Lewis Carroll once said “if everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does”.
Working in MOOCs at The Open University I’m in a permanent paradoxical position of knowing that not enough MOOC data is shared within the wider research community, whilst at the same time drowning in MOOC data internally that isn’t in the position to be shared. Which means on more than one occasion I can find myself stumbling down a rabbit hole of data as I find it ‘curiouser and curiouser’.
This has caused a number of issues for my doctorate over the years as I could have so easily change my focus so many times based on the data I have at my disposal. At times I felt myself like Alice surrounded by files that say ‘Read Me’.
So as I can only write so much for my thesis and base additional academic writing on…what to do? Simple, host my very own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
When I came into the role of Senior Producer: MOOCs after working for years on MOOC research and MOOCs in presentation I wrote an internal resource ‘MOOC Central’ a one stop MOOC shop for all things OU MOOC. It has sections on advice and information on MOOCs from idea creation to presentation including a section on research and guidance as to how OU staff and doctorate students can apply to access the data.
Since the launch of MOOC Central last year the number of data applications has markedly increased. Which means I no longer feel like I’m speaking in jabberwocky. So now I’m no longer the Cheshire Cat but more the White Rabbit encouraging others to tumble down the rabbit hole with me.
Now please excuse me as I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date…with data.
The last two years has been the warm up for the final year marathon that I find myself in.
Even though the EdD process is thorough in its application of progress reports throughout the years nothing quite prepares you for the drafting of your thesis.
In my case the marathon seems to have increased its mileage with the inclusion of data from 19 MOOCs, across 76 presentations over a 3 year period. For the last three weeks I’ve been battling through Chapter Four: Data Analysis and Discussion and I’m still writing. A few years ago I went to support my good friend and fellow serial student Carrie-Anne Walton at the London Marathon. After she crossed the finish line she told me that the hardest part was Canary Wharf with its tall buildings filled with reflective glass, dazzling your eyes and permanently disorientating you as you weaved through the streets almost doubling back on yourself to exit that section of the race. Right now I’m in my Canary Wharf.
With only a few weeks to go until my April 10 deadline I’m doing everything I can not to hit The Wall. I keep pushing through by writing different sections of Chapter Four moving between the two research questions to avoid reflective blindness.
I’m not at Green Park yet, but when I do believe me when I say there will be cheers heard from miles around and possibly even a sports massage to relieve the tension building as I type.
I won’t get over the finish line today, but the end remains in sight. Medals at the ready.
There are many elements of my life that are a balancing act. My day job and my doctorate are two of them.
Given my role I’m in a continual political position which sometimes I have to control with every fibre of my being to maintain tact and public professionalism whilst I scream internally and swear profusely in my mind.
Today, one impacted heavily on the other and I honestly don’t know how long I can remain upright on shifting sands.
So a need a moment to vent, another to hug my dog, and a further few more to work out how I’m going to assemble an impossible structure from the rumble I’m left with.
Today I’m less Phillipe Petit, more Bob the Builder. Because yes I can. Just give me a minute first.