powers rather than those who consider these to be individual deficiencies. These orthogonal turns and shifts in perspectives on learning and what and who counts in learning is invited and honoured in Esmonde's book.

I found Esmonde's presentation in our School to be both insightful, because of the depth of inquiry and breadth of ideas in their book, and also provocative because of their courage in bringing forward personal stories and compelling drawings, and their use of an ethnographic / auto-ethnographic approach to examining and sharing their own experiences through illustrated narrative. Esmonde's vulnerability and trust was on display while sharing their stories with the audience; I was inspired by their visual and auto-ethnographic examples. As an extension to my research in the Learning Sciences, I am interested in exploring some of my own narratives as a female scholar who balances many roles – from mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend - who is also a female academic and female leader in teacher education. This impulse to narrate led to a 2018 blog post I wrote about being a mom on the tenure track for CSSE on my lived experience. I continue to interrogate moments and events in my personal and academic lifeline that mark my journey within and beyond the academy as well as those that both disrupt and define my identity. When I find or make the time -- the pandemic has required me to press pause on too many great ideas for writing and reflection - I continue to jot notes and make lists of moments or events or decisions that warrant some writing and thinking about. The list keeps getting longer, and I sometimes worry that all I will achieve is that list. Still, I am grateful to Esmonde for their presentation and forms of story sharing as encouragement to keep writing, reflecting and drawing as ways to explore and re-consider my lived experiences, key events and decisions, big and small, past and present, inside and outside of the academy. 

I would have enjoyed the opportunity to engage further with Esmonde and learn more about their perspective and experience with the many tensions that academics experience and grapple with in the academy. For example, I observe that academics who are innovative and push the boundaries of a discipline or field of study tend to experience having to / or perceive the need to live with a foot in (at least) two worlds – the existing merit and promotion structures that emphasize research that is often defined, valued, controlled and supported by existing inequities in power, funding and privilege in particular ways, and the contemporary academic's commitment to research, teaching, service and community engagement that pushes against and critiques both the foundations and the edges of a discipline, and may offer a broader and yet also a more nuanced contribution to scholarship. 

I made a brief comment at the end of Esmonde's talk about the tensions that can come from bridging two worlds. There is the joy to be found in pushing the edges, generating new ideas and designs, and demanding change, and also the reality that these choices can be exhausting and discouraging for faculty across ranks, and especially for those who are untenured and/or part of an underrepresented community.  The need for ongoing interrogation, new ways of framing, and activism is clear – and individual and collective reflection and action to best support each other in bridging the existing structures in academia while remaining committed and sustaining commitment to disrupting and dismantling these oppressive structures while we designing new ones.  

At the end of Esmonde's talk I shared my concerns about the many tensions and barriers that continue to be experienced by Indigenous colleagues who navigate (at least) two worlds / worldviews and resistant organizational contexts / cultures / communities as an academic – Indigenous and non-indigenous / colonialist. Indigenous colleagues have expressed mixed feelings to me - both their deep commitment  and hope for change and progress, along with their well earned skepticism (we have been here before, and look how that turned out) - about their experience in the academy. Indigenous colleagues are being called upon, increasingly, to assist the students, the faculty, the university and the community to decolonize the academy, to think forward in restructuring and redesigning the academy - Indigenizing higher education - and tasked with reframing the valuing / devaluing structures in higher education, to design and teach new courses that engage students in challenging conversations (while remaining on campus versus teaching on the land, with restricted or no budgets for Elders or cultural resources and materials or travel), to engage in herculean amounts of service on committees and task forces, to bring greetings, prayers and ceremonies at events (tokenism, performative) and to invest deeply in community engagement to cultivate relationships and partnerships, all the while and at the same time, tasked with meeting existing "productivity and output" expectations for research and teaching that look like and can be “counted” and "weighed" in a pre-determined ways that perpetuate and support existing power and class structures that reproduce inequity. I purposely wrote this last run-on sentence to convey the relentless effort and resulting exhaustion that this work as a cog in the machine can entail if and when current inequitable social and academic structures are not questioned and disrupted. More on this later. 

Overall, I appreciate (again, five years later) Esmonde's design challenge to rethink the academy, and wholeheartedly recommend their book for the insightful provocations about sociocultural learning and identity. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Examples of Manuscript-Based Dissertations

A few years ago, I was part of a team of academic that developed guidelines on preparing manuscript-based dissertations and theses that were approved by our School. The student and supervisors' consideration and planning for the manuscript-based dissertation or thesis should be reflected in the research proposal and plan for reporting. 

Here are a few recent examples that are available in PRISM, our institution's digital repository:

Sandra Becker:  https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/113256 (Supervisor, Michele Jacobsen)

Brit Paris:  https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/114165 (Supervisor, Kim Koh)

Wendy Simms:  https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/11023/4182 (Supervisor, Marie Claire Shanahan)

Andrew West: https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/11023/3995 (Supervisor, Gale Parchoma)

Michele Tkachuk: https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/110605 (Supervisor, Russell-Mayhew)

Happy to engage and discuss this approach with those who are interested. 


Friday, April 29, 2022

A Decades Long Dance With Open Educational Practices

A reflection to capture a few brief thoughts & snapshots of lived experiences dancing with open educational practices as a researcher and teacher educator. 

From the time I started my own doctoral journey in 1995, a great deal of my research and teaching has taken place in the open, for anybody with an internet connection to see. Sharing my own work openly and my open education pedagogy with students reflects a deeply held commitment to knowledge building in community and democratizing knowledge. Researching, teaching and academic publishing in the open has also reflected my commitment to the horizon and disrupting the status quo, interrogating practices that are past their best by date, and ensuring that the underrepresented in the academy - in this case, a female, then mother in EdTech, were more visible and their voices heard. 

As a doctoral student, a professor in computer science invited us to publish all of our coursework on a website. One course based task was to go to 12 public events during the term, and write a short review of that event and what we learned from the speaker or the workshop. My supervisor engaged me in his internet research project, which, among other methods involved an online survey. I carried that method forward into my doctoral research, and used an online survey with faculty on how they were adopting technology for teaching, research and administrative tasks. Engaging in online research methodology requires that one become aware of the ever evolving process and procedures with Internet Research Ethics; this line of inquiry led to a co-authored article in CJHE (open access of course!) with a doctoral student (Warrell & Jacobsen, 2014) on the policy gap for ethical practice in online research settings

Connected to my open educational practices and experiences as doctoral student, I chose to publish my doctoral dissertation on my personal website (archived PhD) so it would be more discoverable and accessible than the lovely hardcover blue book sitting on a shelf. Openly sharing my dissertation online, while not very exotic today, given the plethora of digital repositories full of theses & dissertations, was a bit unusual in 1998 when few dissertations were OA. According to Google Scholar, Jacobsen (1998) has been cited every year since going online, so my goal of making this research more discoverable and accessible has been met (159 citations and counting). An added benefit of an open access dissertation have been the connections with a global community of researchers who shared an interest in this line of inquiry. The PRISM version indicates 795 downloads and 137 page views, so the benefits of dropping your dissertation into a digital repository includes painless tracking of statistical information, country views and item views by month. 

Research and Thinking in the Open

I started this GirlProf blog in 2008, well after many EdTech bloggers took flight. That summer, I was teaching an EdTech Doctoral Seminar, and I figured I better extend upon my use of wikis and websites by modelling blogging as a way to share ideas in the open. My initial goal for the blog was to increase transparency and engage in myth-busting about a female professor trying to balance life in and beyond the academy. In my first post in July 2008, I aim to disrupt the myth that teaching only a few hours per week gives professors plenty of "free" time. As I had time, I added to the blog and branched off into other forms of academic mom stories and myth-busting, like republishing a 7-year old letter to a columnist  in which I argue that technology increases versus decreases interest in literacy and reading: An EdTech View on Literacy and Harry Potter. Or the one about how academic moms never stop, even when nursing a new baby. There are a few dozen posts on powerful learning using technology (kids and tech 2009, texting in class 2010, and new cultures for learning 2011). 

Teaching in the Open

Along with teaching on-campus, I have taught online throughout my career. The first course I taught online was in 1995, and it was an EdTech seminar. In my teaching with both undergraduate and graduate students, I have always tended to include an assignment or two that involves online sharing, from student created blogs, podcasts, wikis, VR spaces, microblogging and twitter chats, and various types of co-created or individually created websites. For many years, I was privileged to teach an Inquiry and Technology seminar in which student teachers posted all of their work in the open, and engaged in peer review of each other's work. I co-created the EdD in Educational Technology, and we welcomed our first cohort in 2008. An assignment with a great deal of impact was the Doctoral Pathfinder, in which I invited students to curate an open access collection of experts, journals, conferences & resources related to their research problem and questions. Students valued their own pathfinders as a way to keep track and grow their academic and professional networks and open educational practices, and gained much from the access to each other's pathfinders. While many of my open educational practices have evolved & matured over the years, I have also continued to innovate and expand my open educational practices. In the past few years, I have been working with a team of scholars who have supported masters students in publishing their Ethics and Educational Technology research in the open using Pressbooks (2020, 2021). 

Academic Publishing in the Open

As a doctoral student, I was involved in creating and launching an open access leadership journal (IEJLL). As a new assistant professor, I worked with two undergraduate students to launch an open access journal for student scholarship (EGallery). Later, as an Associate professor I worked as an Advisory Editor with a talented group of graduate students who launched a peer reviewed journal for new scholars in education (CJNSE). As the Editor of CJLT from 2005-2010, I led the transition from dual-medium to fully open access. In my V35(1) Editorial, I capture a brief history of the journal from newsletter in 1972, to journal and then open access.  

To be continued



Thursday, March 24, 2022

My work as a professor: a continuous adventure that is rarely boring

In Sharon's and my doctoral seminar this week, we were privileged to welcome and converse with Dr. Stephen Kemmis, distinguished scholar who is internationally recognized for his work on innovation and change in education via action research. In a lively hour of conversation, doctoral students asked Dr. Kemmis many questions related to their research and interests, and he was masterful, generous and humble in response. Dr. Kemmis mentioned his latest book, Transforming Practices: Changing the World with the Theory of Practice Architectures, that I look forward to reading. 

Thank you, Stephen, for accepting our invitation and spending this time with us! It is such a privilege to work with talented doctoral students who are doing research across a spectrum of educational research methodologies. Your insights and comments tonight have invited us all to reflect deeply on our actions in research, the use of evidence to address research questions, and resisting the urge to settle on what is easy to manage or convenient. You have reminded us to push the boundaries, while also keeping our research practical, so that we can get something meaningful happening as we change education through our research.

Through the course of the conversation, Sharon mentioned the work of Nobel Laureate Poet, Wislawa Szymborska, in relation to the act of asking questions being what keeps the pulse of the human alive. Here is an excerpt from Szymborska's acceptance speech: 

"When I’m asked about [inspiration] on occasion, I hedge the question, too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

... All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they “know.” They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life....   This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended".

I appreciate Sharon's insight and the opportunity to reflect on my work as a professor, a calling that involves asking new questions and discovering new challenges, approaching knowledge with I don't know -- which has led to a lifelong adventure that is rarely, if ever, boring. 

Wisława Szymborska – Nobel Lecture. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Wed. 23 Mar 2022. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1996/szymborska/lecture/

Friday, February 25, 2022

Supervisors Cannot Bear the Sole Burden for Effective Graduate Education

Recently, Sharon, Sandra and I were excited to see our first article published from a research project focused on understanding Online Doctoral Supervision: 

Jacobsen, M., Friesen, S., & Becker, S. (2021). Online supervision in a professional doctorate in education: Cultivating relational trust within learning alliances. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 58(6), 635-646. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2021.1991425 (Q1 Education Journal)

Inspired by a great presentation by Dr. Brockway, Nursing, on the value of tweetorials to increase awareness of one's work, I tried my hand at writing one in 18 parts (see below): https://twitter.com/dmichelej/status/1488651595889856513

Dr. Kay Guccione, an amazing colleague I have come to know through IDERN, saw the tweetorial, and invited us to write this blog post: 

      Jacobsen, M., Friesen, S., & Becker, S. (2022, February). Trust grows when supervisors take the lead in online supervision. Guest post on Dr. Kay Guccione’s Supervising PhDs Blog. https://supervisingphds.wordpress.com/2022/02/23/trust-grows-when-supervisors-take-the-lead-in-online-supervision/


The three of us have drafted a book chapter from this research for a book (in review) and look forward to sharing it soon. 


Our Tweetorial in 18 Parts


Online supervision in a professional doctorate in education: Cultivating relational trust within learning alliances, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI:10.1080/14703297.2021.1891425
@sfriesen @sandralynnbeck a #tweetorial

The rapid and widespread pivot to online teaching and supervision in the pandemic created a pressing need to improve understanding of effective online supervisory relationships 2/18

@dmichelej @sfriesen @sandralynnbeck’s case study yielded five enabling factors for effective online supervisory relationships 1) Establish trust early in relationship 2) Engage intentionally in mentorship and scaffolding 3/18

3) Provide multiple levels and layers of support 4) Give timely formative feedback 5) Cultivate a collaborative community of support for doctoral student writing 4/18

Establishing a trusting relationship early, and then cultivating ongoing relational trust throughout the supervisory relationship, is essential for student progress, success & satisfaction 5/18

Effective supervisors establish regular meeting times with their doctoral students and organise deadlines for milestones early in the program 6/18

Effective online doctoral supervisors engage in student focused, responsive and tailored mentoring that evolves and changes year by year 7/18

Supervisors & programs need to understand and leverage the academic and social support provided by peer relationships in doctoral cohorts 8/18

Regular, timely and purposeful communication along with multiple rounds of productive feedback using a range of technologies is necessary for effective online supervisory relationships 9/18

Supervisors emphasize mentoring doctoral students as they develop disciplinary knowledge and engage in different forms of scholarly writing is a community experience rather than an individual endeavour 10/18

Supervisors emphasize the value of the supervisory committee in supporting students to work through multiple drafts of the research proposal, chapters in the dissertation, and to bring diverse perspectives to research-based learning 11/18

Doctoral graduates emphasised that trust and knowing their supervisor had their best interests at heart was key as they engaged in mentored academic writing 12/18

Student’s trust and knowledge their supervisor and committee supports their work & provides ongoing, formative feedback and sound advice through multiple drafts and continual review is key to their writing and research progress 13/18

The power asymmetry in supervisor-student relationships & student-program interactions means the supervisor must lead and initiate actions to reduce students’ sense and experiences of vulnerability in the relationship and in the program 14/18

Institutions and programs must understand that “supervisors cannot bear the sole burden for effective graduate education” (p. 10) 15/18

Institutions must ensure doctoral program designs and technological infrastructure provides fertile ground for students & professors to develop effective online supervisory relationships 16/18

Universities must provide access to online faculty development for professors to build capacity, join networks of support and create learning alliances across disciplines for effective supervision https://ucalgary.ca/graduate-supervision-mooc 17/18

@dmichelej @sfriesen @sandralynnbeck are grateful to the supervisors & doctoral graduates who shared their experiences and insights in our case study of Online doctoral supervision 18/18 fini DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2021.1891425

Monday, January 3, 2022

A Bold New Association of Scholars and Practitioners: Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship

OTESSA:  An incredible community of open and technology scholars and practitioners in education were active and bold in growing a new association in 2020 and 2021. Our collective work has resulted in two new issues of a peer-reviewed journal and a conference proceedings of papers from 2020 and 2021. I am proud to be a part of this collaborative and collective scholarly work that serves to cultivate and engage a global community of scholars and practitioners who are committed to pushing at the edges of our discipline. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A day of Academic Work - On campus versus Home Office

It has been a while since I wrote about a "day in the life of girlprof". These two vignettes offer a brief glimpse and opportunity to compare pace, balance and wellness between an On Campus Workday Vs. a Home Office Workday. 

Campus Workday

Wake up. Start Coffee. Feed cats. Slurp coffee while doing an hour of email and preparation for a day of meetings. Shower. Dress in professional clothes. Nylons. Heels. Breakfast at home, or a smoothie in car on way to work. Drive 40 minutes to campus in rush hour traffic, often doing a hands-free phone meeting from car. Unpack bag, hit the restroom. Meeting, Email, Meeting, Phone call, Meeting, Email, Meeting. Lunch, if I brought one, mostly over my keyboard trying to get work done from meetings. If no lunch, granola bars or scrounged food bolted down between meetings. Afternoon meeting, meeting, meeting, meeting. Occasional drop-ins throughout the days. Sporadic walks across campus to a workshop. Drive 40 minutes home in rush hour traffic, often picking up takeout for supper, often doing a phone meeting from car.  Rushed dinner, sometimes with family, then catch up on a few household tasks. 

Home Office Workday

Wake up. Coffee with husband. Feed cats. Read email. Eat a cooked breakfast on a plate. Use actual silverware. Early phone meeting. Start a load of Laundry. Shower. Dress code casual. Bare feet. Zoom meeting. Do work from meeting. Zoom meeting. Put clothes in dryer, plan supper. Walk to mailbox and back. Zoom meeting. Lunch on deck sans laptop. Fold clothes. Prep supper. Zoom meeting. Check on garden, turn on sprinkler. Zoom meeting. Do work from meeting. Move sprinkler. Zoom meeting. Start supper. Turn off sprinkler. Greet children and talk to them after school. Do work from meetings. Enjoy a family meal. Engage in clean up and picking the night's activity. 

Of course, this is a simplified and aggregated example of two days, shared for the insights on pace, balance and wellness they might offer. The one vignette offers insight into the lack of balance an institutionalized workday can become and the other vignette offers insight into the wellness and balance that can come from working and living at home, often in bare feet, without gobbling over a keyboard.