For the second module in my PhD programme, one of the activities was to write a learning journal. I wasn’t sure how to handle that. Some in my cohort took a rather analytical approach to it. But I was one of those who took a less formal style. At the end of the module, I shared some excerpts, which I am pasting here in this blog:

July 4: As of this writing, I am tasked to write a literature review paper. I’ve never done one before, so this will be an interesting experience. But hopefully, I won’t be as clueless as I was with the autoethnography paper in the first module…

— As it turned out, I was.

July 23: … never before have I been bothered so much by health issues when it comes to writing. For two or three weeks have been dealing with migraines, sinusitis and tinnitus… It has been extremely difficult for me to focus…

I didn’t get hospitalised. But I had grossly underestimated the effect of hearing issues. On top of that classic ringing sound we associate with tinnitus, any sound I hear gets partially washed out by what I describe as someone peeing on the toilet from different angles… all day. I can sort of tolerate it now, but I had no idea it would affect me that badly these past few months (I need to go see a doctor again…). I didn’t even want to listen to music or play guitar. It was awfully depressing.

July 31: … not happy with [my draft]. I just hope Alex and Daniel doesn’t get too confused with the whole thing, lol.

— They were very kind despite seeing all the flaws. And of course, so was Sue. I couldn’t incorporate all the suggestions to my final output, but their guidance was extremely helpful. And yes, a draft below the minimum word count did help. I do feel a little guilty because it felt like I was gaming the policy.

September 12: I’m going to miss the deadline, probably by a day or two. Looking back now, I am second guessing my decision to try something new (literature review on MOOCs) rather than play to my strengths (mini-project continuing my work from Module 1). Regardless, it has been a great learning experience.

— I probably should qualify why I ended up being late. The most basic way of putting it is that I needed to write my assignment more like a literature review! I had to scale back on context and overhaul everything to make more sense than before. And the only way I thought I could do it is that instead of discussing how my home university’s framework in handling MOOCs would stack against what is being done everywhere else, it had to be turned upside down. And since we’re thin on published articles about our work, it made better sense to do a review on one major aspect of developing MOOCs and draw out what my university (or any other institution for that matter) can learn from others. The inclusion-exclusion criteria helped a HUGE amount and gave me more direction. But I only figured how I wanted to do this late in the game. I could have sent something sort of incomplete like in Module 1, but I didn’t think I’d get a passing grade this time.

It was a brutal three months and I’d probably do things a bit differently if I had to go back. But like in my excerpt. It was indeed a learning experience which I won’t soon forget. And if anything, when I go back to studying communities of practice, I think I can figure out how to be more effective in my research. 

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