Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Day 3: Chapter 5 gets outlined

The goal today was to take this model of how teachers learn to teach:

Clark and Hollingsworth's (2002) Interconnected Model of Professional Growth (IMPG)

And manhandle it until it conformed to this model of how I build technology-enhanced training systems:

Gerritsen, Zimmerman, & Ogan (in press) Planning/Action/Reflection model

It's not impossible, but it's not easy. The point I want to make with this chapter is that there are some really helpful ideas in the IMPG, but that it (a) doesn't really tell us how to deliver training, and (b) sort of falls apart if any of its components are missing. So take this view of the higher education classroom, where there is almost no incentive to get training or to reflect on your teaching:

The red lines show the missing components. This is pretty much the case throughout colleges and universities, where people teach because they know the content, not because they have teaching skills.

Without training and reflection, there is basically no chance that an instructor is going to spontaneously get better. Some of them do, and some of them are naturally awesome, but for those that struggle (like I do), and don't have time to seek out support on their own, there needs to be something else in place.

Hence my cycle of planning, action and reflection. I won't get into what that is now. I'll just say that I hope this chapter can show how the needs of the actual classroom, as identified by the IMPG, can be addressed by my framework.

843 words on the outline today, with a fair bit of editing to yesterday's 268. At any rate, the first pass of the outline is done. I am pretty sure it's confusing and hand wavy. Luckily I have advisors who are smarter than I am that can look at it.

Tomorrow I begin drafting Chapter 2: Context of the Research. That's just the fancy name I gave to the related works chapter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Day 2 of dissertation writing

Since the post yesterday, I had a change in schedule come up and had to change a few things. My plan was to spend 6 hours writing today, but I had to move half of it to Thursday. (I am joining Marsha Lovett on a talk about this work coming up on Wednesday, and got a chance to collaborate with her this afternoon.)

The draft of Ch1 is done. Rough Introduction in the can. It took 834 words, so my estimate was close. It also went faster than I expected, at only about 90 minutes. This left me time to get started on outlining Ch5 ahead of schedule. And I am going to need it.

Ch5 is titled "A Framework for SmartPD," and I can now tell it's going to be quite hard to write. This framework is one of the primary contributions of my work. I've only written about it 3 times total. This has been over the past 6 months or so. For me—like a lot of folks I think—I generally come to understand my work best by writing about it. 3 times over 6 months, in my experience, is very little writing on a topic.

The main points I need to get across in this chapter are what SmartPD is meant to be, what the research tells me about how to plan for building toward it, and how Clark and Hollingsworth’s Interconnected Model of Professional Growth (2002) contributes to it. So it's a lot. And I'm not yet sure how it will all fit together.

I put down 268 words on Ch5, and also copy-pasted a lot of older text to draw from. I'll get back to it tomorrow and see if I can make any better sense of it.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dissertation writing officially under way

As of today, five weeks later than I had planned, I have begun writing my PhD thesis. On the upside, I at least prepared over the past few months by outlining most of the chapters and building a daily writing plan. Now it begins.

My goal today was to write for 3 hours. I produced 1291 words drafting the first chapter. I probably have about 900 more to go before my first draft of Ch1 is done. I plan to complete that tomorrow and then write the outline for Ch5.

I decided to revive this blog space in order to write reflections on the process. It might help me stay on track if I think there's a remote possibility that someone I know could be paying attention. It also helps me express my online exhibitionism in a relatively low-impact kind of way, now that I have lost all interest in the dominant social networking site.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Reader of Games Books

Now reading Iain Banks' The Player of Games. It's from the Culture series, but fitting after finishing Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Here's why.

At only 50 pages, the setting for Banks' book includes a massive space habitat (e.g.) in a highly advanced society where people are so wealthy that no one ever has to labor, there is no crime, and society completely surrounds itself in games. Board games, in particular, are of the highest culture. The study and mastery of games and "game theory" are considered intellectual pursuits.

Cline's book, on the other hand, is set on a crumbling Earth in the not-so-distant future, where games are the major form of interaction and escape from the brutality of real life. It's easy to get caught up in all of the pop-culture references that populate Ready Player One, but the book is more than its eighties aesthetic. It acknowledges that games are an important part of life, but that life is more than this.

The interesting contrast between these two books is that Banks used a romantic sci-fi setting, popular at the time that he wrote it, where the future can be a peaceful and leisurely utopia. (Of course, not all is well under the surface, and the protagonist is already beginning to rub up against the sharp edges of his reality.) Cline's book, on the other hand, uses a postmodern setting, popular at the time that he wrote it, to show that the future can be a harsh and cumbersome dystopia. (Of course, not all is terrible. There is still love and honor and romance.)

This contrast between the two actually creates a complementary relationship, a braid of narratives running counter to the primary position of their own setting. Each books play an inverse role to the mechanics of the other.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Book of Pittsburgh 1:1-6

Wyoming? Wynot?

Whereas cuticles are criminally abused, the car is furious packed and repacked, and coffee mugs are topped, we hereby move to Pittsburgh.  

Tonight we are stopped in Cheyenne, because we see absolutely no sense in speeding across the country.  That means that a short 7 hours got us from our doorstep in Utah to the I-80 Holiday Inn* in lower Wyoming.  It’s not far, but everything feels different.

The newness of the move kicked in when we hit the 215 going east out of South Salt Lake.  This interchange is only 10 minutes from where we lived for the last 3 years, but it’s a direction I rarely take.  That less familiar view brought into focus some more expansive vistas: five-plus years of dense urban neighborhoods, late-night deadlines, and no lack of lake effect.  (To my Salt Lake friends, for most Americans the term “lake effect” does not mean the stench of brine shrimp blowing into the valley.  It’s a cold, hard dump of snow and ice launched from any number of Great Lakes—or so I have heard.)  I have mixed thoughts on all of this, but my feelings are fairly clear.  There is a core of confidence covered in a thin layer of anxiety.  Wavering through this emotional sphere is an electromagnetic field of what the Brazilians call saudade.

I will miss my mother’s good cheer, my sister’s passion, my brother’s unique mixture of stoicism and compassion.  My nieces and nephews will be near my thoughts, and missed most of all.  I think about little Alejandra and her easy way of cuddling with uncle Toy-toy, or Wyatt and his precocious knock-knock jokes.  I will miss talking Java with my dad, and having birthdays with his wife and kids.  Not least of all, there are scores of baristas dotting the Wasatch Front who have set a high standard for my expectations of service workers in Pennsylvania.  (Yes, as a whole, these SLC punks out-perform the baristas of Portland.—if only I could have had as good a cup of coffee.)

To ease the transition, we have a number of nesting plans.  Vivian has already designed about 13 rooms worth of decorative themes.  Friday nights will be Board Game Night for anyone interested in showing up.  We have encouraged all of our loved ones to get on Skype, and we’re planning a video blog of our new life…or at least the silliest aspects of it which we can discover or invent.  These will mostly be for the children and the easily amused, you see.

My final thoughts tonight are for all of you that I did not spend enough time with while I was in Salt Lake, or during my semi-regular trips to Portland.  I have not forgotten a single one of my friends and loved ones, but that doesn’t mean I always called you when I could have.  My apologies for this.  My only excuse is that I was able to devote enough time to my school work that I have now been invited to work in one of the most exciting departments of one of the most innovative universities in all the world.  It was a rough trade, but one of the main advantages of a PhD from Carnegie Mellon is going to be regular travel to the cities which my favorite people inhabit, wherever in the world you might be. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Intuition is fed by data.

This post is for my friend Rees, who's  FB wall was beginning to burst with our comments. I've moved the conversation here to save his friends from the excessive verbiage.

In order to save the poor people who originally made comments on that post, I'll respond here.

I think there are two side to the question of how intuition is fed by data. The side which you're focusing on deals with constantly pressing the data for more answers. You're taking information and looking for as many different possible questions which can be applied to it. For example, say you were looking at a list of suicide rates by nation. One way to look at the data is to ask yourself questions like, "Why does Lithuania place first?" "Does Japan rank high because of cultural views on suicide?" "Why do so many Muslim countries fall lower on the list than Christian countries?"

These sorts of questions are great for coming up with research questions. But that's about as far as you can take it. Notice, however, that these speculative questions all rely to some extent on the intuition you already have about social dynamics. In the same breath that you're asking the question you are also formulating a speculation as to the answer. That is one way that data feeds intuition.

Another side to my notion that intuition thrives from data comes from an experimental viewpoint. Whether you're doing longitudinal studies or controlled experiments, the whole point of science is to come up with a question and then choose the observational method that will best answer it. You use a great deal of specificity at this level. You give everything a definition, and you ask discrete questions. For example, you might ask the question, "Does changes in political leadership have an effect on suicide rates?" Then you look for not one data set, but two. You take the historical documentation of the two questions and begin looking for statistical correlations. If you find a result, maybe that every time a country goes through a significant political shift (note: you have to operationalize both the terms 'significant' and 'political shift') then the suicide rate increases, you have found a correlation. That is not the same thing as finding a cause. But you've narrowed your search a little bit. In that way you have fed your intuition at least by now begin able to say, "Well, I don't know what's causing it, but I see that these two things tend to happen at the same time." That's more than you knew before, and it guides your later questions.

I should make it clear that I made up those results. I have no idea if political upheaval has anything to do with suicide rates. My intuition tells me that the two are unrelated. That doesn't mean much, but it's ok to talk about what I think might happen or what might be behind something.

My guess is that your intuition is already well-developed, but that you're just out of practice noticing it. There's nothing wrong with looking at things from different angles. But your intuition shouldn't be something you hide from yourself, or from anyone else. There's a risk of becoming blind to your own bias.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spatial-only map to the U

This is a no-word map from the... well, I've said too much already. To advance the presentation, push the big arrow button on the bottom.