It’s only a flesh wound!
I mean, that’s how the last month of the semester should start out right? Biting knees and all that jazz…
*Shout! Shout! Let it all out!* <--- Typed this out while listening to Disturbed over Pandora just now. Live blogging baby! So, back to the task at hand. Why yes, it is the last month of the last semester of my Masters. Though this is in fact the truth, I will not actually be graduating until this summer. Why? Well, my professor and I both agree that my practicum work is just so cool that it deserves a more in depth analysis in order to do it and all of my participants in it justice. This is why I've been talking with a few of you in the Fedora community back and forth for the last month or so and why I'm in IRC almost every day! This is also why I need those interviews back! If you'd rather complete the interviews over IRC than email please ping me! I've already done a few others that way, so I don't mind doing it that way if you're more comfortable with it. 🙂 Additionally, this is why I have not been blogging as much lately. I've been consumed with Atlas.ti - then of course my Windows partition (it only runs on Windows) on my Mac (only machine I have that will run a large enough installation of Windows to install Atlas.ti) crashing and eating my installation / HU with it, which required me to redo EVERYTHING all over again. Now I'm just waiting on the last 2 interviews to come back. This way I can code them and add them to my extended analysis, which is going to be used to verify whether or not I've covered everything in the survey questions I've come up with. If so, well then I should be releasing a survey to everyone soon! If not, well then I'll be filling in the gaps and then submitting another change request to the IRB so I can have permission to send the survey out. It's also why my brain is kinda mushy at the moment. Other things contributing to the mush are my grant writing class, my job where I am the ONLY user interface / user experience designer, and getting setup to start my PhD in the fall (which is a LOT of work!). So really, this is just a plea to those I've already badgered a few times to get back to me with your completed interviews as soon as you can! What's fun about this stage is finding all of the themes that are appearing in the data from the interviews. Fedora, you're an interesting lot of people! Yes, I really do love what I do!
I have just posted a page to this blog entitled Signal to Noise – How to cope with work, family, and being a (online) graduate student. The intent is that it will help current and future students be able to balance out the signal to noise ratio that comes with being a student online. I even encourage face-to-face students to at least read over it as I think there is beneficial information for them in it as well!
A few weeks ago I presented a paper by Jen Cardew (a fellow student a year ahead of me in the program) on how to successfully approach the program and the tools you need to succeed. As a part of my presentation I asked how many had ever taken an online class and only 2 out of 16 raised their hands. This was partly to be expected as the online portion of this program attracts non-traditional students who are in most cases returning to school to seek a higher level degree after a lapse in education. This means that these students are usually older and most likely already have a career of some sort if not a family as well. However, this also concerned me just a bit and this is why I have taken the time to put this document together (and will be adding to it soon as well).
While yes the program is mirrored as closely as possible to the on-campus masters program, being an online student is an entirely different ball game. You have to be able to approach it differently and be prepared for the amount of work it entails. This is NOT a blow off program and in many ways it actually comes across as more difficult than the on-campus program. Not because the material is any different, but because the amount of discussion that goes on and the amount of extra work required to fully participate in a always on going always open classroom. It takes a high level of maturity and responsibility to simply keep up with it all – not even counting what it takes to be a meaningful participant. Both of which are very important in an environment where every single interaction is time/date stamped and saved to be referred back to over and over again.
This is not to scare anyone off, simply to educate people on what it takes to do it successfully and to encourage people to take it very seriously. I think it’s about time online education starts to shed the stigma of be ‘second rate’ as compared to a face-to-face class. As a hybrid student (one who takes classes both online and on the campus the program is hosted at), I can speak to both the digital and analog classrooms. This puts me in a unique position that I hope I can utilize to the success of not only myself, but others as well. Hey, I’m an anthropologist (participant observation at it’s finest) – this is what I do!
Well, this next semester is when I have to decide for whom I am to do my Master’s practicum project. I feel I am in a unique situation in that there are lots of ideas on what I’d like to do a practicum on I just don’t know who would be interested in having me do research for them! I have ideas ranging from studying the effects of using the Internet in the classroom to further researching the culture within World of Warcraft, or even pursuing something along the lines of my political commentary study. So, rather than me just barking up several trees to see if anyone wants to use my talents (though I am going to do this as well), I’m going to put myself out here on my blog. You can reply here or contact me via email: diana at cyber-anthro.com
Here is a link to the department’s site on the practicum process (as well as a list of previous student’s practicums). I’ve also included the practicum description here: More